Sunday, February 28, 2016

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

I have heard many repeat this phrase from scripture:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (Joel 2:28)

But this event has not yet arrived. How can you tell? The phrase begins with "it shall come to pass afterward." After what?

Joel 1 and the part of Joel 2 that occurs before this describes a foreign invasion. Not just any foreign invasion, either. Here are some segments. Starting in Joel 1:4:

 4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
 5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
 6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
 7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. (Joel 1)
Envision the imagery here. God describes one wave of destruction after another. With each successive wave, whatever is left is consumed. In the end, only the gleanings of the gleanings of the gleanings is left! Verse 7 is easier to visualize. Imagine a fruitful tree. First, someone comes along and tears off the fruit and carries them away. Still, the tree is covered with lush foliage. Next, someone comes along and tears off all the leaves. The tree is now undeniably naked compared to its original state. But the hand of the Lord is outstretched still. He sends someone else to peel the bark off the tree ("the branches thereof are made white). It is hard to create more vivid imagery of complete and utter destruction than this!

 8 ¶Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
 9 The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn.
 10 The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
 11 Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
 12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
 13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
 14 ¶Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,
 15 Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
 16 Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
 17 The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.
 18 How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
 19 O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
 20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. (Joel 1)
The first phase of destruction comes with a terrible famine. It is interesting that Joel opens the description by telling of the cessation of temple sacrifice. The cessation of temple sacrifice is also spoken of in Daniel. This may be because the famine makes it impossible to conduct animal sacrifice. One other possible scenario is the cessation of LDS temple work, with Joel blending that message into the warning of famine as well as couching it in terms he is familiar with. Joel describes that there is no water and no food. The land is so dry that the wilderness has caught fire.

It is this with this backdrop that the foreign invasion occurs.

1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
 3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
 4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
 5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
 6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
 7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
 8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
 9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
 10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
 11 And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2)

The destruction by the invading army is complete. It is beyond the capacity of most in the United States to imagine just how complete the destruction will be. Joel provides vivid language in an attempt to help us. First comes something to make the earth shake (verse 10). Then comes a trembling of the heavens (verse 10). Whatever this is causes the sun and moon to be dark, and the stars to stop shining. The stars will not actually stop shining at this point, nor will the sun and moon stop shining. Instead, the darkness in the atmosphere will block out the light of all heavenly bodies. Will the earth shake because of an interestingly timed earthquake? Or will awaiting enemies use a naturally occurring earthquake as an "ensign" to invade? Perhaps the earth shakes as a result of a nuclear attack? Could the darkness be as a result of the nuclear attack?

Perhaps you cannot imagine the invading army marching in unison across the country. Here is a thought experiment. The United States is 1,650 miles at the greatest North South distance. Do you know that China and Russia have enough tanks to sweep the United States east to west with 15 tanks per mile? That is just tanks, not foot soldiers, not personnel carriers, not helicopters, and not nukes. Think about that. Imagine what happens when a match is thrown to a field of dry stubble. That is the imagery Joel uses here: a wall of fire spreading from one end to the other with nothing to stop it.

It is after all of this that the Lord says:
 28 ¶And it shall come to pass afterward [after the famine and invasion], that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
People are having dreams and visions right now. Many of them are from God. But what he has in store in terms of dreams and visions will dwarf anything we see right now. It has not happened yet. It will not happen until there is a massive famine followed by a massive invasion.

The only thing worse than someone who does not know the scriptures (including the Old Testament, about half of which is directly prophesying of our time) is someone who doesn't know the scriptures but thinks they do.