Establishing a Joel 2 Spiritual Culture (Joel 1:2-3)

Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? 3 Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:2-3)

Pay Close Attention to the Message of Joel

Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! (Joel 1:2)

The first exhortation of the book of Joel is “hear and give ear” or to pay close attention to the story of Joel 1:1-2:9 knowing that in crisis God desires to bless and not judge.

The long-term message of Joel is that the glory of God in revival is coming along with the crisis of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. It includes the message that wholeheartedness can make a difference because God is kind and releases blessing in the midst of crisis. We can change history as well as increase the quality of our own life in the natural and in the spirit through wholeheartedness.

Rend your heart … return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him? (Joel 2:13-14)

The call to “hear and give ear” is the call to study the book of Joel. It is the call to hear God’s heart as we prepare for future glory and crisis. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to receive revelation of Joel’s message.

The mandate to “hear” – Joel challenged them to hear, which means leading a lifestyle that enhances hearing. We must “give ear” in order to give ourselves to going deep in the message.

The spirit of revelation – Jesus made this same appeal to the seven churches in Revelation, saying, “Let him who has ears, let him hear” (Rev. 2:7, 3:6). Jesus was saying, “Pay close attention, because it takes God’s help to really hear God’s word.” It takes the grace of God to fully hear God’s message with clarity. Be careful with the information you receive because if God does not help us hear it, then we will end up explaining it away or just as soon forget it. If we experience an initial stirring by the end-time message, we must pursue it until our hearts are gripped with revelation. Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we want our hearts to burn within us at the opening of the Scriptures (Lk. 24:32). God’s call to hear or to cultivate understanding is essential because the message is offensive to our flesh; we naturally resist what challenges our comfort zone.

This hearing does not come automatically because we are Christians. It requires an intentional, deliberate cultivating of revelation of the book of Joel. Even the apostles had dull hearts of unbelief when speaking to Jesus after His resurrection (Mk. 16:14)

This process of revelation begins with diligently studying scriptures like the book of Joel. We cannot settle for the initial stirring of our minds. That instruction must become a living understanding in our heart. Another way to say it is that we must “eat the scroll,” digesting its truth until it becomes part of us (Ezek. 3:1; Rev. 10:9). If we do not feed our spirits on the message, the initial inspiration we experience by hearing it will quickly evaporate away. We pray, “Lord, I will not be content until my heart is burning with revelation so that I live differently!”

The Coming Crisis is Unprecedented and Thus is Unfamiliar to Us

Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? (Joel 1:2)

Joel begins by emphasizing the unprecedented magnitude of what was to happen in his day. He asks, in essence, “Have you seen anything like this? Is this normal?” The significance of the message is that it is unprecedented; it is unfamiliar and therefore it is not easy to hear.

God’s glory and judgments will shake everything that can be shaken. We are entering a unique time period. Its very unfamiliarity is part of the difficulty of being prepared for it. Most people do not really think about living through the events recorded in the book of Revelation. As of today, the great crisis has not begun.

We must not yield to a scoffing spirit of unbelief about Jesus’ coming.

Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet. 3:3-4)

These scoffers that Peter foresaw will be both inside the Church and outside it.

Their worldview will not come from the revelation of Scripture, but according to their lusts or their wishful thinking. Not wanting their money, pleasure, or power to be disrupted, they will deem the lifestyle prescribed in the Word to be extreme and unnecessary. Peter said, in essence, “They will be motivated by their own lusts, by their own agendas instead of God’s.”

Their unbelief and cynicism will motivate them to say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” In other words, “Where is the coming revival or where is the coming judgment?” These scoffers will perpetuate the lie that everything will continue as it always has. They willfully forget that God rules His kingdom and the universe by His Word (2 Pet. 3:5). In other words, what His Word says will surely come to pass.

Most of the Church in the Western world is not yet convinced of what is coming. We have what I call the ostrich syndrome—putting our heads in the ground and hoping it will all just go away. We hope God will change it all if we remain ignorant. What is written in the Word of God is not going to go away. It will come to pass whether we are prepared for it or not. Has anything like this ever happened? It is new ground for all of us. The greatest revival and the greatest disaster that the world has ever known are coming. Our best days and our worst days are approaching.

Noah is an example of embracing a prophetic message that was unprecedented and unfamiliar to him. In the days of Noah, his message was unprecedented, making it hard for the people to hear him. God told him it would rain for forty days. However, it had never rained in history up to that point. Up until that time, God watered the ground from below and not from rain descending from the sky. When Noah told people that water would come from the sky, they undoubtedly mocked as they informed him, as everyone knew, that the water came upwards from the ground not downwards from the sky. However, when Noah heard this strange message from God he was “moved with godly fear” (Heb. 11:7).

Noah followed through with a radical lifestyle change in giving his time and energy to cutting wood and building an ark—for over one hundred years. Imagine, eighty years into building his boat, his friends must have said, “Noah, are you sure you heard right?”

Noah was so convinced of the word of the Lord that it changed everything about his life. The way he spent time, money, and energy was never the same.

Leaders Must Lead

Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! (Joel 1:2)

The mandate to “hear” begins with spiritual leadership. Leaders must “give ear,” in other words, give themselves to this message! They must get on their knees before God with an open Bible and begin to study and meditate on what the Old Testament prophets say will happen in the generation that the Lord returns.

The blessing of “leaders who hear” – when leaders enter into fasting and prayer and leading by example, “the inhabitants of the land” tune in (Joel 1:2). The blessing of God arises when leaders lead in God’s way.

The greatest gift that God can give a nation is to raise up men and women in leadership with a spirit of revelation and the grace of fasting and prayer. One of the greatest crises in the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, was that the Body of Christ was not mostly being led by leaders with the spirit of grace for fasting and prayer. When this problem is answered, then other issues will be addressed.

Progression – leaders first hear what the Spirit is saying; then the people earnestly give ear to it. People only do on a consistent basis what their leaders do on a consistent basis.

Telling the Message – The Need to Proclaim the Message

Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children. (Joel 1:3)

We must not only hear and be gripped by this message, we must also proclaim it (Joel 1:3). The price we will pay for boldly standing for the truth can be seen in the persecutions that the Old Testament prophets received. They were criticized, ostracized, imprisoned, and killed.

God will give us more revelation and authority if we faithfully use what He entrusts to us. The Lord honors the courage and faith that it takes to proclaim the Joel 2 end-time message. Jesus makes reference to Joel 1:2 when He says “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Mk. 4:23-25)

Tell the Children – Establishing a Dynamic Spiritual Culture

Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:3)

After calling the elders to hear and all the inhabitants of the land to give ear, Joel says, “Tell your children about it. Joel gives a four-generation mandate, expressing the necessity of making this part of what the children learn and understand. The elders and the people must tell their children. They in turn will tell their children, and so on.

Every child must hear this message clearly in order to understand end-time realities. It should be as “normal” for them to hear about the end of the age as it was for Noah’s three sons to hear that a flood is coming. We must tell the children about the coming Day that is both great and terrible and how we participate with a kind God in it through lifestyles of prayer with fasting. We do not want our children to grow up dumbfounded at what is coming or be indifferent to it.

A child’s spirit is like wet cement that is moldable and teachable. Whatever we write on these open spirits—this wet cement— they will receive as true and normal. One reason adults struggle for years with wrong paradigms of God is that they were taught them in their youth. Then thirty years later, we still struggle to get free from wrong paradigms because the cement dried long ago, locking lies into our understanding.

We want the pliable hearts of our children to be cement that dries with truth in it. They will consider as true both the great glory and the great crisis coming to the earth. They will believe fasting and prayer is normal for God’s people. After all, every believer they knew while growing up embraced these truths and lifestyle. They will remember what their moms and dads did—they gathered together for fasting and prayer.

There is a spiritual environment or a spiritual culture that God wants us to establish in the midst of the Church. It is best formed when we “tell” our children and they tell their children. When four generations understand this, a new spiritual environment is established that believes in the message. They consider it normal to believe and to act in the ways the Word of God says.

Establishing a dynamic spiritual culture according to the Joel 2 message drives out the scoffing spirit that is filled with complacency (2 Pet. 3:3-4), which will then not take root in our children.

The spiritual culture in the Church is filled with a scoffing and complacent spirit that considers it “extreme” to believe the Word of God for the end times.

We want to raise children in the midst of a spiritual atmosphere of faith and wholeheartedness. In other words, prayer and fasting is to be predominate in the spiritual culture of the end-time Church. This is what God is after in commanding all to “Tell the children…” (Joel 1:3). He wants a spiritual culture established where the children are raised up in faith. Imagine how different it will be when young and old pursue these things together.

I so thank God for Lenny and Tracy LaGuardia who serve on the IHOP–KC senior leadership team. They lead the team that trains the adults in our spiritual family to equip the children to walk out the message of Joel. They have served God’s purpose with the children for over 25 years. Their vision and consistency to raise up children who understand God’s love and who function in the power of God is amazing to me.

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