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  • Writer's pictureGordon Coulson

Climate Change, P@lest1ne, and the coming People's Revolution: Joel's Prophecy for Our Time

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


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Disclaimer: Bible prophecy interpretation is complex, and as Sir Isaac Newton noted, generally not well understood until fulfillment. Yet Jesus told his disciples to "keep on the watch" and to "lift up your heads" when they see significant events--that deliverance is near. It is in this spirit that this is written: to help Christians make sense of today's events in the context of prophecy and history. There is no claim to inspiration or special insight. All errors are mine.

Human caused climate change is no longer debatable--at least not among climate scientists. The wildfires in Australia killed or displaced an estimated 3 billion animals. Oceans are absorbing excess CO2 and becoming increasingly acidic and toxic to sea life. Species are disappearing at an alarming rate. The arctic, also known as earth's air conditioner, is warming much faster than the rest of the planet. When arctic ice no longer freezes in winter, the ocean in the north will warm very quickly increasing global temperatures and disrupting climate further. The Antarctic is also thawing at an alarming rate, which along with Arctic sea ice and Greenland glacier melt, is causing sea levels to rise. Cities and farms are running out of fresh water. According to NASA, 2020 was tied for the hottest year on record. And 2023 broke that record.


On the political front, little is being done. Those on the right deny climate change is happening, and the money trail leads back to the fossil fuel companies . Those on the left give nice speeches but, as Greta Thunberg has recently said, these amount to lies. There's little action. At the same time, democracy is under attack by neo-fascist forces, which have no interest in conserving ecosystems. After losing the election in 2020 to Joe Biden by over 7 million popular votes, Donald Trump, who did nothing about climate change, tried to overturn the results and stay in power. He came close to achieving this but thankfully, was defeated by a determined Congress and the courts. He remains a threat to the USA and the world and intends to run again in 2024. Yet it is Joe Biden who leads the Ukraine proxy war with Russia, and who stands firmly behind the Israeli government's assault on Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. The EU is no better: it has become subservient to America and just repeats its propaganda. I have written more about this conflict here. The world is in dire need of wise leaders, and the American government and the West in general is certainly not supplying them.


Fars_Photo_of_Casualties_in_Gaza_Strip_during_2023_War_26 by Ghassan Salem

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At the same time, powerful grassroot movements, like Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, and Unions are rising and aggressively asserting their rights. The devastation of Gaza by the Israeli Army and the mass killing of civilians has ignited outrage among Muslim countries and across the non-Muslim world. The struggle for Palestine has become a struggle for all peoples who are oppressed by colonial powers and abusive governments.


Does bible prophecy have anything to say about these things? Let's look at Joel's little book.


The prophecy begins with a proclamation: "Hear this O elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days or in your fathers days? Tell your sons about it, and let your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation. What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten" (Joel 1:2-4).


When Joel was giving his prophecy, there were locust swarms in that land. But the prophecy will move from locust swarms to swarms of people, known as the LORD's army (Joel 2:1-12). In our time, North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing the worst locust swarms in decades and there is evidence that climate change is the culprit. This may be an indicator that the prophecy is now in operation. We note that after the locust swarms, Joel speaks of devastated crops and animals groaning because of lack of food (1:8-18) and fires that have devastated pastureland (1:19-20). In 2020, climate change driven fires in Australia killed an estimated three billion animals. In 2021, heat waves in British Columbia cooked an estimated billion shellfish. We see unrelenting evidence of accelerating climate change globally now.


The prophecy continues. "A nation has invaded my land, mighty and without number; its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the fangs of a lioness. It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast them away; their branches have become white" (1:6-7). The lion is a symbol for Babylon (Daniel 7:4). We note also that the beast of Revelation 13:1-10, which I have argued is Papacy, has the "mouth of a lion": Babylon is entangled with Roman power, as the image in Revelation 17 describes: a harlot sitting atop a seven headed, ten horned beast. I believe this image describes the Western bloc of powers--modern Rome--led by the Anglo-American partnership in our time; a partnership of Britain and the U.S.A., along with their harlot churches and corrupt business leaders. What does this all mean? What are the prophecies telling us? We must review some more history to answer this.


Rome, since Jesus' time, is God's enemy and is the King of the North in the latter part of Daniel's prophecy in Chapter 11. I have commented on this here (see the section Daniel 11 and the Kings of the North and South - The Synchronization of Time in Prophecy, near the end of the article). It was Rome that executed Jesus and persecuted his followers. It was so-called Holy Rome that arose after Imperial Rome's demise in the fifth century and, along with the Papacy, persecuted those that were trying to follow Christ according to Scripture and conscience. When the French Revolution ended Papacy's wicked reign, the Anglo-American power arose as described in Revelation 13:11-18, "exercising all the authority of the first beast [Papacy] in his presence." Anglo-America, the partnership of the USA and the UK, would now, in our time, represent Rome, God's enemy. It is the Anglo-American partnership that dominates and leads the Western world, and America is the leading partner in our time, as the UK was prior to WWII.


When Protestant churches arose during the Reformation, they continued the Papacy's policy of nationalism and forced their respective citizens to join the government's church. Those like the Anabaptists who resisted, were persecuted. In our time, we see the corrupt religion of white evangelicalism in the USA and similarly in other countries, tied to the political powers in an unclean and unholy partnership. This mix of false religion partnered with government continues to deceive believers, stealing them from Christ. This, I believe, is what is meant by "It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree splinters. It has stripped them bare and cast them away; their branches have become white" (Joel 1:6-7). Vine and Fig Tree are symbols of faithful Israel (not the modern nation, but faithful Israelites prior to Jesus), including the Christians "grafted in" as Paul explains (Romans 11:11-31). The false Christianity arising after the death of the apostles had destroyed much of Yahweh's garden and continues to destroy it today. How? By convincing believers that their race or their country or culture is superior and somehow holy and promoting false teaching and false prophecy, violence, greed, and immorality, while claiming to be righteous. The white evangelical church in the USA, for example, overwhelmingly voted for Trump--a lying, greedy, abusive conman--who they claim is the "anointed of God like Cyrus" sent to "make America great again." The Kingdom of God is not of this world and Jesus Christ has no interest in America's empty boasts.


Chapter 2 of Joel speaks of Yahweh raising a mighty army for the "day of the LORD" (Joel 2:1-2). They have the appearance of horses, and we note Revelation 9:15-19 also speaks of an army of horses with their riders, and even numbers them: 200 million. This is a massive army that has never been seen before. They are a "great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it to the years of many generations" (Joel 2:2). The "land is like the garden of Eden before them but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them" (2:3). They cooperate with one another (2:7-8) and "rush on the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief" (2:9). The members of this "army" are united in purpose. This describes, I think, a political movement: their message is delivered everywhere through various media sources and other means. "The LORD utters His voice before His army; surely His camp is very great, for strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?" (2:11).


One may ask: if this is the Lord's army, then should they not all be Christians? Certainly some, maybe many are. But God has used various peoples in the past to punish his idolatrous, unfaithful people--the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Romans--and this time will likely be no different.


E.B. Elliot, in his masterful work Horae Apocalypticae, convincingly argued that the vision of horsemen in Revelation Chapter 9 represented two invasions of Islamic armies. The first, described in verses 1-12, was Mohammad and the Saracens, 612-755 CE, and the second, described in verses 13-19, was the Turks, in 1063 CE. These were serious attacks on what remained of the Roman Empire, now led by the Papacy, as punishment from God. However, John hears the number of them in the second instance: 200 million. According to islamicity.org, there were less than 700,000 Muslims in the year 750 CE and a little over 2,000,000 in the year 1000 CE. Since there was nowhere near 200 million Muslims at that time, this suggests the prophecy would have a later fulfillment in our day. The same source reports that in the year 2020 there were about 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, from which an army of 200 million could be easily raised. As Israel continues its onslaught against Palestinian civilians--slaughtering them, pushing them out of Gaza and the West Bank, imprisoning them, starving them, and stealing their land--we note the Muslim world is increasingly united against the Zionist regime and its American backer. And the Muslim world is increasingly joined by others of conscience, as the many, growing protests around the world signify. Palestine has become the symbol of abusive Western colonialism and the world is tired of it.

What I think Joel is describing is a people's revolution that begins with Muslim outrage at the abuse of Palestinians, and then grows globally as a force for justice for the oppressed. This movement is supported by Yahweh Himself, since "strong is he who carries out His word" (2:11). In Revelation 17 a harlot (corrupt churches) is sitting atop a ten horned beast (Roman-like political powers). The "ten horns", which historicist tradition identifies as European countries, begin by resisting Christ, and I believe we have seen this in the rise of corrupt churches partnering with neo-fascist and neo-liberal political powers and corporate media in our time. But we note that they will not be successful. "These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful" (Rev 17:14).


But why do these political powers, which historically gladly supported corrupt business and corrupt religion turn on the harlot? Because "God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast until the words of God will be fulfilled" (Rev 17:17). Likely people's parties, at some point, will be elected to office in many countries and assume power. We note that in Chapter 18 of Revelation, "the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning...and the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more" (Rev 18:9,11). The powerful rulers and the corrupt business people will be afraid that they could be the next targets, so stand at a distance. If the "ten horns" then, are not the traditional powerful rulers, the corrupt business people, or the corrupt churches, that leaves ordinary people. It is therefore likely a people's revolution on a scale never before seen, where the French Revolution--arguably the largest political 'earthquake' in history--serves as a template (Rev 16:18). This revolution, however, will likely be global in scope and will be driven by three issues: climate change, social justice, and opposition to forever wars, with the spotlight on Ukraine and Palestine.


"Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying , "So will Babylon, the great city be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer" (Rev 19:21). The false churches will be unmasked and destroyed: "the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth" (19:23-24). The "light of a lamp" is defined by Jesus as the true believer bearing witness (Matthew 5:16). The bridegroom is Christ, and the bride is his church (2 Cor 11:2). These churches will never again see the presence of the Spirit or the presence of the Savior: for they have persecuted Jesus' own people, and have partnered with the worst of corrupt politics and business.


Moving back to Joel, Yahweh is still calling people to become reconciled to Him during this time: "Yet even now," declares the LORD, "Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him" (2:12-14). We are counseled to "Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing infants." Why? Because the return of Christ is near: "Let the bridegroom [Christ] come out of his room and the bride [the faithful church] out of her bridal chamber" (Joel 2:16). This is a reference to the marriage of the Lamb in Revelation 19:7-9 and 21:1-5. This is where Jesus returns, calls his true followers to himself, and begins his reign of a thousand years over the earth (Rev 20:4).


It is true that the apostle Peter referred to Joel 3:28 as fulfilled in the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:17). But certainly not all of Joel's prophecy was fulfilled. As I have argued elsewhere, I believe prophecies can be fulfilled more than once, where earlier fulfillments outline later, larger fulfillments. So Pentecost was a partial fulfillment of Joel, and we should look to a greater fulfillment in our time, since no other time period appears to fit. And as Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans, so Babylon will be destroyed by the "ten horns"--representing governments yet to be revealed.


So what does this all mean for us in 2023? I believe Satan is now losing the battle to control earth's peoples. He may be intending to take the earth down with him, either through unstoppable abrupt climate change, or possibly nuclear war. I believe the Lord Jesus is now actively involved in earth's affairs and so Satan will fail on both accounts. There is a growing people's movement that is not fooled by oil company propaganda, telling them climate change is not a big issue. They are not fooled by conservative politicians telling them that the Covid pandemic was not real, or that vaccines are dangerous, or massive tax cuts for corporations are good for workers. They see the rich taking the lion's share of resources and paying little or no income tax. They are not fooled by false claims to being "job creators"--they see it for what it is: entitled, greedy capitalism. They understand that the time to act is now, if we have any hope at all in reducing climate change, and they see the efforts of oil companies, corrupt politicians, and corrupt or ignorant pastors to maintain the status quo as a great evil imposed on earth's peoples. They know about the children's unmarked graves in residential schools and boarding schools and their hatred of the these churches--the harlot and her offspring of Revelation 17--is rising.


Yahweh's "army" will continue to grow in power and numbers. At some point, the people will have had enough of these false churches as more and more unmarked graves are discovered around the world in church-run schools, along with the nightmarish stories of these poor children. They will be repulsed at white evangelicals slavishly following Trump--who very well may become US president again in 2024. They will decide that there is no good reason for these churches to exist. It will be the end of them. The kings of the earth--powerful rulers, and the merchants--corrupt business--will stand "at a distance because of the fear of her torment" (Rev 19:9-10). This is the end of Babylon. The "northern army"--the West led by the Anglo-American power--will be utterly defeated and humiliated in the Middle East (Joel 2:20; Daniel 11:40-45). Even now, Muslim countries in the Middle East are uniting against Israel and America, motivated by the abuse of Palestinians and America's support for it. But God will restore earth's capacity to produce food and support life (Joel 2:21-27). He will pour out His Spirit afresh on his people, as at Pentecost, but now on a grander scale (2: 28-29). It will be a time of great celebration in the defeat of evil and in the sanctification and glorification of God's good name.


Chapter 3 of Joel describes a final judgement upon the nations that have rejected Yahweh and abused his people. The timing for this may be the end of the thousand years of judgement, known as the Millennium, described in Revelation 20:2-3, but may also apply to the coming battle between Yahweh and his forces and Satan and his. The Millenium is the period where Christ rules earth from the New Jerusalem, and Satan is imprisoned so, "he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed." At the end of this thousand year period of judgement (Rev 20:4), Satan is released "to deceive the nations" again (v7-8). Satan's army is called "Gog of Magog", and I believe the prophecy in Ezekiel is describing the same thing (Ezekiel 38-39). Note that God's peace-loving people would "beat their swords into ploughshares" (Isaiah 2:4), but these enemies of God would reverse that: Joel tells us they would "beat [their] plowshares into swords" (Joel 3:10). In both Joel Chapter 3 and Revelation 20, Gog and his hoards are soundly defeated, never again to arise on God's good earth. And Satan is thrown into the "lake of fire"--the symbol for complete annihilation (Rev 20:10).


The result is that God has vindicated his good name, and judged Satan and his followers as being unfit for the Kingdom. "The mountains will drip with sweet wine...a spring will go out from the house of the Lord to water the valley of Shittim" (Joel 3:18). Ezekiel speaks of a similar spring of water of blessings, that increases to a torrent (Ezekiel 47). Paradise is restored (Rev 20:1-5). Egypt and Edom will become a wasteland because of how they treated God's people (Joel 3:19). This is likely meant as a remembrance of the damage and suffering those opposed to God have caused earth and its peoples. But Judah and Jerusalem will be inhabited forever (Joel 3:20). Judah and Jerusalem represent God's faithful people. The New Jerusalem, in Revelation 21:1-5 represents the rule of Christ over this earth. From this point onward, God will always be with his people, and never again allow the wicked to abuse them or his precious earth.


Given the above commentary, what should sincere Christians do? If your church is entangled with political power, leave it. If you vote, vote for peacemakers, not warmongers; climate action, not oil company propaganda. Stop listening to mainstream media or alternative media that tells you what you want to hear. Be critical. Do your homework. Stay close to Christ and his teachings. Pray that you will not be deceived. Pray for peace. Pray for God's Kingdom to come.



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