“I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Joel 2:20
Translation: God will protect His people, and enemies of Him will be wiped out. All of this will happen so that others may know about the Lord.
This verse is offered with a lesson in geography. Canaan (modern Israel) couldn’t be invaded from the east (because of vast deserts and two seas) or west (because of the Mediterranean). It could only be invaded from the north or south. Where this part of Joel compares a swarm of locusts to an invading army, God is promising to protect Israel, His chosen nation, from anyone who invades from the north.
What does that mean to us? Many say this is part of an end-times prophecy, when God will divinely protect Israel from invasion by powerful armies moving down from nations to the north. That’s likely true. But it also misses a bigger point that has more to do with daily life.
When you put your daily faith in the Lord, He will protect you from powerful armies that are hell-bent on getting you hell-bound. The enemy is the devil. He wants company in hell. He wants people who believe in God to recant that belief. He’s the same enemy who inspires swarms of locust to devastate food supplies. He’s the same enemy who possessed enemies of ancient Israel. He’s the same enemy who will indwell enemies of Jesus in the last days, fighting (in vain) to overcome the risen, returning Christ.
And he’s the same enemy who taunts and torments you and me every day. When we put our faith in Jesus, our spirits are golden. There’s nothing the enemy can do, even in the worst of his fury, to destroy our souls. Our bodies, our livelihoods, our reputations, our possessions, even our loved ones can all be harmed, maybe even killed. But the soul of the follower of Jesus Christ is protected. The soul we spend all our lives feeding and enriching with God’s word in the Christian life is protected from all harm. It is the enemy who will be hurt. It is the enemy who will be overcome, and the stench of his defeat will rise to the heavens. All because God protects us.
Every day, all around us, there is a spiritual war raging. Most days, we don’t see it, though I wonder if sometimes some things that happen don’t spill over into our temporal world. But most times we see nothing. That’s because God and His armies protect us. The angels He sends protect us, shielding us from attacks that might draw away our gaze. That’s something to be thankful for.
For more reading: Isaiah 34:3, Jeremiah 1:14-15, Zechariah 14:8, Joel 2:21
Lord, thank You for fighting for me, protecting me.