Question: "What is Joel's Army?"
Answer: Joel’s Army is a charismatic movement closely connected with the Latter Rain Movement that began in the 1940s. The term latter rain refers to Joel 2:23, which says God will send a “latter rain” in addition to a “former rain” (KJV). Pentecostals interpret this not as God’s physical blessing on Israel but as an outpouring of the Spirit in the “last days.” “Joel’s Army” see themselves as soldiers that God is raising up during the last days to perform miracles, execute judgment, and take dominion on earth before Christ returns. This movement emphasizes the teachings and revelation of modern-day “apostles” and “prophets,” as well as the impartation of miraculous gifts. Names associated with the Joel’s Army movement include William Branham, C. Peter Wagner, Bill Hamon, and Rick Joyner.
There are many theological problems with the Joel’s Army movement. First, there simply are no modern-day apostles. To be an apostle in the biblical sense, one must be an eyewitness of the risen Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1), be sent forth by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:15), and have the ability to perform signs and wonders (Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12). The Bible says there were twelve apostles, and they laid the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).
Rick Joyner, a popular purveyor of the Joel’s Army doctrine, writes of a time when “news teams will follow apostles like national leaders, recording great miracles. . . . Miracles which exceed even some of the most spectacular Biblical marvels will cause whole nations to acknowledge Jesus. . . . The appearances of angels will be so common that they will cease to be related as significant events. The Lord Himself will appear to councils of apostles and elders to give them directives. . . . Young children will cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, and divert raging floods with a word. Some will actually take dominion over entire hospitals and mental institutions, healing every patient in them by laying hands on the buildings” (The Harvest, 1993, p. 32–34). This is a bold prophecy—and one we are still waiting to be shown to contain an ounce of truth.
New prophecy is another problematic teaching of Joel’s Army. Those receiving a word directly from God, in the same way the biblical prophets did, would effectively reopen the canon of Scripture. Joel’s Army’s belief that large numbers of Christians are being raised up, performing Spirit-filled miraculous works, taking “possession” of large areas of earth prior to Christ’s return, and causing dread in the hearts of unbelievers goes directly against clear biblical teaching. God cannot contradict His own Word, and He is not adding to it through the visions of self-proclaimed prophets today.
True to their Holiness roots, Joel’s Army expects to be completely sinless as they complete God’s work in the world. Joel’s Army, the sinless ones, will be the agents through whom God will purge all sin out of the world. Such teaching is totally unbiblical. The apostle John could not have been more clear: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
God nowhere instructs Christians to execute judgment on unbelievers. The kingdom of God will not be brought to earth forcibly by Christians. Rather, we are to share the good news of the gospel and pray that more will come to salvation in Christ (Matthew 28:18–20; 2 Peter 3:9). It is God Himself who will execute judgment during the tribulation and at the final resurrection. It is also God who will establish an earthly kingdom during Jesus’ millennial reign. The authority to judge has been given to Jesus, not to “Joel’s Army” (John 5:27). And taking political, economic, and cultural dominion on earth is not a task for “Joel’s Army.”
Additionally, some in this movement, such as Rick Joyner, claim to have conversations with dead people such as Adam. The practice of live humans conversing with the deceased is called necromancy and is prohibited in Scripture as a form of divination (Deuteronomy 18:11; Acts 19:19). There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that could lead anyone to think that it’s appropriate for the living to speak to the dead.
Further, the Joel’s Army movement connects spiritual warfare with supernatural healings and miracles beyond the context of Scripture. Ephesians 6:12 notes believers are in a spiritual battle, but nowhere are believers called to march around naming and casting out demons or healing every sickness in their midst. Instead, believers seek the will of God and follow the Spirit of God by focusing on the Word of God. The Bible is full of warnings against false prophets, false teachers, and imposters of Christ (Matthew 24:1–25; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:17–18). No one should be fooled by the leaders of Joel’s Army, but many are.
First John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Members of the Joel’s Army movement may sincerely believe that they are doing the work of God, but their doctrine is unbiblical. We should pray for the members of this movement to come to the knowledge of God’s truth, and we should avoid any level of participation in it.