Joel 2:20 “But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.”
This is a double application, as the northern army is also referring to the army of Antichrist. This passage indicates that the Lord will defend His people at the tribulation, shield them from the evil army. God will also slaughter a huge part of the army. He will show no mercy towards the Antichrist’s army.
In the last part of verse 20 ‘and his stink shall come up,’ we know that the blood of the army shed will reach the hem of our Lord’s garment. People at that time will learn about the stink and the death. They can smell the millions of dead armies conquered by God at the battle of Armageddon.
To apply this spiritually to Christians, is there a stink coming out of us that puts people off and displeases God?
Sometimes people judge things by smell more than sight. For example, the smell of food affects our appetite just as much as the taste and presentation. Similarly, we will not wear a shirt that stinks regardless of how beautiful the design and color are.
The point here is even if we think we are not sinning against God, or our actions are seemingly decent and appropriate, we should not allow small or petty issues that may cause our testimonies to stink in the perception of others.
We need to think about whether our current actions may or may not smell bad in the future. For example, the Bible shows that a lack of faithfulness, especially in moments of trouble, is not reliable.
Proverbs 25:19 “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.”
Many of us may lack faithfulness at times, especially when trials hit us hard; we may seek to avoid the trials or run away from our problems. Even if we choose to do it subtly, we will still stink if someone eventually notices the lack of faithfulness in us.
The key here is to be consistent in our faithfulness, our actions, and to be committed in our walk with God.
Proverbs 15:18 “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”
This can also happen at Church, which can start from mild jealousy and suppressed anger towards one another and eventually lead to a division. As subtle or unintentional it may seem, it will still cause a stench for others to smell it.
Proverbs 29:20 “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”
God commands us to be slow to anger. Let’s examine our behavior and actions. Are we often hasty when dealing with others or the church members? Do we commit actions out of haste perceived to be foolish by others?
Ecclesiastes 10:18 “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.”
When we are idle, everything decays. Idleness can cause deterioration and make everything falls apart. Even if we somehow find a legitimate excuse to justify our idleness, that does not disregard the lack of faithfulness in our Christian spiritual life.
Can we see the stink that we are causing at present?
Often we think that others are owing us favors and that they should show us more grace, especially at Church. When we fail to receive the treatment we think we deserve, is it because we stink? Our stench drives people away.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
God gives an imperative statement, a commandment to us to abstain from anything that looks and appears evil. It is considered a sin if we go against God’s commandment.
We need to constantly assess if there is a part of our character that we can improve on. This will help us appear in a way that is not evil, and that others cannot find any blemish or schism in our testimonies. People tend to judge us outwardly, not inwardly, so how we appear in the eyes of others needs to be taken into serious consideration.
1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
Only God can look into our hearts, but men are the opposite. Nonetheless, our actions and behavior will usually reflect our hearts and our thoughts. Fervent prayer to God, and keeping our behavior transparent are crucial so that others will not smell any stench in us. Watch our tongue, examine our heart as much as we can, don’t let our slip of tongue produce a stench that puts people off.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
We may not even know the wickedness of our hearts, but God can. So remember to pray to God for wisdom and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:26-27 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Live our life according to the word of God, let our sanctification speaks for itself, and washes off the stench in us.
How about our record in the past? We know that we can always work on our testimony at present, but we cannot change the past for sure. So what should we do? Again, examine what are our flaws and mistakes in the past.
How do others perceive those flaws that we have?
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
How would God perceive our flaws and mistakes at the Judgment Seat of Christ?
Start to live a faithful Christian life as outwardly as we can, because in reverse, our actions can also influence our hearts and thoughts. The more we stay convicted and away from sin, the more our minds will be shut off from the fleshliness of the world.
So even if we do not feel like working for the Lord, commit ourselves to do it anyway; sing hymns to praise Him, give out tracts, preach His words, etc.
Numbers 15:39 “And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:”
We should demonstrate our seriousness towards the Lord outwardly, as we also want others to see the faithful life we are living, or even the changes we have made from the past, which is a great way to get rid of our stench from the past.
Seek to produce the fragrant of a Rose of Sharon, instead of the stench of a skunk.