“The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so do they run.”
Once horses are running there is no stopping them, like a stampede that cannot be brought to a halt for any reason. This is a powerful analogy for the prophet Joel to use, since horses are powerful animals and used for warfare and hard labour. The bolt of the horses from the starting stalls at the beginning of a race is unstoppable. Wild horses thunder down the hills at break-neck speed, exalting in their freedom. Horses that run into battle are equally powerful and are trained to be bold and strong in the face of great danger. It was not for no reason that armies of old used them for speed and their intimidating qualities!
So this is like the locusts that pour over the land like liquid and touch every nook and cranny of the landscape, filling it with their power and their dread. As a charging army with men on horseback that drive the animals into the thick of the battle, where the fight is the hottest and the most virulent, so these locusts will install fear into all that seek to stand against them.
“I listened and heard, but they didn’t speak aright: no man repents him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? everyone turns to his course, as a horse that rushes headlong in the battle.”
Wickedness and oppression run like horses into the battle. Souls of the wicked sin without conscience and excuse their behaviour. They run over the land and strip it bare of righteousness and justice and put in its place destitution and spiritual famine. This is happening all over our world and we can but watch and see the destruction of our societies. Like Great War-horses, the sins of the people spread like wildfire, like locusts over the land. No one can stop them except the intervening hand of God, and He will, to rescue His believed people and bring many souls to righteousness.
“We looked for peace, but no good came; [and] for a time of healing, and behold, dismay! The snorting of his horses is heard from Dan: at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones the whole land trembles; for they are come, and have devoured the land and all that is in it; the city and those who dwell therein.”
It is a common theme of the prophets and should fill us with concern. The Lord sends trouble to teach us, and speaks to us in our troubles. May we listen and turn and be saved.