“What the gnawing locusts had left, the swarming locusts had eaten” (Joel 1:4)

The thought of them makes me shiver.  I don’t believe locusts are anyone’s favorite insect.  They are repulsive short-horned grasshoppers, not anyone’s ideal pet.  Normally they are solitary, but under certain circumstances they become organized, coming together in swarms – an abundance of swarms.

But yet, we find these creatures crawling and hoping all over the pages of the bible.  They first appeared in Egypt during the eighth plague (Exodus 10).  In Deuteronomy 28, we find God warning Israel that he will smite them with a curse of devouring locusts if they scorn his covenant.  The prophet Joel talked about the aftermath that a locust infestation left the land in (Joel 1).  And the author of the book of Judges used locusts as a metaphor to depict how hordes of neighboring peoples gobbled up the produce of the promised land by saying they were “like locusts in numbers.”  

But these pesky insects aren’t limited to the Old Testament.  We find them hopping through the New Testament as well.  You never wanted to have lunch with John the Baptist.  His menu consisted of locusts and wild honey, though I don’t believe any amount of honey on a grasshopper would make it taste more palatable.  And in the 9th chapter of the book of Revelation, we are told that during the Great Tribulation, “the fifth angel opened the Abyss, the sun and sky were darkened with smoke, and out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth.  These locusts are given the power of scorpions, to torture but not kill.”

So, we see that in scripture some locusts are real, and some are an illustration or image of something else.  I think we have all had metaphorical locusts invade our lives.  These are the locusts that bring destruction to our family relationships, our friendships, our financial security, our health, our churches.  They attack and gnaw at people and circumstances, damaging and upsetting life.

But there is hope for us all in Christ.  In Joel 2:25, we are told that God promises to “restore the years the locusts have eaten.”   That is not only a promise to Israel, but it is also a promise to all his people.  Whatever we have lost in this life.  Whatever has been taken from us or destroyed by the evils of human nature, we serve a God in Christ who can and will restore our losses into gains.  No, we may not get everything returned to us in the exact form we lost it, but God can give us something even better.  He can replace a lost relationships with better ones.  He can replace family rifts with a loving spiritual family.  He can replace finances with things that give us more joy and security.  Just look around you and see.  See the beauty in all God has given you.  See how he has replaced the years the locusts have eaten in your life.