The Year of the Locust

In 1951, this article was published in the prestigious Time Magazine:,9171,814700,00.html. The bugs had come to the Middle East.

In September, 2000, Australians were watching their own horizons with dismay. The conditions were ideal for an invasions "of biblical proportions" of their own local variety of locusts.

But no invasion in recorded history has been as devastating as what occurred in 1875 in the north-central United States: .

When I read the book of Joel, and coincidentally, Revelation 9, which happened to be the New Testament portion of my devotional reading for today, locusts were the featured protagonists.

Along with the picture you see to the right, in itself enough to give most of us the hebbie jebbies, came an interesting devotional thought about the benefits of locusts which gives an interesting sidebar to what Joel says in his book. ( )

Joel (and Revelation) describe the devastation that God would bring to the land as part of His judgment on the sins of His people. Everything would be consumed. And with that destruction would come famine, hunger, and death. Joel uses an actual infestation of real grasshoppers as a launch point for a reminder of the vast armies that would come like locusts and destroy everything that the Hebrews held dear.

But scattered among the verbal ruins are words of hope. There is a call to repentance. It was not too late to beg God's forgiveness and throw themselves on His mercy. "'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing—" (Joel 2:12-14a, NIV).

What I found interesting from the link to which the picture led me, were the author's remarks about the benefits of locusts. Apparently once they have eaten everything, they die, and their bodies provide a rich fertilizer that will contribute to future abundant harvests. This makes good sense since Joel dots his message of devastation with pictures of the plenty that would come after the great loss. "Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God,, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness, He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—...You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God'" (Joel 2:23-26a, NIV).

We seldom think that all the terrible things that happen to us in life, all the losses, all the pain, all the challenges, could possibly result in something good. We would find it difficult to think that the dead bodies of our unpleasant past could provide fertilizer for the abundant blessings of our present and our future. But that's what Joel implies.

With God, nothing is wasted—not even, apparently, the dead bodies of locusts. And so it is with everything that comes into our lives. No experience, good or bad, is wasted. He sends the rain to water the ground that the "locusts" of our lives once devastated and now fertilize. As we allow Him, the soil of our lives can become fruitful again. He will restore the years that those locusts have eaten.


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