How many of you like grasshoppers? I can remember as a child, my brothers teasing me with grasshoppers. I also remember trying to catch grasshoppers, the bigger the better, for fishing bait. Then there was the year that grasshoppers ate holes in our window screens. Of course, they also go by the name of "locust" in the mid-east, and were the main protein for John the Baptist. (Yuk!)
When swarms of them would hit the crops at once, whole fields would be stripped bare. One of the plagues on Egypt was of locusts. Sometimes swarms of them were sent by God as an army, destroying the crops and generating repentance among Israel, as our original text in Joel indicates.
People in this country might remember a time (or remember reading of a time) when swarms of locusts (grasshoppers) descended like a cloud upon the wheat fields and destroyed the entire crop. These pests, en masse, bring darkness; they devour all that is green and strip the bark off trees, and can even break boughs off trees by their cumulative weight.
Of course, my garden doesn't have that many, yet, but the presence of grasshoppers means that leaves will be eaten and string beans will be marred.
What the swarms of locusts symbolize are the huge sweeping problems that overtake us: the destruction of property by a storm or fire; the sudden loss of loved ones from a tragedy; an attack on the country, as on 9/11/01; an assault on one's person, from a mugging or rape; or any other catastrophic event that totally consumes us.
God may allow these events to come into our lives to get our attention, to cause us to seek him. Sometimes they are the direct result of someone else's wrong choice (the terrorist, mugger, or rapist's), in which case we should not blame God. Unfortunately, such things are a part of life, like the insects and pests in my garden.
But we have God's promise that after the event, there will be blessing, as we look to him. "Don't be afraid, animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness will grow green; the fig-tree and the vine give their strength"—Joel 2: 22. The fields and pastures and trees and vines will grow again, green and fruitful. Our lives will again have joy and hope and growth.
After all, the life span of a grasshopper (in the nymph and adult stages combined) is only 2-3 months (with the total lifespan, including the egg stages, is only about a year). The adult stage is only about 30 days.
So, of any locust type problem in our life, we can realistically say, "This, too, shall pass."
"For our light affliction, which is only for a moment, works for us a far more excellent and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen (the locusts), but at the things which are not seen (the joy and hope that God wants to give us); for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen (spiritual things) are eternal"—2 Corinthians 4: 17, 18.
Next week: "Cankerworms"
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