Locusts are not common pests for those of us living outside of the Middle East, so we may not be as familiar with them. But because they are mentioned so frequently throughout the Bible, it's important to know what these bugs are, what they do, and what they symbolize.
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Locusts are commonly thought of in a Biblical context as an instrument of destruction (in a general or random sense) because of the damage that they can do to crops that would be needed for food, or as a specific instrument that God may choose to use for punishment (as He did, for example, in the case of the plague of locusts that He sent on the Egyptians to persuade them to free the nation of Israel from its slavery in Egypt (Exodus 10:1-20)). Interestingly, however, locusts were also spoken of positively in Proverbs 30:24-28 as being among creatures that are small but wise. Also, locusts are indicated as having served as food for John the Baptist during his ministry (Mark 1:6).
Locusts symbolize Multiplication (Nahum 3:15-16 King James Version) -- Wiersbe 15 "There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts. 16 Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away." (Voted # 38 and # 41 in the most popular verses in Nahum--vv. 15 and 16 of chapter 3). Locusts symbolize Restoration (Wiersbe) (Joel 2:25 -- "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent among you.” --NIV Wiersbe says that locusts symbolize Army (Judges 7:12 --New International Version "The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts [a figure called "a simile" (Lucas Hagen -- "What Do Locusts Symbolize in the Bible?" --https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-do-locusts-symbolize-in-the-bible.html).] "Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore." See further Judges 6:5. -In his Index of Biblical Images Wiersbe here says that “Locust” symbolizes Rejection- (PS 109:23 I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.) Locust symbolizes Robbery (Nahum 3:16 16You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more numerous than the stars in the sky, but like locusts [another symbol, or figure of speech, commonly called a simile--Hagen] they strip the land and then fly away.) – NIV Each generation must take responsibility for its own moral and spiritual choices. So, finally, Locust symbolizes Abandoning Responsibility (Nahum 3:17, Among the most popular verses in Nahum is this verse -- “Your guardsmen are like the swarming locust. Your marshals are like hordes of grasshoppers Settling in the stone walls on a cold day. The sun rises and they flee, And the place where they are is not known.” They could not be found where they were, nor be called upon to do their duty. This last verse in the Book of Nahum was voted # 44 of the most popular verses in the book.
Orthoptera are mentioned at least 35 times in our Bible. They are part of a family of insects that include grasshoppers crickets, palmer worms etc.. There is a special one that goes through a gregarious phase. It affects the brain, size, color of their body. When this happens they band together in groups. In 2020 in the middle east and in Africa locusts swarmed. They also can co-ordinate formations and migrate. A report of a swarm 25 miles long and 37 miles wide has been recorded. In Revelation 9 it says that clouds of locusts will be so thick that they look like smoke in the air. In Exodus 10 and Psalm 78 and Psalm 105 locusts cause devastation, and are shown as powerful. God may use them for judgement. A fig tree in full bloom can be completely denuded in 15 minutes by locusts. If there is not enough food, they may become carnivorous, and cannibalistic. In Numbers 13, the spies declare that they (Israel) are like grasshoppers. Indicating a small size. This report caused 40 years of mistrust in God, wandering and the death of a generation! Numbers 14. In Deuteronomy 28 God declares a curse for disobedience using locusts. The harvest will be devoured! 1Kings 8, 2 Chronicles 6, and 2 Chronicles 7, Solomon's prayer, locusts and devastation are mentioned. The prayer declares that calling on God and repenting is what we need to do in times of distress. In Job 39:20, God asks Job if he has the power of a locusts to frighten a horse! This little insect is powerful. Revelation 9:7-9, locusts are said to look like horses armed for battle. They are noisy, frightening! Proverbs 30:24-28, declares 4 tiny creatures amazing in behavior, one of them is...the locusts. Jeremiah 51: locusts (grasshoppers) are used to indicate a great number. Joel 1 & 2 the Day of the Lord, the coming judgement, a warning issued to remember there is eternity! Tho locusts has eaten, wake up, the new wine is snatched from you, a mighty army is in battle array...great is the Day of the Lord! Amos 4:9, God declares that even when He allowed destruction by locusts, and He was saddened, and disobedience continued. In Mark we read that John the Baptist dined on locusts. In the mid east they still eat them today. They are prepared in several different ways. (Interesting, it is thought that the "locusts" that John and the prodigal son ate from the swines food may have been husks from the carbon bean tree.) Locusts may cause disease in human and animal alike. Revelation 9:3-11, locusts drop from smoke. Apocalyptic horror, power of devastation, darkness, torment, woe, invasion. Locusts indicate all these things and more power, starvation, judgement. These creatures are wise have amazing behavior. They have been used by God. They can be cruel, can be symbolic of evil. But, these creatures normally have a life cycle of only 5 months. Revelation 9:10, their torture can only last 5 months. (Scorpions are in the same family of insects as locusts, grasshoppers, walking sticks, katydids.....) But take heart, Revelation 9:5, the locusts were not to kill them, but ONLY give anguish for 5 months...GOD IS IN CONTROL! He will protect His people! Before this study, my Mom told me that the locusts we heard as kids were only singing for more heat! Who knew! Wow!
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