Have you ever experienced an overwhelming plague of locusts or grasshoppers? One summer when I was operating a small farm we had an alarming infestation of grasshoppers. They came in a huge swarm and covered an acre or so of sweet corn. Fortunately we had a large sprayer and enough pesticide to quickly spray all our corn and vegetables. I’ll never forget surveying the damage and seeing a delightful crabapple tree stripped completely bare and next to it a stalk of thistle with grasshoppers stacked on it from the ground to the very top!
It seems that locusts are nothing more than a species of grasshopper, but when the conditions are right their solitary behavior changes and they swarm. There can be billions of locusts in a swarm that can be as large as 40 miles wide or wider! It is recorded that in 1881 there was a swarm of locusts around the Red Sea that covered 2,000 square miles! Female locusts lay their eggs in June and one female may have as many as 18 million offspring by October! It has been said that a swarm of locusts can produce as much as 100 decibels of whirring noise by their wings. And when they die, they stink! Augustine tells of a time when Africa was a Roman province and it was attacked by a horde of locusts that not only ate everything in sight but when a “formidable swarm” of them were drowned in the sea and the dead carcasses cast up on the shore, it caused such a pestilence that it was said that more than 800,000 people perished!
One of the main features of the prophecy of Joel is the record of a devastating horde of locusts, an unprecedented horde. There was a message in that plague that pointed to the day of the Lord. We don’t know much about the prophet Joel, but in the next couple of weeks we will listen to him and ask the Lord to help us learn the lessons of the horde of locusts and the day of the Lord.
Pray: Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Let that truth shape how you ask the Lord to speak to you from His Word.
Read: Take the time to read all three chapters of Joel carefully.
Meditate: Why did God send a locust horde against His people? And what does that have to do with the day of the Lord? Although we read all of the book of Joel, we will focus our attention on 1:1-2:27 this week.