Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? … For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country.’”
A swarm of locusts is like a stock market crash in an agrarian society. Locusts descend in an instant, destroying wealth over the longterm and sending the economy into what could be a sustained downturn.
The devastation from just one attack can raze swaths of land. The largest locust swarm on record covered 198,000 square miles (17% larger than the state of California) and contained 12.5 trillion insects.
Longterm destruction from locusts is referred to as “wasted years” in scripture. Months of preparing, planting, and cultivating are laid waste in a moment. The plague in Exodus is seen as a direct result of Pharaoh’s hard heartedness, as well as an attack on the Egyptian god Isis, who was believed to protect them from such plagues.
For Israel, who faced their own locust attacks, locust swarms were believed to be tangible reminders of the devastation caused by a nation’s sin. Years were lost because of their disobedience, brokenness, and rebellion.
God’s character is revealed in how he responds to wasted years. If he were spiteful his response would be callous — a cosmic, “I told you so.” If he were overbearing he would make them worse.
God is graceful.
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” God promises through the prophet Joel. It’s a promise that requires divine intervention — for what man can restore what is lost in his darkest hour?
“It is a great wonder; but he is a God of wonders, and in the kingdom of his grace miracles are common things,” Charles Spurgeon told his London congregation in 1886.
In some ways the joy, hope, and renewal found in Christ result in a restoration here and now. Faith in Christ results in a tangible change to the way we engage in the world. In other ways we await the full restoration of all that has been lost. For then our tears will be wiped away, our pain relieved, our brokenness restored, our hearts made whole again.
Father, thank you for restoring us through the cross. Thank you that, by grace, you do what we cannot. You bring us life. You restore what sin and brokenness have laid waste. We look to you; we long for you; come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Joy in God
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org
This Weekend’s Readings