The Day of the Locust & the Hope of Restoration




In the first chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, God has foretold that at the close of the age Israel will witness a plague of locusts unlike anything seen before in history. Of that day of drought and locusts God declares in Joel 1:2, 15 &16, "Hear this, you elders and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?...Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty. Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?"
Like all of the signs prophesied for these last days, God has been demonstrating dramatic foreshadows of the events which are to culminate the close of the age. On July 24, ‘04 the Colorado Springs Gazette had an article which had the telling headline, "‘Biblical' Swarms."
The article stated that, "The arrival of swarms of ravenous locusts from sub-Saharan Africa into Senegal brought renewed warnings from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that this year's infestation is building to a plague of biblical proportions. The agency warned that without immediate action, entire fields of maize, cassava and other staple crops across northern and western Africa could be razed to the ground. The problem would be especially acute if the insects make their way into Chad, Niger and western Sudan, which are facing severe food shortages due to unrest in Sudan's Darfur region."
The request for immediate action to combat the locusts gives rise to how helpless mankind will be before the plague of locusts which will overwhelm the Middle East in the not too distant future.
The Aug. 6, ‘04 Denver Post article which headlined, "Plague of locusts smites W. Africa" reveals the futility of attempts to halt the relentless march of such a hoard; and of added interest to prophecy students how it is a United Nations agency based at Rome in the European Union that is at the heart of the battle to protect the world's food.
We quote, "Clouds of locusts swarmed this West African city Thursday, crunching underfoot, blurring people's vision and causing traffic accidents as sub-Sahara's biggest plague of the insects in more than a decade swept south from the desert.
Burning smoky bonfires of tires and trash, the people of Nouakchott tried to fight back the onslaught of the crop-eating bugs - estimated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to be moving as fast as 60 miles a day and settling at a rate of 200,000 locusts per acre. Blankets of the insects covered houses, cars and roads.
"It's beautiful to see and funny, the locusts on parade in the sky," marveled Aicha Bint Sadibouh, a woman in Noaukchott. "But when they invade the streets and homes, it's disastrous ."
The locusts' descent on a major sub-Saharan city made vivid a growing international warning: Unseasonably heavy rains up north had spawned the northwest Sahara's largest locust population since 1988.
Experts warned of threats to vital rainy-season planting now and harvests later. They urged urgent international action for an arid region perpetually on the edge of food shortages.
"Farmers are just now planting the seeds in the ground. ...Some farmers now are afraid to plant any more seeds - they're afraid once seeds germinate and the little plants come up, they will be attacked by the locusts," said Keith Cressman, a locust forecast officer with the Rome-based U.N. agency.
"The last risk is that when the crops are ready to be harvested, around September, that will coincide with the formation of new swarms" from eggs being laid now, Cressman said. "That harvest could be seriously disrupted.
At risk are sustenance crops of millet, sorghum and other grains that feed millions in vulnerable Saharan states. Vegetable crops for markets likewise were in danger."
The Book of Joel is fascinating in not only its prophesying of literal locusts plaguing Israel, but also in its illustrative application prominently put forth.
The mention of the fact that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is based in Rome brings further to mind how Rome is central to the prophesied global control the Anti-Christ will exercise at the close of this age and his particular hatred for Israel. He will intend to strip Israel down to the root of it's existence in God according to Daniel 9:22.
An Aug. 15, ‘04 New York Times article which headlined, "European nations join forces to battle crime" revealed how the police powers of the revived Roman Empire are preparing a new era of global Roman law which, according to Revelation 13:17, will someday control the world's food distribution.
John Markey, a director of law enforcement assistance programs for the State Dept. and the principal U.S. liaison for the regional center, known as the S.E.C.I. Center stated that, "For the first time, we have investigators from several countries working together, we have prosecutors involved, and victims crossing borders to provide testimony without resort to legal-assistance treaties."
With Joel's prophecy of the day of the locust we find reference to one of the great men of evil and his army which will bring devastation and suffering to Israel as they descend from the north like locusts.
Of this man we are told in Joel 2:20, "But I [that is the Lord] will remove far from you the northern army. And will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, With his face toward the eastern sea And his back toward the western sea; His stench will come up, And his foul odor will rise, because he has done monstrous things."
This immediately brings to remembrance God's prophecy against the Russian leader over Magog called Gog and all his swarming armies written of in Chapters 38 & 39 of Ezekiel. In verses 16 & 22 of Ch. 38 we read, "You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes...And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone."
Chapter 2 of Joel contains a fascinating mystery for Bible students. Verses 1 & 2 makes it clear that at the close of the age a group of people unlike any ever seen before in history, nor will ever be seen again, will come into the land of Israel. Verse 3 declares that they devour the land with fire and that nothing can escape them. Verses 4 & 5 describes them as appearing as, and running like horses. They make a noise like chariots as they leap over mountaintops.
Just when we think Joel must be speaking of a modern mechanized army we are suddenly thrown another curve as verses 6-9 describes what more likely are a super race of locusts. They are unyielding in their formations and never break ranks as they run on walls and climb into the houses through windows in their assault.
In verse 8 it appears the Scripture suggests that they are impervious to human weapons.
In Revelation 9:1-11 we are told of how during the days of the Great Tribulation, demonic locusts will be loosed upon the earth from the abyss. They too have the appearance of horses and the beating of their wings likewise sound like chariots.
Joel's reference to them being like a strong people set in battle array in verse 5 of Ch. 2 is frighteningly illustrated in Rev. 9:7-9 where we are told the demon locusts have faces like men, hair like women and will have breastplates like breastplates of iron.
While the burden of proof at first suggests that these demon locusts are the same army described in Ch. 2 of Joel we must remember that their individually described acts of terror do not harmonize.
The destroying army of Joel uses fire and of the effect upon the vegetation we are told in Joel 2:3 that, "...the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness."
In contrast we are told of the demon locusts in Rev. 9:4-5 that their only means of attack is that they sting unsaved individuals like scorpions and unlike natural locusts they will not harm vegetation. Verse 4 reads, "They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads."
Without any other possibilities on hand we must go back to considering a human army. Until recently the apparent invulnerability of this human-like locust hoard was the main factor for questioning anything short of a supernatural assault force. This has been alleviated to a large extent by an Apr. 29, ‘04 Associated Press report which headlined, "Scientists Working on Flexible Armor."
We quote, "Army scientists are working on a liquid body armor for clothing that stays flexible during normal use but can harden to stop a projectile when hit suddenly.
Researchers hope the liquid could be used in sleeves and pants, areas not protected by ballistic vests because they must stay flexible.
The liquid, hard particles suspended in a fluid, is soaked into layers of Kevlar, which holds it in place. Scientists recently had an archer shoot arrows at it to see how well the liquid boosted the strength of a Kevlar vest.
"Instead of the arrow going through the Kevlar, it is completely stopped by the Kevlar vest and sometimes just bounces right off," said Norman Wagner, a University of Delaware chemical engineering professor who is working on the project.
Vests treated with the liquid have also blocked stabs from an ice pick, and researchers are doing more tests to see if it can stop bullets or shrapnel, too.
The project, which has been under way for about three years, is a joint venture between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Delaware's Center for Composite Materials.
Eric Wetzel, a mechanical engineer who heads the project team for the Army lab, said a "shear thickening fluid" is a key component of the liquid armor. Hard particles are suspended in the liquid, polyethylene glycol. At low strain rates, the particles flow with the fluid, enabling clothing to stay flexible. But when heavily strained, the particles become rigid.
"If it's impacted suddenly by a projectile or a knife, say, it rigidifies and somehow restricts the ability of the fabric to move," Wetzel said.
The transition happens very quickly, a millisecond or quicker.
Wetzel and Wagner are optimistic the liquid body armor will be useful to local police and prison guards and perhaps it could one day protect people in automobile and airplane crashes."
The Book of Joel does not leave the reader in despair. Although the mere 3 chapters of Joel contains some of the Bible's most disturbing prophecies for its size, the whole book is an overall metaphor for Israel and all believers to expect the inevitable restoration of that which was thought lost.
In the midst of all the horrifying apocalyptic forecasts God promises His people in verses 25, 26 & 32 of the 2nd Chapter of Joel, "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locusts, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you, And My people shall never be put to shame...And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved..."
Throughout history mankind has had to live through the days of the devouring locust. Destroyers come in all shapes as they take away the good of life and leave behind nothing but desolation and despair. The greatest of these and the last enemy of God to be destroyed according to I Corinthians 15:24-26 is Death.
The eternal restoration of all things beautiful and glorious awaits every believer in Jesus Christ. God has stored up treasures of all who hope. Treasures to be revealed as everlasting rewards in the day of His appearing. Hopes that are both alive and many that are buried under broken hearts.
I was reminded recently of a saving story. Jesus demonstrated on the cross to us the most powerful reason to never crush one's own hope on the matter of a loved one who no one had ever witnessed accepting Christ. He put power to the command that we are never to place ourselves as judges on such holy and divine matters such as the final determination of an individual (I Cor. 4:5). Unless you were listening to every word ever whispered by a person throughout their lives and were present as an individual denounced Christ with their dying breath, you have no justification before man or God to proclaim with any amount of certainly that at some point a call to Christ was not made. Even the quietest sigh is heard by the Lord.
Last minute salvation is found at the heart of the crucifixion. As Jesus hung on the cross He was accompanied by criminals on His right and on His left who were also being crucified, just as was prophesied in Psalm 22:16-18 & Isaiah 53:12 (see Matt. 27:38).
In Ch. 27:44 of the Gospel of Matthew we are told that even the robbers who were crucified alongside Jesus mocked and taunted Him as He hung on the cross between them. This is a picture of utter contempt for God and all He stands for. If ever there were men we might believe were beyond hope for salvation, these two men should head the list.
But then we are shown in Luke 23:39-43 that an amazing thing took place with one of the thieves as he approached the closing moments of his life. As the one criminal continued to unmercifully taunt Jesus in His suffering in verse 39, the other suddenly spoke up in defense in verse 40 for the Savior as the beauty of Jesus' purity and innocence touched his own dark soul.
In verses 41-43 the entire record and requirement of one person's last moment salvation is recorded for us. The man first acknowledged he was a sinner deserving of death and that Jesus was a sinless offering when he stated, "...for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong."
The thief then accepted Jesus as the Lord and petitioned Christ's forgiveness by his dying request to be allowed to enter into His heavenly kingdom as is recorded in verse 42, "...Then he said to Jesus, Lord remember me when You come into Your kingdom." The Savior then answered the thief in verse 43, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
There was no demand for the thief to confess all his sins or do penance, no requirement to attend church service, have a charismatic experience, be baptized, or to give tithes, nor any of the countless other vain requirements foolish men ignorantly attach to the blood bought grace of Jesus Christ for salvation.
Amazingly, men will still stand in contradiction with the Savior's dying example on the cross for what men must do to be saved, that is, to simply believe in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness. It is upon the cross that we find the embodiment of all that grace was and is - undeserved favor. No one deserved it then and none deserve it now. All one needs to do to acquire it is to want it.
Indeed, the days that were before the devouring locust will be restored, and even that which many believed had been lost will be found again, perfect in its joy forevermore.
The Apostle Paul recorded for us in Romans 8:35, "But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." And again in Romans 15:4, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
When hope wains, look to the cross and find restoration.

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