Joel and the Locust
The book of Joel is classified as one of the Bible’s prophetic books, as it contains a foretelling of the future. After multiple reads, however, this short, 3-chapter book begins to emerge more as poetry than prophecy, revealing multiple levels of meaning awaiting the patient reader to unveil and discover.
The name of the book is the same as the prophet who received God’s oracle—Joel. The nemesis of Joel’s story is a swarm of locust.
Joel’s message is one of unprecedented destruction via this army of locust, which eats everything in sight, devastating all plants—and the sustenance they produce. Both men and animals suffer as a result. However, there is also a grand and glorious redemption that follows, with God promising to restore the years that the locust ate.
Perhaps the most notable mention of locusts in the Bible is as one of the plagues that befall Egypt during Moses’ day. Another is that of locust—along with honey—comprising the unique dietary stylings of John the Baptist.
Aside from the life-nourishment that the locust provides to John, all the other Biblical references of locust relate to plague and destruction—and death—be it literal or figurative.
Regardless, I wouldn’t what them to eat my food or to eat them as food — I’m happy to take my locust as a metaphor.
Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter DeHaan’s new book, Dear Theophilus, Minor Prophets: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.