Small but Wise: The Locusts
1. In this last section of Proverbs 30, Agur has been describing things that are “small but wise.” (vs. 24)
2. The first example was the ant. They are small, but wise enough to take advantage of the window of opportunity in the summer, diligent enough to work hard, and smart enough to plan ahead for the winter. (vs. 25)
3. The second example was the coney. They are small and defenseless creatures, but wise enough to make their homes in the rocks for shelter and safety from predators.
4. The third example we are going to look at tonight is the locust. This creature is also small, but wise enough to go forth in bands.
1. The locust
a. The locust is a small creature… like the ant and the coney.
b. It is basically a flying grasshopper.
2. They are edible – and are considered “clean” according to the Levitical dietary laws.
a. Lev. 11:21-22 – “Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; 22Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.”
b. Matt. 3:4 – John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. (Though some sources state that he ate locust berries.)
3. Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage. (information taken from the National Geographic.)
a. This often causes human misery—famine and starvation. They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa.
b. The desert locust is notorious. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface. Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s humans.
c. A desert locust swarm can be 460 square miles in size and pack between 40 and 80 million locusts into less than half a square mile (one square kilometer).
d. Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day, so a swarm of such size would eat 423 million pounds of plants every day.
e. When they connect up with a wind current, they can fly over 300 miles in one night!
4. The locust in the Bible
a. Ex. 10:4 – The eighth plague in Egypt was the plague of locusts.
• The threat was that if Pharaoh did not let God’s people go, that God would destroy the land with locusts.
• National Geographic tells us that a swarm of locusts can eat 423 million pounds of plants in one day. They could easily destroy Egypt’s crops along the Nile River.
• A desert locust swarm can be 460 square miles in size and pack between 40 and 80 million locusts into less than half a square mile.
• They could easily do what Moses threatened: “cover the face of the earth so that you can’t even see the ground.”
• And in light of the fact when connected to the wind stream, that locusts can travel over 300 miles in one night—this army of locusts could easily be brought in by the Lord as He threatened.
• This threat should have scared Pharaoh to death. He should have repented—but he didn’t.
• Psalm 105:34-35 – The psalmist described the coming of this plague as the result of God “speaking.”
1. “He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number, 35And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.”
b. Rev. 9:3 – Locusts are mentioned in the final book of the Bible.
• Vs. 3 – They come out of the smoke and have power like a scorpion. They “sting.” These are not ordinary locusts.
• Vs. 1-2 – They are part of the fifth trumpet judgment of the Tribulation Period. These locusts come out of the bottomless pit. These are not ordinary locusts.
• Vs. 4 – They were given instructions NOT to harm the grass or vegetation. Instead, they were to “hurt” those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads.
• Vs. 5 – Their sting torments men for five months.
• Vs. 7-9 – These “locusts” are actually demons coming out of the bottomless pit – like a swarm of locusts. Their description indicates that these words are not to be taken literally.
• Like locusts, these demons are many, a swarm all at once, and inflict harm… only on men.
• Vs. 11 – And they had a KING over them – Satan.
1. These “demons” which swarm and hurt like locusts DO need a king over them.
1. The literal locusts which Agur is describing are small, but wise enough to be able to function WITHOUT a king or a ruler over them.
a. The bees have a queen bee; but not the locusts.
2. Some fascinating discoveries have been made about the locusts.
a. Sometimes locusts can be solitary creatures, like a grasshopper, but they also have another behavioral phase: “the gregarious phase.” This transforms an ordinary desert grasshopper into a brown flying locust.
b. An article in Scientific America stated that under certain environmental conditions, these grasshoppers emit serotonin and a metamorphosis occurs – like that of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
c. Thus, the green grasshopper is transformed into a brown locust and only in the locust stage do they swarm together. These two phases of the desert grasshopper were considered to be two different species until the 1920s because they look so different.
d. What happens is that when they come upon an area with many green plants, they stop there to eat. The locusts congregate into thick, mobile, ravenous swarms.
e. As they become denser, swarming upon a small area of vegetation, the density triggers more serotonin which causes them to fly as a unit and they stay together as they corporately seek greener pastures.
f. They are fascinating creatures.
3. Agur never read the National Geographic or American Scientific, but he did notice how these creatures fly as a unit… in bands… orderly… and with great discipline… and that they did so automatically… without a king or ruler… no one over their shoulders telling them what to do.
4. This is the point that Agur makes: they are small, but wise enough to function together as a unit without anyone telling them what to do.
5. The locusts “go forth in bands.”
a. Band: Distributed; divided into divisions; ranks; – hierarchy.
b. Thus, they function as a unit… with orderly divisions.
c. They might appear to be just a sky full of bugs, but they arrange themselves neatly and there is an order to it.
d. They function in great order.
e. They are seeking for food and go forth as an army on a mission.
f. In fact, in Joel 2:25 God refers to locusts as “my great army which I sent among you.”
g. Locusts are small and weak individually, but when they swarm almost nothing can stop them—except an ocean.
h. They are small but wise enough to realize that there is strength in unity.
i. And they do so without a king or ruler.
j. These little creatures are fearfully and wonderfully made.
k. Human beings don’t function very orderly without a ruler or leader of some sort. Every man does what is right in his own eyes—and that leads to chaos.
l. But locusts do function orderly without a ruler.
m. They are small but wise.
6. Lessons from the locust
a. Thus, they function as a unit… with orderly divisions.
• The church is to function as a unit.
• I Cor. 12:12 – The church is like a body that functions as a unit.
• This can be applied to a company or a family unit as well.
• We could learn from the locusts. They know this instinctively.
b. They function in great order.
• The local church is to be orderly in its conduct.
• I Cor. 14:40 – “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
c. When the serotonin is released, it causes the locusts to be extremely social and to stay close to each other.
• Eph. 4:25 – We are “members one of another.”
• Rom. 12:5 – “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
d. They function as a unit for the good of the whole swarm.
• I Cor. 12:7 – Individual members of the local church are equipped to function for the good of the whole body too.
• Selfishness is not even considered among the locusts. That should be the case in the local church too.
e. They function as an army on a mission.
• The local church has been given a mission too: to make Christ known through our life as a witness in the world, and verbally by proclaiming the gospel.
• Are we as wise as a grasshopper? Are we sharing the good news of Christ to those around us?
f. They are small and weak individually, but when they swarm almost nothing can stop them.
• Our adversary can attack us, but the church is unstoppable when we stay close to Christ and walk by faith.
• Eph. 6:16 – “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
g. They realize that there is strength in unity.
• Our adversary seeks to cause division in the church.
• Doctrinally… personally… morally… any way he can.
• If Satan can get the believers in an assembly fighting amongst themselves, instead of banding together in unity, he has an inroad there.
• II Cor. 2:10-11 – If we hold grudges and manifest an unforgiving spirit, Satan can take advantage of us.
• This is not an organizational unity that makes the church strong—but an INTERNAL unity among the members of a local church.
• I Cor. 1:10 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
• When we are KNIT together in love, it is very unlikely that we will unravel.
h. And they do so without a king or ruler.
• Of course, the church has no king; but we do have a Head – the Lord Jesus.
• However, as we function on earth, our Head is invisible—He is at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
• So on earth, it LOOKS LIKE we function without king or ruler.
• Even though our Ruler is in Heaven, we WILL be able to function as a unit when each of us is submitted to His will and His Word… and filled with His Spirit.
• By God’s grace, let’s be as wise as a locust.