Mormon crickets and plagues of locusts

I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten. – Joel 2:25

Joel 2:18-27

 18 Then the LORD will pity his people and jealously guard the honor of his land.

 19 The LORD will reply, Look! I am sending you grain and new wine, and olive oil, enough to satisfy your needs. You will no longer be an object of mockery among the surrounding nations.

 21 Don’t be afraid, my people. Be glad now and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things.

 23 Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.

 24 The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

 25 The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.

 26 Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the LORD your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced.

 27 Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced.

Mormon crickets are noted for the utter destructiveness of their invasive plagues. The insects vary in color from black, brown, red, purple, or green. They are typically 2 to 3 inches in length. They do not fly and have only vestigial wings. However, theycan jump and crawl over a mile a day. When they swarm an area, they eat almost anything and everything in their path, including their own dead. Although they are called crickets, they are actually large wingless katydids.

They were dubbed Mormon crickets because they invaded and swarmed the fields of Mormon pioneers in Utah in May 1848. They began devouring their crops. According to traditional accounts, countless seagulls appeared on June 9, 1848. The seagulls ate huge quantities over two weeks, virtually annihilating them.

Plagues of Mormon crickets reoccur at certain times and places and may include millions of individuals. When swarming, they occur in densities of up to 100 insects per square yard. When swarming, they can invade a mile of land a day and up to 50 miles in a given agricultural season. They eat anything growing in the fields until it is bare. Then they move on. These infestations may last years or even decades. In 2021, an estimated 10 million acres of rangeland in 18 counties in Oregon were damaged by grasshoppers and Mormon crickets.

A major plague was in June 2003. They become a traffic hazard as they are crushed on roadways turning them “blood red.” As the roads become caked with crushed insect carcasses, they render some hilly roads impassable.

The prophet Joel explained that because of years of disobedience, the Lord sent an army of locusts to judge the nation of Judah. Joel prophesied that locusts would invade Israel. Consequently, the land would be devastated. The army of locusts was a metaphor for an invading human army coming and wreaking havoc on the land. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The people of Judah would be left with horrible famine and poverty.

Joel 1:2-3

 2 Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before?

 3 Tell your children about it in the years to come and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation.

But with judgment would come mercy and restoration from the same source. When the people turn from their sinful ways and seek forgiveness and redemption from the Father, it will be given to them.

Habakkuk 3:2 I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.

If, however, the people would turn from their sinful ways and ask God for forgiveness, Joel says the Lord would “repay [them] for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

The Father promises to make up for what is lost because of His justice.

Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten.


What a paradox, if not an oxymoron, the Father is a God of all grace and lovingkindness, yet He is also a God of justice and retribution.

Father help me to see and recognize my sin and rebellion. Encourage me to repent and seek restoration.


The Father’s justice often results in loss. But thanks be to God, the Father’s love and abundant mercy provide overflowing restoration.

“Being human often means bearing loss never to be regained (the years that the swarming locust has eaten), and yet the Lord, the bringer of the calamity, is also the Lord of mercy and abundant grace who is fully able to recompense: I will restore to you” (ESV).

Psalms 90:15 Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.

Being broken emotionally, physically, or spiritually is grievous, not pleasant. Yet, in the kingdom of God, strength, and blessing result from brokenness. Without faith in a gracious and merciful, loving Father, it is so difficult to recognize and acknowledge the benefit of being crushed in the midst of our pain.

Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Paul dealt with discouragement and a multitude of intense trials. He died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). But he understands how God develops character and faith. It was all worth it!

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed but not driven to despair.

 9 We are hunted down but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

For Paul, the trials and vicissitudes of life were tools in the hand of God. The Father used them to refine, reshape, and refocus our lives.

Clinging to what you want and what youthink is suitable for your life can prolong the brokenness process. God’s work in your life may not make sense initially, but He knows what lies ahead in your life. “He disciplines, guides, and directs, not to hem you in, but to place you in a better position to live a free and blessed life” (Stanley).

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliott).


© Dr. H 2023

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