Small but Wise Locusts

A foundational Scripture passage – Proverbs 30:24-28

 “Four things are small on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer; The rock hyraxes are not mighty people, yet they make their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks; The lizard you may grasp with the hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.”

The corresponding Scripture passage for us humans is this:

 “ … Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”[1]

As we apply to humans what is said about these four “small” animals, we will see that wisdom is essentially having the aptitude to recognize and compensate for our human limitations.  Notice that the proverb says: “Four things are small on the earth, BUT ….” Ants are not strong, BUT …” “Hyraxes are not powerful, BUT …” “Locusts have no king, BUT …” “Lizards can be seized with the hand, BUT ….” Each is small and weak, BUT through God-given wisdom their very weakness is made into a strength.  This should remind us of what the Lord said to the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  And Paul’s response was: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses … for when I am weak, then I am strong.”[2]

We need to recognize our weakness, find contentment with the “smallness” of our humanity – that is the humility component; and then seek God for the wisdom which turns that very weakness into strength – again the “Humility – Wisdom Connection”.

The Locusts

Now, we turn to the LOCUSTS: “The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks.”[3] A single locust is hardly noticeable.  In the Scripture, locusts are often symbols of insignificance and weakness.  When the Israelite spies came back from spying out the land of Canaan, having seen the inhabitants of the land, ten of them said, “we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”[4]  When describing his weakness, the psalmist said, “I am passing like a shadow when it lengthens; I am shaken off like the locust.”[5]

Coordination & Cooperation

The psalmist was referring to a single locust; but when locusts gather together, they are strong.  Their strength is a “strength in numbers”.  Their strength is that “all of them go out in ranks”.  In Scripture, locusts are also frequently likened to an army.  The prophet Joel describes them in this way: “They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like soldiers; and they each march in line, nor do they deviate from their paths.  They do not crowd each other, they march everyone in his path; when they burst through the defenses, they do not break ranks.”[6]

“The locusts have no king”, so their strength does not lie in the abilities of some leadership figure.  Their strength lies in the “team-work” of the “ranks” – “the rank and file”.  Solomon wrote: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”[7] In the Hebrew text, “in ranks” means “gathered together”.  Haddon Robinson, former-president of the Denver Seminary and the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has written: “Although the New Testament urges us to possess a personal faith in Jesus Christ, it says nothing about a private faith.  We need other believers, and other believers need us.”[8]

The Body of Christ

The wisdom of the locusts is in each doing what God has instructed them to do, but also realizing that what God has instructed everyone to do combines into a co-coordinated, co-operative, systematic strategy.  This is a picture of co-ordination and co-operation.  And this is a picture of the Body of Christ.  Listen to the apostle Paul’s instruction to the church: “Because of the grace that God has shown me, I ask you not to think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers.  Our bodies have many parts, but these parts don’t all do the same thing.  In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other.  God in His grace gave each of us different gifts….”[9] “So there are many parts but one body.  An eye can’t say to a hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  The opposite is true. The parts of the body that we think are weaker are the ones we really need.  The parts of the body that we think are less honorable are the ones we give special honor. So, our unpresentable parts are made more presentable.  However, our presentable parts don’t need this kind of treatment. God has put the body together and given special honor to the part that doesn’t have it.”[10] Of all the comments one could make about these passages, it suffices to say for our present purpose that none of us are self-sufficient – spiritually or naturally.

“His Inheritance in the Saints”

The apostle Paul prayed for the Church: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know … what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Paul says that God has placed “His inheritance in the saints”. God has invested “in the saints”, and so should we. I think it an interesting phenomenon that if we waste the Lord’s inheritance, we also are wasting our own inheritance. The Lord’s inheritance is “in the saints”, and if we do not properly discern, appreciate, and support the saints, we can miss out on some of our inheritance in Christ.

I believe Jesus warned us about wasting our blessings in a few of His parables: In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the “Prodigal Son”.  The subject matter of the story is summarized in the meaning of the word “prodigal” – the wasting of physical blessings.  In Luke chapter 16, Jesus continues in the same subject matter.  Verse 1 says: “Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.”  (This too, is a parable about the wasting of physical blessings.)  The story goes on to say that this manager, when he realized he was going to lose his job, quickly gave away the rich man’s possessions in order to make friends who would in turn help him when he was needy. Then in verses 8 & 9 it says: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.  For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”[11] Jesus’ purpose for telling the parable is to commend this type of shrewdness or wisdom – except in this case, it was applied in a dishonest manner.  He commends and recommends the “use of worldly wealth” to “make friends” “with your own kind”.  “The people of this world” do this, and Jesus is saying that “the people of light” don’t, but should also do this – that is, “USE WORLDLY WEALTH” TO BUILD UP THE SAINTS.

I believe two passages from Paul’s letters to the churches support this idea.  In I Corinthians 7:31, Paul writes: “… use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them….”[12] And in Galatians 6:10 he writes: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”, that is, “the saints”, the Body of Christ. Most other religious groups (e.g. Jews, Moslems) and fraternal groups (e.g. Free Masons) practice supporting their members in business. This is a way of “keeping the money in the family”, thus helping to strengthen the group’s well-being and witness.  Simply put: Whenever possible, we should give our business to Christians. It goes without saying that we have all been “burnt by a brother”.  But it is also true that we have all been “burnt” a multitude of times by all those outside the “household of faith”.  At least with those who claim to be brothers, we may have some measure of accountability.[13]  We should not expect “favors” from Christian businesses.  But our expectation of Christian businesses is that they would deliver what any good business would deliver – good work or a good product at a good price.

Again, Jesus’ words were: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”   This coincides with some advice that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount. He taught us to “make heavenly investments.”[14]  We need to “use our worldly wealth to make friends” with those in “… Mount Zion…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, … the general assembly and church of the firstborn… whose names are written in heaven.”[15]  We need to “use our worldly wealth to make friends” with those within the Body of Christ. Why?  For the sake of God’s eternal plans and purposes, to prosper His work here on the earth, and so the saints can bless one another. On the one hand, this is a “no-brainer”: If Christians prosper, the Body of Christ will benefit from the financial support for the work of ministry.  On the other hand, this requires a life-altering paradigm shift from self-centeredness to God-centeredness – a shift from self-consciousness to Body-consciousness.

We need to consider what the Lord spoke through the prophet, Haggai: So the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai:  “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?  This is what the LORD Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you!  You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!  “This is what the LORD Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you!  Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD.  You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses.[16]

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“The Small But Wise Locusts” is an excerpt from the eBook “Facing the Future”. See the corresponding eBook and Audio Message on our website.

At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications© 2013

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

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FOOTNOTES

[1] 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

[3] Proverbs 30:27

[4] Numbers 13:33

[5] Psalm 109:23

[6] Joel 2:7-8

[7] Ecclesiastes 4:12 New Living Translation

[8] Our Daily Bread

[9] Romans 12:3-6 God’s Word Translation

[10] 1 Corinthians 12:20-24

[11] New International Version

[12] New International Version

[13] On a related issue: We would be shocked if we were to become informed about the many anti-Christian and non-humanitarian agendas being supported by corporations to whom we give our money through the purchase of their products and services.  I believe we should exercise the power of boycott in such cases.

[14] Matthew 6:19-21, Luke 12:33-34

[15] Hebrews 12:22-23

[16] Haggai 1:3-9 New Living Translation

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Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith