“The locusts have no king, yet they advance in rank” (Proverbs 30:27 NKJV)
Locusts, literally grasshoppers, that vast army that gobbles up cornfields and picks the stalk clean. We have insecticides now to curb their population but in Bible days they invaded as plagues. This is an insect with instinct. They “have no king to lead them”. That is, they have no ego problems, no superiority issues; instead the whole locust cloud marches forward from field to field as on a mission. The old King James says “they go forth all of them by bands”. The Living Bible adds, “in swarms”. We could take a tip from locusts. The coach expects the defense to “swarm” toward the ball. Evangelism must become a group effort. The church must grow to the point of swarming. Peterson’s Message paraphrase says they travel “like an army regiment”. The swarm needs to form. They don’t share the polished V-formation of a flock of geese, but an instinctive cohesiveness keeps the regiment intact. Revised English notes, “in formation”, and the New Revised Standard says “they march in rank”.
How big is a grasshopper’s brain? Smaller than a pea for sure. How big is a man’s brain? Well, instinct and unity ought to be at least a little evolved in the more intelligent species. Why is it that we must have a king to crack the whip? Shouldn’t initiative and the knowledge that the job has to be done be motivation enough? The church of Jesus Christ ought to be a swarm by now; instead we are split up in a thousand sectarian groups. If locusts were as slow to devour a cornfield as the Church is the harvest field, there wouldn’t be any more locusts. Believers are out of formation. We gawk about who is the greatest locust or which locust swarm is the biggest or the most doctrinally pure. We do everything accept what locusts do, mow down the harvest field.
Our text says these critters “advance in rank”. That they “advance” means that they are not content with status quo and that they do so “in rank” means that they have learned to trust their blindside to another. Military “rank” is maintained because of a mutual trust in mission and order. Everyone in the platoon has the same objective, the same superior Officer and same enemy. The lesson from the locusts is not all that complex, just find the common mission then everyone work together. You can strip a wheat field in a matter of hours that way!
Notice earlier in this discussion that the Proverb writer said these little pests, the locusts, are “little upon the earth, but…exceeding wise” (vs 24). Size doesn’t matter where there is singleness of mind. A swarm of grasshoppers with a single mission can destroy more produce just nibbling than a herd of elephants can destroy trampling across the field, when it’s every elephant for himself. Here’s a line I use a lot…WE is stronger than ME. Locusts are little but “exceeding wise”, wise in that they know the difference between compound and singular. Joel speaks of a similar invading army and says that “everyone marches in formation, and they do not break ranks” (Joel 2:7 NKJV). Notice the amplification in the next verse, “They do not push one another; everyone marches in his own column”. The key to battle formation whether it’s in locusts, military recruiting or in the all-volunteer army of the church is that each member must find his column, his battle-station. The thing about locusts, they gobble and gobble and gobble some more. In other words, they aren’t just out for a Sunday joyride. They don’t play games; they have an agenda. So must the church. It is time that we advance, which can’t be done from behind the safety of four church walls. Locusts hit the open fields, so should we.
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