In ancient times, especially over in the Middle-East & Asia, things that we as civilized Americans would hardly consider eating were on the daily menu! Survivalists have been known to eat some pretty crazy things & and even in the younger years of our nation, it might surprise you what some of our forefathers & mothers considered edible!
When John the Baptizer, cousin of Jesus the Christ, came eating locusts & honey ( Mark 1:6 ), this would not have seemed unusual to the general populace, as this is how many or most of his forbears lived & sustained themselves, especially in the wilderness! His forbear, the prophet Elijah, no doubt made much of his sustenance from this delicacy! How often, though, do we think about the significance of their consumption of these hording insects!
Looking through the Scriptural references to these amazing creatures, we find that 9.9 times out of 10, they are symbols of destruction, to whatever extent, usually utter! The eighth plague that was visited on Egypt by Yahweh involved hordes of locusts that 'ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees' ( Exodus 10:1-18 ). It is no coincidence that John came eating 'locusts and wild honey', for this signaled the coming Reversal of the Curse that was about to be inaugurated by the One for whom John paved the way, the Messiah of Israel & the Only Begotten Son of God!
Locusts were symbolically a part of the Curse, as is evident throughout Scripture, most famously, of course, beginning with the Plagues of Egypt & ending with the Plagues of Israel, or Babylon, which Israel had become like! In the famous Blessings & Cursings passage ( Deuteronomy 28 ), Yahweh promises those unfaithful to His Covenant, 'Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land' ( verse 42 ) . Speaking of the coming utter destruction of Babylon ( Jeremiah 51:14 ), He says 'Surely I will fill you with men, as with locusts, and they shall lift up a shout against you'. The first part of Yahweh's judgement against Judah & Jerusalem ( Amos 7 ) involves 'locust swarms' that are intentionally formed by the LORD!!
At the 5th trumpet of the Revelation ( Revelation 9 ), we see the fulfillment ( symbolically of course ) of Yahweh's deadly promise in Deuteronomy 28! When the 5th trumpet ( judgment ) sounded, 'locusts' ascended from the bottomless pit; interestingly enough though, they were commanded not to harm that which naturally grows from the earth, 'but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads'. This curse, the fulfillment of the curse promised back in Deuteronomy 28 was not against the Land but was levied directly upon Man on the Land, he who disdained to acknowledge His Creator!
Throughout Scripture, as we have seen, 'locusts' symbolize an adverse judgment, a curse! How significant is it then that John the Baptizer appeared upon the scene, as no doubt all the prophets had, eating 'locusts and wild honey'? He who signaled the Coming of Messiah & the Reversal of the Curse was found eating ( consuming ) that which had symbolically been a part of the Curse!
While locusts are still a very destructive insect & are by no means a boon to any farmer worth his salt, they no longer symbolize Yahweh's judgment ( ? ), at least not Scripturally speaking! As any farmer will tell you, locusts are no friends of the farmer; when they descend upon the crops, the farmer knows that's pretty much all she wrote for that crop, unless he or she can get them away from the crop; it might surprise you, the lengths to which a farmer will go to keep the locusts at bay!
Although locusts still are a problem to the farmer especially, it is no longer a symbol of the Curse, as it was, though it no doubt is considered so by many! It is simply a part of our Heavenly Father's Good Creation that serves its purpose! It is destructive when swarming, but it can also stave of starvation! Personally, I have never eaten a locust, but I hear they can be quite tasty & no doubt are considered a delicacy, especially when covered in Dark Chocolate & wrapped in Bacon!
Charles Haddon Shank