Locusts and Wild Honey: An Object Lesson? image

Locusts and Wild Honey: An Object Lesson?

Here's an intriguing thought from David Capes. If it seems odd that the fast-paced Gospel of Mark would take the trouble to mention John the Baptist's diet - "and he ate locusts and wild honey" - then perhaps that's because it wasn't really about his diet. Perhaps, rather, it was a prophetic symbol of judgment and blessing, in the tradition of Jeremiah and Ezekiel:

So what would/could this mean? Well consider the prophetic record and what locusts represent. Joel may be the best place to look. An invasion of locusts offers a sign of things to come when an army invades from the north and strips the land bare. Locusts then are a sign of judgement. God’s people have behaved badly now disaster was going to come upon them. Yet even as judgment is announced there is a conditional promise of salvation. If God’s people will repent, return to God, and plead with God to deliver then, then God will restore to them everything the locusts have stripped away (Joel 2:12-27). Joel 2 ends with a triumphant declaration of God’s salvation when he pours out his Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). As many will recognize this passage is picked up in Acts 2 as Peter’s interpretation of the day of Pentecost: “This is what was spoke of through the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16) ...

So what of the honey? Well, when enough Jews repented and turned from their wicked ways, when God himself intervened by destroying the Destroyers and consuming the Consumers, then the land would once again return to its richness for God’s people. Most will recall that when the recently freed Hebrew slaves first peered in from the wilderness, they said of the promised land: “Here is a land flowing with milk and honey.”

In which case, the eating of locusts and honey would be a memorable prophetic object lesson, to visually ram home the twin messages of judgment and salvation (wheat and chaff, baptism in Spirit and fire, and so on) that John preached. It would be hard to prove, but it sounds quite plausible to me.

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