“John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6).
Last night and again early this morning I was outside and heard the distinct sound of hundreds, or more likely, thousands of insects.As the days get shorter and nights cooler the sounds are fading compared to the volume heard in August. It’s a sound I recall hearing wherever I have lived. There is actually a field of science devoted to these sounds known as bioacoustics.
One of the critters making the noise is the locust which brings to mind the colorful prophet John the Baptist. Probably the thing we find most interesting in the daily verse is that John the Baptist ate locusts. After all, we still wear clothing made with animal hair and leather belts. Most of us also enjoy the sweet taste of honey (which is essentially bee spit). We spread honey last night on our corn bread and this morning we’re enjoying honey butter on our biscuits.
But most in our culture draw the line at eating locusts. Entomophagy is the scientific name for insect eating. There are more than 1,450-recorded species of edible insects, many of which are lower in fat, higher in protein, and have a better feed to meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. So locusts were actually a good diet choice for an active prophet!
John the Baptist is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. His start in life was unusual and his death gruesome. He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a godly infertile couple, who were both “well along in years” (or as the KJV colorfully puts it “well stricken in years”).
Zechariah was a priest who had a mighty encounter with an angel of the Lord informing him that he would have a son. I’ve wondered what in the world his wife thought when her speechless husband got home and had that twinkle in his eyes! Anyway, she became pregnant and they received a blessing they surely hadn’t planned for.
John’s mission in life was very clear and he fulfilled it well in his brief lifetime. His mission was summed up in the words, “Prepare the way for the Lord.” Jesus commended him with these words, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” John died in his early thirties as a result of his stern rebuke of Herod followed by Herod’s order to have him beheaded. (Matthew 14:10)
On this day, as we live out our lives and seek to please God in a world with many Herods, let us recall the faithfulness of John the Baptist. I note particularly his bold declaration to Herod, renouncing his sin. He was not interested in being liked or living on the politically safe side but in speaking out for God’s truth. And for that he literally* lost his head.
May the Lord empower us today to stand as John did no matter the consequences! As the apostle Paul said “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber