LOST years can never be restored literally. Time once past is gone for ever. Let no man make any mistake about this, or trifle with the present moment under any notion that the flying hour will ever wing its way back to him. It will strike you at once that the locusts did not eat the years: the locusts ate the fruits of the years’ labour, the harvests of the fields; so that the meaning of the restoration of the years must be the restoration of those fruits and of those harvests which the locusts consumed.
You cannot have back your time; but there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wasted blessings, the unripened fruits of years over which you mourned. The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours. It is a pity that they should have been locust-eaten by your folly and negligence; but if they have been so, be not hopeless concerning them. “All things are possible to him that believeth.” There is a power which is beyond all things, and can work great marvels. Who can make the all-devouring locust restore his prey? No man, by wisdom or power, can recover what has been utterly destroyed. God alone can do for you what seems impossible; and here is the promise of His grace: “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.”
By giving to His repentant people larger harvests than the land could naturally yield, God could give back to them, as it were, all they would have had if the locusts had never come; and God, by giving you larger grace in the present and in the future, can make the life which has hitherto been blighted, and eaten up with the locust, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm of sin, and self, and Satan, yet to be a complete, and blessed, and useful life, to His praise and glory. It is a great wonder; but Jehovah is a God of wonders, and in the Kingdom of His Grace miracles are common things.
We shall go into this subject, which I think must be very full of interest to those here present, who have wasted years to mourn over, since they have hitherto done nothing for God, nor even for themselves. The locust hath eaten everything. The prospect of recovering the wreckage of a life must be full of interest to them.
YEARS WHICH THE LOCUST HATH EATEN: what sort of years are these?
Many Christians are barely Christians. We may not be judges of our brethren; but if some professors are Christians, it is in a very small way. We know quite a company of that kind: perhaps they fear the Lord, but they have not worked at it much: their religion has no practical power over them. Salvation is not by works; but when a man is saved, then straightway he begins to work for the Lord; and hence, where nothing is done for Jesus, we are apt to fear that nothing has been done by Jesus. There are talkers around us whose years are eaten up by the locust of idleness, the palmer-worm of worldliness, the canker-worm of frivolous amusement. I do not judge them: but I look at them with pitying wonder. How can they be content to be such useless things? If you be a Christian, be a Christian. Let your heart be warm towards holy things, or else let them alone. Cold meats are well enough, but cold religion is the sickliest diet upon which a man can live. The years which the locust hath eaten in some professors are far too many; and I would earnestly exhort any brother here who has had the locusts at him for a long time, and remind him that the promise stands, if he will avail himself of it, “I will restore unto you the years that the locust hath eaten.” It is high time that he saw to it, for his case is a bad one. It is ill to be trading so ill, when a merchandise so precious as time is being lost.
There are some in whom their years have been eaten up by the locusts in a worse way than that of mere idleness, namely, by the sin of open backsliding. This is one of the plagues of the church of God. Alas, for the many who did run well, but have suddenly stopped, and run no longer in the Divine road! This is our frequent sorrow, even to heartbreak. Saints who have only the name of saints, last but for a time, and then die away. In too many the life of God rather lingers than grows: their religion is so very weakly, that they exhibit rather the signs of disease than of health. They wander away from their Lord and Master, because they do not sufficiently feel His attractive power. Oh, that the Lord would be gracious in restoring such wanderers!
Do I address any who have almost given up attendance on the means of grace? I am sure, if you are a child of God, you cannot be happy in the world, you cannot be content while leaving Christ, but you are in a miserable way. Your only hope of happiness lies Godward. You must come back; you must come back to the good old way. Do not linger; but return at once. Every hour that you linger the locusts are eating up every green and fruitful thing within your spirit: why give the destroyer so much space? You are doing no good; you are getting no good; why remain as you are? You are doing mischief; you are grieving the Spirit of God; awake from so deplorable a state. You are not winning souls, but you are ruining souls by your inconsistency. God have mercy upon you! Come and receive His restoring mercy. He will not cast you away, but He bids me say to you, that if you turn to Him according to the teaching of this chapter, He will yet restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten. It is a great wonder; but you shall see it, if you will seek the Lord yet again.
LOCUST-EATEN YEARS RESTORED
Notice, this is Divine work, “I will restore unto you the years that the locust hath eaten.” You cannot get them back. Nobody can give them back to you. But the Omnipotent Jehovah says, “I will restore them to you.” Can you believe that? All things are possible with God. Those dead years, those doleful years, those desponding years, those idle years, those backsliding years— all the harvests of them, God can give them back to you. Look away from yourself, and trust in the miracle-working God, while you hear this word of promise, “I will restore unto you the years which the locust hath eaten.”
But notice that this restoration follows upon a true and genuine repentance. Let me read the word of the Lord to you, and do you listen to it and obey it. “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God.”
Repent, then. This promise is only fulfilled by the exceeding Grace of God. The Lord can bring so much good out of the evil, so much light out of the darkness, so much joy out of the sorrow, that you shall one day say, “I thank God I did sink in the deep mire where there was no standing, for He has restored to me the years that the locust hath eaten.”
Oh, that one of the seraphims might take from off the altar the living coal, and touch some unclean lip, and inflame some cold heart, and make the purified man to answer, “Here am I, send me.” Then shall you be sent to tell abroad the riches of the Grace of which you have tasted — the freeness of the love which has been manifested to you. May the Lord grant it!
May the locusts all be blown away by a strong north wind, and never darken the air again! May these wasted years all be given back to you, and may you become the Lord’s living, loving servants from this time forth. Oh, for the highest form of spiritual life! Oh, for the greatest possible usefulness! Oh, for grace to fill out our poor shrivelled lives till they arrive at a heavenly fulness! Oh, for the sacred breath of God to fill out all the canvas of our capacity! Lord, the sail flaps; the boat scarcely moves; we lie becalmed in indolence! Send us a breeze, we pray thee. Grant us the wind of thy Spirit to fill out every sail, that we may fly over the waves. Amen.
Excerpt from the sermon titled “Truth stranger than Fiction” (Joel 2:25) by CH Spurgeon dated 30 May 1886. You are encouraged to read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/truth-stranger-than-fiction/#flipbook/