Just Like Clockwork

May 6, 2021
Volume 25, Number 17

Any day now things should get noisier here where I live. It won’t be just in my community, but large sections of the U.S. will notice an evening chorus that cannot be missed. Brood X of cicadas will begin emerging from the soil as temperatures warm.

This particular brood of cicadas is the largest, and trillions of them will come out of the ground in which they have been hidden away for the past 17 years. They will head straight for a tree and will first shed their skin, which will remain attached to the bark of the tree. Then the males will begin singing as they search for a mate. Once found, the females will lay their eggs, and the symphony will begin fading.

Cicadas (we called them jar flies where I grew up) are quite a phenomenon. These insects have been documented for many generations, and their cycle is predictable. Every 17 years they will emerge, and then things get quiet for a few more years. That is, unless other broods happen to come out in the intervening years (which they do).

Some think these cicadas are the same as the destructive swarms Joel wrote about long ago: “What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten” (Joel 1:4). Swarms of these insects represented a true plague, and the devastation left behind was as bad as a hurricane blowing through.

Cicadas are not the same as Biblical locusts. They are essentially harmless, we’re told, and that we should just relax and enjoy the show. I plan to do just that.

One thought that I will entertain as the cicadas entertain me is this statement God made after destroying the earth by means of a flood: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Cicadas were not mentioned by name in that verse, but they’re there.

I also will meditate on this idea: How do these insects know to come out of the ground every 17 years, just like clockwork? Their continued existence depends on this regularity; if they miss just one cycle, where will the next generation come from? But they won’t miss it. They’re coming, and we know they’re coming based on their history.

I don’t know the tune to which Psalm 98 was originally sung, but I “sing” it regardless: “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things …” Later in that psalm the call is issued for all creation to join in the song: “Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it; let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord” (Psalm 98:1,7-8). And let the cicadas sing to God’s glory, we might add. And while we’re at it, why don’t we sing to His glory, too?

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2021, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

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