THE GREAT MINNESOTA GRASSHOPPER MIRACLE
“Beginning in 1873, the state of Minnesota fell victim to vast swarms of grasshoppers, moving east after devastating the Dakotas. Some called them locusts; they devoured crops. As in the Biblical accounts, the skies were darkened by the clouds of insects and the people knew great fear.
They beseeched the young state’s government to save them. Two governors tried, directing their efforts to provide economic relief to the victims of the infestation. The plague continued and both governors were replaced.
The next Governor was John S. Pillsbury, a New Hampshire native who had migrated to Minnesota and helped found the eponymous milling giant. His philosophy dictated fighting the grasshoppers rather than succoring their victims. In this, he differed from his predecessors” (www.startribune.com).
“As the growing season of 1877 approached, State entomologists studying the situation found billions and billions of grasshopper eggs were just waiting to hatch. Over 50,000 of the state’s 80,000 square miles were affected. The entomologists warned that the previous four years of infestations would be considered minor once the new hoppers hatched.
This was taking place less than 20 years after Minnesota had become a State. Most farmers were truly still pioneers, living in log cabins or rough plank houses. They were by no means wealthy. There were no pesticides, no insecticides and no effective way to control the bugs that often stripped whole fields bare overnight……There were no farm programs or crop insurance at the time to help farmers recover from their losses. Most were deeply in debt from the previous four years of grasshopper plague…”
The desperate citizens asked for a day of prayer. Governor Pillsbury obliged and……proclaimed April 26, 1877 as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer and urged every man, woman, and child to ask God to prevent the impending scourge. Pillsbury even donated $10,000 out of his own pocket to build a chapel. (That’s over $222,000 in today’s dollars.)
Even though we think of society being much more godly 137 years ago, history records that Governor Pillsbury’s plan and his generosity were mocked by some. They called the idea “Pillsbury’s Best”-a spoof on the motto of his family’s baking flour. The Liberal League of Minneapolis issued a statement: “We hold that the belief in the power of prayer is palpably untrue, its influence pernicious, and in this day, a marked discredit to the intelligence of Minnesotans…” Then they finished off their comments with the statement “From the beginning down to this day, outside of so-called Sacred History, there is not one well-authorized instance of such prayer having been answered, not one.”
Reporters from all over or young nation descended on Minnesota to report the latest in the controversial idea of praying for deliverance.
Nonetheless, on April 26, 1877 all schools, shops, stores, and offices in Minnesota were closed. An article in the Nov. 9, 1975 Milwaukee Journal recounts the day by saying, ‘Saloons and theaters seemed strangely silent. Streets were deserted except for the steady streams of churchgoers moving slowly and silently to and from their places of worship.’
April 26, 1877, was also unusual in that it was a warm, sunny, spring day. In fact, it was unseasonably warm-perfect for grasshopper eggs to hatch and the little larvae to come wiggling to life.
Then, late that night, another unusual thing happened. A cold rain began to fall. The wind shifted from south to north. Rain changed to freezing rain, to sleet, and then to snow. The snow and freezing temperatures continued for two full days and then, on the third day (a Sunday) a full-fledged blizzard swept down out of Canada and hit the state.
When the storm cleared and the sun came out again, the same entomologists who had predicted an impending disaster found that billions of little grasshoppers had been frozen to death shortly after hatching.
Farmers harvested a record crop of wheat, corn, and small grain that year. Entomologists scouring the fields that autumn failed to find even one new grasshopper egg in the entire state.
There is no recorded response to these events by the Liberal League.
The chapel Gov. Pillsbury helped build was destroyed by a tornado some years ago, but residents of Cold Spring rebuilt a beautiful granite chapel in its place. A stone carving featuring grasshoppers, originally made for the altar shortly after the miracle, now rests above the entrance.
There has been no serious grasshopper infestation in Minnesota since 1876″ (kinshipradio.org).
PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS IN THE BIBLE
This Minnesota story reminds us of the plague of locusts in the days of Moses in Egypt. Exodus 10:19 (NKJV) says, “And the Lord turned a very strong, west wind, which took the locusts away and blew them into the Red Sea. There remained not one locust in all the territory of Egypt.” The God of miracles removed the locusts in Egypt and he did the same in Minnesota.
KEYS TO THE MIRACLES OF THE LOCUSTS
There are a number of keys in the story of the ‘Miracle of the Locusts,’ including:
- Desperation – The people were desperate, and they asked for a day of prayer and fasting. When people get desperate, and they know there is no other answer but God, they get serious, and they turn to prayer and fasting.
- Unity – This day of prayer and fasting involved the whole state. The schools, shops, and offices were closed as they came to church to cry out to God. The people were united.
- Proclamation – There was a proclamation, in this case, by the Governor. A proclamation was needed to have a statewide day to pray and fast and seek God for deliverance. We need to proclaim God’s deliverance today.
THAT WAS THEN, WHAT ABOUT NOW
In 1877, Governor Pillsbury declared a statewide day of prayer and fasting. What if the Governor was to do that now?
We face destruction from the coronavirus, unrest associated with racial issues, and conflicts that have arisen in our communities, to say nothing of the coming election and the impact that will have on our nation.
Well, it is highly unlikely that the Governor would issue such a proclamation, but that need not stop the church or even a remnant of believers from fasting and praying for America today.
Indeed, this is going on in American today. ‘The Return,’ with Jonathan Cahn and the ‘Prayer Walk,’ with Franklin Graham in Washington D.C. on Saturday, September 26, just before Yom Kippur, are but two examples of the many calls to prayer and fasting that have reached out across the nation.
2 Chronicles 2:14 (NKJV) is still true. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It is not too late to pray. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer and fasting. Let’s do it.
Note – I first hear the story of ‘Miracle of the Locusts’ from Michelle Bachman on Jan Markell’s radio program ‘Understanding the Times.’