percentage of insects can be designated as harmful under present circumstances. The majority can be termed either as neutral or as directly or indirectly beneficial to man.
Even insects that attack trees and other plants are not always injurious but may be performing a valuable service. In Australia, for instance, the prickly-pear cactus rendered millions of acres of land practically unsuitable for agriculture. But this circumstance changed within a few years, chiefly because of introducing a variety of moth whose caterpillars mine the joints of this cactus. Then, too, the pruning of trees resulting from the activities of certain forest insects benefits man in contributing to better-quality lumber, reducing the fire hazard and making the forest more suitable as a home for wildlife.
Insects stand in an important relationship to plants. It has been estimated that 85 percent of flowering plants are either completely or partly dependent on insect pollination. Besides the honeybee and bumblebee, flies, beetles, moths, butterflies and other insects carry out this important function.
Insects also play a beneficial role as soil builders and scavengers. Dead plant and animal matter attracts many insects that help to break this down into different chemical combinations that can be used again as food by succeeding plant generations. The subterranean tunnels of insects aid water passage, capillary action and soil aeration. Their excreta and, eventually, their dead bodies fertilize the soil. The thickness of the rich topsoil is increased as insects continually bring up particles of subsoil to the surface.
Man has been able to use insects directly in research and to some degree in medicine. Dyes and shellac are produced from scale insects. In the Near East, insects, such as locusts, have for centuries been used as an item of diet. Were it not for the existence of insects, honey and natural silk would be unknown.
Then there is the good that insects perform in destroying, either as predators or parasites, other insects that are presently harmful to man. Besides the insect-eating insects, there are many birds, freshwater fishes, reptiles and small animals that now largely depend on insects for their food. Hence the disappearance of insects would place the life of these creatures in jeopardy.
Insects indeed occupy an important place in relation to the rest of the earthly creation. Observed Carl D. Duncan, professor of entomology and botany: “It is not too much to say that insects determine the character of man’s world to a far greater extent than he does himself, and that if they were suddenly to disappear completely the world would be changed so extensively that it is extremely doubtful that man would be able to maintain any sort of organized society whatever.”—Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1947, p. 346.
For the insects mentioned in the Bible see ANT; BEE; CATERPILLAR; COCKROACH; CRICKET; FLEA; FLY; GADFLY; GNAT; GRASSHOPPER; LOCUST; MAGGOT; MOSQUITO; MOTH.
See GATE, GATEWAY.
The apostle Paul stated at 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” The phrase “inspired of God” translates the compound Greek word the·oʹpneu·stos, meaning, literally, “God-breathed” or “breathed by God.”
This is the only occurrence of this Greek term in the Scriptures. Its use here clearly identifies God as the Source and Producer of the Sacred Scriptures, the Bible. Their being “God-breathed” finds some parallel in the expression found in the Hebrew Scriptures at Psalm 33:6: “By the word of Jehovah the heavens themselves were made, and by the spirit [or breath] of his mouth all their army.”
RESULTS FROM THE OPERATION OF GOD’S SPIRIT
The means or agency for the inspiration of “all Scripture” was God’s holy spirit or active force. (See SPIRIT.) That holy spirit operated toward or upon men to move them and guide them in setting down God’s message. Thus, the apostle Peter says of Bible prophecy: “For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:20, 21) The evidence shows that this was true of all the Bible writings, God’s spirit operating on the minds and hearts of the writers to carry them along to the goal purposed by God. King David said: “The spirit of Jehovah it was that spoke by me, and his word was upon my tongue.”—2 Sam. 23:2; compare Matthew 22:43.
Even as Jehovah’s spirit moved men or qualified them to perform other divine assignments—the making of priestly garments and equipment for the tabernacle (Ex. 28:3; 35:30-35), carrying the load of administration (Deut. 34:9), leading military forces (Judg. 3:9, 10; 6:33, 34)—so it enabled men to record the Scriptures. By means of that spirit, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, and power could be given them beyond what was normal and according to their particular need. (Isa. 11:2; Mic. 3:8; 1 Cor. 12:7, 8) Jesus assured his apostles that God’s spirit would help them, teaching, guiding and recalling to their minds the things they had heard from him, as well as revealing to them future things. (John 14:26; 16:13) This assured the truthfulness and accuracy of their gospel accounts, including many lengthy quotations of Jesus’ speeches, even though John’s gospel account, for example, was written scores of years after the death of Jesus.
Controlled by “the hand of Jehovah”
The Bible writers, therefore, came under Jehovah’s “hand,” or guiding and controlling power. (2 Ki. 3:15, 16; Ezek. 3:14, 22) Even as Jehovah’s “hand” could cause his servants to speak or to keep silent at appointed times (Ezek. 3:4, 26, 27; 33:22), so it could stimulate writing or act as a restraining force; it could prompt the writer to deal with certain matters or restrict him from including other material. The end product would, in every case, be that which Jehovah desired.
WAYS EMPLOYED IN DIVINE DIRECTION OF BIBLE WRITING
As the apostle states, God spoke “in many ways” to his servants in pre-Christian times. (Heb. 1:1, 2) In at least one case, that of the Ten Commandments or Decalogue, the information was divinely supplied in written form, merely requiring copying into the scrolls or other material used by Moses. (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 10:1-5) In other cases information was transmitted word for word, by verbal dictation. When presenting the large body of laws and statutes of God’s covenant with Israel, Jehovah instructed Moses: “Write down for yourself these words.” (Ex. 34:27) The prophets also were often given specific messages to deliver and these were then recorded, forming part of the Scriptures.—1 Ki. 22:14; Jer. 1:7; 2:1; 11:1-5; Ezek. 3:4; 11:5.
Among still other methods used for conveying information to the Bible writers were dreams and visions. Dreams, or “night visions,” as they were sometimes called, evidently superimposed a picture of God’s message or purpose on the mind of the sleeping person. (Dan. 2:19; 7:1) Visions given while the person was conscious were an even more frequently used vehicle of communication of God’s thoughts to the mind of the writer, the revelation being impressed pictorially upon the conscious mind. (Ezek. 1:1; Dan. 8:1; Rev. 9:17) Some visions were received when the person had fallen into a trance. Though conscious,