The Sickle

And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”
Revelation 14:15

The garage at my grandparents’ house in Ingleside, Illinois was a place of wonder and adventure for me as a young boy.

It had been a car garage since the turn of the century – the 19th to the 20th, that is – and on the outside was the name “Wear.” This house and property were originally the summer home of the Wear family – where my grandmother spent her summers as a young girl.

Over the ensuing 75 years, no car resided in that garage as it accumulated that side of our family’s “stuff.”

I would explore in there in the spring time – as that was when it was coolest, without being freezing, and no wasps and hornets had built their nests.

One year I came across something I had never seen before.

It was shaped sort of like a hockey stick, but the blade was rotated 90 degrees and serrated on both edges.

I found out later that it was a sickle.

It was a garden sickle and it was used to cut long grass and weeds before there were such things as powered lawnmowers and weed-wackers.

All you did was swing it back and forth through the grass and weeds and it would cut them down to size.

Farmers used larger – and sharper – sickles to harvest grain and barley back before the combine harvester was invented.

This is the picture painted in Revelation 14 of the Last Day.

Jesus had used the parable and analogy of seeds and harvests throughout his ministry. So it is not surprising that this picture would be used here in the last book of the Bible.

It is just a picture – there won’t be a literal reaping of people by Jesus wielding a sickle. But it is a picture that strikes to the heart of each person. Unfortunately, Satan has influenced the picture by inciting someone’s imagination to see this as The Grim Reaper.

But that isn’t the picture painted in Revelation at all!

Jesus has a sharp sickle and this is a picture of the harvesting of the “elect” – those who remain in their Holy Spirit-given faith (through the Means of Grace). This harvest is swift and complete – that’s the picture of the sickle.

There will be no more suffering or waiting on our part. When Christ comes back, our waiting will have finally come to an end and our suffering will be over forever.

This will be followed immediately by another harvest, that done by an angel (or angels), of those who reject Christ. That harvest will also be swift and complete but will not bring an end to suffering but rather be the beginning of eternal torment and separation from God.

The ultimate harvest by Christ is our glorious future and we look forward to it with longing.

But in the meantime, we are to be at work in God’s Kingdom sharing the Gospel so that others will also long for this last harvest!

Almighty and gracious God, you want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Magnify the power of the Gospel in the hearts of your faithful people that your Church may spread the good news of salvation. Protect, encourage, and bless all missionaries who proclaim the saving cross that Christ, being lifted up, may draw all people to himself, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries


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“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you….”
Job 40:15

I started reading science fiction when I was about 11 or 12 years old.

It wasn’t long after that I picked up some fantasy novels and added that genre to my list of growing favorites.

When I was about 14 years old, I made the jump – albeit a small one – to horror novels. I read Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, then went back to the classics of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.

The last horror novel I read was The Amityville Horror. I had been feeling increasingly uneasy about reading such novels and this last one was so much about the occult and demon possession that it really scared me.

It scared me because I knew that the devil and demons are real. They are not something to be dabbled or played with.

And while that kind of stuff still scares me – I still don’t watch horror movies or visit haunted houses in October – I am not really afraid of the devil or demons. I know they cannot hurt me because I am a baptized child of God!

God continues to make it clear to Job that he is God and Job is not. He had been talking about the universe that he created and still sustains. He had been talking about the animal kingdom and its level of complexities that virtually prove that God is the Creator and man is not.

Here in chapter 40, God makes reference to Behemoth (verse 15). This name is based on the common Hebrew word for “animal” or “beast.” Today we use it to reference huge and dangerous animals.

But the way Behemoth is described in the Book of Job indicates that God may be talking about Satan.

Behemoth is a creation of God, therefore he is subjected to God’s authority. He is described as being unusually strong and large – certainly not equal to man. He is said to be “the first of the works of God” but in this case “first” means “greatest” and not first, chronologically.

Ezekiel 28 seems to hint at this. It talks about the greatest of angels becoming prideful and rebelling against God. He is then banished from heaven. Couple this with Revelation 12 and I get the impression that Satan was so beautiful that he turned all he was inward in self-pride and rejected his Creator.

God spells out to Job that even this Behemoth of a creature is still a creation of God and subject to him.

God uses the Behemoth to show that no matter what happens to us – good or bad – God is still in control of all things.

We need to follow Job’s example when confronted with this divine truth.

Be silent!

Be still and know that God is God (see Psalm 46)!

Even the mighty and epic creature Behemoth is still under the control of God!

Remember this the next time you are tempted to think you know better than God concerning your life or when you question whether God is in control of your life or even paying attention to your life!

He is. Both in control and paying attention. He may use his creation to get your attention, but he always is watching over you!

You need look no further than the empty cross and the empty tomb to see God’s love for you and his care for you.

©2017 True Men Ministries


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Night and Day

“They are exalted a little while, and then are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like the heads of grain.”
Job 24:24

Sunrise is one of my favorite times of day. It wasn’t always that way, however.

When I was in junior and senior high, I worked in a bakery on the weekends and over the summers. I fried donuts, made sweet rolls and fresh bread. My boss, Frank, and I would start our “day” at about midnight or so and work till about 9 or 10 in the morning.

In the summer months, we’d then sleep for a couple of hours. I would then hang out with my friends in the afternoon, he would spend time with his family. Sometimes we would get our scuba gear together and go to one of the lakes in Northern Illinois and do a little lake diving. Then we would go to bed at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and do it all over again.

When I went off to college, I tended to keep late hours, staying up till midnight or 1:00 a.m. – either going out with friends, hanging out in the dorm, or, occasionally, do homework. I would then sleep in till 9 or 10 in the morning (usually missing my early class).

As I matured and became more responsible, I tended to go to bed earlier in the night and get up earlier in the day. I found that I really liked sunrises!

It’s quiet, except for bird song. It’s an excellent time to have devotions and Bible reading. Today I broadcast a morning devotion live right around sunrise! (You can see these devotions on my Facebook page here).

These are the thoughts that came to mind reading Job 24. In this chapter, Job makes a case for “night and day.” During the night are when wicked people tend to do their work.

Jesus picked up on this theme when he said, “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).

Job names three types of wicked people who rather do their deeds at night than during the light of day: the murderer, the thief; the adulterer.

Nighttime is not in and of itself evil. Some excellent things can happen in the nighttime. Jesus gave us the most famous Bible passage of all time – John 3:16 – at night! Jesus rose from the dead “before dawn, while it was still dark” (see John 20:1).

There are times when I like to sit in a room with low lights, a fire in the fireplace, and jazz music on the hi-fi (and if that doesn’t date me, nothing does!).

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Jesus Christ said he is the light of the world. He also said that we are the light of the world. And, in Revelation, we are told that there will be no night in heaven (see Revelation 21:24-25).

This isn’t bad news for those who like night time. This is God’s way of telling us that there will be no evil, no wicked, no sin in heaven. These things are usually done at night (but not always).

What Job is saying in chapter 24 is that just as morning brings an end to night, so God will bring an end to evil, wickedness and sin.

And that is good news, indeed!

©2017 True Men Ministries


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Natural and Special Revelation

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Job 12:7-8

My family and I were living in central Wisconsin about 15 years ago. Where we lived was known as Wisconsin’s “Tornado Alley.”

Every year, between February and early October, there would be violent thunderstorms and the tornado sirens would sound – sometimes as many as 4 or 5 times a season.

Nancy and I had bought our first house and were living there about a month or so when a nasty storm hit. It was Memorial Day weekend.

Nancy and the boys had come to Saturday night worship so as to spend Sunday getting ready for the big Memorial Day party we were going to host, which would also be a celebration of Eddie’s birthday.

About midnight or so that night, the tornado sirens went off and we took the boys and the dog into the basement. The power went out for a couple of hours.

After the storm had subsided, we all went back upstairs and back to bed.

I got up Sunday morning, dressed and headed over to church for worship services.

When I got back, I took a look at the front of the house as I pulled into the driveway. The corner of the roof above Nancy and my bedroom had been damaged by the storm. It looked as if some giant had come and tried to peel the roof off of the house.

tree-on-deckI walked over to get a closer look. Then I walked around to the back of the house and on the back deck was half a tree. It had clipped the back part of the roof as it blew past the house, taking off only part of the gutter.

We learned later that it wasn’t a tornado but a straight-line wind that had blown through.

The amazing thing about this incident, and all the future storms and tornado warnings that we endured through the years, was our dog.

Seamus – our black Labrador Retriever – somehow knew the storms were coming.

That night, about a minute or two before the sirens went off, Seamus was pacing around the room and whining. He began to claw at the door just before we heard the siren.

He knew that danger was approaching. He could sense it.

That’s what Job says to Zophar in Job 12.

The beasts, the birds, the bushes, the fish all know about God and can tell us about God.

They all point us to the Creator. Their complexity, their resiliency, their uniqueness all reveal that an intelligent, caring, Creator is at work in this universe.

This they tell us.

What they can’t tell us is why God loves us and how God resolves the deadly problem of sin.

In other words, the heavens can declare the glory of God, the skies can proclaim the work of his hands (see Psalm 19).

This is called the “Natural Revelation of God.”

But the one thing the Natural Revelation of God cannot reveal is the Gospel.

Creation tells us many things about God. But it takes the Special Revelation of God – that is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ – to tell us about God’s love for us and his solution to sin.

In nature and in the peoples and nations of the world we can witness the power of God and the wrath of God.

Draughts and floods.

The rise and fall of nations.

The mysteries of the deep oceans.

These can be seen in the world and Job tells us this in Job 12:15-24.

But without the Special Revelation of God we can only “grope in the dark without light.”

In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can witness and know the love of God in Jesus Christ.

©2017 True Men Ministries


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A New Day

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” – Revelation 21:1

The Apostle John has seen some pretty amazing things – things he’s had a hard time, I think, describing. Seals and scrolls, devastation and destruction, all the things that accompany the end of the world as we know it. At the end of Revelation, John is given a glimpse of what awaits all those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

Heaven. That will definitely be a new day.

Often times I find myself in a predicament. I know that heaven awaits me. I’ll be going to heaven someday. Most likely it will be far away, years down the road, in the future. Even though its far away, I know I’ll be going. I’m certain of that because I have faith in the one who bled and died for me and now prepares a place for me (John 14:2-3). I know that’s coming.

But my trouble is that I don’t usually think about my life now as being “a new day.” But that isn’t right. Every day for me is “a new day.” Each day I wake up I’m not only a day closer to heaven, but I get to live a life that is filled with God’s presence. “Behind and before me” is what God is. Every step I take today, God is there.

When you come to faith in Christ – when the Holy Spirit creates faith in your heart through God’s Word – then each day after that is “a new day.” Each day will be an adventure to live. Each day will be a day that God will work some new miracle in your life.

As I write this, I glance out my window and I see a sky that is a solid blue. This is “a new day” that the Lord has brought me to. It is a day that holds so much promise. At the end of this day, I will sit down, look at the stars that sprinkle the sky and say a prayer of confession and thanksgiving. I will confess for wasting so much of this “new day” by sinning. I will give thanksgiving because Jesus forgives me and has turned my failures into victories (even if I can’t see it).

A new day will dawn where there will be no more tears, pain, or death. That’s the day when Jesus comes to take us home to heaven.

Each new day until then will hold the promise of being one more day closer. It will also hold the promise that Jesus will be with us this day and will forgive our sin and give us new life and a new adventure to live.