Fire

So I will send a fire upon ….”
Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12,

As a young boy I was fascinated by fire. I suppose most young boys are.

The Fourth of July was also my favorite time of year for fire.

My parents always had a big party on the Fourth of July starting in 1976 – the United States Bicentennial year.

Part of our celebration was to set off fireworks that we would buy either in Wisconsin or in Indiana.

Lots of bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers, and more made our celebrations glorious.

It is a testament to the grace of God that I still have all ten of my fingers!

I still love the Fourth of July and fireworks, but I much prefer to watch professionally staged shows and leave all the dangerous stuff to those professionals.

The reason is that I have a healthy respect for fire and its destructive nature.

In 2006 I was called to pastor a church in Southern California. I had heard about wildfires, but our second year there I witnessed the destructive nature of these fires more closely then I would have wanted to.

The first major fire was in the Anaheim hills. We never saw the flames from where we lived, but the smoke from that fire blew into our valley, prompting us to cancel school for a couple of days due to such poor air quality.

Then one year the fires reached the foothills of our mountains – the San Gabriels.

Thankfully, the flames never reached our residential areas and the smoke, for the most part, was blown away from us.

But after the sun set you could see the glowing hotspots in the hills above our home. It was eerie and not a little scary.

During little league baseball games, helicopters carrying hundreds of gallons of water would fly low over the fields on their way to drop their load on the fires in the hills around us.

We had an up close and personal view of the destructive nature of fire.

What was fascinating to a young boy becomes, at best, a healthy respect. At its worst, it becomes a dreaded fear.

And this is nothing new, I suspect. Ever since death was introduced into God’s creation by Adam and Eve’s Fall into sin, death by fire has been a mortal fear of mankind.

In the prophecy of God through his servant Amos, God warns and threatens the enemies of his people with destruction by fire.

This is how serious God’s love for his people runs. He loves his own so much that he will destroy those who try to destroy his people with fire.

But ultimately, Jesus himself will face a fire within his own bones to finally eradicate death once and for all.

Like the goat that is slaughtered for the sin offering for the people is then burned on the altar, so Christ sheds his blood on the cross. Hanging there for six hours, his muscles and bones will burn with pain.

Our sin is atoned for by Jesus Christ. Those who do not reject Christ but live in saving faith will be spared the destructive fire that is awaiting this world.

Fire will be used to destroy this sin-stained world and afterward, God will create a new heaven and a new earth.

Those who reject Christ will be cast – along with Satan and his demons – in the lake of fire prepared for them because of their rebellion.

We should have a healthy respect for fire but need not fear the ultimate fire because Christ paid the price for our sin and gives us his righteousness in place of our sin. This Good News of salvation is offered to each one of us in the Gospel of Jesus!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Leviathan

“On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.”
Job 41:33

Knight George had been there the entire summer. And he was getting extremely frustrated.

He wanted desperately to return home and get back to work. But he couldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

He tried to spend his days wisely. He studied Greek and Hebrew and set out to translate the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament into the language of his people.

He had made good headway towards the end of the summer and was nearly done translating the New Testament by the time the snow was flying.

His days were occupied with studying, writing, and translating.

But nights were something else entirely.

He would try to sleep. But his foul mood and his deep depression at being away from his home and work weighed on him like an oppressive millstone.

He also felt oppressed and attacked by Satan himself. He knew he was doing the work of God. He knew that he was called by the Holy Spirit to be who he was. He knew that he had been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.

But still Satan attacked! Breathing the flames of doubt and accusation like a fire-breathing dragon!

Night was Satan’s favorite time to attack. Knight George was tired, hungry, cold, bitter, and depressed. And Satan would use this time to press his attacks.

On one such night, Junker Jörg was feeling attacked by Satan. So much so he was provoked to violence. He picked up the nearest thing to him – an inkwell – and hurled it at Satan.

It smashed against the wall, staining it.

Within a few months, Junker Jörg, Knight George, would leave the Castle Wartburg, return to his post at Wittenberg, and resume his true name – Martin Luther.

The story of the inkwell is a legend, most likely based on his own statement about his stay in the Castle Wartburg where he had “driven the devil away with ink” (quoted from Redeemer Lutheran, Huntington Beach’s website here: http://www.redeemer-lutheran.net/Articles/1000039345/Redeemer_Lutheran_Church/Media_Center/Pastors_Articles/Throwing_Ink_at.aspx).

But what is not legend is that Luther fought against Satan, as do we all! Satan is real. He is a fallen angel – and thus a creation of God and under his authority. He hates God and also hates us!

In Job 40, God describes Satan – so it is thought – as Behemoth. This is likening Satan to a wild and ferocious land beast.

In Job 41, God describes Satan – again, so it is thought – as Leviathan. This is a sea monster of some type. A giant sea serpent or squid. But one that has scales like armor and breaths fire.

This brings to mind a dragon. And this fits in with how Satan is described in the Book of Revelation.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Revelation 12:7-9).

At the end of Job 41, God says that there is nothing like Satan on the earth.

Martin Luther – who fought the devil all his life – would describe Satan this way: auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen. This is commonly translated “on Earth is not his equal” (from stanza one of A Mighty Fortress is Our God, composite translation from the Pennsylvania Lutheran CHURCH BOOK of 1868).

God’s point in Job 41 – and Luther’s in stanza 1 of A Mighty Fortress is Our God – is that left to our own resources, we are powerless in fighting Satan.

Only God can defeat Satan.

And he did through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for us!

That one little word – Jesus – defeats Satan every time. And that one little word is ours through our baptism into Christ!

Satan may be able to take away all that we have. He took away Job’s wealth, children, and health. Luther poetic states that Satan could take away “our life, goods, fame, child and wife.”

But because of Christ, we will live forever and Christ’s Kingdom will be ours!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Behemoth

“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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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

Contribute to True Men Ministries to help keep this devotional going here.

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