A sharp sickle in his hand

The main image of the sickle or scythe that people have is the caricature of death coming to reap (take away) life. Death is called the Grim Reaper. It is a popular image today among gamers. The sickle is an implement with a crescent-shaped blade attached to a short handle, used for cutting grain or tall grass.

In the book of Revelation, it is not Death personified, but an angel of God who wields the sickle. It is in his hand. The hand, in the Old Testament, is that part of the body “that carries out a person’s will” (Richards 324). John shares that perspective. Here, the angel is carrying out the will of God. Frank Cox noted that this angel is in the central part of seven in this part of chapter from verses 6-20 (Cox 90). It is a key section, then. This is an important moment and key action in the book. Continue reading “A sharp sickle in his hand”

Your choice is…

It is common for many people to go into a church building on Sunday and listen to a sermon that sounds very similar to one they’ve heard many times before. The introductions may be different, but the main statements and lessons may seem very similar. This is a common occurrence with preaching the truth.

Jeremiah preached to Judah for 40 years and those people heard the same lesson over and over again. Judah was to face the destruction of their city and their freedom. They needed to repent and obey God. Continue reading “Your choice is…”

Fire from heaven

They were disciples, apostles, and brothers. Along with Simon, whom Jesus called “Peter” (meaning “a stone”), they were part of Jesus’ inner circle. Like Simon, they had been given a sobriquet. The Lord called them “Boanerges.” They were the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17).

Perhaps they were powerful preachers. Perhaps they had powerful personalities. We simply don’t know the full reason for the moniker.

James was the first apostle to die (Acts 12:2), John was the last. While Jesus walked the earth, no one was closer to him than the “Stone” and the “Sons of Thunder.” Continue reading “Fire from heaven”

Through the door

I recently heard a travel writer encourage people who were considering traveling abroad to just go through the door. Doors are opportunities or obstacles. Often our perspective determines reality. If we view doors as obstacles, that is what they are. To this travel writer, one needed to see the doors as opportunities for adventure, growth, and perspective.

Scripture speaks often of doors, both literal and figurative. Continue reading “Through the door”

Just the good news

If you watch the news, you’ll know that negative news leads. In fact, the negative news might be all you see. This is not a political statement, as this has been the case regardless of who is in power. Certainly, there is enough negative news to go around today, but the reason that negative news dominates is because it gets ratings. The people want to hear the bad stuff.

It is an interesting contrast then that on Sundays, many of these same folks demand only good news. Many do not want to hear of sin, punishment, or the wrath of God. They do not want to hear about the need for repentance or the command to live holy lives. Continue reading “Just the good news”

Ready or not

We were awakened by the blaring of the tornado siren. We grabbed clothes, kids, and our emergency box and made our way to the shelter. The storm passed while we were underground. We were relieved.

After emerging from the shelter and getting our children situated in bed, another emotion emerged which might be described as discomfiture. I had never been so caught off guard with a severe storm as I was that Tuesday night.

I am a low-level weather enthusiast. With proper training I probably would have chased tornadoes. While I enjoy the weather, I pay attention to it so my family doesn’t have to worry. But that night I let my guard and my family down. Continue reading “Ready or not”

7 truths about God in Ezekiel 33

The Old Testament is a rich mine of truths about God and his ways. The prophets reveal the divine heart and intentions. Get a taste of truths about God from this little slice of Ezekiel 33.

No. 1. God is a revealer. “The word of the Lord came to me” (Ezekiel 33:1, ESV). He tells man what he is doing and what he expects. God does nothing without letting us know his intentions and actions (Amos 3:7; Ephesians 3:5). Things he reveals are for us all, that we might obey his commands and thereby find joy and peace (Deuteronomy 29:29). God’s revelation to us, now contained in the Bible, is for our salvation. “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations” (Psalm 98:2). Continue reading “7 truths about God in Ezekiel 33”

Kingdom future

Jesus, his apostles, as well as the early church proclaimed a message revolving around the good news of the kingdom. After Jesus’ death and ascension, preaching shifted to Christ and the kingdom.

This kingdom proclamation contained a message for the present. Through Christ, God’s power was overcoming all the binding weapons of evil to usher in a new manifestation of God’s rule. Christ brought release. People were to live with kingdom values and behaviors. Upon Jesus’ resurrection, he was exalted as Lord.

However, their proclamation also included a message regarding the future. At the end of time, some would inherit the kingdom while others would not.

How does today’s preaching compare with their message? Continue reading “Kingdom future”

God’s judgments are true and just

“After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!’” (Revelation 19:1-2 NET).

As we mentioned in our previous article, John’s Revelation is not the easiest to understand. There are many explanations and interpretations, but there are also eternal truths in the word-pictures that John used to paint a picture for us. Continue reading “God’s judgments are true and just”

True judgment scene

There was a recent article in a widely-read publication entitled, “Judgment Day Excuses that Won’t Work.” The article was right, but the title was off the mark.

Many people think Judgment Day will seem like a courtroom drama such as “Perry Mason.” They think God will sit on the judgment bench ruling on the trials of billions of people. Jesus never taught that scenario. Continue reading “True judgment scene”