Rev. Mark H. Creech
In 2019, Time did a story about the sad plight of small American farmers, saying the family farm is being threatened on every side. It’s been thrashed by trade wars, severe weather, and dropping commodity prices due to globalization. Technology makes farming more efficient than ever, but corporate farmers mainly benefit because of economies of scale.
Time says, “It is the worst crisis in decades. Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies were up 12 percent in the Midwest from July 2018 to June 2019; they’re up 50 percent in the Northwest. Tens of thousands have simply stopped farming, knowing that reorganization through bankruptcy won’t save them. The nation lost more than 100,000 farms between 2011 and 2018, 12,000 of those between 2017 and 2018 alone.”
Farm debt is at an all-time high, over $400 billion, and farm loan delinquencies are continually rising, says Time.
Here’s something else that’s rising, too. Along with the loss of the family farm, some of which have been in the family for generations, there is also an alarming increase in suicides in farming communities.
Shannon Lindquist with Michigan State University Extension says:
Maybe you know someone who lost the title deed to the family farm. You can imagine how they must feel.
In Revelation chapter 5, John, the apostle, is still in heaven and before the throne of God. The Scripture says:
The apostle sees a scroll in the right hand of the one who sits upon the throne. The scroll has seven seals. Then, the apostle hears a mighty angel shout, “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” (v. 2).
A search is done among humanity of past and present; even the ranks of heavenly angels are surveyed to see if any might take the scroll, break its seals, and read its content. But there is no one. If there is no one of the earth and no one of the heavenly realm, there is certainly no one from hades worthy.
What is this scroll? What makes it so significant that it cannot be taken except by the proper recipient? It is none other than the title deed to the earth. Who is worthy? Who has the credentials and the means to reclaim the earth’s title deed?
At first, it appears no one is worthy. So John is said to weep bitterly.
Adam originally possessed this title deed. God gave it to him as his vice-regent on the earth. But Genesis chapter 3 records the historical account of the evil one, the devil, cleverly stealing it from him.
The devil, a fallen angel, is the prince of the air with highly organized and other mighty fallen angels at his command (Ephesians 2:1-2). He is the God of this world – the very personification of godless activities (2 Corinthians 4:4). He heads a kingdom hostile to everything and everyone associated with God (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13). Since Adam, his wicked temptations, afflictions, and deceptions, are in some way connected or at the root of every travesty on the planet.
“The devil is no laughing matter. Although people tell jokes about him and try to deny his existence, there is no question he is alive and working in the lives of individuals,” wrote George Sweeting, the former president and chancellor of Moody Bible Institute.
Ezekiel chapter 28 speaks of his origins. This chapter is the prophet’s message against the wicked king of Tyre, and it’s clear from the text that the passage isn’t simply about a tyrannical king, but also Satan, who is behind the king’s vile and criminal activities.
Satan, also called Lucifer, is a real personality, not just a malevolent force. He wasn’t created this way. He was initially beautiful, but his heart was lifted up against God so badly that he wanted to take God’s place and was thrown out of heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-19 with Isaiah 14, Jude 6, and II Peter 2:4). He committed the first sin in wanting himself to be sovereign instead of the Lord, something that is at the root of all sin – even our very own.
As W.A. Criswell, the late pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, has said of the devil, he is the “alien and usurper who has cursed this earth and destroyed it and now occupies it.”
Cynics often hurl the accusation that if God is so good and all-knowing, then why did he ever create such an evil entity, and if God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he destroy him?
The answer is two-fold. God didn’t create an evil devil. The devil chose to become evil. Moreover, Revelation 5 and the following chapters begin revealing how God will wholly and ultimately destroy him.
The monumental loss of that title deed to the evil one is too vast to comprehend. In losing it, Criswell said:
No wonder John wept uncontrollably. Who was worthy to redeem the title deed? Who would save humanity’s home, or figuratively speaking, who would save the family farm? Apparently, no one. All seemed lost – lost – lost forever. What a scene, a man was crying in heaven – the place where there should be no sorrow or tears.
But as John was sobbing, one of the elders gave hope, saying:
The person found worthy to open the scroll is, undoubtedly, the Lord Jesus Christ, the heir to all the patriarchal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 49:9,10). He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the heir to the throne of David. He is the promised Messiah who will rule the world from Jerusalem.
When John looks to see the Lion, he says he sees a lamb – the Lamb of God instead.
Merrill C. Tenney has beautifully written:
Well, wouldn’t you know it. It’s not an elephant or a donkey that gets us back on the farm. It’s the Lion and the Lamb.© Rev. Mark H. Creech
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.