Category: Articles
Last Updated on Monday, 09 July 2012 07:20
Published on Monday, 09 July 2012 00:00
Written by Patrick Swayne
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One of the more traditional icons of the autumn season is that of the scarecrow. A scarecrow is an object made to look like a person and which is set up in a field of crops in order to scare away birds. Though I have done some gardening in my life, I have never used a scarecrow and so I cannot attest as to whether or not they work from my own experience. However, I can understand the reasoning behind their use – birds eat crops and seeds; humans scare away birds, keeping them from doing so; humans cannot always defend their crops; a scarecrow can maintain the constant image of a human and scare birds away. Scarecrows are not real in one sense of the word, in that they are false imitations of that which is real (humans). While they are not real, the fear that they are designed to inflict is real. At the same time (and try not to get confused here), the fear that they inflict is not really real, because it is merely self inflicted – there is nothing really there that should inflict fear. As we will see, it is not birds alone that are afraid of “scarecrows.”

When the Israelites first approached the promised land, they found it to be a land exactly as the Lord had described to them – as the spies noted, “surely it floweth with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27). However, it was plain that there would be obstacles in between them and their prized possession; continuing, the spies stated, “the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great” (v. 28). These obstacles though were merely scarecrows. Though they appeared large and looming, the Lord had promised to go with them and the land was theirs the taking. Unfortunately fear turned into murmuring, and murmuring into disobedience. Scarecrows kept them from the Promised Land.

Jesus, speaking in a parable, once spoke of a man who was given one talent who faced a similar dilemma. His fear of failure kept him from doing his master’s work. He said, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth” (Matthew 25:24, 25a). His master replied by saying that since he knew what manner of man his master was, he ought to have put the talent in the bank. Success would have been that easy – yet the servant’s self-inflicted scarecrow kept him from acting. His false fear would send him into outer darkness, where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth (v. 30).

Simon Peter was once with the disciples on the sea of Galilee, when a tremendous storm arose. Looking out to the sea, Peter beheld Jesus walking across the water toward them (Matthew 14:24-33). Peter looked out at his Master, and begged to be able to join Him out on the water. Christ instructed him to come, and upon doing so, with his eyes on Christ, he was able to walk on water. Yet even Peter succumbed to a false fear – when he saw the waves he began to doubt and to sink. Christ rebuked him, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (v. 31). The waves were but a scarecrow – there was no danger when his eyes were fixed on the Master.

Scarecrows come in all shapes and sizes in our lives, but their goal is the same – to keep us from our goal. Have you allowed a scarecrow to keep you from heaven, your promised land? Has a scarecrow kept you from using what your Master has given you to do His will? Have the cares of the world around you been a scarecrow to you, keeping your eyes from Christ? Remember that along with the unbelieving, abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, the fearful will have their part in the lake of fire, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).



Patrick Swayne was married to Chantelle Marie (Herd) in 2009. Patrick began preaching first as a part time minister and then as a full time minister in the state of Tennessee (2003-2007). He was serving as a minister in Australia, working primarily with the Church Street church of Christ in Melbourne, Australia (2008-2012). He has received formal training from Memphis School of Preaching (class of 2005), Walters State Community College (A.S.), and Amridge University (B.A.). He is currently doing post graduate work at Freed Hardeman University. He counts himself richly blessed by the Lord.