Category Archives: America

The Judgment of the Nations (Joel 3)

Scripture reading – Joel 3

Today’s Scripture reading marks the end of the Book of Joel (only three chapters long), and an introduction to the prophetic Book of Daniel. This devotional will conclude our study of Joel. A second devotional will follow, and serve as the introduction to the Book of Daniel.

I believe this final section of our study actually began with the closing verses of Joel 2. In its immediate context, the prophecies of Joel were given as the Assyrian army laid siege to Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah recorded how the LORD intervened for the city, and sent His angel who smote 185,000 soldiers (Isaiah 37:36). King Sennacherib had been forced to retreat to his homeland, where he was later assassinated by his sons (Isaiah 37:33-38).

The Day of the LORD is the prophetic day of God’s judgment, when He will take vengeance on those nations that abused Israel and Judah. With the assurance of His perpetual presence “in the midst,” Israel would know Him as “the LORD your God,” and the day would come when Israel would “never be ashamed” (2:27).

In my opinion, the “last days” began with Christ’s earthly ministry, and the prophecy of the outpouring of His Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (2:28-30; Acts 2:16-20). Nevertheless, the events recorded in the closing verses of Joel 2 and Joel 3, will not be fulfilled until the close of the Tribulation, and will mark the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.

Joel 3 – The Judgment of the Gentile Nations

A Day of Reckoning for the Nations (3:1-2)

Joel 3:1 was partly fulfilled when the LORD moved on the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, to grant the Jews liberty to return to their homeland where they would rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3). Yet, the final fulfillment of Joel 3 will not come to pass until the close of the Tribulation. The LORD promised He will one day gather His people from the nations (3:1), and exercise judgment on the Gentile nations for their sins against Him and His people (3:2).

Enumeration of the Sins of the Gentiles (3:3-6)

The nations of the earth have forever been at war with God and His people, yet, the sins of some nation have been so egregious, they are specifically named for judgment: Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine (3:4), Egypt, and Sodom (3:19).

The sins committed against God’s people are an offense to God, and He judged the Gentile nations guilty. Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine, Egypt, and Sodom had scattered His chosen people with their persecutions, and parted the land He gave as an inheritance to Israel (3:2c). Those nations had enslaved the Jews (3:3a, 6), trafficked boys and girls as sexual slaves, and placed no more value on their lives than wine (3:3). Spoiling the gold and silver of the land, they had taken away that which was the LORD’s (3:4-6).

Justice and Judgment (3:4, 7-8)

The sins of the Gentile nations will be punished, and they will receive the recompence (be repaid) in kind for the sins they committed against the LORD and His people (3:4). The LORD determined to gather His people and restore them to their land (3:7), and the nations that enslaved them would themselves become slaves (3:8a). Their sons and daughters will be sold “to the Sabeans” (a caravan people of the southern Arabian Peninsula), and trafficked to far away lands (3:8b).

Warfare of the Nations (3:9-16)

Through His prophet, the LORD summoned the nations to gather and prepare for war (3:9). Contrary to the Millennial kingdom and its peace (when the weapons of war will be fashioned into plows, Micah 4:3), the LORD commanded the nations to “beat [their] plowshares into swords, and [their] pruninghooks into spears” (3:10). The nations of the world will assemble for battle (3:11), for the LORD was prepared to judge them “in the valley of Jehoshaphat” (its geographic al location cannot be ascertained, 3:12).

Drawing a picture of Himself as a farmer readied to harvest, the nations of the world were portrayed as ripe for judgment. The LORD’s judgment is likened to a farmer coming with his sickle sharpened, and ready to tread nations underfoot like grapes in a vine press (3:13). A multitude will gather against God’s people (3:14), but it is the LORD whose judgment will darken the sun, moon, and stars (3:15). Suddenly, He will “roar out of Zion, And utter his voice from Jerusalem; And the heavens and the earth shall shake: But the Lord will be the hope of his people, And the strength of the children of Israel” (3:16).

The Promise of the LORD’s Perpetual Presence (3:17-21)

Through the LORD’s judgment of the nations, the children of Israel and Judah will come to know Him as “the LORD [their] God” who dwells in Zion (3:17a). The city of Jerusalem would be holy, and no “strangers” (unbelievers) will “pass through her any more” (3:17b). The land will be fertile, the waters will flow, and the River of Life will flow from “the house of the LORD” (3:18). The LORD will avenge the wickedness of Egypt and Edom, for they were guilty of violence and shedding the “innocent blood” of Judah (3:19).

Closing thoughts (3:20-21) – Joel’s prophecies end with the LORD promising Judah the nation will “dwell forever” in the land, “and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (3:20). He will purge the people of their sins, and will forever dwell among them “in Zion” (3:21). Our study of Joel began with a judgment of locusts (Assyria’s army) descending upon Judah and Jerusalem (1:4), and ends with the triumph of God’s people restored to their land and the LORD reigning forever in Jerusalem (3:20-21).

The day of judgment is coming, not only for the nations, but for all men and women. Are you prepared for God’s day of judgment? When the books are opened, and “every man [and woman] will be judged “according to their works?” (Revelation 20:13), will your name be “found written in the book of life?” (Revelation 20:15)

Revelation 20:1515And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Warning: You Will Reap What You Sow! (Ezekiel 35)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 35

After prophesying against the spiritual shepherds of Israel, for they had put themselves before the welfare of the people (Ezekiel 34:2-6), Ezekiel prophesied “against mount Seir” (a name for the region of Edom, 35:2). The Edomites, descendants of Esau, the brother of the patriarch Jacob, were located in the region southeast of Israel, and south of the Dead Sea. They had despised Israel and Judah, and were guilty of taking pleasure in the sorrows and sufferings of those nations.

Ezekiel 35

The LORD came to Ezekiel, and commanded His prophet to prophesy against Edom, saying, “Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O mount Seir [Edom], I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. 4I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord” (35:3-4). Following the destruction of Edom as a people and nation, their land would be left uninhabited, and their cities laid waste, that they might know the God of Israel was “the LORD” (35:4).

The Edomites Hated God’s People (35:5-9)

They were related to the tribes through the line of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, and were sons of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Edom had a long history of hatred and violence against the children of Israel. The Edomites had shed the blood of Israel, and provoked God’s wrath (35:5). The LORD therefore, determined the blood of Edom would be shed, the people killed, and their land left desolate (35:6-7). The slaughter of the people would be so complete, it was foretold the mountains, valleys, and hills would be filled with the bodies of the slain (35:7-9). The cities of Edom would not be rebuilt, and the people would know that which was done was of the LORD (35:9).

The Edomites Coveted Israel’s Inheritance (35:10-11)

Taking pleasure in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jews being led away captive to Babylon, the Edomites claimed the land the LORD had given Israel and Judah as an inheritance (35:10). Through His prophet, the LORD declared the Edomites would reap what they had sown, and the LORD would glorify His name in their judgment (35:11).

The Edomites Slandered Israel, and Defied God (35:12-14)

Edom mocked and scorned the “mountains of Israel” (i.e., the leaders of Israel). When Jerusalem fell, the Edomites rejoiced and aspired to claim the land for themselves (35:12). They boasted against Israel’s God, and provoked Him to declare, “I have heard them” (35:13).

Having provoked the wrath of the LORD, Ezekiel declared the nations of the earth would rejoice when Edom was left desolate (35:14). The prophet Malachi would look back upon the judgment of Edom, and remember the LORD declared, “I hated Esau (Edom), and laid his mountains and his heritage waste” (Malachi 1:3).

Closing thoughts (35:15) – Edom took pleasure in the overthrow of Jerusalem, and the desolation of Israel and Judah. The LORD, being just, declared the Edomites would suffer the same sorrows (35:15a).  What Edom (“mount Seir, and all Idumea)” had sown as a nation, they would reap, to the end the people would know the God of Israel was Sovereign and that He was “the LORD” (35:15b).

Times change, and nations come and go, but the principle of Sowing and Reaping is a constant, immutable truth.

Galatians 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Ezekiel: God’s Watchman on the Wall (Ezekiel 33; Ezekiel 34)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 33; Ezekiel 34

Ezekiel 33 moved the focus of our Scripture readings from God’s judgment of Egypt and the nations (Ezekiel 29-32), to the prophet Ezekiel’s responsibility to serve the LORD as His watchman. Ezekiel’s task was not an enviable one. He was charged to deliver a message to the people of the captivity, and it was one they despised. Ezekiel’s task was to remind the nation of its past, discern the times, and declare God’s judgment should the people continue in their sins.

Ezekiel 33 – God Provided His People a Watchman

Far from Jerusalem, and living as a captive in Babylon, Ezekiel was charged with speaking the word of the LORD “to the children of [his] people” (33:2). God provided His people watchmen, whose ministry was to warn the sword of judgment was come into the land (33:2). Some of the watchmen were faithful to their tasks, but there were many who failed to sound the warning (“blow the trumpet”), and thus left the people unprepared, and unprotected.

Ezekiel was told, when a faithful watchman sounds the warning, and the people refuse to heed the sound of the trumpet, their blood was on their own head. Yet, should the prophet fail the nation, and not warn them, the blood of the people would be upon his head as God’s watchmen (33:3-6).

Ezekiel was Israel’s Watchman (33:7-11)

The LORD called and commissioned Ezekiel to be a “watchman unto the house of Israel” (33:7), and it was his task to hear the LORD and warn the nation (33:7). He was to warn the wicked saying, “thou shalt surely die,” but should Ezekiel fail, the blood of the wicked would be upon his hand (33:8). Yet, if Ezekiel was a faithful prophet, and the wicked refused to heed his warning, he would be delivered from the guilt of their blood when they perished (33:9). His mission was to call the people to repent, and assure them the LORD would extend His compassion (33:10-11).

Righteous Repentance vs. Righteous Work (33:12-16)

Lest any believe salvation by grace through faith is a New Testament doctrine, or that the saints of the Old Testament placed their faith in works to merit God’s favor, the LORD declared to Ezekiel: “The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression” (33:12).

Good works do not save, they never have and they never will.  Only God can save! Those who trust in their own righteousness “shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it” (33:13). Yet, the wicked who repent of their sins, turn to the LORD and prove their faith by walking in His will “shall surely live, he shall not die” (33:15). Indeed, the wicked who have repented are promised, “16None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live” (33:16).

News of Jerusalem’s Destruction (33:21-26)

The year was 585 BC, “the twelfth year of [the] captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month” (33:21), a messenger from Jerusalem arrived in Babylon. Having escaped the city under siege, he brought the dreaded news Ezekiel had prophesied should come to pass: “The city is smitten” (33:21c). The prophet shared how, the evening before the messenger arrived, “the hand of the LORD was upon” him (31:23). The LORD put in Ezekiel’s mouth His words, and revealed the cause of God’s judgment.

In their pride, the children of Israel boasted confidently of the Abrahamic lineage, and asserted the land of Israel was their inheritance (33:23-24). Yet, their sins brought God’s judgment, for they had defiled the land with their wickedness (32:25-26).

The Consequences of Israel’s Sins (33:27-29)

The fall of Jerusalem was only the beginning of sorrows for those who survived the destruction of the city. Those who fled the city would be slain by the sword, and others would be killed by wild beasts in the fields (33:27a). Some sheltered in caves, only to perish of disease (33:27b). Jerusalem’s pride in her strength came to an end, and the land was left desolate (33:28). All this that the people would know the judgment was come upon them “because of all their abominations which they [had] committed” (33:29).

Ezekiel: A Persecuted Prophet (33:30-33)

One would think the affirmation of all Ezekiel prophesied would command the respect of the people in captivity, but it did not. Instead, the LORD warned His prophet, “the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother” (30:30). Some came to Ezekiel and made a pretense of listening to the word of the LORD through His prophet (33:30), but they were hypocrites. With their mouths they claimed to love the LORD, but “their heart goeth after their covetousness” (33:31). They complimented the prophet on his voice, and heard his words, but refused to obey (33:32).

Ezekiel 34 – The Failure of Unfaithful Pastors

The prophet took the unfaithful shepherds of Israel to task in Ezekiel 34. Men who were entrusted with shepherding, and leading God’s people had failed them. They had taken advantage of the people, and abused their roles as pastors of Israel (34:1-8). Because they failed to feed and shepherd His people, the LORD warned, “I am against the shepherds” (34:9-10).  In spite of the dire state of the children of Israel, the LORD comforted Ezekiel and assured him He would one day gather His people together as a loving shepherd gathers His sheep (34:11-31).

Closing thoughts (33:33) – What comfort might the prophet take from this great tragedy? Jerusalem was destroyed, and Judah was a desolate land. The people of the captivity not only refused to repent and turn to the LORD, they persecuted His prophet.

Though he was rejected by his people, Ezekiel was assured the time would come, and “lo, it will come,” when the people would know and remember, “a prophet hath been among them” (33:33).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Finale of the Nations (Ezekiel 32)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 32

Egypt continues to be the primary subject of our current study, as we conclude this section that foretold God’s judgment against all the nations of the world. The prophecy before us was given in the twelfth year of Ezekiel’s exile to Babylon.

The Inescapable Judgment of the Nations (32:1-16)

A Lament for Pharaoh, king of Egypt (32:2-6)

The LORD commanded Ezekiel, “take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt” (32:2), and compared the harsh reign of the king to a “young lion of the nations…whale [perhaps a crocodile] among the seas,” and a trouble to his people (represented as “the waters,” 32:2). For his wickedness, the LORD foretold He would cast the net of His judgment upon Pharaoh and Egypt (32:3). The king would be dragged from his throne, and figuratively cast into the wilderness where the nations of the earth would feed upon his flesh (32:4-5). The waters of Egypt would be stained red with the blood of the people (32:6).

A Dreadful Picture of God’s Final Judgment (32:7-10)

As we have seen in earlier studies, prophecies often carry an immediate implication and a far-reaching application, and so it is in the passage before us. Ezekiel 32:7-10 describes the imminent judgment of God as a time of great darkness, even as it will be in the last days (Isaiah 13:9-11: 34:1-4; Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 6:12-17; 8:12). The heart of the nations will be troubled, and the people will shrink back in horror (32:10).

Nebuchadnezzar: The Agent of God’s Judgment (32:11-16)

Leaving no room for ambiguity, Ezekiel prophesied Egypt’s fall to Babylon was determined (32:11), and the ruthless reputation of Babylon was portrayed as “the terrible of the nations” (32:12). Nebuchadnezzar’s army would wreak havoc on the land, spoil the treasures of Egypt, and kill the people and livestock (32:12-13). The nations of the world would look upon Egypt’s sorrows and lament her fall (32:16).

The Nations Sentenced to Hell (32:17-32)

Picturing Hell for what it is, a place of death and torment for sinners who reject the LORD and His Word (32:17-32), the Egyptians were warned they would suffer the fate of other nations (32:18). Assyria was fallen to Babylon, and we read of her slain, their “graves are set in the sides of the pit [hell]” (32:23). Assyria joined other ancient nations who made their graves in hell: Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, and Zidon had all borne “their shame with them that go down to the pit” (32:24-30).

Pharoah and Egypt would not be spared or favored above the nations, and Ezekiel warned, “thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword” (32:28). The king of Egypt and his army would be “slain by the sword” (32:31), and Pharaoh would take his place “in the midst of the uncircumcised” with the eternal damned (32:32).

Closing thought – Ezekiel’s prophecies of the coming judgments of Egypt and the nations concluded with the words, “saith the LORD God” (32:32). All the LORD revealed to Ezekiel came to pass, and the people and nations of the earth that rejected the LORD perished.

I look forward to sharing with you the balance of the chapters in Ezekiel, for they foretell a glorious future for God’s people (Ezekiel 33:1-39:29).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

God is Slow to Wrath, But His Judgments are Sure (Ezekiel 28; Ezekiel 29)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 28; Ezekiel 29

God’s displeasure with the nations that had taken joy in the destruction of Jerusalem continued in Ezekiel 28.  As a great city of ancient times, Tyrus was addressed in Ezekiel 26 and 27, and continues to be the subject of our study in Ezekiel 28. Though the prophet was commanded to once again speak to Tyrus, it was the king, the “prince [king] of Tyrus” that was his subject (28:2).

The LORD came to Ezekiel with an indictment of the “prince [king] of Tyrus” (28:2), but the verses that followed revealed this king was more than a mere mortal. He represented the embodiment of evil; the demonic forces that are ever present in the governments of the nations of the world. The apostle Paul wrote of the same demonic presence in his day writing, “12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). As you will see, the king of Tyrus was a symbol of a presence and power greater than man (28:11-15).

Ezekiel 28

Provoked by the pride of the king of Tyrus, the LORD brought an indictment against that ruler (28:2-5). The king boasted he was powerful and his throne was equal to that of God. In fact, he boasted, “I am a God” (28:2). Proud of his intelligence, he boasted he was wiser than the prophet Daniel, and no secret was hidden from him (28:3). Shrewd in commerce, the king was wealthy, and believed himself equal to God (28:6).

Fourfold Judgment of the King of Tyrus (28:6-10)

Remembering, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18), we are not surprised when we read God declared he would destroy the proud king of Tyrus. The king felt his kingdom was unconquerable, but the LORD stirred up the king of Babylon (“the terrible of the nations,” 28:7), who would bring his army against Tyrus and bring the king to a violent end (28:8). The fall of the king would be so great, the world would look upon him, and know he was a man (28:8-9). His death would come by “the hand of strangers” (29:10).

King of Tyre, A Symbol of Satan (28:11-15)

Here we find recorded a contrast between the pride of the king of Tyrus and that of Satan. Like the king, Lucifer (Satan) boasted against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). In reality, the king of Tyrus was a puppet in the hand of that evil one.

Ezekiel records a depiction of Lucifer (28:12-19), who was the model of perfection, perfect wisdom and beauty (28:12). Only of Satan could it be said, “thou hast been in Eden the garden of God” (28:13). Like the ephod of the high priest of Israel whose breastplate was adorned with precious stones, Lucifer had been a being of beauty, and was created by God (28:13b). He was a musician (28:13c), and ordained as the guardian cherub about the throne of God (28:14). Before sin entered into him and he rebelled, he had been a sinless being, “perfect in [his] ways (28:15). As Satan was cast out of heaven, so the king of Tyrus would be cast from his throne, and made a spectacle for he dared boast against the God of heaven (28:16-19).

Prophecy Against Zidon (28:20-23)

Zidon was a sister city of Tyrus, and was located some 20 miles north of the capital city. Like Tyrus, Zidon would suffer a calamitous destruction. “Pestilence” (plagues, disease, sickness) and the blood of violence and war would stain her streets (28:23). All of this suffering and sorrow, to the end the nations would know and confess the God of Israel was “the LORD” (28:22, 23).

Tyus and Zidon would be annihilated, but the LORD promised He would gather “the house of Israel” and return His people to their land (28:24-25). Peace and prosperity would be restored to God’s people, and they would “dwell safely…build houses, and plant vineyards…[and] dwell with confidence” (28:26; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1).

Ezekiel 29 – The Judgment of Egypt

It was in the tenth year of Ezekiel’s exile (I believe coinciding with king Jehoiachin being taken prisoner to Babylon), that the LORD came to the prophet with a pronouncement of judgment “against Pharoah king of Egypt” (29:1-2). The stated determination of the LORD to begin His judgment with Pharaoh continues for four chapters, concluding with Ezekiel 32.

Seven judgments are stated against Egypt and its ruler, with the first two recorded in Ezekiel 29. Like the king of Tyrus, Pharaoh was guilty of pride, boasting he was sovereign of Egypt’s wealth and the Nile River was his (foolishly boasting, “I have made it for myself,” 29:3).

Portraying Himself as a divine fisherman, the LORD warned He would set a hook in Pharaoh’s jaws and pull him and “all the fish of the rivers” (the people) “into the wilderness” (29:4-5). The purpose of God’s judgments is stated again, “Egypt shall know that I am the LORD” (29:6). Pharaoh had also betrayed the trust of Judah, and for that reason the LORD declared he would splinter Egypt like a reed (29:7).

For her sins, “the land of Egypt [would] be desolate and waste” and not “be inhabited for forty years” (29:8-11). Yet, unlike Assyria and Tyrus, Ezekiel prophesied God would mercifully restore the people of Egypt to her lands (29:13), though Egypt would never again be a great world empire (29:14-16).

Closing thoughts (29:18-21) – Tyrus and Egypt would pay for their sins, and Nebuchadnezzar did serve as the LORD’s agent of judgment. Though Babylon’s siege against Tyrus lasted 13 years and was a great expense, God determined to repay Nebuchadnezzar with the vast wealth of Egypt. From the spoils of Egypt, the king of Babylon paid his army (29:19).

Warning: Grave consequences befall those that persecute, and take pleasure in the sorrows and sufferings of God’s people. 

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“Four Universal Principles for Life, Family, and Nation” (Ezekiel 22), Sunday AM, May 29, 2022

Two fundamental problems at the root of America’s moral implosion:

1) The first is Spiritual. – All men are sinners. (Rom. 3:23)

2) The second is the erosion of marriage, and the traditional family.

When a nation rejects the spiritual precepts of God’s Word, it takes a path of self-destruction that results in God’s judgment.

Four Parenting Principles: 1) Consistent, 2) Cautious, 3) Chargeable (Accountable), 4) Committed

Wise parents have the distinct advantage to discern their child’s character, strengths and weaknesses.

 

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith, Senior Pastor

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

No nation will stand when the LORD has set Himself against it. (Ezekiel 27)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 27

Tyrus, also known as Tyre, was the ancient sea capital of Phoenicia and is the subject of God’s judgment in Ezekiel 27. The fact Tyrus took such a prominent role in Ezekiel’s prophecy is indicative of not only its significance in the prophet’s day, but as you will see in our next study, its prophetic importance as well (Ezekiel 29). Like the prior nations whom Ezekiel predicted would be judged by the LORD and fall to Babylon, the same would be true of Tyrus (28:1-19).

Ezekiel 27 – A Funeral Dirge for Tyrus

The LORD came to Ezekiel instructing him to “take up a lamentation for Tyrus” (27:2). This lamentation foretold God’s sorrow that He must exercise justice. Tyrus would suffer not only for her wickedness and idolatry, but also for the joy she expressed when Jerusalem was “laid waste” (26:2).

Tyrus was the crossroads of trade in the ancient world. The island city was not only a fortress of the Phoenicians, but with two ports, was essentially the “World Trading Center” of the day. Boasting, “I am of perfect beauty” (27:3b), Ezekiel described the splendor and self-sufficiency of Tyrus by comparing it to a beautiful ship that boasted the best of everything (27:4-7).

In addition to being a trade hub, Tyrus was also an intersection of humanity (27:8-11). The vast number of trade ships passing through Tyrus made it necessary for the city to hire sailors from other places to strengthen their security on the coastline. Her army boasted mercenary soldiers from Persia, and Lud and Phut (believed to be ancient African tribes). Adding to the beauty of the city were the shields and helmets of her soldiers that adorned the walls of the city (the Phoenicians are believed to have begun that practice, and it was followed by Solomon, 1 Kings 10:16-17).

Ezekiel 27:12-25 gives a detailed description of the nations and city-states whose ships and goods passed through Tyrus. Tarshish (ancient Spain, 27:12), Javan (ancient Greece), Tubal and Meshech (believed to be regions of the Black and Caspian Seas, 27:13). The list included the ancient city of Rhodes (Dedan, 27:15), cities of Mesopotamia (27:16), Judah and Israel (known for grain, honey, oil, and balm, 27:17). Arabia and Kedar with its lambs, rams, and goats (27:21), and spices, jewels, and gold from Sheba and Raamah (27:22). Finally, all the major city-states of Mesopotamia supplied beautiful garments of blue, embroidered cloth, and rugs (27:23-25).

For all her wealth, might, and splendor, Tyrus was not spared the judgment of God. Sadly, that city was portrayed as a sinking ship (27:26-31). Babylon, described as “the east wind,” would break upon Tyrus as the seas break upon and sink a ship (27:26). The city, its people, commerce, and wealth were to “fall into the midst of the seas in the day of [her] ruin” (27:27).

The “suburbs” of Tyrus (cities along the mainland) would “shake at the sound of the cry” of her leaders (27:28). Her sailors would abandon ship (27:28), and watch in horror and disbelief as the city was destroyed (27:29). Neighboring nations would wail at the news, and bemoan the death of the city (27:30-31). Recalling her former glory and how they had been enriched by her trade, the cries of her neighbors would express their shock at her fall (27:32-33).

Closing thoughts (27:34-36) – What an amazing story! Tyrus was a great and powerful city-state, epitomized as perfection and beauty (27:3-4). Her people believed she was invincible, for her “builders [had] perfected [her]beauty” (27:4). Yet, God had sentenced Tyrus for judgment, and no man could save her.

The fall of Tyrus plunged the region into a financial collapse (27:34), eventually leading to the fall of her trade partners (27:35). Nebuchadnezzar conquered Tyrus, and in 332 BC, Alexander the Great destroyed her (27:36).

No nation will stand when the LORD has set Himself against it.

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“I Sought for a Man” – A Memorial Day Weekend Perspective

The scene is as vivid in my mind today as it was that day. I watched a casket, draped with the flag of the United States of America, as it was transported through a sea of dark suits and black veiled hats. I was only 10 or 11 at the time, and Vietnam was a place far from my quiet existence in rural South Carolina. That day, the nightly news recounting American casualties, took on a new meaning that was real and personal. While the toll of combat would number 58,193 by war’s end, it was the sacrifice of one soldier that brought home to me the reality of war, and the price of freedom.

            How do you honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the liberty we enjoy as a nation? Is it enough to place a wreath at a tomb or mark the graves of America’s fallen with flags? I suggest the greater memorial is to incorporate into our lives and families those qualities that made America great.

The Preamble of our Constitution states its purpose was to bind our hearts as a people to “a more perfect Union,” and “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

The leaders of our nation have failed us. Instead of Justice, politicians promote political correctness. Rather than domestic Tranquility, we have corruption, violence, and partisan politics. Our common defense has been weakened by open borders. The general Welfare of our nation has been sacrificed for special interest groups. Tragically, the Blessings of Liberty are despised by those who would enslave us.

America needs believers who will dedicate themselves to the LORD, and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Two Adulteress, One Pot of Boiling Scum, and the Death of Ezekiel’s Wife (Ezekiel 23; Ezekiel 24)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 23; Ezekiel 24

Our Scripture reading, consisting of two chapters (Ezekiel 23 and 24), are introduced with Ezekiel recounting, 1The word of the Lord came…unto me, saying, Son of man” (23:1; 24:1-2). “Son of man” reminded Ezekiel, though he was a priest by lineage, and a prophet by calling, he was nevertheless a man with the weaknesses and failings of men. “Son of Man” was also a frequent title Christ used of Himself (Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 11:19; Mark 2:28; Luke 19:10), reminding His followers He was the “Son of God” by nature (John 1:14; 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5), and the “Son of Man” by birth (being conceived by the virgin Mary).

Ezekiel 23

Two Sisters Who Became Adulterers (23:1-21)

The LORD came to Ezekiel with a parable of two sisters, and a mother (23:2). The mother was symbolic of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (23:2), and the daughters represented the divided kingdoms. Samaria, identified as the elder sister “Aholah,” symbolized the ten northern tribes known as Israel (23:4). The city of Jerusalem was identified as “Aholibah,” and symbolized Judah, the southern kingdom (23:4)

The Sins and Wickedness of Samaria (23:4-10)

Samaria and Jerusalem were guilty of spiritual adultery, for they had turned from the LORD to the gods of other nations. Forsaking her covenant with the LORD, Samaria turned to Assyria, and embraced that nation’s idols with their wicked, immoral practices (23:5-10; 2 Kings 15:19-20; 17:1-4). A century had passed since the LORD gave Samaria over to Assyria, and that northern Israel was stripped of its wealth, and her sons and daughters taken into captivity (23:9-10)

The Sins and Wickedness of Jerusalem (23:11-21)

Jerusalem followed in the sins of Samaria, portrayed in Ezekiel 23 as that nation’s sister (23:11). Privileged to have the Temple representing the presence of the LORD in her midst, the sins and wickedness of Jerusalem exceeded those of Samaria. Ezekiel was to declare, Jerusalem “was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms” (23:11).

Like Samaria, Jerusalem turned from the LORD, sought the favor of Assyria (2 Kings 16:5-18; Isaiah 7:1-25), and defiled herself with the idols of that heathen nation (23:13). When Assyria fell to Babylon, Jerusalem turned to the idols of that nation, and lusted for the great men of the Chaldeans (23:14-16). Rejecting the LORD, the kings of Jerusalem had flirted with Babylon like an adulterous woman (23:15-16). Rather than favor, Babylon abused Jerusalem, shamed and humiliated the people (23:17-18). Failing to turn to the LORD, the king of Jerusalem turned to Egypt for help and failed (23:19-21; 2 Kings 23:26-24:2).

God Determined to Judge Jerusalem and Judah (23:22-35)

As with Samaria, so it was with Jerusalem, for the LORD determined that city would be judged for her wickedness and spiritual idolatry. Ezekiel prophesied the LORD would bring a great army against Jerusalem (23:22-23), and fulfill the judgment He had determined against the city (23:24). The soldiers of Babylon would show no mercy to the people, and would take their children captive (23:25-29). As the cup of God’s wrath would be poured out, Jerusalem would fall (23:30-35).

Consequences of Sin, and the Righteous End of God’s Judgment (23:36-49)

Lest any question God’s justice, Ezekiel declared the sins of Jerusalem (23:36-42), and God’s judgment (23:43-47). Why did the LORD bring upon His people all of this sorrow and suffering? It was to the end they might feel the weight of their sins, repent and know the God of Israel is “the Lord God” (23:48-49).

Ezekiel 24 – A Boiling Caldron

Briefly, Ezekiel 24 records the parable of a boiling pot, that represented God’s final judgment on Jerusalem. It was on the day the LORD came to Ezekiel with the parable (24:1), that Nebuchadnezzar began his final siege of Jerusalem (24:2). The parable was addressed to the rebels of Judah (24:3), and the boiling pot represented Jerusalem (“the blood city, 24:6a). The fire in the parable identified the wrath of God’s judgment, and the scum in the pot symbolized the sin and wickedness of Jerusalem (24:6-11). In their rebellion, the people of Jerusalem became a filthy, lewd people whose sins stipulated God’s judgment (24:12-13). Indeed, until His justice was satisfied, God’s judgment would not cease (23:14).

The Sign from the Death of Ezekiel’s Wife (24:15-27)

Our devotion concludes, not with a parable, but a sign. The LORD revealed to Ezekiel: “Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire [Ezekiel’s wife] of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down” (24:15-16). Ezekiel’s refusal to mourn the death of his wife in public, was to serve as a sign for the people to refrain from mourning the news of Jerusalem’s fall (24:17-23).

Closing thoughts (24:24-27) – Why were the people to abstain from mourning in public, after they received the news of Jerusalem’s fall?

They were not to mourn the destruction of the Temple and the city, but rather the sins and wickedness of the people that had necessitated its ruin it (24:24-25). To that end, it was the LORD’s desire that His people would, in the midst of their private sorrows, come to hear and know Him as LORD (24:27).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

God Sought for a Man, and Found None (Ezekiel 22)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 22

The sins and wickedness of Jerusalem is the subject of Ezekiel 22. How could one nation, given the favor of the LORD like none other, sink to the depths of sin and depravity we find in this chapter? It is both frightening and convicting, when you realize how Judah’s sins parallel the sins of the 21st century. I was moved to sadness as I studied Ezekiel 22. I found myself sorrowing not only for Israel in history past, but for my own day and nation.

Indictment of Jerusalem and Her Citizens (22:1-22)

Today’s Scripture begins with the LORD summoning His prophet to serve as His prosecutor, and asking him, son of man, wilt thou judge [denounce; pass judgment], wilt thou judge the bloody city? (22:2a). The LORD answered His question, and asserted, “yea, thou shalt shew her all her [Jerusalem’s] abominations” (22:2b).

As the prosecutor of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was to charge the people of that city with two crimes (22:3): Violence (for “the city sheddeth blood”), and Idolatry (for the people had rejected the LORD, and made idols). The consequences of Jerusalem’s sins were fourfold: The LORD declared the people to be guilty, defiled, worthy of death (“for her sins had “caused [her] days to draw near,” and “a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries” (22:4-5).

Twelve National Sins (22:6-12)

The egregious nature of Jerusalem’s sins were declared boldly by the LORD through His prophet. They had become a murderous, abusive people (22:6), whose sons and daughters dishonored their parents (22:7a). They oppressed the helpless (who were non-Hebrews in their midst, as well as orphans and widows, 22:7b), despised those things that were holy, and desecrated the Sabbath (22:8). They slandered, and were immoral (22:9). They committed incest with their fathers (22:10), and adultery with those who were not their wives (22:11). Their families were scandalously incestuous (22:11), and men bribed to kill, charged exorbitant interest, and blackmailed others for gain (22:12).

God’s Judgment (22:12c-22)

Jerusalem’s wickedness was summed up in this: They had forsaken and “forgotten” the LORD (22:12c), and their sins demanded His judgment. The LORD clapped His hands at the people in disgust, for they provoked Him to anger with their fraudulent gain (22:13). Once a powerful and valiant people, Judah had become a weak, cowardice people (22:14). The LORD had determined to scatter His people among the nations of the world (22:15a), and declared He would consume their wickedness in His wrath (22:15b). All this would be done, that the people might confess and acknowledge Him as “the LORD” (22:16). In the fire of His wrath, He would purify His people of their sins (22:18).

They had become as worthless dross, impure and unholy (22:18). In His wrath, the LORD drove His people to seek shelter in Jerusalem (22:19), and that city became a boiling caldron of fiery judgment (22:20-21; 2 Kings 25:9). To what end would this great judgment fall upon Jerusalem?

Ezekiel 22:2222As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you.

Indictment of Jerusalem’s Leaders (22:23-31)

Judah’s and Jerusalem’s leaders had failed the people, and already the LORD had withheld the rains that would lead to thirst and famine (22:23). King Zedekiah and his court had become ravenous lions, devouring the people, robbing them by corrupt means, whose violence and wars made many widows (22:25).

The priests, the spiritual leaders of Jerusalem, had violated the Laws and Commandments, and desecrated the Temple with idols and sacrifices (22:25). They failed to sanctify that which was holy, nor did they keep the sabbaths (22:26).

The “princes” (political leaders) of Jerusalem and Judah were like ravenous wolves, shedding the blood of the innocent to increase their “dishonest gain” (22:27).

There were false prophets in the midst of the people who “daubed” the sins of the people with “untempered morter” (thus whitewashing their sins). They lied, made empty promises, and deceived, claiming to speak the words of the LORD (22:28).

Finally, there was an indictment of the people themselves. Like their leaders, they were guilty of extortion, theft, oppressing the poor and needy, and treating unjustly the non-Jewish people in their midst (22:29).

Closing thoughts – Was there any hope for Jerusalem? Were there any whom God might use to condemn the sins of the nation, and call the people to repent? The answer to those questions is summed up in this:

Ezekiel 22:3030And I sought for [searched and attempted to find] a man among them, that should make up the hedge [a wall], and stand in the gap [in the breach] before me for the land, that I should not destroy it [to annihilate; desolate]: but I found none [no one].

One man might have made the difference for Jerusalem; but the king, the leaders, and the people had rejected and scorned Jeremiah. Tragically, all was lost and the wrath of God would not be appeased (22:31).

Are there any willing to answer God’s call in the 21st century, and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap?”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.