Category Archives: Children

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The Failure of Third Generation Leaders: They Tend to Lack the Convictions and Spiritual Fortitude of Their Fore-fathers (Judges 1; Judges 2)

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Scripture reading: Judges 1-2

The Book of Judges began with a statement indicating a leadership void that followed Joshua’s death. We read, “Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?” (Judges 1:1)

Though Israel possessed the land, they still faced enemies in their midst. So the LORD answered their inquiry, not with the name of a man, but with that of a tribe: “And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his [the tribe of Judah’s] hand” (1:2).

The Unity of the Tribes of Judah and Simeon (Judges 1:1-20)

Lacking the leadership of a man like Joshua, the LORD chose the men of Judah to be the first to wage battle in the post-Joshua era. Why Judah? Judah had the largest population of the twelve tribes and was the most powerful among them. Judah, the patriarch Jacob’s fourth-born son, had been blessed by his father (Genesis 49:8-12). His lineage bore the noble character from whom a line of kings would emerge, beginning with David and concluding with the LORD Jesus Christ, the lion of Judah (Matthew 1:1-3).

Judah accepted the challenge. Because the tribe of Simeon lived in their midst, Judah said to them, “Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot.” (1:3). The people of Simeon accepted Judah’s invitation, for their land was encircled by Judah’s territory (Joshua 19:1).

Amid victories, a repetition of failures emerged in Judges that haunted the people as a nation for generations. The tribes of Judah and Simeon fought against the Canaanites and the Perizzites, and God blessed them with victories over their enemies (Judges 1:2-20), but regrettably, they fell short of the LORD’s will. The LORD did not fail Judah; however, the tribe did not trust their God and “could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron” (1:19).

The Cowardice of the Other Tribes (Judges 1:21-36)

A pattern of failures to obey the command of the LORD and drive out Israel’s enemies continued throughout Judges 1. For example, the tribe of Benjamin failed (1:21), as did Manasseh (1:27-28). Also, Ephraim did not “drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer” (1:29). Zebulun failed to “drive out the inhabitants of Kitron” (1:30). Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of cities in their land (1:32). Naphtali failed (1:33), and “the Amorites forced the children [tribe] of Dan into the mountain” (1:34).

Judges 2 – A Third-Generation Crisis in Leadership

An Ominous Announcement of the Angel of the LORD (Judges 2:1-5)

Judges 2 began with an ominous declaration from “an angel of the LORD” (whom I believe was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ). Israel’s failure to drive the idol-worshiping nations out of Canaan breached their covenant with the LORD. He reminded them of His promise: “I will never break my covenant with you” (2:1). The people, however, had failed to drive the inhabitants out of the land and destroy their altars (2:2).

God warned, “I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” (2:3). When the people heard what would befall them because of their sins, they “sacrificed there unto the LORD” (2:5). Nevertheless, the consequences of their sinful failures followed them.

The State of Israel During the Rule of the Judges (Judges 2:6-23)

Notice that the narrative in Judges 2 turns briefly to a reflection on the death of Joshua (2:6-10) and his influence on his generation and the one that followed. We read, “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel” (2:7). When that generation passed, a third generation arose, and “did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim” (2:11). That generation “forsook the Lord God of their fathers…and followed other gods…and provoked the Lord to anger. 13And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth” (2:12-13).

Yet, the LORD did not altogether forsake Israel. On the contrary, he chose judges in Israel to call the people to return to the LORD, His Law, and Commandments (2:16). He would bless the judge of His people and deliver them “out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge” (2:18). Nevertheless, “when the judge was dead, [the people] returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers…[and] ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” (2:19).

Closing thoughts:

On a personal note, I have witnessed the failings of transitional leadership throughout my years of ministry. A nation, organization, corporation, school, and church are never more vulnerable than in a time of leadership change. Judges 2 proved that the nation of Israel was no exception.

Why are third-generation organizations and ministries so vulnerable?

The reason can be summed up in an old adage: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Israel’s third generation in the land had not experienced the sacrifices or the victories of the generations before them. They had grown comfortable and familiar with the heathen in their midst. Invariably, their parent’s failure to drive the wicked out of the land became a fatal attraction, and the third generations’ contempt for the ways, law, and commandments of the LORD invited God’s judgment (2:20-23).

Tragically, as I write today’s devotion, I recall several churches, Christian camps, Bible colleges, and organizations that have faltered and are failing to thrive under third-generation leaders.

Is your church or organization facing a third-generation transition? If so, be on guard! Leaders who dismiss the principles and precepts of their predecessors will inevitably lead others to their demise.

Questions to consider:

1) Why did Judah invite the tribe of Simeon to join them in the war against the Canaanites? (Judges 1:4)

2) What great city fell to Judah and was destroyed by fire? (Judges 1:8)

3) What connection did the Kenites have with Israel? (Judges 1:16)

4) Who failed to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem? (Judges 1:21)

5) In what had Israel failed? (Judges 2:1-2)

6) What generation failed to know the LORD? (Judges 2:7-10)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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The Sanctity of Human Life (Joshua 20; Joshua 21)

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Scripture reading – Joshua 20-21

Joshua 20

The Law of the LORD Concerning Cities of Refuge (Joshua 20:1-3)

After the Twelve Tribes of Israel were allotted their lands (Joshua 14-19), the LORD commanded Joshua to speak to the tribes and require them to appoint “cities of refuge… 3That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be [a] refuge from the avenger of blood” (20:2-3).

The Regulations and Cities Appointed for Refuge (Joshua 20:4-9)

The purpose of the cities of refuge has been discussed in earlier devotions. We are again reminded of the sanctity of human life (Genesis 9:4-6; Exodus 20:13) and the principle of capital punishment established by the LORD in Genesis 9:5-6. The cities of refuge afforded a safe place for those who had unintentionally taken the life of another (20:3-4). Those cities provided a place where a man’s case could be judged by the city’s elders and his life protected from those who felt compelled to avenge the death of a loved one (20:5).

Joshua 21

Cities Designated for the Tribe of Levi (Joshua 21:1-42)

Having divided the land among the Twelve Tribes, the priestly tribe of Levi requested the cities they had been promised for their inheritance (Joshua 21:1-3).  Each tribe was to give cities, and their surrounding lands, wherein the Levites would dwell (21:4-42). Forty-eight cities were given to the tribe of Levi and assigned by family (21:41).

Joshua 21 concluded with three affirmations of the LORD. (Joshua 21:43-45)

The LORD had given Israel the land He promised their forefathers (Genesis 12:7; 15:18; Joshua 1:3-4). He had given Israel victory over her enemies (21:44; Deuteronomy 12:9-10). Finally, He had not failed to fulfill “any good thing” of all that He “had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (21:45).

Closing thoughts:

The Sanctity of Human Life and Capital Punishment

Some people oppose capital punishment and argue that it is an inhumane act of barbarity. The opposite is true! Because man was created in the image of God and is an eternal soul (Genesis 9:6), his life is sacred in the eyes of his Creator. Therefore, willfully taking the life of another, a life God deems sacred, demands the ultimate act of justice…the forfeiture of one’s own life (Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13).

Did you know the Word of God upholds the sanctity of life in a mother’s womb?

Exodus 21:22 gives an example of where two men were fighting. The result was an expecting mother was injured, and her baby was born prematurely. The law demanded, should the mother and her child live, the judgment was there was “no mischief,” and the man who injured her would need only pay a fine. However, should the mother or her infant die, the judgment was “life for life” (21:23).

Imagine God’s judgment upon abortionists who routinely kill the unborn!

Questions to consider:

1) What purpose did the cities of refuge serve? (Joshua 20:1-3)

2) Who judged those who sought sanctuary in a city of refuge? (Joshua 20:4)

3) How long would a “slayer” have to abide in a city of refuge? (Joshua 20:6)

4) What did the leaders of the tribe of Levi request? (Joshua 21:1-2)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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A Silent Enemy: Sin in the Camp (Joshua 7)

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Scripture reading – Joshua 7

* This is the first of two devotionals for today.

With the fortress of Jericho defeated and destroyed, the men of Israel set their eyes on the next city, Ai. Joshua had reminded the people that the LORD had accursed all that was in Jericho, and the gold, silver, brass, and iron was sanctified and dedicated for the “treasury of the house of the LORD” (6:24, 26). Nevertheless, one man in Israel disregarded Joshua’s oath and foolishly took that which was accursed (7:1).

Joshua 7

A Concealed Sin in the Camp (7:1-2)

Joshua 7:1 reveals both the sin and the sinner, whose transgression was not discovered until thirty-six soldiers of Israel had perished in battle (7:5). We read of that tragic event: “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel” (Joshua 7:1).

Who was Achan? We could assert he was nobody in the realm of two million citizens. However, he was a transgressor who committed a great sin against the LORD. Achan was a son of the tribe of Judah (7:1) and a father with sons and daughters (7:24). He was a man of possessions, for he owned ox, asses, and sheep (7:24). He was, however, a covetous man, and a thief (7:20-21).

Defeat at Ai (7:3-5)

Unlike the battle of Jericho, there is no record that Joshua consulted the LORD before he ordered men to attack Ai (7:2). He had sent out men to spy on Ai, and they returned and advised, “Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few” (7:3). Confident, and presumptuous, Joshua heeded the advice of his spies and sent a mere three thousand soldiers to war against Ai. As a result, Israel was defeated (7:4-5), and the nation was left confused and humiliated by the deaths of thirty-six warriors of Israel.

Joshua’s Remorse (7:6-9)

Distraught by the defeat, Joshua “rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD” (7:6). He was joined by “the elders of Israel,” and “they put dust upon their heads” as a sign of mourning (7:6). In dismay, Joshua cried to the LORD, “what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?” (7:8) He appealed to the LORD to consider how Israel’s defeat would embolden their enemies. He feared the adversaries of Israel would encircle them and “cut off [their] name from the earth,” and he wondered, “What wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (7:9)

The LORD’S Rebuke and the Cause for Israel’s Defeat (7:10-14)

Sadly, Joshua’s cry to the LORD insinuated that somehow God had failed Israel. However, such was not the case, for He had promised Joshua, “Whithersoever thou goest” I will be with you (1:9).

The LORD then rebuked Joshua and said, “Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?” (7:10). He revealed that the cause for Israel’s defeat was not His unfaithfulness but the sin of one man that had troubled the whole nation (7:11-12). Therefore, the LORD warned, He would not bless the nation until the evil was put out of the camp (7:10-13).

The Discovery of Achan’s Sin (7:14-21)

The following day, Joshua made haste to begin searching out the sin in Israel and did as the LORD had commanded (7:14-16). It was revealed that the sin had been committed by a man of the tribe of Judah (7:16). When the tribe of Judah passed before Joshua, the “family of the Zarhites” was implicated (7:17). The Zarhites were examined, and the household of “Zabdi was taken, and [Joshua] brought [Zabdi’s] household man by man and; and Achan…was taken” (7:18).

Perhaps hoping his sin would go undetected, Achan held out until he was discovered. Then, when Joshua confronted and appealed for him to confess his sin (7:19), Achan answered, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done” (7:20).

Achan’s Confession (7:21)

Achan’s confession revealed the pattern of sin that men take when they sin against the LORD. First, he consideredthe opportunity to sin. He had looked “among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight” (7:21a). He then coveted them (7:21b). Achan then carriedthem to his tent (7:21c), and concealed them, hiding them “in the earth in the midst of [his] tent” (7:21).

The Effect of Achan’s Sin Upon His Household (7:22-26)

Joshua’s men searched and discovered all Achan had confessed, but no appeal would satisfy the LORD’S wrath. Because of Achan’s sin, thirty-six men had died in the defeat of Ai (7:4-5), and now the whole congregation passed judgment. Taking him, and all that he owned outside the camp, Israel stoned Achan to death, along with his sons and daughters and livestock (7:24).

All was destroyed, and the people “burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger” (7:25-26).

Closing thought:

Like many sinners, Achan only confessed his sin when it was discovered. He had the opportunity to repent, come forward, and confess his sin after Israel was defeated at Ai (thirty-six of his countrymen had perished, 7:5). Instead, his heart was hardened, and his confession was offered only after his sin was exposed. God’s people could not tolerate such evil in their midst, and the LORD bless them. The LORD had warned Joshua, “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (7:12).

When God’s people obey His Word, their most powerful enemies fall before them. However, we cannot overcome our weakest enemy when we conceal sin.

* Note – A second devotional will follow and be taken from Joshua 8 (the record of Israel’s victory over Ai following that nation’s judgment against Achan.) 

Questions to consider from Joshua 7:

1) Why was the LORD angry with Israel? (7:1)

2) Where did the men of Israel put their confidence? (7:3)

3) How did the defeat at AI affect Israel? (7:5)

4) What were Joshua’s concerns following Israel’s defeat? (7:8-9)

5) What sins did Achan confess that invited God’s judgment? (7:20-21)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to

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The End is the Beginning: Getting Ready to Depart (Deuteronomy 31; Deuteronomy 32)

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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 31-32

Deuteronomy 31

As we near the end of our study of the Book of Deuteronomy, I am reminded of a verse from the song Moses: “So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Keep in mind, as you read Deuteronomy 31-32, the balance of Moses’ life can be numbered in days, if not hours. This great leader, arguably one of the greatest of all time, was coming to the end of his earthly sojourn (31:2).

Moses’ Exhortation to Israel and Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:1-8)

Mindful of his mortality, Moses reminded the nation he was “an hundred and twenty years old,” and the LORD had said, “Thou shalt not go over this Jordan (31:1-2). With the urgency of a man who knows he will soon be passing, Moses exhorted the people: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (31:6). Then, “in the sight of all Israel,” Moses affirmed Joshua as the leader whom the LORD had chosen to lead the nation into the Promised Land (31:7-8).

Moses’ Challenge to Israel’s Spiritual Leaders (Deuteronomy 31:9-11)

Turning from Joshua, Moses challenged the spiritual leaders of the nation to be the custodians and teachers of the Law and keep the Law and Commandments before the people (31:9). Every seventh year, the priests were to gather the people together, and “read [the] law before all Israel in their hearing” (31:10-11).

God’s Confirmation of Joshua’s Succession (Deuteronomy 31:12-15)

The LORD then commanded Moses, saying, “Thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge” (31:14). The LORD then descended “in a pillar of a cloud…[and] stood over the door of the tabernacle” (31:15).

God’s Revelation of Israel’s Disobedience (Deuteronomy 31:16-18)

With Moses and Joshua standing at the door of the Tabernacle, the LORD revealed that after Israel conquered the Canaanites and took possession of the land, the people would “go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land” (31:16). They would break their covenant with Him (31:16b). and depart from the Law and Commandments. God then warned that He would hide His face and abandon them to the consequences of their idolatry (31:17-18).

A Song of Remembrance and Instruction (Deuteronomy 31:19-21; Deuteronomy 32)

To memorialize His prophecy against Israel, the LORD commanded Moses to write a song, “and teach it, the children of Israel…that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel (31:19). The song was to serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness, and how He had fulfilled the promises He had made to their forefathers (31:20-21). And so, Moses wrote the song “and taught it [to] the children of Israel” (31:22).

A Public Charge to Joshua and Israel’s Leaders (Deuteronomy 31:22-30)

Deuteronomy 31 concluded with Moses giving a final charge to Joshua in preparing him to assume the leadership of the nation (31:23).  Moses then commanded the Levites to take the record of the Law he had written with his hand (31:24) and “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (31:26). He then stated, what the LORD had revealed to him concerning the hearts of the people, saying, “I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death?” (31:27).

Deuteronomy 32 – The Song of Moses and His Imminent Death

Given the length of Deuteronomy 32, a brief oversight of Moses’ song of praise, worship, and forewarning will need to suffice. First, you will notice the preface of Moses’ song in the first two verses and a declaration of its purpose (32:1-2). Moses then wrote, “I will publish the name of the Lord: Ascribe ye greatness unto our God” (32:3). He then declared that Israel’s God was “the Rock [strong and stable], His work is perfect [complete; lacking nothing]: For all His ways are judgment [He is Just]: A God of truth [trustworthy] and without iniquity [sinless], Just [Righteous; Innocent] and right [straight; upright] is He” (32:4).

After confessing the sinful character of the people, Moses memorialized the LORD’s compassionate care as a testimony of His grace, love, and mercies (32:7-18). He also recorded the tragic prophecy of the nation’s wickedness and God’s punishment that would follow (32:19-33). Yet, though the LORD would use other nations to judge His people, He promised He would not altogether forsake Israel (32:34-43).

After rehearsing the song he had written “in the ears of the people” (32:44), Moses challenged them: “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law” (32:46).

Closing thoughts:

When Moses finished speaking, the LORD commanded him, “49Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo…and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: 50And die in the mount whither thou goest up” (32:49-50a). Moses evidenced no protest at the LORD’s command and was reminded he would not enter the land (32:51).

From Mount Nebo, Moses looked out on the vastness of the land the LORD had promised Israel (32:52). His sin prevented him from leading the people into the land; however, the LORD had chosen Joshua, and the mantle of leadership now rested on him.

Questions to consider:

1) What assurance did the LORD give Israel that they should be “strong and of a good courage?” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

2) What tribe was responsible for carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the new land? (Deuteronomy 31:9)

3) What solemn event was Israel to observe every seventh year? (Deuteronomy 31:10-11)

4) What did Moses command the Levites to do with the book of the law he had written? (Deuteronomy 31:24-26)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to

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The Curse of a Dying Nation: Feminine Men and Rebellious Feminists (Deuteronomy 28)

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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 28

The sum of today’s Scripture reading is essentially two words: Blessings and Curses. Deuteronomy 27 concluded with the people affirming their understanding of God’s Covenant and agreeing to its blessings and penalties (27:15-26). Deuteronomy 28 continued the same proclamation, detailing the LORD’s promise of blessings if the people would obey His Laws and Commandments (28:1-14) and curses should they disobey (28:15-68).

The Rewards and Blessings of Faithfulness (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)

The promise of blessings was conditional and would be fulfilled, but only if the people diligently listened to the Lord’s voice “to observe and to do all His commandments.” If the people would “hearken…observe…and do all His commandments,” the LORD promised He would “set [Israel] on high above all nations of the earth” (28:1). All would be blessed, both city and field (28:3), and would be fruitful and increase. Children would be born, cattle would calve, and the flocks of sheep would increase. The fields would give forth a great harvest (28:4-6).

Israel’s enemies would fall before them and be scattered (28:7). Her storehouses and treasuries would overflow (28:8-14).  The LORD promised He would open the treasury of heaven, send rain upon the land, and the world’s nations would become debtors to Israel (28:12). All this was promised if Israel obeyed the LORD’s Law, and His Commandments (28:13-14).

The Penalties of God’s Judgment for Disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:15-68)

The balance of Deuteronomy 28 predicted the punishments that would befall Israel as a nation should the people turn from the LORD and disobey His Law and Commandments (28:15-68). In the same way, the LORD promised to bless the nation if the people obeyed Him; the opposite was true should they disobey Him. The curses are far too extensive for me to address individually; however, I invite you to observe their sum in today’s devotion.

Should Israel reject Him, the LORD warned He would abandon them to their enemies (28:45-47), and the people would become slaves to their enemies (this would come to pass during the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and be repeated in the Roman era). Their enemies would eat the fruitfulness of their lands, trees, and storehouses. Their cattle and flocks would be destroyed (28:48-51).

Israel was warned that when their cities were besieged, the starving people would turn to cannibalism and eat “the flesh of [their] sons and of [their] daughters” (28:52-53).

Portrait of a Dying Nation: Effeminate Men and Embittered Women (28:54-57)

Their men became effeminate (“tender among you, and very delicate.” 28:54). Their women were no longer “tender and delicate” (28:56). The eyes of a wife would “be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter” (28:56). Leaving her natural affection, Moses warned a mother “shall eat [her children] for want of all things secretly in the siege” (28:57).

Because the people rejected the LORD and disobeyed His Law, He promised to bring upon the nation “great plagues…and sore sicknesses” (28:59). Israel would be overcome with plagues (28:58-60), and the births of the children would be few (28:62-63). Finally, the nation would be conquered, and the people scattered, oppressed, and enslaved (28:64-65).

Fear, dread, and depression would haunt the nation, and the people would dread the night and the dawn (28:66-67). Eventually, they would be taken from their land and “see it no more again…[and] be sold unto [their enemies]” as slaves (28:68). All that Moses warned is documented by the historian Josephus and came to pass in AD 70 when Titus, the Roman General, destroyed Jerusalem. Then, the Jews were scattered throughout the nations of the earth.

Closing thoughts:

Today’s Scripture reading reminded me that the pattern of decadence and decline foretold by Moses is seen in the nations of the world today. Such wickedness precludes the judgment of God upon those nations that reject Him. No nation can long reject God without experiencing moral decay and His judgment.

The trademark of God’s judgment is undeniable when I assess my country. I see the evidence of a nation that God has turned over to its enemies. The United States is an enslaved, debtor nation to our enemies. Our nation’s women have taken the lives of their unborn in grotesque abortions, as surely as if they cannibalize them from the womb (28:52-53). Effeminate men, “tender [and] delicate” (28:54), are celebrated, and rebellious women blight our society with an “evil eye” towards their husbands and children (28:56-57). We have experienced epidemics, a failing birthrate, a fear, and a dread of the future, as I have not witnessed in my lifetime.

The United States, like all nations, is doomed if we do not repent of our sins and turn to God.

Questions to consider:

1) What spiritual benefits would Israel gain if they obeyed the commandments of the LORD? (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

2) What curses would befall Israel if the people refused to heed and obey the commandments of the LORD? (Deuteronomy 28:15-24)

3) Rather than men of strength, how were the rebellious men of Israel described? (Deuteronomy 28:54)

4) What afflictions did Moses prophesy would befall a rebellious nation? (Deuteronomy 28:59-61)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to

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Moral Dilemmas: Divorce, Debt, and Human Trafficking (Deuteronomy 24; Deuteronomy 25)

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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 24-25

Our Scripture reading continues with Moses setting forward various laws that would guide Israel in matters of marriage, family, societal civility, business, and government.

Deuteronomy 24

Principles Regarding Marriage and Divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-5)

Divorce is addressed, sadly indicative of man’s sinful heart. We understand that God’s desire for man and wife is: “A man…shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Yet, because man’s nature is bent away from God, the Lord allowed (through Moses) for a writing of divorcement when there was a valid reason.

Moses allowed for divorce in this passage; however, I remind you that was never God’s plan or will. What is the will of the LORD? The sum of God’s will for marriage is this: “A man…shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

The Pharisees questioned Christ on this subject and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife [divorce]for every cause?” (Matthew 19:3) The LORD answered, citing the “one flesh” principle and added, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

Displeased with His answer, the Pharisees pressed Him, saying, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” (Matthew 19:7). Christ answered and diagnosed the deplorable basis for Moses permitting divorce (Deuteronomy 24).

Matthew 19:8–98He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered [allowed] you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

A Moral Guideline for the Borrower and Lender (Deuteronomy 24:6)

Taking an upper millstone is foreign to most until we understand Moses referred to the stones used to grind grain into flour. So, a lender was warned he could not take for a surety the “upper millstone,” for by it, a family could grind grain into flour and bake bread for the family.

A Solution to Human Trafficking (Deuteronomy 24:7)

One of the great abominations of the 21st century is human trafficking (in essence, modern slavery). Forcefully taking children, women, and men and subjecting them to the darkness of moral depravity has been and continues to be an appalling wickedness. In the words of the Scripture, anyone found guilty of “[making] merchandise…or selleth [selling] him” shall be put to death (24:7).

If the judgment of the Scriptures were practiced in our day, victims of human trafficking would receive justice and human traffickers would be dispatched to a swift judgment: “Thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:21).

Charitable Obligations (Deuteronomy 24:10-22)

Today’s false teachers and preachers have led many to believe the laws of the Old Testament were lacking in grace. They support their reason and boast that we live in an “Age of Grace.” Indeed, we do, but grace has been a part of every age because God is a part of every age. He has been and continues to be immutable – the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, characterizing the Law and Commandments as “graceless” suggests the LORD was graceless, which is heresy.

Deuteronomy 24:10-22 proved that God was sensitive and compassionate concerning the condition of the poor, the weak, the orphan, and the widow. For example, in ancient times, the poor often had nothing more than the “clothes on their backs.” Robes were the attire for those times, and men generally wore inner and outer robes. The inner robe afforded modesty, while the outer robe protected against the elements and provided warmth at night.

Should a man of little means borrow, his outer robe might serve as the surety or pledge for his debt (24:10-11). However, the lender was not to humiliate a debtor and take by force the robe of a poor man while he was in his house (24:10-11). Also, in the evening, the lender was to return the outer robe so that the man “may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee” (24:13).

Admonitions Against Injustices (Deuteronomy 24:14-18)

Day laborers were paid their wages at the end of a workday (24:14). Also, everyone was to bear the consequences and punishment for their sins. Therefore, a father was not to be punished for the sins of his children, nor were his children to be punished for the sins of their father (24:16).

Charity Was the Law (Deuteronomy 24:19-22)

In ancient times there was no welfare system, and the impoverished were a perpetual presence on the earth. Tragically, widows were sometimes forsaken by their children, orphans were neglected, and foreigners often found themselves homeless. Moses reminded the congregation how Israel suffered bondage in Egypt. He urged the people to remember the poor and let them glean the leftovers from their fields, olive trees, and grapevines.

Deuteronomy 25

Time and space prevent a thorough commentary on Deuteronomy 25; however, I suggest the following outline of principles for your study.

I. Capital Punishment and Civil Justice (Deuteronomy 25:1-4)

II. Family Posterity (Deuteronomy 25:5-12)

III. Business and Commerce (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

IV. The Offence of an Enemy (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

Closing thoughts:

Once again, I trust you have seen the grace of God evidenced throughout His Laws and Commandments. Although some invite believers to ignore the Old Testament altogether, they do so at their peril and that of their followers. But, of course, the greatest expression of God’s Law and grace is identified in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 2:21-24).

Questions to consider:

1) Could a divorced man remarry his wife after she had been married to another man? (Deuteronomy 24:4)

2) What was God’s judgment concerning human traffickers? (Deuteronomy 24:7)

3) Rather than long terms of imprisonment, how was an offense settled in Israel? (Deuteronomy 25:1-3)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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“WOKE,” Civility, Women’s Rights, and Sexual Perversity (Deuteronomy 21; Deuteronomy 22)

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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 21-22

Warning: You may find the content of today’s devotion inflammatory; however, its immediate relevance is undeniable.

Moses continued his charge to Israel in our Scripture reading. In Deuteronomy 21-22, fundamental principles establish the sanctity of human life, the basics of civil decency and human kindness, and the practical application of the command, “love thy neighbor.”

Deuteronomy 21 – Fundamentals of Civil Duty

“Thou Shalt Not Kill” (Deuteronomy 21:1-9)

In our study of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), we have considered several passages of Scripture that explain the sanctity of human life and the sixth commandment that reads, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Capital punishment, a “life for a life,” was God’s judgment upon the man who willfully, and deliberately took the life of another (19:11-13, 21). In addition, Deuteronomy 21:1-9 addressed the loss of human life, should a victim’s body be discovered, but there are no witnesses to the murder.

Concerning Women Taken as Spoil of Wartimes (21:10-14)

Ancient cultures considered women taken as prisoners in war to be nothing more than a possession, a spoil of battle. The God of Israel, however, established laws to protect women. Should a man desire to take a female prisoner as his wife, he was to allow her head to be shaved, an outward symbol of her purification, and give her thirty days to mourn her parents’ deaths before taking her as his wife (21:12-13). Should the man later decide to reject her, he was to set her at liberty and was commanded to neither sell nor humiliate her (21:14).

The Inheritance Rights of a Firstborn Son (21:15-17)

Some propose that the reference to “two wives” (21:15) suggested polygamy; however, I believe it is not. From our study of the Book of Genesis, we know that God defined marriage as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), meaning the union of one man and one woman. Therefore, polygamy cannot be the intent of Deuteronomy 21:15, for the Mosaic Law did not redefine what God Himself had designed and established.

In my opinion, the explanation for the reference to “two wives” (one being described as “beloved” and the other “hated”) implied that the first wife was dead. In this example, the first wife had given birth to a son; as the firstborn son, he was the husband’s heir (21:15-16). The second wife, the stepmother of the firstborn son, would perhaps be tempted to influence her husband to disown his firstborn; thereby choosing her son to be his heir (21:16). The LORD condemned that practice. He declared that the firstborn son would be given “a double portion” of all that was his father’s (21:17).

Capital Punishment of a Rebellious Son (21:18-21)

A disobedient son, defined as “stubborn and rebellious” (21:18), refused to hear and obey his father and mother. Such a son (described as “a glutton, and a drunkard”) would be brought before the city elders, who would sit in judgment of his character (21:19-20).

I understand that stoning a rebellious son is undoubtedly offensive to our 21st-century sensibilities. Yet, given the severity of the punishment, we can conclude that it was a rare event. Indeed, such a judgment required the consent of both the father and mother (21:19-20). Yet, should the city’s elders find the son guilty, he would have been stoned to death by the “men of his city” (21:21).

Deuteronomy 22 – Having a Good Conscience

Compassion for a Neighbor’s Livestock (22:1-4)

We are reminded that God’s people were to love their neighbors. That command applied to his person and was demonstrated practically in one’s duty to his neighbor’s livestock, clothes, and possessions (22:1-3). Should a man’s ox, sheep, or donkey be astray, his neighbor was to restore them to their owner. Should the owner not be readily known, an Israelite was commanded to take the animal to his home until its rightful owner was established (22:2). Once again, we are reminded that God is benevolent. He required compassion for the animals of His creation (22:4).

An Abomination: TransgenderTransexuals (22:5)

There is much ado about the “rights” of self-declared “Queers, “Transexuals,” and “Asexuals” in 21st-century society. Such people aspire to blend and distort the natural differences between males and females in their dress and manner. It may surprise you to learn that blurring the distinctiveness in the sexes is not a “new woke” (as some would have you believe). Indeed, it was declared an “abomination unto the LORD” in the Scriptures and condemned as a practice among ancient heathen societies (22:5).

Compassion and Affection for Nature (22:6-7)

From the beginning, humanity was commanded to be the “keeper” of God’s creation (Genesis 2:15). It follows, therefore, that even the smallest of creatures should arouse in man a natural affection and compassion (22:7).

Closing thoughts:

Several other laws and guidelines are given in Deuteronomy 22, but I conclude this devotion by inviting you to notice the LORD’s protection of womankind (22:13-29).

Unlike their heathen neighbors, Israelite women were protected and shielded from abuses that are even prevalent today. For example, a woman had the right to due process should her purity and testimony be questioned. Also, should a woman be forcefully taken and raped, the severity of the law would fall upon the man, and he would forfeit his life for his sin (22:25-27).

Tragically, our nation and world have rejected the authority of God’s Word and removed itself from the divine guiding principles for life and civil society. We have become a people with laws divorced from unalterable principles. As a result, we are governed by the whims of wicked, unprincipled men and women. Indeed, the prophet Isaiah’s condemnation of the wicked is applicable and relevant when we read:

Isaiah 5:20-21 – “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21  Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

Questions to consider:

1) How were captive, enslaved women to be treated in Israel? (21:10-14)

2) What might become of a rebellious son? (21:19-19)

3) Why would the adage “finders, keepers” not apply to God’s people? (22:1-3)

4) What was the law concerning a man dressing like a woman or a woman dressing like a man? (22:5)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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“In the Sovereignty of God, Dreams Do Come True” (Genesis 41-43)

Dear Heart of A Shepherd Readers,

I invite you to watch or listen to a message I preached at Hillsdale Baptist Church, Tampa, FL, on Sunday, May 7, 2023. Much of the sermon is narrative in style, but the content and applications are powerful.

Joseph’s brothers’ hatred brought him to Egypt, but God’s providence guided him from slavery and prison to serve as the ruler of Egypt and second only to Pharaoh. Two decades passed, and like many, Joseph’s brothers lived a lie and never confessed to their father that they had sold Joseph into slavery (left him believing a wild beast had killed his son). Yet, in the sovereignty of the LORD, Jacob’s sons would come face to face with their brother. (Genesis 42)

Text – Genesis 41-43
Topic – God’s Sovereignty and Providential Care
Series – “Logos: A Journey of Faith, Hope, and Love”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

The God of Creation and Heaven has Revealed Himself (Deuteronomy 10)

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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 10

Deuteronomy 10

Moses’ second oration to Israel continued in Deuteronomy 10 when he described how the LORD showed the people mercy following their idolatry at Sinai. Again, Moses reminded the people what they already knew; nevertheless, it was essential for them to recollect all that had befallen their forefathers and remember the LORD’s Covenant with them as a nation.

Israel’s Covenant: A Testimony of God’s Favor (Deuteronomy 10:1-5)

Moses recalled how, in anger because of their idolatry, he had broken the first tables of stone upon which were written the Ten Commandments. The LORD then commanded him to hew out two additional tables of stone (10:1), upon which the LORD engraved “the words [the Commandments] that were in the first tables” (10:2). The Commandments were then placed in the Ark, and served as a lasting memorial of God’s covenant with Israel (10:2b-5; Exodus 40:20).

Memorial to Aaron’s Death (Deuteronomy 10:6-7)

Continuing his remembrance of the events that had brought the nation to the edge of the Promised Land, Moses rehearsed how his brother Aaron, the first high priest, had died short of Canaan, and “Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead” (10:6).

The Tribe of Levi (Deuteronomy 10:8-9)

Lest any forget, the people were reminded that the LORD had chosen and “separated the tribe of Levi” to serve Him and “to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (10:8). Unlike the other tribes, the Levites would have no inheritance of land assigned to them. Instead, their inheritance was a portion of that which was due the LORD, in the people’s tithes, offerings, and sacrifices (10:8-9).

Five Imperatives (Deuteronomy 10:10-13)

With the urgency of a father who loves his sons and daughters, Moses challenged the people to obey the LORDwith five imperatives (10:12-13).

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear [revere]the LORD thy God, to walk [behave] in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep [keep watch; guard] the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Who Is God? (Deuteronomy 10:14-22)

Who is this God who revealed Himself as Creator, chose Israel, and covenanted with them by giving them His Law, Commandments, and Statutes?

He is the Creator and Sovereign of “the heaven of heavens…and the earth also, with all that therein is” (10:14). He is the “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [i.e., to be feared].” He is justand not a respecter of persons (10:17). He is merciful and the protector “of the fatherless and widow [the defenseless]” (10:18a). He is tender, and “loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment” (10:18b).

Closing thoughts: What effect should the revelation of God’s nature have had on Israel and you?

The answer to that question is found in the closing verses of Deuteronomy 10 (10:19-22). The children of Israel were to love strangers, for they could identify with the hardships of being a stranger in Egypt (10:19). They were to fear, serve, and cleave to the LORD (10:20). They were to be a people whose word, was their bond (“swear by His name,” 10:20). The hearts, thoughts, and affections of Israel were to be solely directed to the LORD (10:21). God had fulfilled His promises. Israel had increased from seventy souls (the number of Jacob’s family in Egypt, Genesis 46:27), and “the LORD [had] made [them] as the stars of heaven for multitude” (10:22).

Believer, my God is great and mighty. He is the LORD of the Scriptures, the Sovereign of Creation, and the King of heaven and earth!

Is He your God?

Questions to consider:

1) What did the LORD write on the stone tablets? (Deuteronomy 10:4)

2)  Where did Moses place the stone tablets? (Deuteronomy 10:5)

3) What was the Levitical tribe’s ministry? (Deuteronomy 10:8)

4) What did the LORD require of Israel as the nation settled in the new land? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

5) How many souls were in Jacob’s family when they settled in Egypt? (Deuteronomy 10:22)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to

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