Category Archives: Death

No Karma: My God Has Got the Whole World, In His Hands (Esther 6-10)

Daily reading assignment – Esther 6-10

The world calls it, “Instant Karma,” an ideology attributed to Buddhism and Hinduism. Instant Karma suggests a “payback” for one’s past actions. Of course, what one has done in the past might be good or bad, and the “payback” serve as its reward.

Instant Karma seems to suggest a “Cause and Effect” that is fatalistic and devoid of the influence of divine sovereignty and intervention. As a believer, I have faith in God’s promises. I know God is sovereignly directing the course of humanity to His purpose and end. I am confident, “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

There is an undeniable principle of “Cause and Effect” in this world and it is summed up in this: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Esther 6

Esther 6 is a beautiful example of God working in the heart of a king. King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes I), found himself in a place many of us have found ourselves…enduring a sleepless night.

It is revealed that the king’s insomnia (6:1) was used by God to direct his thoughts and the heart of the king to His divine end. From the king’s perspective, however, it was just another sleepless night, and thus he determined to have his servants read historical records that chronicled his reign.

Providentially, for there is no other explanation for it, the name of Mordecai, Queen Esther’s adopted father, came to the king’s attention. Ahasuerus, was reminded how Mordecai had intervened to foil a plot to assassinate the king (2:21-23). Recalling the event, the king wondered aloud, “What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?” (6:3).

Learning from his servants that Mordecai had not been honored for his service (6:3), the king determined to immediately correct that slight and reward him. Providentially, in that very moment, Haman, the adversary of the Jews who had successfully plotted to have the king sign a decree to exterminate all the Jews, entered the king’s court (6:4-5).

Haman was approaching on a mission to request that Mordecai be hanged from the gallows he had constructed in his courtyard (6:4-5). In a wonderful twist of what some might call “Instant Karma,” Haman listened as the king desired his advice on the means of honoring a servant in “whom the king delighteth to honour” (6:6).

Haman mistakenly believed he was the man the king desired to honor, and suggested a lavish, public parade.

 Esther 6:8-9Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.”

Ah, the irony when Haman was commanded to be the one to honor Mordecai, the very man whom he was plotting to hang (6:10-11)!

Esther 7-10

The balance of Esther 6 and the remaining chapters (Esther 7-10) give testimony to the sovereignty of God as He providentially directed the thoughts, plots and plans of men to His divine purpose and end.

Haman’s wicked scheme to annihilate the Jews was not only thwarted, but he fell victim to the very gallows he had constructed to hang Mordecai (Esther 7:7-10).

Dear friend, all men are free will agents; however, God can and does steer the course of human choices to accomplish His plan and purpose.  King, president, governor, judge, sheriff, employer, teacher, pastor, or parent…none are beyond the sovereign purpose and will of God.

Solomon taught his son, “The king’s heart is in the hand [power; rule; authority; under dominion] of the LORD, as the rivers [streams] of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will [pleasure; desire; favor]” (Proverbs 21:1).

No man acts independent of God; after all, “He’s Got the Whole World, In His Hands!”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: God is Jealous for His People! (Ezekiel 25-27)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 25-27

The focus of today’s devotional turns from God’s judgment of Jerusalem and Judah for their disobedience and idolatry, to those nations that were adversaries of Israel down through the centuries.

Ezekiel 25 – God’s Judgment of the Nations to the East and West of Jerusalem

Israel and Judah had rebelled and turned from the LORD and His judgment had befallen the nation as He had promised. Nevertheless, the LORD vowed He would not forget the oppression and hardships perpetuated by other nations against His people.

Having seen the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the heathen nations rejoiced in the sorrows and sufferings of God’s people as they were taken captive.  The LORD, however, took no pleasure in judging Judah and He despised the heathen who rejoiced in the sorrows of His people.

Through His prophet Ezekiel, God warned the Ammonites (25:1-7), Moabites (25:8-11), Edomites (25:12-14), and Philistines that His judgment of Judah should serve notice of His wrath against the nations that found pleasure in the sufferings and sorrows of His people (25:15-17).

The Ammonites, descended from Lot’s incest with his daughters, had been a constant adversary of Israel and they cheered when Babylon (“men of the east”), took possession of the land and desecrated the Temple (25:2-4). Ezekiel was to warn the people of Ammon that they would be cut off, perish, and cease to exist (25:5-7)

The Moabites, like the Ammonites, were descended from Lot’s incest with his daughters. Moab had mocked Judah and allied with Babylon (25:8-11). Like the Ammonites, they would be overcome by Babylon and would no more be a nation (25:10-11).

The Edomites, descendants of Esau, had oppressed Judah and Israel and God promised to punish their vengeful spirit (25:12-13).  Ezekiel declared the purpose for God exacting vengeance on Edom for those people to know it was the LORD who had taken vengeance against them (25:14-17).

Ezekiel 26-27 – God’s Vengeance Against Tyrus

God’s displeasure for the nations taking joy in the destruction of Jerusalem continues in Ezekiel 26-27.  Tyrus, the sea capital of Phoenicia, would be assaulted by Babylon (26:1-21; 27:1-36; 28:1-19) and the Scriptures go into great detail regarding the siege of that great island fortress. Ezekiel 26 describes the assaults Babylon would make against Tyrus; however, that city would not be completely destroyed until it was conquered by Alexander the Great.

The beauty and wealth of Tyrus is described in detail in Ezekiel 27:1-25. Located on the on the Mediterranean Sea, its harbor was a crossroads for international commerce in its day. Tyrus’ great fall, as well as, the reverberation of the loss of that city’s harbor and its devastating effect on other nations’ and their commerce is described in Ezekiel 27:26-36

Ezekiel prophesied of Tyrus, “thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more (27:36). Destroyed by Alexander the Great, in 332 B.C., Tyrus was never rebuilt.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“For Whom the LORD Loveth He Chasteneth” (Ezekiel 23-24)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 23-24

Our Scripture reading brings us to the final crisis that Ezekiel has long warned would come: The final siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the beloved capital city of Judah and all Israel. Today’s devotional commentary will focus on Ezekiel 23.

Ezekiel 23 – A Tale of Two Sisters, Aholah and Aholibah

The account of the final days before the fall of Jerusalem and the eradication of both Israel and Judah as nations, is vivid and graphic (23:1-2). In Ezekiel 23 we have the description of Israel and Judah symbolically represented as two sisters who had committed spiritual “whoredoms in Egypt…in their youth” (23:3).

Aholah, identified as the elder sister, was a symbolical name for the nation of Israel (identified in this passage as Samaria, the capital city of the ten northern tribes). Aholibah was the younger of the sisters and was a symbolical name for Judah, the southern kingdom whose capital was Jerusalem (23:4).

Aholah (Israel) and Aholibah (Judah) are portrayed as sisters who had rebelled, broken covenant with the LORD, and turned to other lovers (i.e. alliances with other nations). Aholah (Israel), awed by the strength and power of Assyria had made an alliance with that nation and turned from the LORD (23:5-10; 2 Kings 15:19-20; 17:1-4). Aholibah (Judah), Aholah’s sister, had sought alliance with Assyria  and also courted the favor of Chaldea (Babylon). King Hezekiah had foolishly displayed to Nebuchadnezzar’s ambassadors the wealth and treasuries of his palace and the Temple (23:11-21; Isaiah 39:1-8).

When Aholibah (Judah) realized the evil intent of Chaldea (Babylon), she appealed to Egypt for aid, but to no avail (23:21; 2 Kings 23:26-30, 31-24:2). Thus, the “lovers,” Assyria and Chaldea, had ravaged both Israel and Judah with their “chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people,” and stripped those nations bare of their wealth and people (23:22-29). God’s judgment against His people and the devastation of Israel and Judah would be an astonishment to the nations who would scorn and disparage them (23:32).

What sins had Aholah (Israel) and Aholibah (Judah) committed against the LORD that would justify so great a judgment? (23:37-49)

The judgment of Israel and Judah was just because those nations had broken their covenant with God and committed spiritual adultery (23:37). The people had defiled the Temple with idols, forsaken their Sabbaths (23:38), and committed the ultimate act of wickedness and depravity: They had sacrificed their children to Moloch, and on the same day entered the Temple to worship (23:39; note Ezekiel 16:21).

The destruction of Israel and Judah was set and the horror of the people’s sufferings had been determined (23:47). The final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s army had begun and the days were numbered.

Ezekiel 24:2 – Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.

Why did God chasten and punish His people? Not only because He loved them, but so they would know He is “the LORD GOD” (23:49).

Hebrews 12:6 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Lying Prophets and Prophetesses (Ezekiel 13-15)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 13-15

We continue our study of the prophecies of Ezekiel reminding you that he was of a priestly lineage, called to be God’s prophet, and was numbered among the Jews who were captives in Babylon.

The LORD had charged Ezekiel with the task of delivering a prophecy of woes and judgments against Judah and foretelling the fall of Jerusalem. Though God commanded Ezekiel, “prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (11:4), the people would not repent. Today’s devotional will be taken from Ezekiel 13.

Ezekiel 13 – False Prophets Condemned

The LORD commanded Ezekiel, “prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy…out of their own hearts” (13:2). These were false prophets who, while proposing to speak the word of the LORD, were in fact prophesying things that arose from their own hearts and thoughts (13:2-3). Rather than warning the people that God’s judgment was imminent, they led the people to continue in their sins (13:4-5). They were liars and God commanded Ezekiel to warn the false prophets, “I am against you” (13:8).

Ezekiel 13:10-16 paints an interesting parable of a flawed wall that represented the sinful lives of the people. According to the parable, the lies of the prophets covered the sins of the people in the same way a shady builder might plaster over and whitewash the construction flaws of a wall (13:10). Of course, a poorly constructed wall will not endure a great storm and the flaws of the wall will inevitably be exposed by its failure (13:12).

The same would be true of the sinful people who believed the lies of the false prophets, and were convinced their sins (the spiritual flaws that the false prophets lies had excused and concealed) would not be revealed under the scrutiny of God’s judgment. The LORD warned the people through His prophet, “So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed (i.e. plastered) with untampered morter (whitewashed)…Thus will I accomplish (and satisfy) my wrath” (13:14-15).

There were also women in the land whom Ezekiel was commanded to condemn because they projected themselves to be prophetesses, but like the false prophets, they prophesied “out of their own heart” (13:17-23).

Lying prophets and prophetesses pretended to be the LORD’s prophets, and were readily received by the people. They prophesied “visions of peace” for Jerusalem, but the LORD God had said, “there is no peace” (13:16). Like whitewash on a substandard wall, the lies of the prophets covered a tragic reality:

The people had sinned greatly against the LORD and His wrath would not be appeased.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wicked Will Not Be Spared God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 9-12)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 9-12

Our study of the visions and prophecies of Ezekiel continues with our Scripture reading from Ezekiel 9-12. Remember the prophet is in Babylon and he was ministering to the people of Judah whom King Nebuchadnezzar had taken captive. Ezekiel warned that God’s great judgment would soon fall on Jerusalem and that city would be utterly destroyed.

Ezekiel found himself contending with false prophets who gave the people a false security by declaring the prophecies of God’s judgment against Jerusalem were still a great way off. God’s prophet, however, would not be silenced and with boldness Ezekiel declared the final desolation of Judah and the imminent destruction of Jerusalem

Ezekiel 9 – A Tragic Vision in the Temple Courtyard

In a vision, the LORD had brought Ezekiel into the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem where the prophet witnessed the great wickedness of the people. Lest the prophet doubt the justice of God, the LORD asked, “Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here?” (Ezekiel 8:17-18)

The vision in chapter 9 continues in the courtyard of the Temple where God commanded “six men” (probably angelic beings) to take their “destroying weapon” and go up to the Temple (9:1-2). The six guards were accompanied by “one man among them [Who] was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar” (9:2). Although not identified, I believe the man “clothed with linen” was Jesus Christ in a preincarnate appearance.

The man “clothed in linen” was commanded to place a mark on the foreheads of those “men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations” that the people had committed in Jerusalem (9:4). The men who received the mark were the few who sorrowed over the sins of the people.

With the righteous identified by the mark on their forehead, the six guards were commanded to go through the city, killing the wicked and sparing none, beginning in the Temple (9:5-6) and leaving the bodies of the slain where they fell (9:7).

The sight of the slaughter and the bodies of the dead so overwhelmed Ezekiel that he cried out, “Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?” (9:8)

I close this devotional reminding you of the spiritual lesson God taught Ezekiel. Israel and Judah had sinned greatly against God and had foolishly reassured one another saying, “the LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not” (9:9). God, however, answered their prideful boasts declaring, “mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head” (9:10).

Like the mark on the forehead of the righteous (9:4), the cross is the believer’s testimony that his sins have been atoned by the shedding of Christ’s blood on the Cross, His death and bodily resurrection.

Lesson – The LORD is longsuffering and willing to forgive (2 Peter 3:9); however, He is holy and just, and the wicked will not be spared His judgment.

Revelation 20:12-15 – “12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“God’s Judgment of Jerusalem Foretold” (Ezekiel 5-8)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 5-8

Our study of the Book of Ezekiel continues today with our Scripture reading comprised of four chapters, Ezekiel 5-8. I have introduced Ezekiel to you as a devout man of priestly lineage. We have seen that God called Ezekiel to be a prophet to His people who were residing in Babylon and far from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 1).

Ezekiel’s task was to call His people to repent of their sins and turn to God, and encourage them that the LORD had promised to one day restore them to their land. Although the primary role of his ministry was to the remnant who were captives in Babylon, the LORD also revealed to Ezekiel the great trials of suffering and the impending fall Jerusalem would soon face as the capital city of Judah.

Ezekiel 5 – The Signs of Jerusalem’s Humiliation and Judgment

The siege of Jerusalem is portrayed in graphic detail in chapter 5. To illustrate God’s judgment against the city and what would soon befall its inhabitants, the LORD commanded Ezekiel to shave his head and beard (a sign of sorrow and humiliation), and divide his hair in three-parts (5:1).

The LORD then instructed Ezekiel to take each of the three parts of his hair and illustrate the imminent fall and suffering of Jerusalem’s inhabitants. One part of his hair he was to burn with fire, symbolizing the deaths of one-third of Jerusalem’s inhabitants by pestilence and famine (5:2a, 12a). A second third part of his hair he was to scatter, portraying that one-third would die by the sword when Jerusalem was destroyed (5:2b,12b). The third part, he was to bind in the skirt of his robe, as a testimony that one-third of the inhabitants would be spared as a remnant to the LORD (5:3, 12c).

Why did the LORD judge? Three reasons are given in our text: The first, the wickedness of Jerusalem had exceeded the heathen nations (5:6-12). The second, the people had turned from the LORD, broken His Covenant, and worshipped idols (5:9-10). Finally, they had defiled the Temple by worshipping idols within the holy sanctuary (5:11-12).

The destruction of Jerusalem served as testimony to His people that the God of Israel was God alone and there was no other (5:13). The ruins of the city were a testimony to the nations, and a reproach upon God’s people for their sins and wickedness (5:14-15).

All that befell Jerusalem was a reminder that God is just and His Word is True. What He had promised and covenanted with His people would be accomplished (5:16-17).

Hebrews 10:30-31 – “30  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Jerusalem is Become a Widow; Judah is Gone Into Captivity” (Lamentations 1-2)

Scripture reading – Lamentations 1-2

Introduction to Lamentations – The Aftermath of Jerusalem’s Fall

The Book of Lamentations, though only five chapters in length, is powerful, poetic, and a devastating portrait of the consequences of sin. The book is as its name suggest, a book of laments. We find in its pages five laments, penned and enunciated by the prophet Jeremiah, as he gazes upon the rubble that was once the beautiful city of David. Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations records the old prophet’s cries of grief, his groanings over Jerusalem and Judah.

Jeremiah had faithfully served as God’s prophet through the reigns of five successive kings of Judah. He had warned God’s people that judgment was inevitable if the nation did not repent, turn from her sins, and turn to God.  The kings persecuted the prophet and the people rejected the Word of the LORD. With the city destroyed and the majority of the people taken away to Babylon, Jeremiah and a few poor citizens remained in Judah to work the land and serve Babylon.

The focus of today’s devotional commentary will be limited to Lamentations 1.

Lamentations 1 – Jeremiah’s Lament: Jerusalem’s Humiliation

Remembering the Temple is a pile of smoldering rubble and the palaces, homes, and walls of Jerusalem lie in ruin, we can understand Jeremiah’s lament over Jerusalem, the city he describes “as a widow” (1:1) and whose people are “tributary,” serving as forced labor in Babylon (1:1).

Jeremiah pictures Jerusalem as a bereaved widow whose sorrows cannot be appeased, and who finds no comfort for “her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies” (1:2). The cause for the suffering and sorrows of the city is summed up in this: “Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed” (1:8a).

Jeremiah described Jerusalem’s plight and all the people had suffered because of their sins: Famine, humiliation, distress, the consuming fire of God’s wrath, the burden of sin, the loss of her army, sorrow, rejection and scorn had become Jerusalem’s plight (1:9-17).

The LORD was Waiting for His People to Confess Their Sins and Turn to Him (1:18-22).

In a prayer of intercession, Jeremiah confessed the sins of His nation (1:18-19). Declaring the righteousness of the LORD, the prophet confessed for Jerusalem: “I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity” (1:18).

Following his confession to the LORD, Jeremiah made four pleas for Jerusalem and her displaced people (1:20-22).

The first plea was that the LORD would see Jerusalem’s suffering (1:20a). The second, that the LORD would hear the confession of His people (1:20b). Thirdly, Jeremiah prayed for the LORD to show compassion upon His people who were dying (1:20c).

Finally, the prophet closed with an imprecatory plea: That the LORD would remember the wickedness of Babylon and that nation would suffer the afflictions she had assailed on Jerusalem (1:22).

* A closing note for those who might want to “dig a little deeper;” notice that Lamentations chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 are each twenty-two verses long.  There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet and each of the verses in chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 begin with a word using the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (in other words, like our A-Z in English).  Lamentations 4 is sixty-six verses long and the Hebrew alphabet in that chapter begins couplets that are three verses each.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Israel’s Redeemer is Strong; the LORD of Hosts is His Name” (Jeremiah 49-50)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 49-50

Today’s Scripture reading continues the record of God’s vengeance against those nations that had been the adversaries of Israel and Judah. In our previous passage of Scripture (Jeremiah 46-48), we considered the LORD’s vengeance against Egypt (Jeremiah 46), Philistia (Jeremiah 47), and Moab (Jeremiah 48). Jeremiah 49-50continues the same prophetic warnings against those nations who had abused God’s people. We can take many lessons from God’s judgment of the nations; however, I suggest the overriding truth is this: God is sovereign over humanity and the LORD of the world’s nations.

Jeremiah 49 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam

Like the Moabites (Jeremiah 48), the Ammonites were also descendants of Lot’s incest with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:32-38). Jeremiah prophesied that the lands occupied by Ammon would one day be returned to Israel (49:2). The sins of the Ammonites were not only their adversarial relationship with Israel, but also their greed and covetousness (49:4-5). In a wonderful evidence of God’s grace, Jeremiah prophesied when Christ’s comes to reign on the earth, numbered among the believers would be “the children of Ammon” (49:6).

The Edomites (49:7-22), descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, were to be destroyed like “Sodom and Gomorrah” (49:13-18). Nebuchadnezzar would come upon Edom like a roaring lion (49:19) and the army of Babylon would sweep over the land like an eagle (49:22).

The nation of Syria, represented by its capital Damascus would be destroyed in God’s judgment (49:23-27).

Three nomadic Arabian tribes including Kedar (49:28-29), Hazor (49:30-33) and Elam (49:34-37) were condemned for judgment. Jeremiah 49:38-39 foretold the extent of Christ’s kingdom will also include the land of Elam.

Jeremiah 50 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Babylon

Jeremiah 50 is an incredible passage of Scripture that foretells the destruction of Babylon, a nation that in Jeremiah’s day was not only the most powerful the world had ever witnessed, but which seemed invincible in its day.

Though Babylon was conquering all nations at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, nevertheless, the LORD foretold a coalition of nations “out of the north” (50:3, 9, 41-42) would so destroy and devastate Babylon that the city would not be fit for man nor beast (50:3). We know from the Scriptures and history the collation of nations out of the north would be the Medes and Persians under the leadership of King Cyrus.

Jeremiah prophesied the “children of Israel” would be liberated by the nation that conquered Babylon and the people would return to their land (50:4-7).

God warned the captives of Babylon to flee the city for her destruction was sealed (50:9-16). Babylon had scattered God’s people like sheep (50:17) and God promised in revenge, “Babylon [would] become a desolation among the nations” (50:23). Babylon had defied God, therefore, He was going to take vengeance on that nation (50:24-32). The fall of Babylon in that time was so great it was prophesied that “the earth is moved” by her fall (50:46).

I close by inviting you to consider God’s promise to His people. Though Israel and Judah were to be scattered among the nations, God would not forget His people and warned the nations, Israel’s “Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: He shall thoroughly plead [the cause of His people] and in that day the “inhabitants of Babylon” will be terrified (50:34).

Our God is the LION of Judah!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The End is the Beginning (2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36

We complete two historical books in today’s Scripture reading: 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

2 Kings began with Elijah prophesying in Israel (2 Kings 1:4-16) when he was suddenly taken into heaven by a whirlwind by what appeared to be a “chariot of fire, and horses of fire” (2:1-11). 2 Kings concludes with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the people of Judah being led away to Babylon.

2 Chronicles 36 gives us a brief historical record of the succession of four evil kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36). Not only had the kings failed Judah, but also her religious leaders were guilty of leading the nation into wickedness and idolatry.

2 Chronicles 36:14 – “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.”

God sent prophets who faithfully heralded a warning of God’s judgment, but the people of Judah refused “till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).

2 Kings 24 – Judah Becomes a Vassal State to Babylon

There was “no remedy,” no hope for Jerusalem or Judah. Jerusalem was overwhelmed by the armies of Babylon that no doubt numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and included mercenary soldiers from other nations (24:2). In the year that Nebuchadnezzar became king (605 BC), he defeated Egypt, Assyria, and Judah submitted to serve as a vassal state of Babylon (24:7).

2 Kings 25 – The Final Siege of Jerusalem

After being under siege for nearly two years (25:1-2), there was no bread in the city and the people began to resort to cannibalism (Jeremiah 38:2-9; 52:6; Lamentations 4:3-10; Ezekiel 5:10).

Enrico Giacomelli, IV Kings 25:7, Volume 1, 1869-1870 edition.

Realizing all was lost, King Zedekiah fled the city with his guards; however, he made it only as far as Jericho before he was captured (25:4-6). Zedekiah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar to be judged. Being found guilty of rebellion, Zedekiah was forced to watch the slaying of his sons before their executioners put out his eyes and carried him away in chains to Babylon (25:7).

Fulfilling God’s prophecies of judgment against Jerusalem, the Babylonians “burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem” (25:9), and broke down the walls of the city (25:10).

Babylon removed all the vessels of the Temple (25:13-17), and either took captive or slew the leaders of Judah who might have threatened an uprising (25:11, 18-21), leaving behind only the poorest of the people (25:12).

After being imprisoned 37 years (25:27), King Jehoiachin, came into the favor of Evil-Merodach, the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar (25:28-30) and was made comfortable at the king’s table until his death.

2 Chronicles 36 concludes with a message of hope for God’s people.

Jeremiah prophesied when 70 years of captivity were fulfilled, God’s people would return to their land (36:21). Seventy years after Jerusalem was defeated and the Temple was destroyed, we read:

2 Chronicles 36:22-23 – “22  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23  Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

God’s Word is true and His promises are sure!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“I Am With Thee…I Will Redeem Thee” (Jeremiah 14-17)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 14-17

Today’s Scripture reading continues Jeremiah’s prophetic warnings concerning the judgment that would soon befall Judah. It is believed by the date of our text that Judah has been invaded and Jerusalem besieged by King Nebuchadnezzar. The sorrow and desperation of God’s people and the reality that He had determined His judgment was a great sorrow for Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 14 – A Judgment of Drought

Knowing God often chastises a nation physically for its sin and wickedness, we are not surprised to read that there was a “dearth,” a drought in Judah. The LORD had withheld rain and there was a great famine (Jeremiah 14:1-22). “There was no rain in the earth” (14:4) and cows delivered their calves, but forsook them because there was no grass (14:5).

In the midst of the famine, and desperate for help, the people began to pray to the LORD, making a pretense of confessing and repenting of their sins (14:7-9). But God, who knows what lies is in the hearts of men (Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Romans 8:27), knew the people were not sincere and would not turn from their sins.

The LORD announced His judgment would not be deterred (14:10-12).

Jeremiah’s heart being heavy with sorrow interceded for Judah, and suggested the sins of the people was due to false prophets who had led them astray (14:13). The LORD conceded the presence of false prophets in Judah; however, He declared, “I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them” (14:14).

Nevertheless, the people had disobeyed God and turned from His Law and Commandments. They had persecuted the prophets of the LORD and turned to false prophets. Because of their wickedness, the LORD declared the people would die by famine and the sword (14:16).

Jeremiah 14 continues with the prophet weeping day and night (14:17). Babylon had invaded the land and the presence of death and judgment was everywhere. Jeremiah observed,

Jeremiah 14:18a – If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine!”

Understanding the magnitude and decisiveness of God’s judgment, Jeremiah wondered, “[LORD], Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!” (14:19)

Interceding for his people, Jeremiah identified with and confessed the sins of Judah (14:20) and implored the LORD, “Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake [i.e. remember Israel was identified with God who chose them], do not disgrace the throne of thy glory [heaven’s throne]: remember, break not thy covenant with us” [remember Your covenant promises] (14:21).

Jeremiah confessed that only God could save Judah (14:22).

Jeremiah 15 – The Inevitability of God’s Judgment

Judah’s wickedness had passed the point of no reprieve and the LORD responded to Jeremiah’s intercessory prayer (14:20-22).  Judgment would come upon the nation and the death and destruction that would spell the end of Judah was described in vivid detail (15:1-9).

Jeremiah 15:10-21 gives us a window into the soul of the prophet when he cried out to the LORD and lamented the sorrows and rejection he had suffered as God’s prophet (15:10).  Though he had become an object of scorn and persecution (15:15), Jeremiah found refuge and hope in God’s promises (15:18-21).

Jeremiah 15:20-21 – “…I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 21  And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.”

What a blessed promise for those who endure persecution and put their trust in the LORD!

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 – “57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith