Category Archives: Family

Pity the Nation Ruled by Wicked, Immoral Leaders (Ezekiel 19)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 19

There were some of the children of Israel who asserted God was unjust, supposing their sorrows and travails were come upon them because of the sins of their fathers (Ezekiel 18). Ezekiel answered their erroneous claims, and declared a sinner’s individual responsibility for his sins  (18:4), and “everyone” would be judged “according to his [own] ways” (18:29).

The Lioness and Her Cubs (19:1-9)

Ezekiel 19 addressed the influence wicked rulers had upon Israel, and in particular Judah.

Ezekiel commanded the people of the captivity to “take … up a lamentation for the princes of Israel” (19:1). The “princes” were the last kings of the Davidic dynasty (until Christ reigns on the earth in the Millennial Kingdom). Three wicked kings were described, and can be identified. They are: Jehoahaz (19:3-4), Jehoiachin (19:5-9), and Zedekiah (19:14).

The “lioness” of this lamentation was Israel, and the young lion cubs were the kings of Israel (19:2). Jehoahaz was the first king, and he was described as one who “learned to catch the prey; it devoured men” (19:3). You may remember Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king (2 Kings 23:31-33; 2 Chronicles 36:1-3). He was like a lion, a tyrant, and “devoured men” (19:3b). He was notoriously wicked, and was removed from his throne, and taken prisoner by Neco, king of Egypt after reigning for three months (19:4).

Jehoahaz ascended to the throne after Jehoiakim; however, he was not mentioned in Ezekiel 19, because he died in battle, and his son Jehoiachin reigned in his stead (2 Kings 24:7-16; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10). Like Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin was described as “a young lion” who devoured men, for he was a ruthless and heartless king (19:6). Indeed, he was everything a king should not be, for he destroyed the homes and cities of his people, and terrorized them through “his roaring” (19:7). His rebellion provoked Nebuchadnezzar, who came and took him away prisoner to Babylon (19:8-9).

When Israel was a Fruitful Vine (19:10-13)

Ezekiel 19:10-13 painted a beautiful, poetic picture of Israel in the days of her glory (19:10). Israel, and perhaps, in particular Jerusalem, was described as a fruitful vine, “planted by the waters,” and “full of branches” (kings, 19:10). Under David’s reign, who was followed by his son Solomon, Israel was at her zenith as a great, and powerful nation. The nation was “fruitful and full of branches” (19:10), and her rulers were like “strong rods for the sceptres” (19:11). In that age, Jerusalem had been exalted among the nations of the earth (19:11).

A succession of wicked kings, however, spelled the doom of the nation, and consequently, brought God’s judgment (19:12). Jerusalem and Judah would be “plucked up in fury,” and “cast down to the ground” (19:12). Nebuchadnezzar would come as an east wind (19:12). The glory and riches of Jerusalem would be dried up, and the dynasty of David (“her strong rods”) broken and consumed (19:12). “Planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground,” described the captivity of the children of Israel in Babylon (19:13).

Ezekiel 19:14 brings us to Zedekiah, the third king whose reign was described in this chapter. He was the last of the kings of the Davidic line until Christ. Of Jerusalem and Judah we read: “Fire [God’s judgment] is gone out of a rod of her branches [Zedekiah, the last king], which hath devoured her fruit, so that she [Jerusalem] hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule” (19:14).

Closing thoughts – Ezekiel 19 concluded with a pitiful call to sorrow: “This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation” (19:14). Lament, lament, for Jerusalem will be destroyed, and Judah will be left desolate. King Zedekiah would witness the deaths of his sons, whose eyes would be put out, and he would be taken prisoner to Babylon where he would die.

Lesson: Corporate Guilt and Judgment: Fathers do not bear the guilt of their children’s sins, nor children the condemnation of their father’s sins (Ezekiel 18). Nevertheless, the evil ways of a leader, and the consequences of his sins, will come to bear upon the lives of those he leads.

Proverbs 14:34 – “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Pity the nation ruled by wicked, immoral leaders.

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.

“Real Men Don’t Read Instructions; or Do They?” – Sunday at Hillsdale, May 22, 2022

Topic: A Biblical View of Parenting (part 3)

Text – Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Series – The Four “Be’s” of Parenting

Children do not come with an instruction’s manual; however, God has given us His Word and clear principles and precepts for the role and responsibility of parents in teaching and training their sons and daughters.

Four universal principles for Life and Family. Today’s message considers the first of the four: Be Consistent.

 

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.

“The Soul That Sinneth, It Shall Die” (Ezekiel 18)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 17; Ezekiel 18

Ezekiel 18 – A Parable of “Sour Grapes”

The LORD left no doubt that the sins of the people had brought sorrows and judgments upon Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. Yet, there was a question that arose in Babylon: Who was responsible for the calamities?

Speaking in a parable, some said, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” (18:2) In other words, there were some who blamed Israel’s troubles and miseries on the sins of their fathers and forefathers. God rebuked that generation, and declared an enduring, universal truth: 4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die”(18:4)

A Hypothetical Study of Three Generations (18:4-20)

One’s personal responsibility for sin and its consequences was the subject, and this passage answers some important questions regarding the justice and fairness of God’s judgment. 1) Are sons punished for the sins of their fathers, or fathers punished for the sins of their sons? 2) If a father chooses a godless lifestyle, is it inevitable a son will follow in his steps? Because “blame shifting” is epidemic in our day, Ezekiel 18 should interest both believer and unbeliever.

A Righteous Father (18:5-9)

God blesses a man who chooses righteousness, and obeys His statues and judgments (18:5-9). Such a man obeys the Commandments of the LORD. He will not commit adultery, nor oppress those who are weaker (18:6b-7a). The righteous restores the surety to a debtor, does not plunder and rob others by violence, and is charitable to those who are hungry and in need (18:7b). The righteous do not crush a debtor with exorbitant interest, and conducts himself in a lawful manner (18:8). Because he walks in accord with the statutes (ordinances and decrees) and judgments (laws) of the LORD, and deals honestly with others, he is declared just before God, and will live and prosper (18:9).

A Wicked Son (18:10-13)

What if an adult son of a righteous man refuses to follow his father’s godly example, and instead turns to a path of wickedness? Should the father be punished for the sins of a son that is a robber and murderer? (18:10) Should a father be punished because his son offers sacrifices to idols, commits adultery, abuses the poor, robs others, and is immoral (18:11-12)? When a son charges excessive interest, and oppresses debtors, should his father go unpunished? Though his father was righteous, such a son will bear the guilt of his own sins, and “shall not live…he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him” and not his father (18:13).

A Righteous Grandson (18:14-18)

Each generation bears responsibility for its sins, and God will not punish a father for the sins of his son (18:10-13). Should a son see the sins of his father, but chooses the way of righteousness, that son will not bear his father’s guilt (18:14-17). A wicked father, as a wicked son, will not go unpunished for his sins (18:18-20).

Who you gonna’ blame for your troubles and sorrows? (18:20-24)

Ezekiel repeated the principle of personal, individual responsibility, writing, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (18:20). The LORD is longsuffering, and ready and willing to forgive the sinner who repents and turns from his sins (18:21-22). After all, God does not delight in seeing the wicked die in their sins (18:23).

What if a righteous man turns and follows a path of sin? (18:24a) His past righteousness will not deliver him from the consequences of his present sins (18:24b).

Closing thoughts (18:25-32) – Sinners cannot accuse the LORD of being unjust (18:25). The believer who sins will be punished (18:26), and the wicked who repents of his sins will be forgiven and live (18:27-28). Tragically, family members suffer the consequences of their loved one’s sinful choices. Yet, God is just and He will not judge and condemn the innocent for the sins of the guilty (18:29-30). God will judge every sinner “according to his ways” (18:30).

Our study concludes with a wonderful invitation: When a sinner repents, the LORD promises to give “a new heart and a new spirit” (18:31). While the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a), the LORD invites all who sin, saying, “turn yourselves, and live” (18:32).

Don’t wallow in a mire of self-pity, or blame others for your sinful choices!  Repent, and live!

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.

Greater Judgment Befalls Those Who Disdain the LORD’s Blessings. (Ezekiel 15; Ezekiel 16)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 15; Ezekiel 16

The prophecies the LORD imparted to Ezekiel continue in today’s Scripture reading. With the elders of Israel as his audience (14:1), the LORD revealed to Ezekiel three prophetic pictures of divine judgment. The first prophetic picture portrayed Jerusalem as an unfruitful vine (Ezekiel 15). A helpless, abused and adulterous woman was the second symbol of Jerusalem’s spiritual condition (Ezekiel 16). In Ezekiel 17 (a future devotional study), Jerusalem was identified as being a vine ravaged by predators.

Ezekiel 15 – An Unfruitful Vine

Israel was often seen in the Scriptures as a fruitful vine, a people the LORD chose and planted in Canaan. In Psalm 80:8, Israel was a vine the LORD “brought…out of Egypt…[and then] cast out the heathen [out of Canaan], and planted it.” Israel was also portrayed as a vineyard the LORD planted and cultivated, and yet it bore “wild (bitter)grapes” (Isaiah 5:1). So, the elders of Israel immediately recognized the analogy of Judah, and in particular, Jerusalem, drawn by Ezekiel, as an unfruitful, useless vine (15:2-3).

In God’s judgment, the wickedness of the people had rendered the vine (Israel) good for nothing, but to be cut off, and “cast into the fire for fuel” (15:4). The fire was said to have devoured the whole of the vine, and served as a prophetic picture of God’s judgment and the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah (15:6-8).

Ezekiel 16 – Jerusalem: An Abused Adulterous Wife

The second prophetic picture portrayed Jerusalem as an abused adulterous wife (16:2). Like a husband who takes a virgin for his wife, the LORD had chosen Jerusalem (the land, and all Israel), and claimed her as His wife (16:1-7). It was noted how ancient Jerusalem had been the birthplace of Canaanite nations (16:3-4), and a place of idols, lawlessness, and immorality. Yet, the LORD chose Jerusalem as a habitation for His people (16:6), and caused that city to become a place of beauty (16:7-8).

Ezekiel 16:9-14, though addressing Jerusalem specifically, did in fact relate to how the LORD blessed Israel as His chosen people. He chose and loved Israel as a husband cherishes his wife. He cleansed (16:9) and clothed (16:10), and blessed the city with wealth (16:11). She was the LORD’s crowned jewel (16:12), and He gave the people of that city the best of everything (16:13), and her beauty was famous among the nations (16:14).

Jerusalem: An Unfaithful Wife (16:15-34)

Rather than loving and serving the LORD out of gratitude and love, Jerusalem had played the harlot. The people repaid the LORD’s favor with shame and humiliation exercised by their gross immorality. The sins committed by Israel were staggering, and the evidence of her wickedness were named by Ezekiel.  God’s people had committed spiritual harlotry (16:15-16), made idols (16:17) and sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (16:20-21).

Rather than repent and turn to the LORD, the children of Israel turned to heathen neighbors for protection (Egypt, vs. 26; the Philistines, vs. 27; the Assyrians, vs. 28; the Chaldeans, vs. 29). Indeed, the wickedness of the people was akin to a wife playing a harlot on the street corners (16:22-34).

The Certainty of God’s Judgment (16:35-43)

After stating the sins of God’s people, Ezekiel declared His judgment (16:35-43). The nations (“thy lovers”, 16:36) to whom Israel had turned for help, would become the instruments of God’s judgment and Jerusalem’s destruction (16:36-38). The blood of the slain would run through the streets of Jerusalem, and that beautiful city would be humiliated, and her houses burned because the people had forsaken their covenant with the LORD. Ezekiel declared that God’s anger was justified, and He would satisfy His wrath (16:39-43).

The Great Wickedness of Judah (16:44-59)

With the proverb, “As is the mother, so is her daughter” (16:44), we realize the sins of Judah and Jerusalem equaled and exceeded the wickedness of the heathen nations born before her (Hittite and Amorites, 16:45). Even the sins of Jerusalem’s sisters, identified as Samaria (i.e., the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel, 16:46) and Sodom (16:48), paled in contrast to the wickedness of Jerusalem. Ezekiel reminded the leaders of Israel (14:1) how the LORD destroyed Sodom for its gross wickedness (pride, glutton, slothful, uncharitable, haughtiness, and idolatry, 16:49-50), yet the citizens of Jerusalem had exceeded the infamy of those people (16:51-52).

Closing thoughts (16:53-63) – How could the sins of Jerusalem be greater than those of Sodom and Samaria?

Judah and Jerusalem enjoyed God’s favor like no other people. Nevertheless, they despised the LORD, rejected His Law, disobeyed His commandments, and committed the same abominations as the heathen (16:44-52).  In spite of the sins and rebellion of Israel, God promised He would not forget His covenant with His people, and promised He would restore them to their land (16:53-63).

Truth – Greater Judgment Befalls Those Who Disdain the LORD’s Blessings.

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.

“Who is Teaching Johnny?” (The Four Be’s of Parenting) – this Sunday at Hillsdale.

You are invited to join me as I continue a brief, “politically incorrect” family-life series titled, “Who is Teaching Johnny?” this Sunday, May 15, 10:30am.

The morning worship service will be broadcast live at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org (Tampa, FL) and www.DailyTestify.com.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

“Who Is Teaching Johnny?” – The battle for your child’s soul.

* I am beginning a new Family-Parenting Series titled, “The Four Be’s of Parenting” for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2022. This article is the introduction to the first sermon of the series, and is titled “Who is Teaching Johnny?” 

We are living in a world that has been taken over by a liberal ideology that is anti-family, anti-God, and anti-America. From the White House to the local School Board, there is an assault on natural rights (freedoms given by God to man), and an erosion of Constitutional, civil liberties that is unprecedented.

Consider the words of the founding fathers of these United States of America: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776). Civil liberties are not granted by government to citizens, but are to restrain government from imposing its will on the governed. As Americans, we are not subjects of the government, but the government is subject to the will of “We the People.”

In 1980, pastor and author Tim LaHaye published The Battle For The Mind, and exposed the philosophy and goals of Humanism. LaHaye gave shocking examples of Humanism’s goals and encroachment into America’s public education system, and the goal of humanists to reshape American society. Forty years later, we are witnessing the effect of humanism as the United States has seen a cultural shift that is anti-God, anti-family, and anti-America.

Humanist have taken over government and judicial systems. Public education, entertainment, social media, and the flow of news are controlled by humanists. They are committed to reshaping the minds and values of our youth and undermining parental authority. Radicalized humanists have mobilized a coordinated assault on the unalienable rights of the human spirit. They are determined to enslave the world to a utopia ruled by an elite few.

Fortunately, this past year some parents were awakened by radicals usurping parental rights and using the public education system to drive a wedge between children and parents. Black Lives Matter, Antifa, anarchists, liberal educators and politicians (to name a few), were unmasked as they assaulted traditional family values. Under the guise of “Critical Race Theory” and WOKE (purportedly addressing societal injustices and racism), radicals are spurning common sense for their humanistic creed.

The erosive effect of humanism and its socialist philosophy is staggering. There has been a rejection of God and family values, and a desensitization to sin and moral depravity. Instead of utopia, the humanist’s ideology has eroded the traditional family, giving us a nation where, according to the 2022 United States Census Bureau, 23% of US children live in single parent households (more than 3 times the world’s rate), and over 40% of children born in the US are born to unmarried women (Centers for Disease Control – CDC – 2022).

The humanists’ utopia has given us modern day slavery, described as Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking, with an estimated 20.1 million forced labor victims, and 4.8 million sex trafficking victims. The US State Departmentestimates there are 14,400 to 17,500 sex trafficking slaves in the US in 2022.

Contributing further to the erosion of our families and national future is the increased use of illicit drugs and alcohol among our youth. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse, in 2022 there are 2.08 million or 8.33% of 12- to 17-year-olds who have used drugs in the last month. Adding to the crisis is 60.2% of teens admit to binge drinking.

In spite of the demoralizing bad news, there is good news! Though the world has changed, the nature of man is constant from generation to generation. There is hope, for God’s Word has the answer to the crisis our homes, schools, churches, and nation are facing. If our nation and liberties are to be saved, it will begin in our homes as parents rise to the challenge.

Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Parents of the 21st century must shoulder the privilege and responsibility for teaching their children, including two fundamental concerns: Who is teaching Johnny? What is he being taught?

The founding fathers of the United States of America often spoke of “Republican Virtue,” the belief that self-government demands self-discipline. Of course, self-discipline implies the existence of boundaries between the acceptable and unacceptable. It was the conviction of that generation that moral values must be transmitted through moral indoctrination. In other words, the battlefield in the past and in our day is not political, but spiritual.

A battle is being waged for the minds and souls of our children, and the enemy is imbedded in our government, schools, and culture. The adversaries of the home are unwavering in their dogma, and determined to indoctrinate our children with a world-view that is anti-God, anti-family, and anti-America.

Lose the war with humanism, and we lose the hearts, minds and souls of our children.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com
Live broadcast @ www.HillsdaleBaptist.org

* The above is an introduction to the first message of my new family series titled, “The Four Be’s of Parenting.” This Sunday’s message, “Who is Teaching Johnny?” will be presented in the 10:30 AM worship service and broadcast live on www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

How Will You Be Remembered? (Jeremiah 35)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 35

The drama between the prophet Jeremiah (32:2; 33:1), and Zedekiah king of Judah, was interrupted in Jeremiah 35. I do not know why Jeremiah’s narrative interjected an incident from the reign of Jehoiakim (the third to the last of the kings of Judah); however, the occasion is certainly instructive for 21st century believers.

Jeremiah 35 – The House of the Rechabites

We are introduced to the “house of the Rechabites” (35:2), who were not Hebrew by lineage, but associated with the house of Israel initially through Moses. The Rechabites were descendants of the Kenites, original inhabitants of Canaan. Jethro (Exodus 18:12), Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite (Judges 1:16; 1 Chronicles 2:55). The Rechabites were a nomadic people, and believers in Yahweh.

A Lesson in Fidelity (35:2-11)

The LORD commanded Jeremiah to summon the Rechabites to the Temple, and set before them “wine to drink” (35:2). The men of Rechab were directed to a chamber off the Temple, where a test of their devotion would be seen by others (35:3-4). Obeying the LORD, Jeremiah “set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and [the prophet] said unto them, Drink ye wine” (35:5). The Rechabites, however, refused to obey Jeremiah, and said, “We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever” (35:6).

Who was Jonadab? He lived some 200 years before Jeremiah, and was of the Kenite clan, and a son of Rechab. While he was not descended from the Tribes, he had been a mighty man in Israel and was numbered among those who cut off the lineage of Ahab, the wicked king of Israel (2 Kings 10:15-28). Desiring to see his people continue their nomadic way of life and not be enticed by the world and its pleasures, Jonadab instructed the Rechabites to “drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: 7Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers” (35:6b-7).

Two hundred years later, the Rechabites continued to obey Jonadab’s instructions (35:8-10). However, because of Babylon’s invasion, and raiders from Babylon and Syria ravaging the country, the Rechabites were forced to abandon their tents and move into Jerusalem (35:11).

Judah and Jerusalem Rebuked (35:12-17)

The Rechabites faithfulness to the teachings of Jonadab served as a backdrop to Jeremiah rebuking the people’s unfaithfulness to the LORD (35:12-13). While the Rechabites continued to honor the teachings of Jonadab, a man who lived two centuries before (35:14), Judah and Jerusalem refused to obey the LORD (35:14b).

The LORD sent prophets and called on the people to forsake their sins and idols, and repent, but they refused to obey Him (35:13). The Rechabites, in contrast, obeyed Jonadab’s instructions, though he was a man. Judah and Jerusalem would not hear or obey the LORD (35:15).

Because the people refused to obey the LORD, and put away their idols and sinful ways, Jeremiah warned, God would bring upon them “all the evil [He had] pronounced against them” (35:17).

God Promised to Bless the Rechabites (35:18-19)

Remembering the LORD is Judge, and His judgment is just, Jeremiah declared the LORD would bless the Rechabites. They had obeyed the commands of a righteous man, and “kept all his precepts” (35:18). Therefore, the LORD determined He would bless their faithfulness. While many households of Judah and Jerusalem would perish, the LORD promised He would remember the household of Rechab, and Jonadab’s lineage would never be without a son (35:19). True to His promise, 150 years later, a descendant of Rechab is named among those who returned to Jerusalem with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:14).

Closing thoughts – How different our lives and families would be, if we would deny ourselves the sins and pleasures of the world! Will you choose to be a Jonadab in your generation, and seek to leave a godly lineage?

I fear the majority of believers are busy championing their liberties, and few are willing to consider their legacy and lasting testimony. In the words of an old gospel song,

“This world is not my home; I’m just passing through.”

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.

The Heart is Deceitful (Jeremiah 17)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 17

Our study of Jeremiah brings us to an oft quoted verse, serving as a reminder to the beguiling nature of man’s heart. We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Before I address some observations inspired by that verse, let us first consider the context of that spiritual truth.

Jeremiah 17 – The Sinful Depravity that Lies in the Heart of Man

Chapter 17 opens with the prophet bemoaning the sins of Judah, and declaring the permanent scar sin engraves upon the heart. Leaving no doubt for why God’s judgment would come upon the nation, Jeremiah rebuked the people saying, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron [for engraving upon stone tablets], and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns [corners] of [their] altars” (17:1).

We recall the LORD’s exhortation given to Israel through His servant Moses, when He instructed His words and commandments were to reside in the people’s hearts (Deuteronomy 6:6). Jeremiah’s generation, however, eschewed the Law and had no regard for the word of the LORD. It was the sins of the people, not the word of the LORD, that was “graven” and deeply furrowed in the hearts of the people (17:1).

Generational Sins (17:2)

What a sad, and tragic lesson! Rather than be known for the blessing the Lord’s Commandments bring, Judah was known for being engraved with the ways of the sinful nations that surrounded them. Even more tragic, we read,“their children remember” (17:2). To “remember,” was to follow in the steps of their parents. What did the children remember? They remembered the sins of their forefathers, and the altars where they sacrificed their sons and daughters. They remembered the notorious “groves” that were known for their idolatries and adulteries (17:2).

The Tragic Consequences of a Nation’s Sins (17:3-4)

Jeremiah declared God’s judgment, saying “my mountain in the field I will give” (probably a reference to Mount Zion, upon which the Temple of the LORD was built), and “all thy treasures to the spoil” (17:3). The army of Babylon would raze the Temple, palaces, and the dwellings of Jerusalem (17:3-4).

Cursed is A People Who Trust in Man (17:5-11)

The world is governed predominately by a man-centered philosophy, and is the product of man’s musings apart from God. The LORD, however, would have His people be God-centered, and follow a path clearly defined in His Word, and is antithetical to the natural bent of man’s heart.

What does God’s Word teach concerning a people that look to man for purpose of life and direction? Jeremiah 17:5-11 contrast two philosophies of life: one is cursed and the other blessed.

Jeremiah 17:5-6 declared a man-centered outlook on life is cursed, because it “trusteth in man” (17:5a), and is departed “from the LORD” (17:5). Such a man is like a stunted bush of the desert, and will not thrive (17:6).

Quoting Psalm 1:1-3, the LORD reminded Judah, a man is blessed when he rejects the philosophies of the world and delights in the Word of the LORD. Such a man is blessed and he “shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (17:7-8).

After contrasting the foolish heart of the man that trusts in man, with the blessed heart that trusts in the LORD, Jeremiah warned: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9)

Jeremiah 17:10 is a comfort to the godly, but woe to the sinner who continues in his sin, for the LORD declared: “10I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (17:10).

Closing thoughts – There is much more to consider in the balance of today’s Scripture reading (Jeremiah 17:12-27), but our devotional concludes with an invitation for you to ponder Jeremiah 17:11, which reads, “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”

Perhaps this little parable sounds strange, until we ponder the empty, meaningless life of a bird (“partridge”), that spends her life brooding on eggs that remain lifeless, and come to nothing (17:11). The partridge sitting on eggs that “come to nothing” is a waste (17:11a), but not as tragic as the covetous man whose greed drives him to accumulate and sit upon wealth, only to be unprepared for the inevitability of death. His barns may be filled, and overflowing, like the rich fool who failed to plan for eternity (Luke 12:18-21), but “his end shall be a fool” (17:11).

Warning: The heart of man is naturally self-deceived (17:9), and every man will be rewarded “according to the fruit of his doings” (17:10).

How is your heart?

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Set Your House in Order, For You Will Die (Isaiah 38; Isaiah 39)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 38; Isaiah 39

The capital city of Jerusalem, had been gloriously delivered by the LORD from Sennacherib, the Assyrian king. Hezekiah was 39 years old at the time, and at the peak of his manhood. With the promise the nation would be delivered from the Assyrian menace, Hezekiah was confident he had many years to rule Judah and reign in Jerusalem. Yet, one visit from Isaiah, and the king’s world was suddenly turned upside down.

Isaiah 38

The Power of Prayer (38:1-3)

Isaiah 38 is a remarkable chapter, for God sent Isaiah to deliver a sobering message to the king, saying, “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (38:1).

Such a message ought to be expected by all, for it is a reality that all sinners, great and small, will inevitably face death. The Scriptures warn, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). Nevertheless, we cherish life as a precious gift, and younger men and women give little thought to the brevity of life.

How did Hezekiah respond to the news of his imminent death? He “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord” (38:2). Hezekiah’s prayer is a model for all believers. He prayed earnestly, and reminded the LORD how he had been faithful. He gave testimony that he had walked in the sight of the LORD “in truth and with a perfect heart, and [had] done that which is good in [God’s] sight. And Hezekiah wept sore” (38:3).

God Answered Hezekiah’s Prayer (38:4-8)

The LORD sent Isaiah with a second message, and what a pleasant message it was! The prophet assured the king his prayers had been heard, and God would “add unto [his] days fifteen years.” Not only would he continue to live, but the king was promised the LORD would be the defender of Jerusalem and He would “deliver [the king] and this city [Jerusalem] out of the hand of the king of Assyria” (38:6).

Isaiah then prescribed a treatment for Hezekiah’s affliction (38:21), and the king requested a sign that he would be restored to health (38:22). So, God gave Hezekiah a miraculous sign leaving no doubt what the LORD promised would come to pass. What was the sign? That the shadow on the sun dial would turn back “ten degrees” (38:8; 2 Kings 20:8-11).

Hezekiah’s Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving (38:9-22)

Hezekiah was overwhelmed with the good news, and when he was “recovered of his sickness” (38:9), he related in a song his emotions and sorrow when he first received the news he would soon die.

He had reasoned with the LORD, “I am deprived of the residue of my years” (38:10). He bemoaned he would not live to see “the LORD, in the land of the living,” and would be cut off from fellowshipping with his family and friends (38:11). He made observation how the life of a man is temporal, like taking down a tent. When a man’s life is finished, it is like the weaver removing the beam from a tapestry loom (38:12). The king confessed he was a man with a broken spirit, for he had borne the pain of his sickness night and day (38:13). His eyes hurt from weeping, and his spirit was oppressed (38:14).

The news he would be healed, and the promise the LORD had added 15 years to his life, had revived his spirit. The king declared he would make God’s mercies and healing known to all (38:15-16). His heart rejoiced, for his sins were forgiven, for the LORD had “cast all [his] sins behind [His] back” (38:17).

How would the king use the gracious gift of years he had been promised? He set his heart to praise the LORD, observing the grave and death “cannot celebrate” the LORD (38:18). He would live with the earnestness of a father teaching his children truth, for the LORD had saved him from death (38:19-20a). Restored to health, the king set his heart to go to the Temple and sing “songs to the stringed instruments” all the days of his life (38:20).

Isaiah 39 – Hezekiah’s Foolish Decision

Emissaries from Babylon came to Jerusalem under the guise they had brought good tidings from the king of Babylon on the news he had been healed (39:1). Hezekiah felt honored by the visit, and in his zeal to welcome his guests, he made a foolish decision. The king allowed those strangers to observe his wealth, and see the riches with which the LORD had blessed him and the nation (39:1-2).

Hearing of the strange visitors, Isaiah came to the king and questioned him: Why had the men come? From where had they come? “What have they seen in thine house?” (39:3-4)

Hezekiah confessed; he had showed the men of Babylon all he possessed. Isaiah then admonished the king, and declared that Hezekiah had made a foolish decision. The prophet foretold all the wealth he had displayed to the strangers would inevitably be taken to Babylon. Even the sons of his lineage would become servants “in the palace of the king of Babylon” (39:8). Hezekiah repented for his arrogance, and humbly accepted the consequences of his pride (39:8).

Closing thoughts: I have seen men who, after experiencing a degree of success in their endeavors, allowed their hearts to swell with pride. Those men set aside their dependence on the LORD, and sacrificed the humility that had been the incentive and catalyst for God’s blessings on their lives.

Life Lesson: Wise men deflect the best things men say about them, and don’t believe the worst, for somewhere in the midst is the truth about their character and person.

Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

What Love Is This?

Scripture reading – Hosea 2; Hosea 3

Hosea 1 introduced us to the prophet Hosea, and God’s command that he take a “wife of whoredoms” (1:2). That unequal marriage was purposed to serve as a vivid portrait of the spiritual adultery Israel had committed against the LORD. Like the harlot in this tragic tale, God’s people had broken covenant with Him, and worshipped and served idols.

Hosea 2

Hosea 2 opens with the plea of a heartbroken husband, for Gomer (Hosea’s wife and the mother of his three children) had left her marriage and abandoned her family (2:1). Hosea appealed to his younger children, Ammi(without the prefix “Lo,” rendering the youngest son’s name “my people,” 1:9; 2:1), and his daughter Ruhamah(again without the prefix “Lo,” thus meaning “loved,” 1:6; 2:1), “Plead with your mother…let her therefore put away her whoredoms” (2:2).

Drawing a parallel with Gomer’s adultery and Hosea’s sorrow as her husband, Israel had committed spiritual whoredom (2:3), and the LORD warned He would withhold His mercy and compassion they had taken for granted as a nation (2:4).

God’s Chastening (2:5b-13)

Like Israel, Hosea’s wife was guilty of ingratitude (2:5b-9). She took for granted her husband’s loving care, and foolishly turned to her lovers to meet her needs (2:5b).

Just as Gomer, Hosea’s wife, was unappreciative of her loving husband, so Israel took  for granted the LORD’S love for them. The nation “did not know that [the LORD] gave her corn, and wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold, Which they prepared for Baal” (2:8). The LORD therefore, determined He would remove His blessing from the nation (2:9).

Although the people continued to celebrate the Lord’s feast days (2:11), their heart was far from God. They had forgotten the LORD, and He promised that their sins would inevitably bring them to an inglorious, humiliating end (2:12-13).

Redeeming Love (2:14-23; 3:1-5)

Compassion (2:14-23)

Hosea loved his wife, even as the LORD loved Israel. Reflecting God’s love for His wayward people, the prophet promised to restore Gomer as his wife. He promised to “allure her” and to meet her needs by giving “her her vineyards” (2:14-15).

Again, we read a parallel of Hosea’s love for Gomer in God’s promise to remove the idols where Israel had gone a whoring, and re-establish His covenant with them (2:18). In spite of the spiritual waywardness of the nation, God promised He would restore His people with “lovingkindness, and in mercy” (2:19).

Hosea 2:19-23 has not been fulfilled, but one day it will be fully realized when Jesus Christ reigns on David’s throne. Then the LORD will say “Ammi” of the children of Israel, “Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (2:23).

Command (3:1)

The prophet’s scandalous marriage to Gomer was the backdrop to a portrait of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the LORD. The nation had left the LORD, broke covenant with Him, and committed spiritual whoredom with the idols of the heathen nations. In that same way, Gomer played the harlot, broke her covenant of marriage, and rejected her husband’s love (3:1).

Cost (3:2-3)

In spite of her transgressions, and the shame Gomer had brought to her husband and household, God commanded Hosea to find his wife and restore her.  Hosea sought and found her…a broken, wasted woman, being sold in the slave market (3:2). There he purchased his wife for “fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley,” half the price of a household slave (3:2).

Yet, the prophet lovingly assured Gomer of his commitment, and invited her to abide with him. If she would set aside her adulterous ways, he would restore her as his wife (3:3).

Closing thoughts – Hosea’s love for Gomer was a portrait of God’s forgiving, unconditional love, and compassion for Israel (3:4-5). Hosea prophesied, though Israel had played a spiritual whore, the day would come when the LORD would restore His people (3:5).

I remind believers, the love the LORD expressed for wayward Israel is the same love He has for His church, and has commanded a husband to have for his wife. We read,

25Husbands, love your wives, even as [to the same degree] Christ also loved [sacrificially loved] the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25)

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith