Category Archives: Fundamentalism

Hey Millennial Pastor: God has not called you to be “real”; He has called you to be “holy”! (Leviticus 22-23)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 22-23

The opening verses of Leviticus 22 remind ministers that God sets the highest ideals for those who minister before Him.

Understanding the immediate context of Leviticus 22 is its application to the priesthood; we nevertheless observe spiritual standards for all who serve the LORD.

The first principle is in how priests were to treat the sacrifices brought to them by the people (22:2). 

While a portion of some sacrifices supported the priests and their households (Numbers 18:11-19, 26-29); there were other sacrifices wholly dedicated to the LORD and never to be shared or treated as common by the priests (22:2).

There was also the danger of a priest failing to assess his spiritual standing before the LORD (22:3). 

The people might fail to discern a priest who was merely going through the motions; however, the LORD knows the heart and He requires holiness of those who serve Him.

CCM Frontman for Skillet

A third example of treating the priesthood as common was the temptation to be lenient in who might share the portions set aside for the priest and his immediate family (22:10-16).  I suggest a parallel of this temptation is the 21st century church diminishing the preacher’s sacred portion as the shepherd\teacher and apportioning an ever increasing role and influence to musicians lacking the spiritual qualifications to stand before the LORD and His Church.

Finally, sacrifices offered to the LORD were to be of the highest standard (22:17-32).  There was the temptation to offer animals for sacrifice that were deformed, ill or injured.  God’s standard was “there shall be no blemish therein” (22:21).

Leviticus 23 served as a reminder to keep the Sabbath Day holy (23:1-3) and identifies various feast days the nation was to observe during the calendar year:  The Passover (23:4-14); the Feast of Pentecost (23:15-22); the Feast of Trumpets (23:23-32) and the Feast of Tabernacles (23:33-44).

Believer, God’s standard of holiness for those who serve Him has not changed .

Pastors failing to take the high road and live above reproach have become a leprosy in the 21st century church. Projecting an ideology of being “real” and approachable, many pastors are sacrificing holiness in the pulpit, embracing carnality, and leading believers to do the same (1 John 2:15-17).

1 Peter 1:15-16 15  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

CONGREGATIONAL SINGING, if not dead, is dying. 

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Follower,

Across America are churches that were once bastions of Bible preaching, but have become mere shadows of their past. Churches where great songs and hymns of the Christian faith once resonated, are host to congregations mumbling their way through “7-11 choruses” (seven word choruses repeated eleven times).

Usually led by a “Vocal Team” and backed by a band pounding out a deafening beat, CONGREGATIONAL SINGING, if not dead, is dying. How did we get here?

I am writing to commend to you an excellent article on Hymnody authored by Dr. Theodore Martens.

Dr. Martens is a man whom I respect for his love of the LORD and his many years of faithful ministry.  He is a scholar of the Scriptures and a great communicator. A retired Pastor, College Professor, Seminary Teacher, and Writer; Dr. Martens is a member of Hillsdale Baptist Church, a regular teacher in Hillsdale’s Wednesday night Bible Institute, and my revered friend.

On the subject of song, hymn, music, and context, Dr Marten’s writes in his article:

“A song brings one back to the context, the days it was first heard, learned, loved, memorized, and FELT.”

“One cannot divorce the lyrics & musical score from the context in which it was first and foremost heard, repeated, learned, and felt without losing the richness which that “song” / “hymn” carries to its listeners and/or singers..Lyrics and “music” cannot be unhinged from each other and accomplish the same ends.”

Rhetoric & Homiletics: All Communication Is Contextual

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Christ died For You, but is He Your Savior? (Leviticus 16-17)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

* This is the first of two devotionals for today’s scripture reading.

The opening verse of Leviticus 16 remind us of a tragedy that occurred in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” and were slain for their sin (Leviticus 16:1).

The high priest (16:2), representing Israel before the LORD, was only to enter the “holy place within the veil before the mercy seat” once a year on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).

This Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” or the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. This was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for his sins, his household, and for the sins of the nation.

Several spiritual truths are found in Leviticus 16. The first is a reminder the high priest and his household were sinners themselves and in need of blood atonement (16:3-14).  The high priest dared not take lightly the “holy place” beyond the veil where the Mercy Seat representing the throne of God was located. Before he ministered as a representative of the nation, the high priest was instructed to offer sacrifices for himself and his household.

After ceremonially washing and girding himself in the holy garments of the high priest (16:4), Aaron chose two goats and a ram he would later offer for the sins of the nation (16:5).  The first sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a young bull the high priest offered as a sin offering for himself and his household (16:6, 11-14).

Two goats were chosen for the Day of Atonement; one would be sacrificed for the sins of the nation and the other serve as a scapegoat (16:5).  After casting lots to determine the goat the LORD would have sacrificed as a sin offeringfor the nation (16:7-10), its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (16:15) and a young bull was next sacrificed on the altar before all the congregation (16:18-19).

 

The “live goat” that was spared was the scapegoat (16:5, 20-21). With the congregation looking on, the high priest placed his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confessed the sins of the nation.  Symbolically bearing the sins of the nation, the scapegoat was then led out of the encampment and set free in the wilderness (16:22). The blood and remains of the goat, ram, and bull that was sacrificed were then removed from the camp and burned in the wilderness (16:27).

Guidelines for sacrifices continues in Leviticus 17. The prohibition of slaying animals for sacrifice any other place than the tabernacle suggests the possibility the people might have been tempted to offer blood sacrifices to false gods (17:3-7) and the punishment for idolatry was excommunication (17:4, 9).

Eating blood was forbidden (17:10) with the explanation “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a), “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (17:11b).

The LORD had chosen blood as the means of expiation (i.e. atonement) for man’s sin. The LORD warned Adam his sin would be punishable by death and so it follows the shedding of blood is a representation of death.

Modern science has proved what the LORD revealed to Israel thousands of years ago… “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a).  I marvel at what our blood reveals about us. Our very life and being is in our blood. Our genetic profile, ancestry and health are all contained in our blood!

Why do we not offer sacrifices for our sins today?

We no longer follow the pattern of blood sacrifices for sins because Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was the sum of all sacrifices ever offered (Hebrews 9:24-28 ).  The author of Hebrews writes,

Hebrews 9:27-28 – “27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Will you believe and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, the substitutionary sacrifice for your sin?

1 John 5:13  13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Many Call Worship is “Strange Fire” (Leviticus 8-10)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 8-10

The Levitical priesthood was established in Exodus 8. Remembering Moses and Aaron were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe; the LORD commanded Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons to serve as His priests before the congregation (8:1-3).

The process of ordination was explained, beginning with the ceremonial washing of Aaron and his sons with water (8:6). Aaron, serving as the high priest, was distinguished by his robes (8:7) and his breastplate (referred to as “the breastplate of judgment” in Exodus 28:30) upon which twelve precious stones were mounted, each engraved with the name of a tribe of Israel (Leviticus 8:8; Exodus 28:21).

Housed in a pocket behind the breastplate was “Urim and the Thummim” (8:8), believed to be some form of dice the high priest cast in matters of judgment, asking the LORD to answer as difficult decisions were made for the nation (such as going to war – 1 Samuel 23:2). Urim and Thummim provided a special means for the high priest to offer counsel and the nation to know God’s will specifically.

A word of caution to any tempted to adopt some manner of the same in making decisions (either tossing dice or “putting out a fleece” – Judges 6:36-40).

God has given believers a means of determining His will and making good judgments…His Word!

King David wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Peter declared, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed…” (2 Peter 1:19).  (I fear many believers have so neglected the study and teaching of God’s Word, they lack discernment to make righteous decisions in weighty matters).

Chosen by God and arrayed in priestly robes, nevertheless, Aaron and his sons were sinners and themselves in need of blood atonement. With the congregation looking on, the LORD commanded Aaron and his sons to lay their hands on a bullock that was sacrificed as their sin offering (8:14-17).

Seven days Aaron and his sons remained at the tabernacle while Moses offered sacrifices as their consecration to the LORD as priests (8:31-36).  On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began ministering and offering sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the nation (Leviticus 9:1-24).

Displaying His glory and accepting the sacrifices in the sight of all the people, “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:23-24).

One would hope the display of God’s favor might encourage the people to maintain a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case.

Tragedy soon fell on the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).

Given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; the sin of pride may have moved the sons of Aaron to disobey the LORD and exalt themselves before the people. Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).

Aaron, no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths, “held his peace” (10:3).The bodies of Nadab and Abihu were removed from the camp (10:4-5) and Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, were warned to make no public display of their sorrow and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:6-7).

What “strange fire” might be present in your church under the pretense of worship?

Entertaining the masses has become the aim of worship leaders as hallowed, sacred hymns of faith are displaced by beat-driven music emulating society’s contemporary music.

What many call worship is “strange fire.”  What must the LORD see when your “worship” leaders and music teams move an audience to cavort about under the pretense of worship?

God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).

If what you call worship looks, acts, and sounds like the world…it is not holy!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Loosey-goosey, Half-hearted Worship is Unacceptable! (Exodus 39-40)

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 39-40

The stunning colors of the “holy garments” worn by the high priest as well as the breastplate embedded with twelve precious jewels are defined (39:1-2).  Each jewel was engraved with the name of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (39:8-14). The bindings of the breastplate and other articles of clothing (39:15-31) are given in detail.

The high priest wore a turban bearing a plate of gold engraved with the words, “Holiness to the LORD” (39:30-31).

In Exodus 40, the LORD directed Moses to oversee the assembly of the Tabernacle and its implements,  and dedicate the garments to be worn by the high priest and his sons.  Having insured all was done “as the LORD had commanded” (39:43), “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (40:34)!

As we close our study of Exodus, consider the phrase, “as the LORD commanded Moses.” That phrase is found fifteen times in the Book of Exodus; seven of those times in Exodus 39, and six in Exodus 40.  Is it important to do “as the LORD commands”?

Absolutely! It was important that Moses obey the LORD in everything, and this was especially true in the preparations for the people to worship the LORD.

Worshipping the LORD was not to be treated in some loosey-goosey, half-hearted manner. 

Our God is holy, and our lives and worship should reflect His character!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Who Is On the LORD’S Side? (Exodus 30-32)

Scripture Reading Assignment – Exodus 30-32

Let’s begin today’s devotional commentary with a spiritual truth found in Exodus 30 and then see it identified in practice.

Lesson: That which is holy is never to be treated as common! (30:35-38)

Continuing our study of Exodus, we find Moses on Mount Sinai communing with the LORD who instructs His servant regarding the preparations for daily worship (Exodus 30:1-10), sacrificial offerings (30:11-16), and the anointing oil and spices exclusive for use in the tabernacle and never to be duplicated for any other use (30:17-37).

In Exodus 31 the LORD chose skilled artisans and laborers to construct the furniture and various utensils to be used in the tabernacle (31:1-11). Think about it: Even what some call “blue collar workers”, were chosen and called by the LORD to serve Him!

Moses was to remind Israel to set aside one day, the Sabbath, to rest and worship Him (31:12-17). Finally, the LORD gave him two tablets, tables of stone, on which He inscribed His covenant with Israel (31:18).

Exodus 32 – Rebellion in the Camp

Moses ascended Mount Sinai in Exodus 24 and had been apart from the people for forty days and nights (Exodus 24:18).

In Moses’ absence, the hearts of the people had turned away from the LORD, His commandments, and covenant with Israel.  The people rebelled and turning to the ways of Egypt, demanded Aaron cast a golden calf for them to worship (Exodus 32:1-6).

Angered by the breach of His covenant, the LORD vowed to judge the nation in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-10).  Moses, however, interceded for the people, reminding the LORD of His covenant promises and testimony among the heathen nations (Exodus 32:11-14).

Descending the mount with the tablets of stone inscribed by the LORD, Moses encountered Joshua who feared the noise below was that of war (32:15-17).  The sight of the golden calf, the frenzy and wickedness of idol worship, and the nakedness of the people so incensed Moses “he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount” (32:19).

Confronting his brother Aaron, Moses took up the LORD’s righteous cause and demanded he account for the wickedness of the people. Aaron foolishly defended his failure to face the idolatrous demands of the people and withstand them (32:20-24).  Turning from Aaron, Moses challenged the “sons of Levi,” the priestly tribe, “Who is on the LORD’S side?” (32:26).

Moses charged the faithful, “Put every man his sword by his side…and slay every man his brother…and every man his neighbor…and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (32:27-28). Moses then ascended the mount and interceded for Israel (32:30-35).

Permit me to close with an observation: We recognize Aaron’s gross failure as a spiritual leader.  He failed the LORD out of a desire to please and appease the people…and three thousand souls perished.

I wonder how many attend churches whose worship is led by men more concerned with what the people want than they are with what the LORD demands…a Holy People.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Casual, “Come as You Are” Culture and the God They Serve (Exodus 28-29)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 28-29

Exodus 28 describes the clothes Aaron and his sons were to wear as priests. The rich detail and beauty of their priestly garments was to reflect the eminent role of those who minister for the people before the LORD (28:2).  The garments of the high priest were particularly beautiful, well-crafted, and rich in color and detail (28:3-5).

Various stones adorned an ephod worn by the high priest. An ephod being a garment made of linen cloth that crossed the shoulders, the back and breast of the high priest (28:6-14).

The high priest also wore over the ephod a breastplate that was a symbol of judgment.   Embedded in the breastplate were stones on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (28:15-29).

Great attention was given to the robes of the priesthood (28:15-30) down to the bells about the hem of his robe whose sound gave witness to the movement of the high priest within the Tabernacle and his acceptance in the LORD’s presence (28:31-26).

The LORD instructed Moses to perform a formal ceremony consecrating Aaron and his sons to the priesthood in Exodus 29. A ceremonial ritual of washing and adorning priestly garments is described (29:1-7), followed by a ceremony of sacrifices in which Aaron and his sons were commanded to lay their hands on the heads of beasts to be offered, consecrating themselves and the altar of sacrifice (29:8-37).

I close with an observation of a sad irony I see in today’s church.

“Dressing down” has become the style of those who occupy the pulpit and the pew.  A casual demeanor is reflected in the whole atmosphere of 21st century worship.

If ripped jeans, shorts, sandals and t-shirts are appropriate for worship, I am left wondering what became of the God who demanded beautiful robes and dedicated priests who were holy and consecrated to the LORD.

Surely the LORD is no less holy today than He was in Israel’s day!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith