Category Archives: Hillsdale Baptist Church

The Cycle of Man’s Sins, and God’s Judgments (Ezekiel 20; Ezekiel 21)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 20; Ezekiel 21

We are continuing our study of the Prophecies of Ezekiel, and you will notice today’s Scripture reading is lengthy (Ezekiel 20-21). A full commentary on those chapters will be too much for a daily devotional, therefore, I will limit this study to a highlight and pray it is a blessing.

Ezekiel 20 – God’s Coming Judgment Against Judah and Jerusalem

Once again, the “elders of Israel” came to Ezekiel, to “inquire of the LORD, and sat before [him]” (20:1). The response of the LORD to the inquiry of those leaders is instructive, for He was offended! (20:3) The LORD demanded of Ezekiel whether or not he would be bold and asked, 4Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them?” (20:4).

A Cycle of Rebellion (20:5-29)

The lesson for the elders of Israel was that Israel had perpetually followed a cycle of rebellion. Rather than impart a new revelation, the LORD instructed Ezekiel to remind the leaders how He dealt with Israel’s rebellion in the past.

He brought Israel out of Egypt, and commanded the people saying, “I am the LORD your God” (20:5). He admonished them to put away their idols (20:6-7). Yet, the people rebelled, and refused to cast aside their idols and worship the LORD alone (20:8-9).

In the wilderness, and when Israel encamped at Sinai, the people rebelled. The LORD warned that they would be consumed in the wilderness– all that He might vindicate His name (20:14). They “despised” His judgment, and refused to walk in His Commandments, nevertheless the LORD was merciful, and “spared them from destroying them” (20:17). Though their fathers perished in the wilderness, the LORD spared their children. Yet, they “rebelled against” the LORD, until He “withdrew” His hand from them (the hand that led, protected, and provided for them as a shepherd his sheep, 20:22). They had blasphemed the LORD’s name (20:27), and committed spiritual adultery, offering sacrifices to idols (20:28).

Lessons for Ezekiel’s Generation (20:30-31)

Like their forefather’s, Ezekiel’s generation was guilty of great evils, and followed in the wicked ways of their fathers. They sacrificed to idols (20:30), and sacrificed their sons to make them “pass through the fire” (20:31). Though the LORD had chosen Israel to be His people, they lived “as the heathen…to serve wood and stone” (idols, 20:32). For those reasons the LORD asserted, “I will not be inquired of by you” (20:31).

Israel had Forsaken the LORD, But He Would Not Forsake His Covenant (20:33-44)

In spite of their wickedness, the LORD promised He would one day gather His people, though they were scattered among the nations of the world (20:33-36). He would continue to discipline them “under the rod” until He brought them back to “the bond of the covenant” (20:37). He would remove the rebels, and they would “not enter the land of Israel,” to the end His people would “know” and confess Him as LORD (20:38).

Closing thoughts (20:45-49) – To what end were God’s judgments, and to what purpose were their sorrows and sufferings? It was that His people would know and confess Him as their LORD (20:41-42, 44). Indeed, the day would come when “all flesh” would see and know that which was done was the LORD!

Ezekiel 21 – The Judgment of the Righteous and the Wicked

Living in Babylon, but knowing the city of Jerusalem was under siege and thousands would perish, was difficult for those in captivity. The elders of Israel asked Ezekiel at the conclusion of chapter 20, “Doth He [the LORD] not speak parables?” (20:49)

Preach Against Jerusalem (21:2-7)

The LORD answered the inquiry, saying to Ezekiel, “2Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel” (21:2). No longer speaking in parables, the message was clear, the prophet was commanded to “say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked” (21:3).

The judgment of the LORD was imminent, for He was ready to draw His sword and judge “the righteous and the wicked” (21:3). “All flesh,” man, woman, boy, and girl would know it was the LORD that executes judgment (21:4-5). Ezekiel was commanded to sigh, and in so doing indicate the pain and sorrow the people would suffer (21:6-7).

Prepare to Face God’s Judgment (21:8-17)

God warned, His sword of judgment was sharpened, and it would be borne by Nebuchadnezzar, the executioner of His will (21:8-11). The LORD directed Ezekiel to dramatize the sufferings of Jerusalem, saying, “Cry and howl, son of man” (21:12). Ezekiel 21:14 described the swift violence that would come upon Jerusalem, and the great slaughter that would befall the people. None would escape (21:15), and all who fled the destruction would be slain (24:16-17).

Babylon was God’s Agent of Judgment (21:18-27)

Here we find a great spiritual lesson for nations that know the LORD and reject Him. The LORD left no doubt He was employing “the sword of the king of Babylon” (18:18-20), and Nebuchadnezzar’s army would attack the Ammonites, and lay siege to Jerusalem (21:20). Though he had consulted with his idols (21:22), the LORD used the king’s superstitious ways to draw him to Jerusalem and do His bidding (21:23).

With the mounds laid up against the walls of the city, and battering rams at the gates, the people would remember it was brought upon them because of their sins, and would remember all that had been prophesied (21:24). Zedekiah, the last king of Israel’s Davidic line, would be stripped of his crown, and abased (24:25-26), until Christ returns and comes to claim His throne, “whose right it is” for God promised, “I will give it Him” (21:27).

Closing thoughts (21:28-32) – Our study closes with God’s assurance that, unlike the children of Israel who would return to their land, the judgment of the Ammonites would be final, and they would “be no more remembered” (21:32).

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.

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.

A Parable: “Two Eagles and A Vine” (Ezekiel 17)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 17; Ezekiel 18

We are considering the third of three prophecies the LORD revealed to Ezekiel, and commanded him to tell the elders of Israel (14:1). The prophecies were given to Ezekiel as symbolic revelations of the judgment that would befall Jerusalem. The first prophecy portrayed Jerusalem as an unfruitful vine that was to be cut down and cast into a fire (symbolic of the fire that would destroy the Temple and the city, Ezekiel 15). The second prophecy portrayed Jerusalem as an abused, adulterous wife, indicating the spiritual harlotry of the people and their worship of idols (Ezekiel 16).

Ezekiel 17 presents the third prophecy, with Jerusalem once again represented as a vine the LORD planted in Canaan (17:1-24). This is the first of two devotionals for today.

Ezekiel 17

Presented as a riddle and parable, Ezekiel 17 introduces a third prophecy foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is once again represented as a vine the LORD had planted in Canaan (17:1-24). As discussed earlier, the vine, and in this chapter the cedar of Lebanon, are pictures of Israel (17:3, 6).

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was portrayed as the first eagle (the prophet Jeremiah described Nebuchadnezzar as, “he shall fly as an eagle,” Jeremiah 48:40; 49:22). God revealed to Ezekiel that the top branches of the cedar (both Judah and Jerusalem) would be clipped off by the eagle (this occurred when Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiachin from his throne in Jerusalem, and brought him as a prisoner to Babylon, 2 Kings 24:7-16).

Following the narrative of the parable, Nebuchadnezzar “took also of the seed of the land and planted it” (17:5-6). That seed was Zedekiah, whom the king of Babylon chose to rule as his puppet in Jerusalem. King Zedekiah rebelled against the rule of Babylon, and made alliance with Egypt (represented as the second “great eagle” in this parable, 17:7). When Babylon returned to lay siege to Jerusalem, rather than to the LORD, Zedekiah turned to Egypt for help (17:8). God declared Judah and Jerusalem would not prosper, but would “wither” and be plucked up by the roots (a picture of the captivity that would follow, 17:9)

Ezekiel 17:11-21 gives the explanation of the riddle (17:1-10), and is a review of the history we have considered in earlier studies (2 Kings 23:31-24:20, 2 Chronicles 36, and Jeremiah 37).

In spite of the utter destruction and devastation of Jerusalem and Judah, the LORD promised He would take a “twig,” replant it in Israel (17:22-23), and exalt “the low tree” (17:24).  Scholars believe, and I am inclined to agree, the twig represented the humble birth of Jesus Christ who will one day return as King of kings and LORD of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

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.

One Man’s Faith Cannot Save Another (Ezekiel 14)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 14

There were living in Babylon among the Jews of the captivity, “certain of the elders of Israel” who came to Ezekiel, most likely to consult with his as God’s prophet (14:1). As they sat down before him, “the word of the Lord came unto” Ezekiel, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” (14:2-3)

God’s Judgment on Those Who Cherish Idols in Their Heart (14:3-5)

The elders, a sampling of the leaders of the people, were plagued with a spiritual heart disease. But as only the LORD can do, He revealed the hidden secrets within their hearts to the prophet (14:3). Regardless of their pretense for coming to the man of God, the LORD knew their hearts and asked, if He should even be bothered by men who had another god before Him – a violation of the first Commandment (14:3c). Though they feigned to hear the word of the LORD, yet He knew their hearts were far from Him.

The LORD commanded Ezekiel to confront the men, and say, “Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols” (14:4). In other words, God would give those treacherous, deceivers over to the folly of their idols (14:5).

All That Did Not Repent, Would Be Judged (14:6-11)

Rather than entertain the hypocrisy of the elders, Ezekiel called them to repent of their idolatry (14:6-11). While the LORD longed for the children of Israel to repent (14:6; 2 Peter 3:9), He warned, all who cherished idols in their hearts would be judged for their abominations (14:7). They would suffer the consequences of their sins, to the end some might repent and confess the God of Israel was LORD (14:8).

Ezekiel warned, those false prophets would be judged for deceiving the people. Their hypocrisy of claiming to speak the word of the LORD would be recompensed upon them, as “they [would] bear the punishment of their iniquity” (14:9-10).

Four Judgments (14:12-21)

Because the sins of Jerusalem were so great, the LORD declared He would send four judgments upon Judah. The first was famine, and man and beast would hunger (14:12-13). Then the LORD declared He would send wild beasts, and the land would be “desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts” (14:15). A sword was given as a symbol of a third judgment that indicated war (14:17). The fourth judgment was “a pestilence,” for the people would suffer disease and sickness (14:19).

One Man’s Faith Cannot Save Another (14:14b, 18b, 20b)

Three men were given as examples of saints whom God declared righteous, and spared from death (14:14, 16, 18, 20). The first was Noah, who was saved from the flood while the world of his day perished (Genesis 6:9-9:29). The prophet Daniel was the second man, whom God declared righteous, and saved from the lions, because he trusted in the LORD (Daniel 6:1-28). Job, the ancient patriarch, was the third example of a man God declared righteous, for he had been spared death, and was restored.

What spiritual lesson were the elders of Israel to take from the faith of those three men? While they trusted in the LORD, and were righteous in the sight of God, their faith did not save another. Their faith did not save their “sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves” (14:18). The same truth is repeated when we read, “they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (14:20).

Closing thoughts (14:21-23) – Ezekiel warned, four judgments would come upon Jerusalem, “the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence” (14:21). Yet, the LORD would not forsake His covenant with Israel, and promised a remnant that had been left in Jerusalem would be brought to Babylon (14:22). The people would hear the wickedness committed in Jerusalem, and all the people suffered (14:22). They would know their sins demanded God’s judgment, to the end they might repent (14:23).

Lesson – Every man, woman, boy and girl must come to the LORD by faith, and put their trust in Him. The faith of one’s parents, or grandparents cannot save a sinner from their sins and God’s judgment. While believers “shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10), those who reject Him will face God’s eternal judgment. For “the dead [will be judged] …according to their works” (Revelation 20:12, 13), and “whosoever [is] not found written in the book of life [will be] cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Remember – One man’s faith cannot save another.

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.

Payday, Someday (Ezekiel 12; Ezekiel 13)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 12; Ezekiel 13

Our Scripture reading continues today with Ezekiel 12 and 13, and I trust you are enjoying the daily study of this prophetic book as much as I.

Ezekiel’s heart had been moved by the visions of God’s judgments. After witnessing the latter vision that warned the judgment of God was imminent (11:21), the Spirit of the LORD placed Ezekiel in the midst of “of the captivity” (those living in Babylon, 11:24). Then, he began to tell the people all God had shown him in visions regarding the fate of Jerusalem (11:25).

Ezekiel 12

To portray the imminent destruction and captivity of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was commanded to portray a symbolic, compelling act. Addressing Ezekiel as “Son of man” (12:2), the LORD described the spiritual condition of the children of Israel as “a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house” (12:2, 9). Though they were His people, their sins had left them spiritually blind and deaf to the voice of God.

An Illustration of God’s Judgment (12:3-16)

To warn the people of the inevitability of the Babylonian captivity, the LORD commanded Ezekiel to pack his personal belongings as though going on a trip (12:3). He was to move his personal property in the day time, that the people might observe his unusual activities (12:4). At evening, he was to depart from his home, portraying how some in Jerusalem would “go forth into captivity” (12:4). As the people watched, Ezekiel then broke through the wall (12:5), and covered his face as one that was blind (12:6). All of this served as a “sign unto the house of Israel” (12:6).

Ezekiel did as he was commanded, and on the next day, when the people asked, “What doest thou?” he was instructed to answer: “Thus saith the Lord God; This burden concerneth the prince [the king] in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them [the Jewish people still living in Jerusalem]. 11Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity” (12:11).

In Ezekiel’s actions, the people witnessed symbolically all that would befall Jerusalem (12:11). The prince, who was king Zedekiah, would flee the city in the night, but be captured, his eyes put out, and taken in chains to Babylon (12:11-13; 2 Kings 25:4-7). Why was all this foretold? It was that the people of the captivity might be aroused to know the LORD (12:15-16).

Terror of God’s Judgment (12:17-20)

The LORD came again to Ezekiel, and asked him to dramatize in his eating and drinking, the fear and trembling the children of Israel would face in the days ahead (12:17-18). He was also commanded to interpret the message, explaining how the people would ration their food (“eat their bread with carefulness,” 12:19a) and water. All this would befall Jerusalem because of the wickedness and violence of the people (12:19).

Closing thoughts (12:21-28) – Though the LORD sent prophets who foretold God’s imminent judgment, yet, there were many who scorned, saying, “the days are prolonged, and every vision faileth” (12:22). Ezekiel was dismissed by the people, yet, all would soon be fulfilled (12:23-24).  Six years passed before Babylon’s army ravaged Jerusalem; however, every word of Ezekiel’s prophecies was fulfilled (12:26-28).

Ezekiel 13 – False Prophets Condemned

False prophets became Ezekiel’s focus in chapter 13, when the LORD commanded him to, “prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy” (Ezekiel 13:2). Judah and Jerusalem were cursed with prophets who deceived the people, and were guilty of preaching their thoughts and opinions as though they were from the LORD (13:2-3). Those false prophets were like “foxes in the deserts” (scavengers, 13:4), who failed the people, preaching lies (13:5-6). They claimed to speak the words of the LORD, but they lied (13:7).

The LORD warned the false prophets, “I am against you, saith the Lord God” (13:8). Because of their wickedness, they would not have an inheritance in the land God promised His people (13:8-9). The LORD sent prophets warning Jerusalem the city was doomed because of its sins, but the false prophets lied, saying, “Peace; and there was no peace” (13:10a). Like a builder who cleverly conceals structural faults with plaster and whitewash, the false prophets were guilty of whitewashing the sins of the people and not speaking truth (13:10-11). When trouble came, the people were consumed by the tumult. Realizing too late they had believed a lie, they became weak and an easy prey (13:12). The approach of God’s wrath was portrayed like a great storm that would cause the walls of Jerusalem to crumble, and the people and false prophets would be destroyed (13:13-14).

Closing thoughts (13:13-23) – The approach of God’s wrath was portrayed like a great storm that would come upon Jerusalem, and the people and false prophets would be destroyed (13:13-14). Ezekiel was also told to prophesy against women who dabbled in the occult, and ensnared the people with their charms and magical claims (13:17-18). Those women were enriched by giving the people false hope (13:19). Therefore, the LORD declared He would destroy their charms (13:20), tear away their veils (13:21), and vindicate His name (13:21-22). All this was foretold, that some might believe and know the God of Israel was LORD (13:23).

A quote of the late Dr. Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) is appropriate as I close:  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.”

I fear 21st century believers are guilty of dismissing the consequences of sin and, in the words of Dr. Robert G. Lee, have forgotten the promise, there is a Payday Someday.

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 Glory of the LORD was Departed (Ezekiel 10; Ezekiel 11)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 10; Ezekiel 11

It is good to remember Ezekiel was a young man, only 30 years old, when he was called and commissioned by the LORD to be prophet to the people of the captivity (1:1). No doubt, the young prophet’s spirit was troubled at all the LORD had shown him. In a vision recorded in Ezekiel 8, the LORD revealed the sins and wickedness of Jerusalem’s leaders who worshipped idols in secret within the Temple. The LORD avowed, “mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity” on the people (8:18).

Ezekiel was then given a vision of God’s judgment when the LORD cried aloud, and summoned six men (whom I believe were angelic beings), and “every man [came] with his destroying weapon in his hand” (9:1). The six men came bearing, “every man a slaughter weapon in his hand” (9:2). They were accompanied by a seventh man described as being “clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side” (symbolizing a man of words, or as I believe, “The Word” incarnate, Jesus Christ, John 1:14).

The prophet looked on as the man with the inkhorn went throughout Jerusalem. Beginning at the Temple, he placed a mark on the forehead of the righteous who grieved over the sins of the city (9:6). The six men followed the man marking the foreheads of the righteous, and executed all who did not bear the mark of a believer (9:6).

Ezekiel 10

The scene of death and judgment recorded in Ezekiel 9, was followed by a renewed vision of heaven. A detailed study of Ezekiel 10 is not necessary, for you will find it to be nearly identical to our study of Ezekiel 1:4-28. I encourage you to read Ezekiel 10, and then review our earlier study of Ezekiel 1. There you will find an interpretation of the four cherubim, and the meaning of the wheels (10:14).

Ezekiel 11

God’s warning of judgment against the leaders of Jerusalem continued in a vision in Ezekiel 11, and one the prophet would later declare to the people of the captivity (11:25). Of this vision, Ezekiel wrote, “Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord’s house…and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people” (11:1).

Jaazaniah and Pelatiah were rulers of the people, but were guilty of dismissing the prophecies of God’s judgment. Rather than call on the people to repent of their sins and turn to the LORD, those leaders encouraged them to “build houses” (11:3). The LORD commanded Ezekiel, “prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (11:4).

In his vision, the “Spirit of the LORD” empowered and emboldened the prophet (11:5), and Ezekiel bravely proclaimed God’s imminent judgment (11:6-12). Suddenly, the leader named Pelatiah fell dead (11:13), and Ezekiel cried out to the LORD, saying, “Ah Lord God! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” (11:13) In other words, LORD, will you not be merciful?

A Promise of Restoration (11:14-21)

Because of the sins of the people, Judah would become a desolate land, and Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed. Yet, the LORD did not leave Ezekiel or the people without hope. There were some who lived in Jerusalem and boasted they had been spared, while those in captivity were condemned.

Yet, in actuality, it would be just the opposite, because those taken captive, and scattered among the heathen, would come to humble themselves, and repent of their sins. To them the LORD promised, “I will give you the land of Israel” (11:17). Those of the captivity would return some day, and purge the land of its sins and abominations (11:18). The LORD promised, “I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (11:19-20).

The Glory of the LORD is Departed (11:22-25)

Ezekiel’s vision concluded with the cherubim lifting up the heavenly throne of God, as His glory ascended from Jerusalem and lingered, almost mournfully it seemed, upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city” (11:23). After that, the Spirit of the LORD transported Ezekiel and placed him among the people “of the captivity” (11:24). Then, Ezekiel declared to them “all the things that the Lord had shewed [him] ” (11:25).

Closing thoughts – As I close today, I wonder how many of my readers are members of churches where the glory of the LORD has departed? How many churches are pastored by men whose private sins and sexual indiscretions have brought public disgrace to the Gospel and the ministry? Be sure of this, the glory of the LORD will not grace a church whose people tolerate sin in the midst.

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.

Six Angels of Death, and One Redeemer (Ezekiel 9)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 9

Appearing to Ezekiel in a vision (8:1), the Spirit of the LORD took him to the Temple where he looked upon the great wickedness of Judah, for even the sanctuary was defiled by idols (8:5-6). Ezekiel found the religious leaders of Judah in a room whose walls were engraved with the likeness of false gods (8:7-11), and he heard the men boast, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth” (8:12).

Ezekiel also saw women worshipping Tammuz, the fertility god (8:14), and men who “worshipped the sun toward the east” (8:16). With the question, “Hast thou seen this, O son of man?”, the LORD concluded the tour of the Temple, and declared, “18Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them” (8:18).

Ezekiel 9 – The Vision of God’s Judgment of Jerusalem

Suddenly, Ezekiel heard the LORD cry out, “Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand” (9:1). Six men answered the summons, and a seventh [man]accompanied them” (9:2).

Who were these men? I believe they were angelic beings. Each came to Jerusalem with “a slaughter weapon in his hand” (9:2a). The seventh man, “clothed with linen,” carried the tools of a writer, for he came “with a writer’s inkhorn by his side” (9:2-3). I believe the seventh man might have been the Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14).

With the arrival of the men who were bearing weapons of death and slaughter, “the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub” (9:3). I believe it was in that moment the LORD withdrew His presence from between the cherubim on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The LORD was then removed “to the threshold” of the Temple (9:3).

The Righteous Marked for Salvation, the Wicked Doomed to Judgment (9:3-8)

The vision continued with the LORD summoning “the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side” (9:3), and commanding him to go through the city and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who grieved because of the wickedness of the city (9:4).

The six men followed, each bearing “a slaughter weapon in his hand” (9:2a), to slay all who were not marked on their forehead. No one was to be spared death, except those who were marked as grieving the wickedness of the city (9:6). God’s judgment began at the Temple, when the six men executed the “ancient men” who worshipped idols in the sanctuary (9:6; 8:11-12). The bodies of the dead were left in the Temple and its rooms, and the six executioners continued to go throughout Jerusalem (9:7).

Witnessing the deaths of so many in his vision, Ezekiel fell upon his face, and cried out, “Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?” (9:8) The prophet wondered, LORD, will none be spared?

Closing thoughts (9:9-11) – The LORD answered Ezekiel’s wailful cry, and asserted the wickedness of Israel and Judah was “exceeding great” (9:9). The sins of the people demanded His judgment. They had broken their covenant with the LORD, and “the land [was] full of blood” (murder), “and the city full of perverseness” (idolatry and adultery, Exodus 20:3-16). Yet, the elders lied saying, “The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not” (9:9). The time for pity and compassion was past, and every man would bear the burden of his sin.

Our devotional concludes with a report from the “man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side” (9:11). He had faithfully discharged his work, and marked every man, woman, boy and girl that would be spared God’s judgment.

In the midst of His judgment, the LORD remembered those who were His. What a comfort to all believers, whose sins are marked, and covered by the blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:18–19 – “18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

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.