Category Archives: Islam

Are the Hordes of ISIS the Sons of Esau?

isisMonday, March 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 36-39

I am afraid Genesis 36 holds little to get excited about for the average believer.  This chapter is the birth record of the sons born of Esau’s lineage, the son of Isaac and brother of Jacob.  The names of Esau’s sons and their titles, “Duke”, meaning chief, reveal much about Esau and why God chose Jacob over him.

Although the sons of Esau shared a physical lineage with the Hebrew people, tracing their ancestry to Isaac and Abraham, they, like their father Esau, did not value their spiritual heritage nor have a share in God’s covenant promises with the descendants of Abraham.  The sons of Esau became the fathers of kingdoms we recognize in the Scriptures as the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert. Their descendants became enemies of Israel and the basis of a bitter strife that continues in the Middle East to our day.edom

Esau had become a wealthy and powerful man (36:6-8) who, following their father Isaac’s death (35:29), chose to keep peace with his brother Jacob and remained in Seir (32:3).  Seir, located in Edom, was the land on Israel’s southern border stretching from the salt marshes of the Dead Sea eastward to the desert (36:6-8).

We read an important statement in Genesis 36:8, “Esau is Edom”, meaning he was the father of a people who would become known as the Edomites.  Two of the three wives of Esau were Canaanite in origin and a grief to Isaac and Rebekah because they worshipped idols (Genesis 27:46).  Esau’s third wife was an Ishmaelite, a descendant of Ishmael, a son of Abraham born to the Egyptian handmaid Hagar (Genesis 28:8-9).

The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, hold important significance in our study of Israel in the Old Testament.  When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow them to pass through their land (Numbers 20:18-21).  The Edomites were adversaries of King Saul and King David (1 Kings 11:14-16).  When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, the Edomites became allies with Babylon and participated in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.jacob-and-esau

The birth of Amalek (36:12), the father of the Amalekites and the grandson of Esau, marks the birth of another people who would become enemies of Israel.   It was the Amalekites who, during Israel’s years in the wilderness, fought against Joshua and Israel while Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses during the battle (Exodus 17:8-16).  We read in 1 Samuel 15 that King Saul warred against the Amalekites.

Why did God have the names of Esau’s lineage recorded in Genesis 36 and why is it important to 21st century believers?

I believe the roots of the conflict and strife we are witnessing in the Middle East is traced to a people whose ancestry is that of Esau in origin.  We identify the enemies of modern Israel as Palestinians, Muslims, proponents of Islam, and the followers of the prophet Mohammed.   In the most basic sense, they are all sons of Esau.

I invite you to take some time and read the judgments of God prophesied against Edom in the Book of Obadiah, in particular Obadiah 1:1-4, 6-7, 10-16.

Obadiah 1:1-4 – “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour [tidings; report] from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her [Edom] in battle.petra

2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock [Petra, capital city of Edom], whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?

4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

Obadiah 1:6-7 – “How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! 7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.”

israelObadiah 1:10-15 – “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob [Jews; descendants of Jacob] shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side [side of the enemies], in the day that the strangers [foreigners; Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans] carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them [Esau’s descendants were numbered among Israel’s enemies].

12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother [descendants of Jacob] in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

obadiah15 For the day of the LORD [prophetically, often refers to the Tribulation] is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: A Biblical Perspective on Liberalism and the Women’s March

womens-marchWednesday, January 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 9-11

Today’s devotional reading consists of three chapters, Psalms 9-11. Psalm 9 is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving for God executing judgment upon the wicked and delivering the righteous. The pride and oppressive ways of the wicked is the focus of Psalm 10, reminding us that, though times have changed, the nature of man has not. Contrary to their rhetoric, the nature of the wicked is and has always been to oppress the poor and helpless (10:2-3, 7-11).

madonnaOn a personal note and one not meant as an offense, it is my observation that we have witnessed the unveiled demagoguery of the wicked for the past eight years. The recent Women’s March on Washington, DC put on display for all the world to see, the vented anger of the wicked who call abortion a virtue and whose mouths are vile. Such has always been the way of the wicked.

Psalm 10:7-8 – “[The wicked’s] mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. 8  He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.”

I am uncertain of the historical context of Psalm 11; however, David was certainly facing the threat of an enemy and weighing the counsel of his advisers who urged him to flee.

There are times that retreat and flight at the threat of assault is a wise choice.  David fled from the presence of Saul when the king attacked him.  David fled Jerusalem after his son Absalom stole the affections of the people and led an insurrection against his father the king.   We do not know if the enemy David faced was a foe within or without his kingdom; however the threat was significant enough for the king’s counselors to advise him to flee (11:1b-2). David asserted his faith in the LORD and asked his frightened counselors, would you have me flee like a frightened bird? (11:1)psalm-11-3

Psalm 11:1 – “In the LORD put I my trust [confide; flee for protection; make refuge]: how say [speak; command] ye to my soul [life; person; mind], Flee [disappear; remove] as a bird to your mountain?

The king’s counselors reminded David the plot of the wicked was to destroy the just and upright (11:2) and as king, he was the moral pillar, the foundation of the nation (11:3a).

Psalm 11:2-3 – “For, lo, the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] bend their bow, they make ready [prepare; set up; fix] their arrow upon the string, that they may privily [secretly in the darkness] shoot at the upright [right; just; righteous] in heart [mind]. 3  If the foundations [purpose; support; moral pillars] be destroyed [thrown down; pull down; broken in pieces], what can the righteous [just] do?”

The counselors reasoned not only was the king’s life at risk, but also the lives and future of the nation (11:3b). In other words, what would become of the righteous should the king, representing not only human authority, but the nation’s spiritual relationship with God fail?

Psalm 11:4-7 is David’s answer to the questions and counsel of his frightened, faithless advisors.

Psalm 11:4-5 – “The LORD is in his holy [sacred; hallowed] temple, the LORD’S throne [seat] is in heaven: his eyes behold [perceive; look; gaze], his eyelids try [examine; prove], the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth [proves; examines] the righteous [just; law-abiding]: but the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] and him that loveth violence [cruelty; injustice] his soul hateth [as a foe].”

isisFor the sake of application to current events, I invite you to consider the violence, reign of terror, and wickedness afflicting the world in the Middle East in the name of Islam. Beheadings, burnings, rapes, and a swath of destruction perpetrated against humanity in the name of Allah is an example of the depraved nature of man.  Rather than condemning and calling for the annihilation of these zealots of evil, liberal politicians, educators, religious leaders, and the media cultivate a tone of political correctness, but are swift to condemn any who point out the wickedness of this 21st century crusade against humanity.

David reminds the righteous that God is on His throne and the wicked will not escape His wrath (11:6). Not unlike the weapons of modern warfare, David describes the terror of God’s judgment raining down upon the wicked who oppose Him and despise the righteous.

Our devotion ends with an assurance the LORD’s love for the righteous never wanes and His eyes are ever upon those who are moral, just and upright (11:7).  There are times that flight and retreat from an adversary is prudent; however, too many preachers in America fear to speak the Truth and cater to the wealthy and powerful in politically correct terms lest they raise the ire of a few.  Sadly, the occupants of the pulpit and the pew seem ambivalent to the wickedness that has painted the Middle East in blood and is slowly being assimilated into our schools, communities, churches and government.isaiah-40-31

Christians in America still have freedom to speak against enemies who wish to drive the Gospel underground and silence any who dare speak the Truth concerning the moral decadence of our nation.  Don’t be blind to the reality that liberal media, educators, politicians, and a generation of spiritual rebels who have rejected God (Psalm 14:1, 53:1) are foes of righteousness and intent on intimidating and silencing any who dare speak Truth.

The challenge for believers and the true church is whether or not we will trust the LORD, confident He is Sovereign of creation, and seek our refuge in Him.

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Prophetic Portrait of World War III

ww-iiiWednesday, January 4, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 1-2

Psalm 1 is a contrast of two lives: the “blessed” man (Psalm 1:1-3) who walks in the way of God’s Law and prospers and the “ungodly” who defy God, oppose His Law, and “shall perish” (Psalm 1:4-6).

Psalm 2 is known as a “Messianic Psalm” and is a prophetic utterance regarding the person and Second Coming of the Messiah Lord Jesus Christ.  Notice the opening verses of Psalm 2 are a prophetic portrait of a World War that is yet to come (Psalm 2:1-3).

Psalm 2:1-3 – “Why do the heathen [the nations of the earth] rage, and the people imagine [ponder; speak; declare] a vain thing [empty; worthless]?
2  The kings of the earth set
[stand; withstand] themselves, and the rulers take counsel [consult] together, against the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God], and against his anointed [Messiah], saying,
3  Let us break
[break down; pluck off; tear away] their bands [bonds; chains; shackles] asunder [break down; tear away], and cast away [cast down; fling] their cords [ropes; chains] from us.”

armageddonUnlike World War I and World War II that pitted the nations of the earth against one another, the war described in these verses gather the armies of the nations of the earth against God’s people (“His anointed”) and the King of Heaven (“the LORD”). (Psalm 2:2)

What is God’s response to man’s universal rebellion?

Psalm 2:4 – “4  He that sitteth [dwells; inhabits; abides] in the heavens shall laugh [scorn; mock; hold in derision]: the Lord [God] shall have them in derision [mock; scoff; sneer; deride].”

What folly that man would dare think he is able to assail the throne of the King of Heaven! The psalmist declares the Son of God, the only “begotten” of God the Father, will reign in Jerusalem [“my holy hill of Zion”] (Psalm 2:6-7).

Psalm 2 concludes with an invitation to sinners and a promise to saints:

Psalm 2:10-12 – “Be wise [understand; prudent; act wisely] now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed [disciplined; corrected; taught; warned], ye judges of the earth. 11  Serve [do; work; worship] the LORD with fear [dread; reverence], and rejoice [be glad; delight] with trembling [fear]. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry [displeasure; enraged], and ye perish [die; fall] from the way [journey; path], when his wrath is kindled [burns; consumed by fire] but a little. Blessed [Happy; i.e. prosperous] are all they that put their trust [confidence; hope; i.e. find refuge] in him.”

psalm-2-12My friend, the world is raging and the rulers of the kingdoms of the earth give little regard to the God of Heaven; however, God in His grace is extending an invitation to lost sinners to humble themselves, hear His Word, and turn to Him.

The saints of God rest in this promise, “…Blessed [Happy; i.e. prosperous] are all they that put their trust [confidence; hope; i.e. find refuge] in him” (Psalm 2:12).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The overwhelming majority of the voting public might tolerate the intolerable, but few have any desire to celebrate it.

gay flagDear Heart of a Shepherd Readers,

The following is my public statement read before the Hillsborough County Commissioners this Wednesday, July 20, 2016, opposing the motion of County Commissioner Kevin Beckner who is once again promoting the militant LGBTQ agenda in our communities, city, and county.   His latest attempt is to designate the month of June as “Gay Pride Month”; to my knowledge, the county has no other such designation for any cause, group, or organization.

Hillsborough County“For several years I have observed members of the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, past and present, accommodate the escalating demands of the LGTBQ community.  I have witnessed this board’s courtship of that community, and watched as you slighted the moral sensibilities of the majority of your constituents.

Unless you are deaf, you know there is a growing spirit of concern and anger among voters who are sick of watching elected officials placate the demands of militant groups.

I have charted the rationale of the LGTBQ community for years and long ago recognized their crusade is not for rights, but acceptance of the abnormal, or in the words of the Bible, “vile affections…against nature… unseemly” (Romans 1:26).  The overwhelming majority of the voting public might tolerate the intolerable, but few have any desire to celebrate it.

This board has entertained the LGTBQ community’s argument they want their privacy and the public and government have no business invading the privacy of their bedrooms.  Privacy”, however, was never the goal of the Homosexual Community.Gay Parade

The Homosexual Community demanded the right to revel in their sexuality and the County once again supported vulgar and lascivious behavior parading in the streets violating Florida Indecent Exposure Laws and offending those who adhere to traditional family values.

The homosexuals demanded the “right to marry”, attacking an institution that for 6,000 years was the foundation of civil and moral society

The Homosexual Community demanded the civil rights of a “protected class”, and this board again bowed to its demands. Now, every private, family owned business that embraces traditional moral values faces the threat of crippling lawsuits should any dare not capitulate to the invasive demands of the homosexual community.

Today you are asked to consider a resolution that perpetuates and promotes the sexual exploits and expressions of the homosexual community as though their sexuality deems them worthy of special honor and designation in our county…it does not!

It is one thing to tolerate homosexuality, it is quite another to ask Hillsborough County citizens to dedicate a month of our County calendar to celebrate moral decadence!

Finally, the terrorist attack in Orlando on June 12, 2016 that left 49 dead was a tragedy; however, to memorialize it as anything other than what it was, the murderous actions of a militant Islamic terrorist, is disingenuous. The 49 who died in the attack were not martyrs; they were victims of an Islamic terrorist.Hillsborough Fire and Rescue

Tampa PoliceIf you want to dedicate the month of June, dedicate it to First Responders who have died in the line of duty serving their communities…16 County Sheriffs, 30 Tampa police officers, 16 Tampa firemen…those men and women, and the ones who risk their lives everyday, are the heroes whose lives should be celebrated and whose deaths should be memorialized.”County Sheriff

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

Hillsdale Baptist Church

Tampa, FL

Are you suffering from “Spiritual PTSD”?

Spiritual MinutemenYou are invited to go to today’s blog post on my political website, SpiritualMinutement.net, and consider the reality we are living in a post-Christian world more interested in “controlling the narrative” than in defining and adhering to morality and Right vs. Wrong.

Isaiah 5:20-21, 2320  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  21  Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! …23  Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

“We Shall Stand” (part 1of 2)

Memorial Day

Today, Monday, May 30, 2016 is the day these United States pay tribute and reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.  Before you rush out into activities that give little time for reflection, permit me an opportunity of challenging you with questions I put before my church family on Sunday.

How can we, the living, repay the debt we owe for the liberties we have inherited?  How can we express our gratitude to those who died defending the sovereignty of our nation?  What can we give in memory of those who gave their all that we might be free?

soldier's widowMany will answer those questions quoting John 15:13;  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Indeed, a wonderful verse of self-sacrifice that acknowledges Christ is the model of sacrifice, in that He “commendeth His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

But what is the practical application of that verse to the questions I proposed?   What can we give in service to our country?   What can we sacrifice to preserve this nation and the freedoms others bought with their own blood and lives?

We must cherish our liberties by standing our ground against all who threaten them!

We must embrace and exercise our freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States:  Freedom of Religion; Freedom of Speech; Freedom of the Press; Freedom of Assembly; Right to Bear Arms; Right of Equal Justice; Right to own private property; and Freedom of Petition to request our elected representatives oppose proposed laws or request protection under the law on our behalf.

We must sacrifice our time, talents, and strength to stand and defend our liberties!   We must refuse to be silenced by those who would shout us down.  We must remember that, contrary to the actions of our elected officials and federal government agencies, these United States are a Republic, not a dictatorship!

freedoms

We must recognize the greatest threat to our nation and freedoms is not Islamic terrorists, but our own government.   

For more than a half-century, our public schools and secular colleges have indoctrinated America’s youth in a liberal, socialistic ideology.  Our children are woefully ignorant of our nation’s history and know little about the sacrifices of those who have gone before them.  Inflaming a rebellion against their elders that is often a natural passing of youth, secular schools, activists preachers (i.e. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson), liberal politicians, spineless conservatives, and the encouragement of liberal media have fostered a generation of youth that reflect the thoughtless mob rationale of Brown Shirt Nazis and Communist youth threatening to usher in an era of anarchy inflamed by our own government.  Given the immoral trajectory of our nation and its betrayal of God’s Law and Commandments, our government and society threaten to silence us all if we do not awaken.  I am afraid the “Silent Majority” of the early 1980’s has become the emaciated “Moral Minority” of the 21st century and the proponents of wickedness have risen to the highest offices in our nation.Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has become a terror to Constitutional Law and the Commandments of God.   The Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and its decision to legalize “same-sex marriage” in June 2015 were direct assaults on traditional marriage and family.  Added to the moral erosion of America is President Obama’s mandate to open restrooms, showers and locker rooms to those declaring they self-identify with the sex opposite their biological gender.  The president’s action is not only morally reprehensible, it is a declaration of war on the moral innocence and character of our children.  Evidencing the maniacal extremity of the left is the threat to withhold federal funds from school meals programs if schools do not comply with the president’s edict!

Wake Up America!  The President’s heavy-handed enforcement of his ideology against school children should send a warning to every American—the government will inevitably crush us all if we remain silent.

(part 1 of 2)

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

“Happy New Year!”

hillsdaleDear “Heart of a Shepherd” reader,

I thought I might take the liberty of posting on this blog a letter of greeting that I wrote for Hillsdale Baptist Church’s bulletin for this Sunday, January 10, 2016.   The emphasis of our preaching this January is on the Word of God with a focused study on Psalm 119.   The following is my brief letter to the church.

We are now more than halfway through the second decade of the 21st century and find our nation and world in turmoil.  Far from the utopia liberals and agnostics predicted in the early 20th century, our world appears to be on the precipice of a cataclysmic meltdown spiritually, economically and politically.  The War on Terrorism is far from over and the militant, apocalyptic Islamic ideology that is driving a barbarous march of bloodshed across the Middle East and Europe is now a very real threat to our families and communities.

The mistrust of politicians and government is at an all time high and a vacuum of leaders with integrity and vision is frightening.  Living in a world filled with uncertainty and despair, it is easy to become discouraged and depressed; however, God’s people hold the key to hope and certainty…the enduring promises of God’s Word.

Bible and Oil Lamp1 Peter 1:23, 25 – “Being born again…by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 25  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

My friend, I cannot overemphasize how important it is for us to be “People of the Word!”  We are commanded to be disciplined students of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15) who refuse to trifle in foolish philosophies and false teachings.  Sadly, far too many church members are facing the bleakness of a world in spiritual darkness and lack even an elementary knowledge of Bible truth to light the way.  It is my prayer our brief study of Psalm 119 this month will stir you to be avid students of the Word of God.

With love and a shepherd’s heart,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

www.HeartofAShepherd.com