Category Archives: Israel

Old Testament Sacrifices and What They Teach Us About God’s Character (Leviticus 1-3)

Today’s Bible reading is Leviticus 1-2, Psalm 34, and Mark 6. Our devotional is from Leviticus 1-3.

Leviticus 1-3 states what God required of Israel in sacrificial offerings and it serves as a lesson for the 21stcentury believer: God demands His people be a holy, sanctified people.

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe writes in his “Be Series” on the Book of Leviticus: “Leviticus tells New Testament Christians how to appreciate holiness and appropriate it into their everyday lives. The word holy is used 91 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times. References to uncleanness number 128. There’s no question what this book is all about.”  [BE Series – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch]

The sacrifices offered in the Old Testament were a pre-figure of which Jesus Christ was the perfect, complete, “once and for all” sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:10).

The first offering required in Leviticus is the “burnt offering” (1:1-17).  The head of each household was to bring to the Tabernacle “a male without blemish”(1:3); placing “his hand upon the head” of the bull, sheep or goat, the worshipper identified with the animal’s death as the substitutionary sacrifice for his sin (1:4-5, 10, 14-15).   The sacrifice was then killed and the priest would take the blood and sprinkle it on the altar (1:5, 11).

The second sacrifice noted in Leviticus is the “meat offering” (a better translation would be “meal” or food offering) (Leviticus 2).  Also known as an oblation (meaning “gift” or present); it was a non-blood offering that consisted of grain (“fine flour”), oil and frankincense (2:1).  The priests were to take a portion of the “meal offering” for their families and the rest was to be offered as a burnt offering (2:2).

The third offering was a “sacrifice of peace offering” and was a blood offering (Leviticus 3).  Unlike the “burnt offering”, the “peace offering” could be male or female; however, the standard, “without blemish”, applied and the priests inspected the offerings to ensure they were acceptable sacrifices (3:1, 12).  As with the “burnt offering”, the worshipper would “lay his hand upon the head of his offering, kill it at the door of the tabernacle” (3:2), and the priests would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar.  We will continue our examination of sacrifices in our next devotional commentary from Leviticus.

I close highlighting the “without blemish” standard the LORD required of sacrifices under the Law.  Sacrificial offerings were to be of the highest quality; however, I am sure the temptation for many was to give the LORD something, but not necessarily the best.

The apostle Paul had in mind the same “without blemish” standard for believers when he wrote:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

The LORD required the best and He requires no less of His people today.  Our bodies and our lives are to be “holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1).   Holy, sanctified, set apart and dedicated to the LORD.  Acceptable, pleasing and conforming to the will of God.

Anything less than our best is unacceptable to a holy God!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Face to Face (Exodus 33-34)

Today’s Bible reading and devotional is Exodus 33-34.

God called Moses to go up to the Mount and gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), His governing Laws (Exodus 22:22-24:8), and His assurance He would be with His chosen people when they went up to the land He had promised them for an inheritance (Exodus 23:20-33).

God also gave instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Ark and the altar for sacrifices (Exodus 25-27).  The Aaronic priesthood was established (Exodus 28:6-30), the robes and ornaments of the priests defined, and Aaron and his sons consecrated for the priesthood in Exodus 29:1-37; 30:22-33.

While Moses was in the mount with the LORD for forty days, in his absence the people rebelled and returned to the idolatrous ways of Egypt (Exodus 32). Angered by the sin of the people, God vowed to judge them in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-8), but Moses interceded for them (Exodus 32:9-14).   God answered Moses’ prayer and, while there would be consequences, nevertheless, the Lord did not destroy the people altogether (Exodus 32:12-34:28).

We see several principles regarding the character of God and His divine attributes in today’s reading. The LORD’s holiness and unwillingness to tolerate sin.  While the LORD kept His promise, He also contended “I will not go up in the midst of thee” (Exodus 33:3).

Moses dreaded the thought of proceeding in Israel’s journey without the LORD.  Moses pled with the LORD, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 13:15). Oh that all God’s leaders were so sensitive and dependent on the LORD.

To know the manner of man Moses was, he was not satisfied only with the LORD’s presence; he prayed to the LORD, “shew me thy glory”(Exodus 33:18). God graciously replied to Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20).

So we learn no man can see God in all His unveiled, heavenly glory; however, the LORD blessed Moses with a glimpse of His glory while He sheltered him in the cleft of the rock (33:21-22).

Exodus 34 records Moses’ second ascent to the mount and into God’s presence. Once again, he abode in the presence of the LORD for forty days where he received God’s instructions in His Law and Commandments (34:1-28).

When Moses descended the mount all Israel gathered at Sinai and the people looked upon his face realizing it shone with the brightness of God’s glory (34:28-30).  So bright was the reflection of God’s glory upon Moses’ face, he wore a vail (34:31-35) among the people; however, when he entered into God’s presence he removed the vail reminding us no matter of the heart is hidden from the LORD.

Friend, while I have never seen the brightness of God’s glory reflected in the face of a believer, I have seen the radiance of godliness reflected on the face of saints who spent their lives in the presence of God.  In the words of Fanny Crosby, someday the saints will “see Him face to face, And tell the story—Saved by grace.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Work hard and trust God! (Exodus15-16)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 15-16, Psalm 25, and Matthew 25. Our devotional is from Exodus 15-16.

Pharaoh determined to pursue the children of Israel and enslave them again in spite of the ten plagues Egypt had suffered (14:1-9).  Encamped at the edge of the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army became visible in the distance, and the people began to murmur against Moses (14:10-12).  Moses stilled the hearts of the people and the LORD parted the Red Sea allowing Israel to cross over on dry ground. When Pharaoh’s army pursued the people into the midst of the Sea, the LORD brought the waters upon them drowning the Egyptians (14:23-31).

Exodus 15 records Israel’s celebration for their salvation and deliverance from Pharaoh (15:1-21).  Incredibly, in spite of the LORD miraculously delivering Israel from Egypt, three days past and the people began to murmur and complain there was no water (15:22-24).  Moses cried out to the LORD (15:25) and the LORD made bitter waters pure to quench the thirst of the people (15:25-27).

Exodus 16 finds the people murmuring again, accusing Moses of leading them into the wilderness where they risked starvation (16:1-3).  In answer to Moses’ plea, the LORD assured him He would provide bread in the morning sufficient for the day, with the exception of the sixth day when they would be provided bread for two days so the people would not need to gather food on the Sabbath (16:4-5).  The LORD also promised to send the people meat to eat in the evening (16:8, 12).

What lessons did Israel learn from God providing for their needs? The first lesson, the LORD is faithful and His promises never fail (16:13-15).  A second, the LORD provided only what was sufficient for the day. When the people gathered more than their daily bread and meat, it spoiled in their tents (16:19-30).

Consider a brief lesson we can take from God’s dealings with Israel:  When we, like Israel, fall prey to being poor stewards of God’s provisions and hoard His blessings, we risk what we have spoiling and rotting as the breads and meats Israel hoarded in her tents.

Let us not become rich fools who hoard what we have in hope of eating, drinking and being merry (Luke 12:19-21)!  After all, we are commanded, “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Work hard and trust God!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

One Rotten Apple Spoils the Whole Bunch (Exodus 13-14)

The Bible reading for today is Exodus 13-14, Psalm 24, and Matthew 24. Our devotional is from Exodus 13-14.

The slaying of the firstborn of Egypt was the tenth and final plague and moved Pharaoh to thrust the children of Israel out of Egypt where they had lived for 430 years (Exodus 12:40-41). The observance of the Passover having been established (12:1-28, 43-51), the LORD directed Moses to instruct the people to sanctify the firstborn male of their households, both children and beasts, and dedicate them to the LORD as a memorial to Him for saving the firstborn of Israel from death (13:1-2, 11-16).

As a sign of the haste with which Pharaoh sent Israel out of Egypt, the people were to observe a new feast, the seven-day celebration known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 13:3-10).  Unleavened bread, bread without yeast, would serve as a memorial to succeeding generations reminding them of the haste with which Pharaoh sent Israel out of Egypt.

As a point of application, leaven or yeast, is a symbol of sin and false teaching in the New Testament.  Like yeast permeates dough, so does sin and false teaching in the church.  As “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), so does sin eventually become a cancer in the soul and church (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Christian friend, what about your sin?  “Little sins” invariably grow and when excused rather than repented of, they will corrupt and eventually destroy.  The Jews were to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread by purging or removing leaven from their homes (1 Corinthians 5:7).  That is the only way you can be free of the corrupting influence of sin in your soul…confess it and turn from it.

1 John 1:9-10 – 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us oursins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb” (Exodus 11-12)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 11-12, Psalm 23, and Matthew 23. Our devotional is from Exodus 11-12.

The fears Moses entertained before returning to Egypt were overcome when the LORD gave His servant “favour in the sight of the Egyptians…and in the sight of the people” (11:3a).  Far from the proud prince of Egypt, we find Moses, the man who shepherd sheep in the wilderness forty years, humble enough for God to use mightily.

God warned Moses the tenth plague, would mean the death of all firstborn in Egypt, from the throne of Pharaoh to “all the firstborn of beasts” (11:5).

The LORD instituted the Passover in Exodus 12 and promised to spare Israel the tenth plague if the blood of a lamb, a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year” was applied to the doorposts of the house (12:7, 15).   The firstborn of the house was saved from death by the blood of a sacrificed lamb (12:12-13).  The difference between the households of Israel and those of Egypt was the blood of the lamb.

Prophetically, the Passover lambs were a type, a picture of God’s punishment of sin ultimately fulfilled in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The apostle Peter writes, “Forasmuch 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” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The author of Hebrews writes: “Christ was once offered [i.e. sacrificially] to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).   Paul writes, “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In the same way God spared Jewish households the death of the firstborn by the shedding of the blood of the Passover lambs, believers are spared the penalty of our sins, not because of any good works we have done (Ephesians 2:8-9), but because our faith is in the redemption and forgiveness of sin we have in Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross (Romans 3:23-25, 28; John 1:29, 36).

For Israel, the institution of the Passover marked the end of their slavery and sojourn in Egypt and a new beginning.  Delivered from slavery, God promised to guide His people to the land He had given Abraham and his lineage as an inheritance.

Christian friend, our faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, His burial, and resurrection from the dead marks a new beginning for all who repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Salvation promises a new beginning, it is our responsibility to walk a new life in Christ.

Ephesians 4:22-24 – 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Our God is Creator and Sovereign of the Nations (Exodus 9-10)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 9-10, Psalm 22, and Matthew 22. Our devotional is from Exodus 9-10.

We continue our study of Exodus and Moses’ petition that Pharaoh set God’s people free to go into the wilderness and offer sacrifices to the LORD (Exodus 9:1).  Having suffered four plagues (Exodus 7:19-8:24), Pharaoh continues to harden his heart.

The fifth plague fell on the livestock of Egypt (Exodus 9:3); however, as a testimony of God’s sovereignty and love for Israel, none of Israel’s livestock perished (9:4-7).  Yet, Pharaoh continued to harden his heart against the LORD.

The sixth plague was the misery and suffering that comes with boils and blisters and fell upon man and beast in Egypt (9:8-11).  Once again, Pharaoh did not repent and  “the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (9:12).

The seventh plague brought hail raining down and destroying the crops in the fields of Egypt (9:13-35).  Some of Pharaoh’s servants believed Moses’ warnings and sheltered their servants and livestock in houses (9:20).  When Pharaoh saw the plague of hail had ceased, “he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart” as he had in the past (9:34-35).

Egypt suffered enough loss at the end of the seventh plague that hunger and famine became the lot of the people.  Nevertheless, Pharaoh refused to repent of his sin and the LORD commanded Moses, “Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants” (10:1). [On a personal note: don’t underestimate the influence of a nation’s leaders on its citizens; as Pharaoh’s hardened his heart, the same was true of the people].

The eight plague to come upon Egypt was locusts and they devoured what was left of the nation’s crops (10:3-20).   Darkness was the ninth plague (10:21-29).  While Israel enjoyed the comfort of light in their dwellings, a darkness oppressed the Egyptians that was heavy and frightening.  Still, Pharaoh refused to allow Israel to go.

Why did the LORD not simply deliver Israel from bondage by the force of His will and power?

Exodus 10:2 – “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”

The LORD wanted Israel to know and remember through successive generations all He had done in Egypt.  His dealings with Pharaoh and the Egyptians was to serve as a lasting testimony of the LORD’s person, His power, and His presence among His chosen people.

Though a nation of slaves, Israel’s God was the Creator and Sovereign of nature and He would bring the greatest ruler and most powerful nation in the world to her knees.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Call to Our God, He is The LORD of Creation! (Exodus 7-8)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 7-8, Psalm 21, and Matthew 21. Our Bible devotional is from Exodus 7-8.

Exodus 6:28-7:13 records the second confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh.  Of Pharaoh we read, “But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and stubborn and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said” (Exodus 7:13).  The stage is set for ten judgments identified as ten plagues that will gradually bring Pharaoh to yield his will to the will of the LORD God of Israel (7:14-12:36).

Realizing today’s scripture reading is limited to Exodus 7-8, I will list briefly four of the ten plagues that troubled Egyptian households, but from which the Hebrews living in Goshen were spared (8:22-23).

1) The Nile and waters turn to blood and fish die. (7:19-25)

2) Frogs die and the stench of their dead carcasses fill Egyptian households. (8:1-15)

3) Lice, most likely gnats or other biting insects, afflict the Egyptians. (8:16-19)

4) Flies distress the people (8:20-24). Today’s Egypt has biting “dog flies” (probably similar to “deer flies” that inhabit southeastern United States).

Here’s a question to ponder: Why did the Lord bring plagues upon Egypt?  Why did God not simply defeat Egypt and deliver His people out of slavery?  I believe the answer to those questions is twofold.

The first, God’s desire was to break Pharaoh’s will so he would allow the Hebrews to depart out of Egypt.  The second, the plaques demonstrated to the Hebrews that their God was Lord of creation Whom they could trust.  It is that knowledge, the personal, demonstrative knowledge of the LORD that will strengthen and carry them through the Red Sea and the Wilderness to the Promise Land.

Pharaoh offered to compromise with Moses and permit the people to sacrifice to the LORD in Egypt (Exodus 8:25).  Moses wisely refused to yield God’s will to please the king, stating the sacrifices would offend the Egyptians (8:26-27).

Pharaoh offered a second compromise, begged Moses to pray for the LORD to remove the flies out of the land, and he would allow the Israelites to depart and offer sacrifices (8:28-31).  Moses prayed and God removed the flies; however, “Pharaoh hardened his heart” and would not “let the people go” (8:32).

The LORD’s answer to Moses’ prayer reminds us He hears and answers the prayers of His people.  Pharaoh’s response is typical of many who, cry to the LORD in times of trouble, but when the distress passes they turn from Him and return to their sinful ways putting their souls in peril.

2 Chronicles 15:2a– “…The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith