Category Archives: Law

Warning: You Will Reap What You Sow! (Ezekiel 35)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 35

After prophesying against the spiritual shepherds of Israel, for they had put themselves before the welfare of the people (Ezekiel 34:2-6), Ezekiel prophesied “against mount Seir” (a name for the region of Edom, 35:2). The Edomites, descendants of Esau, the brother of the patriarch Jacob, were located in the region southeast of Israel, and south of the Dead Sea. They had despised Israel and Judah, and were guilty of taking pleasure in the sorrows and sufferings of those nations.

Ezekiel 35

The LORD came to Ezekiel, and commanded His prophet to prophesy against Edom, saying, “Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O mount Seir [Edom], I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. 4I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord” (35:3-4). Following the destruction of Edom as a people and nation, their land would be left uninhabited, and their cities laid waste, that they might know the God of Israel was “the LORD” (35:4).

The Edomites Hated God’s People (35:5-9)

They were related to the tribes through the line of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, and were sons of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Edom had a long history of hatred and violence against the children of Israel. The Edomites had shed the blood of Israel, and provoked God’s wrath (35:5). The LORD therefore, determined the blood of Edom would be shed, the people killed, and their land left desolate (35:6-7). The slaughter of the people would be so complete, it was foretold the mountains, valleys, and hills would be filled with the bodies of the slain (35:7-9). The cities of Edom would not be rebuilt, and the people would know that which was done was of the LORD (35:9).

The Edomites Coveted Israel’s Inheritance (35:10-11)

Taking pleasure in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jews being led away captive to Babylon, the Edomites claimed the land the LORD had given Israel and Judah as an inheritance (35:10). Through His prophet, the LORD declared the Edomites would reap what they had sown, and the LORD would glorify His name in their judgment (35:11).

The Edomites Slandered Israel, and Defied God (35:12-14)

Edom mocked and scorned the “mountains of Israel” (i.e., the leaders of Israel). When Jerusalem fell, the Edomites rejoiced and aspired to claim the land for themselves (35:12). They boasted against Israel’s God, and provoked Him to declare, “I have heard them” (35:13).

Having provoked the wrath of the LORD, Ezekiel declared the nations of the earth would rejoice when Edom was left desolate (35:14). The prophet Malachi would look back upon the judgment of Edom, and remember the LORD declared, “I hated Esau (Edom), and laid his mountains and his heritage waste” (Malachi 1:3).

Closing thoughts (35:15) – Edom took pleasure in the overthrow of Jerusalem, and the desolation of Israel and Judah. The LORD, being just, declared the Edomites would suffer the same sorrows (35:15a).  What Edom (“mount Seir, and all Idumea)” had sown as a nation, they would reap, to the end the people would know the God of Israel was Sovereign and that He was “the LORD” (35:15b).

Times change, and nations come and go, but the principle of Sowing and Reaping is a constant, immutable truth.

Galatians 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

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, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

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.

“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.

“The LORD Shall Judge His People” (Ezekiel 4; Ezekiel 5)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 4; Ezekiel 5

Continuing our chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the introductory chapters of “The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.” Ezekiel 1 records God’s call to a young priest named Ezekiel (1:1-3), and details his testimony of the sight of God’s glory sitting on His heavenly throne (1:26-28). The LORD spoke directly to Ezekiel in chapter 2, and commissioned him to be His prophet to the captives of Judah living in Babylon (2:3). Forewarned the children of Israel were “ a rebellious nation” (2:3), Ezekiel was commissioned to speak the words of the LORD and “not be afraid” of the people (2:6), “whether they [would] hear, or whether they [would] forebear” (2:7).

Ezekiel 4 – The Coming Judgment Against Judah and Jerusalem

From the setting in Ezekiel 4, we understand Jerusalem was under siege, but not yet fallen to Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Remembering Ezekiel was living in Babylon, he and the people were anxious for news from Jerusalem. The LORD came to Ezekiel, and in dramatic fashion, commanded the prophet to symbolically portray the siege of Jerusalem.

As a sign of the siege, Ezekiel was instructed to draw a map of the city on a clay tile, and create around it a mound of soil symbolic of the fortifications Babylon raised up against Jerusalem (4:1-3). Taking an iron pan, he placed it between himself and the walls of the city he built. Leaving no doubt as to the certainty of God’s judgment, the prophet was commanded to lie on his left side facing his model of the city for 390 days (4:4). Each day represented a year of God’s judgment against Israel, with the ten northern tribes being the first taken into captivity. The prophecy was thus, Israel would be judged by God 390 years for her sins (4:5).

Ezekiel was then to lie on his right side, and face his model of Jerusalem for 40 days (again, a day representing a year of God’s judgment, 4:6-7). He was instructed to be bound, symbolizing the people of Jerusalem would be bound and led away into captivity (4:8).

The Sufferings and Afflictions of Jerusalem (4:9-17)

Ezekiel would not see the suffering of Jerusalem, but the LORD made him to know the sorrow that would befall the people. Because the siege of the city would cut off the importation of food, Ezekiel was instructed to observe a meager diet, serving as a symbol of Jerusalem’s famine (4:9-12).

The LORD then commanded Ezekiel to consume the unclean, defiled food of the Gentiles, serving as a symbol of the desperate hunger of the people (4:13). The prophet protested, saying he had never eaten that which the law declared unclean (4:14; Deuteronomy 12:15-18; 14:3-21). He was also instructed to use human waste as fuel for a fire to bake bread, something that was forbidden by the law (4:15; Deuteronomy 23:9-14). All this was meant to serve as a symbol of the desperate suffering of Jerusalem (4:16-17).

Ezekiel 5 – The Signs of Jerusalem’s Humiliation and Judgment

To illustrate God’s judgment against Jerusalem, the LORD commanded Ezekiel to shave his head and beard (signs of sorrow and humiliation). He was then instructed to divide his hair in three-parts (5:1), and illustrate the imminent fall and suffering of Jerusalem. Each part of his hair served as a symbolic portrayal for how the people would perish.

He was instructed to burn one part of his hair, symbolizing the people perishing by fire, and disease (5:2a, 12a). He was to scatter a second portion of his hair, portraying one-third of Jerusalem’s inhabitant would die by the sword (5:2b,12b). The third part of his hair, was to be bound in the hem of his robe, a testimony that a remnant of Jerusalem’s population would be spared (5:3, 12c). Of that remnant, however, some would be slain (5:3-4). (As noted in in earlier readings in 2 Kings 25:22-26, and Jeremiah 40:9-12.)

Why did the LORD judge Jerusalem? (5:5-17)

 The inhabitants of Jerusalem were guilty of three great sins. They were chosen by God, blessed with His Law and Commandments, and His presence (represented in His Temple), but the people had broken covenant with the LORD, and rejected His judgments. In doing all this, their wickedness exceeded the heathen nations (5:6-8).

Having rejected the LORD, the people worshipped idols, and in the depths of their depravity turned to cannibalism, as “fathers [did] eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons [did] eat their fathers” (5:9-10). Lastly, they had defiled the Temple, and erected and worshiped idols within the holy sanctuary (5:11-12).

Closing thoughts – Jerusalem’s destruction served as testimony of God’s righteous indignation (5:13). The ruins of the city would become a reproach for the sins and wickedness of God’s people, and served as a warning to other nations (5:14-15).

For 21st century believers, we should remember what befell Jerusalem is a reminder God is just, His Word is true and what He promises will come to pass (5:16-17). Every generation must remember, “Vengeance belongeth unto [the LORD] and no sin shall go unpunished (Hebrews 10:30b). “The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30c-31).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Prophecies of Judgment Against the Gentile Nations (Jeremiah 46; Jeremiah 47)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 46; Jeremiah 47

With today’s Scripture reading, the focus of Jeremiah’s prophecies shifts from the remnant of Judah to the Gentile nations, all of whom would fall before Nebuchadnezzar and his army. Under that king, Babylon became a world empire, defeating its neighboring nations in rapid succession.

In the closing chapters of Jeremiah, God revealed to His prophet the humiliating defeat Egypt would suffer (Jeremiah 46), and the demise of the Philistines (Jeremiah 47). The nation of Moab also fell to Babylon’s sword (Jeremiah 48), and was followed by the Ammonites (Jeremiah 49:1-6) and Edomites (Jeremiah 49:7-22). Syria became a vassal state of Babylon (Jeremiah 49:23), as did several tribes of the Arabian desert (Jeremiah 49:28-39). Lastly, Jeremiah’s prophecies concluded with revelations concerning Babylon’s future, its decline, and overthrow by the Medo-Persians (Jeremiah 50-52).

Jeremiah 46 – A Prophecy Concerning Egypt

Remembering how Egypt swore a treaty with Judah, Pharaoh led his army out of Egypt and came against Nebuchadnezzar’s army that was laid in siege against Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar heard the Egyptian force was come up against him, he ordered his army to withdraw from Jerusalem and attack the Egyptians.

Babylon’s army crushed the Egyptian soldiers, many of whom were hired mercenaries (46:5, 9). Though armed with shield and sword and skilled as archers, those soldiers learned no nation could stand before an enemy when the LORD sets “a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries” (46:10). The blood of God’s vengeance could not be satisfied, and no medicines could heal the wounds Egypt suffered (46:11). So great was the defeat, Egypt’s soldiers stumbled over each other in their flight (46:12, 16).

The LORD then commanded Jeremiah to declare in Egypt, that the LORD had determined “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt” (46:13). Several metaphors were given to warn Egypt of the humiliating defeat that nation would suffer: Egypt would be like a cow facing the butcher (46:20), and a snake scurrying for safety (46:22). Babylon would afflict Egypt like trees felled by an axe, a forest facing with locusts (46:23), or a daughter raped and disgraced (46:24);

Three Reasons for God’s Judgment (46:25-28)

Egypt would not be spared the wrath of the LORD for the people were guilty of idolatry, they had been led astray by her leaders, and they had placed their trust in evil men (46:25-26). Yet, though other nations would be decimated by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, Egypt would be spared annihilation and remained inhabited (46:26). Perhaps the explanation for Egypt’s reprieve was the presence of a remnant of Judah that dwelled in that land (46:26-28).

Closing thoughts (46:27-28) – The LORD had not forgotten His wayward people, nor set aside His covenant with Israel. The LORD commanded Jeremiah to declare to His people, “be not dismayed, O Israel…I will save thee from afar off28Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, Saith the Lord: for I am with thee; For I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: But I will not make a full end of thee, But correct [chasten] thee in measure; Yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished” (46:27-28).

Jeremiah 47 – A Prophecy Concerning the Philistines

Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the Gentiles continued in chapter 47, and the Philistines are the focus. We read, “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (47:1). Consider the last phrase, “before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (47:1b). Why Pharaoh attacked Gaza is not stated; however, perhaps that Philistine stronghold served as a defense for the Egyptian army as it retreated from Judah to its country.

The Rise of the Chaldean Army: Like Flood Waters (47:2-5)

Nebuchadnezzar’s army was pictured as rising flood waters from the north, that flowed over the land devastating everything and killing everyone in its path (47:2). The swiftness and devastation of the Babylonian army was described as “the noise of the stamping of the hoofs…At the rushing of his chariots” (47:3). Philistine’s fathers were said to be so overcome with fear, they failed to look back and wait upon their children (47:3). Philistine cities fell before Nebuchadnezzar, and the men shaved their heads as a sign of humiliation, defeat and mourning (47:5).

Closing thoughts (47:6-7) – Jeremiah’s prophecy against the Philistines concluded with the prophet asking, Lord, how long before your sword is satisfied, and you put it in the “scabbard, [to] rest, and be still” (47:6). Even as he asked the question, the prophet was reminded, God’s sword is a symbol of judgment, and it has purpose and work as long as the LORD has appointed it to do its work (47:7).

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.

Warning: God Gives a Nation the Leaders It Deserves (2 Kings 24)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 24

Our Scripture reading returns to the book of 2 Kings where our study picks up the narrative of events that are the background of God’s judgment against Jerusalem.

Remember how Jehoiakim, the third to the last king of Judah, burned Jeremiah’s scroll warning the destruction of Jerusalem was imminent? (Jeremiah 36:20-24) The prophet warned the king his evil deeds would bring God’s judgment upon Judah (Jeremiah 36:29-31). Yet, the king continued in his sin, “and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kings 23:37).

2 Kings 24

Returning to 2 Kings 24, we find Jehoiakim king in name only, for he was now a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, and subject to the whims and demands of the king of Babylon. Jehoiakim, as foolish as he was evil, set his heart against the king of Babylon and “rebelled against him” (24:1). Nebuchadnezzar responded to Jehoiakim’s rebellion, and sent mercenary raiders against Judah, to destroy the nation as the LORD “spake by His servants the prophets” (24:2). Daniel records the same in his book where we read, “1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it” (Daniel 1:1).

The LORD had not forgotten the sins of Manasseh and his lineage, and how Judah had shed “innocent blood,” sacrificing their sons and daughters (24:3-4). (The slaughter of the innocent ones, and the fact “the LORD would not pardon” that sin should give 21st century nations pause. Surely abortion of the unborn in our day is no less egregious in the eyes of God, and as demanding of His judgment.)

Jehoiakim died (24:5), and was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin. Then, Nebuchadnezzar “came up against Jerusalem” (24:10), and the king of Judah surrendered and was taken to Babylon after reigning for three months (24:8-12). Fulfilling all the LORD had foretold, Nebuchadnezzar “carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord” (24:13).

Determined to remove any threat of another uprising, Nebuchadnezzar “carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land” (24:14). Numbered among the captives was the royal household (24:15), the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1), and “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:6). In addition to the poor who were able to till the land and harvest crops (24:14; Jeremiah 40:10), there were some who escaped Jerusalem and fled to neighboring nations (Jeremiah 40:8).

Zedekiah, the Last King of Judah (24:17-20)

Jehoiakim, was succeeded by his uncle, “Mattaniah his father’s brother,” whom Nebuchadnezzar appointed and changed his name to Zedekiah (24:17). He was a mere  21 years old when he became king, and “reigned eleven years in Jerusalem” (24:18).

Closing thoughts – Young and foolish, Zedekiah was left with an impoverished nation that lacked leadership, and the skills for government and war. Zedekiah was the end of a long line of foolish, wicked kings. Like the kings before him, he did “evil in the sight of the LORD” (24:19), and “rebelled against the king of Babylon” (24:20). To rebel against Nebuchadnezzar was the height of folly; however, we will see in our next devotional that was the path chosen by Zedekiah (2 Kings 25).

Remembering history is “His Story,” I am convinced God gives a nation the leaders it deserves. Surely that is as true in our day, as it was in Judah’s day.

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 Suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53) – (republished for today’s Passover\Good Friday observance)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 continues the prophetic portrait of God’s suffering “servant” that began in Isaiah 52 with this astonishing description: “many were astonied [appalled; horrified] at thee; His visage [appearance] was so marred [disfigured] more than any man, And his form [appearance] more than the sons of men” (52:14).

Isaiah’s prophecy foretold the sorrows (53:1-3), suffering (53:4-9), and sacrificial death of the Messiah (53:10-12), and as you will see, it is in harmony with the description of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross found in the Gospels.

The Messiah’s Suffering (53:1-3)

The unbelief of the Jews was foretold in verse 1, where we read, “Who hath believed our report [message]?” (53:1; John 12:38-41; Romans 10:16)

Isaiah 53:2 revealed the coming Messiah would have a humble demeanor. Isaiah states that He shall have “no form nor comeliness [no natural beauty]; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty [natural beauty] that we should desire him.” Though His coming was foretold by the prophets, Isaiah revealed He would be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows” (53:3).

The Messiah’s Substitutionary Atonement (53:4-5, 7-9)

The LORD stated to Ezekiel, “Behold, all souls are mine…the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Knowing all men and women are sinners, and the penalty of sin is death, how might God’s mercy, and His demand for justice be satisfied? The answer to that most important question is found in Isaiah 53.

Consider six ways in which the Messiah would satisfy God’s judgment and the penalty of man’s sin. (53:4-9)

1) The Messiah would bear and carry “our griefs, and… our sorrows [punishment]“ (53:4a). He was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (53:4b; Philippians 2:8).

2) He would suffer our wounds, was chastened for our sins, and God placed the full weight of our sins upon Him: “He was wounded [defiled; polluted] for ourtransgressions [our rebellion against God’s law], he was bruised [beaten] for our iniquities [guilt; wicked, crooked ways]: the chastisement [reproof; correction for] of our peace was upon him” (53:5a).

3) He would be scourged, and bear the “stripes [wounds, blows]” we deserved (53:5). Under Jewish law, the condemned would receive 39 lashes. Under Roman law, whose jurisdiction Christ was judged, scourging was so brutal some men died before they suffered the fate of the cross.

4) The Messiah would be treated unjustly, but never protest the injustices He would suffer: “He was oppressed [driven like a beast], and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter [to be sacrificed], and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (53:7; John 1:29; Matthew 26:63; 27:14; 1 Peter 2:23).

5) The Messiah would be rushed to judgment: “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people [Israel] was he stricken” (53:8). Jewish law required two days reprieve before execution; thus, giving opportunity for new evidence to come to light, the family to visit, and the condemned to search his soul. Under Roman law; however, Jesus was shown no mercy and was crucified on the day He was tried (John 18:12, 24; 19:16).

6) The Messiah would make “his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (53:9). Christ fulfilled that prophecy in exact detail. He was crucified on the cross in the midst of two thieves (John 19:31), and His lifeless body was buried in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60).

The Messiah’s Death Satisfied God’s Judgment (53:4, 6, 10)

The Messiah would die, not for His sins, but for our sins. Isaiah prophesied, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows [punishment]: yet we did esteem [pass judgment upon Him in ignorance] him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted [as one with leprosy]” (53:4).

The Messiah was to bear the guilt and burden of our sins, for “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:6; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).

Closing thoughts – Like an innocent sacrificial lamb, the Messiah had done nothing to deserve death, for “he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” [not sinned in word or action]” (53:9b). The Messiah’s death would satisfy God’s judgment, for “it pleased the LORD to bruise [crush] Him; He hath put Him [Jesus] to grief: when thou shalt make His soul [life] an offering for sin” (53:10a).

In the eternal counsel of the Godhead, it was determined that Christ’s suffering and death would satisfy God’s judgment against sin (53:11; Revelation 13:8).

Why did it please God to crush His Son with the weight of man’s sin? “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)

Christ’s death satisfied the penalty of sin, and His resurrection proved the curse of sin was satisfied. Sin and the grave no longer have the victory.

Romans 10:9 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Who’s to Blame? – Derelict Pastors! (Jeremiah 10; Jeremiah 11)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 10; Jeremiah 11

Our study of the prophecies of Jeremiah continues with our Scripture reading comprising Jeremiah 10-11. Jeremiah 10 will be the focus of today’s devotional commentary.

Assuming Jeremiah was continuing his message “in the gate of the LORD’s house” (Jeremiah 7:2), we pick up our study with the prophet heralding to those who had come to the Temple: “1Hear ye the word which the Lordspeaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, And be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; For the heathen are dismayed at them” (10:1-2).

The heathen of Jeremiah’s day, were a superstitious, fearful lot, who looked to “the signs of the heaven” for wisdom and direction. Jeremiah challenged the people, to not follow the foolish ways of the heathen!

Jeremiah Mocked the Idols Men Worshipped. (10:3-5)

The prophet described the absurdity of men who worship gods of their own making, and imagined them cutting down trees, taking the stock, and then carving and shaping it into an idol they worship (10:3). Such men adorned their gods, overlaying the wood with silver and gold, and taking up hammer and nail to fasten the parts (10:4).

Drawing upon the foolishness of idols, Jeremiah mocked those who worship impotent gods that cannot speak, nor move of their own will (10:5a). Such idols must be borne about, and God’s people have no reason to fear them, for they can do neither evil or good (10:5c).

There is None Like the God of Heaven. (10:6-13)

Contrasting the “brutish and foolish” (stupid and senseless) men who worship idols made by “cunning men” (10:8-9), Jeremiah reminded the people the God of Israel had revealed Himself to them (10:6-7, 10-13).

Lifting his eyes to heaven, Jeremiah worshipped the LORD and declared, the LORD is not a God among many; He is great, mighty, and the Sovereign of the nations (10:6-7a). He is superior, and “there is none like unto [Him]” (10:7b). The LORD is true, living, eternal, and He is a just and righteous judge (10:10).

While the heathen worship idols that have created nothing and will come to nothing (10:11), the God of the Scriptures is the Creator of earth, and by His wisdom, He sustains and knows the breadth of the heavens (10:12). He is the God of nature, for by His voice the waters move, and complete their cycle (evaporation, rain, lightings, and wind, 10:13).

The Natural Man Apart from God and His Revelation (10:14-15)

What is man? He is “brutish in his knowledge,” a foolish, senseless being (10:14a). He is like the idols he has fashioned, vain, and delusional (10:15a), and in the day of God’s judgment he shall perish with his gods (10:15b).

God’s Covenant People (10:16-18)

Unlike the heathen who, left to themselves, were without knowledge and spiritually depraved, the LORD had chosen Israel for His inheritance (10:16). The God of Jacob “is the former [Creator; framer; maker] of all things” (10:16a). The LORD chose Israel as the “rod [the symbol of a tribe or people] of His inheritance” (10:16b). Who is God? “The LORD of hosts is His name” (10:16c), for He is the LORD of all!

Though the LORD had chosen Israel and Judah, they had broken covenant with Him, and He had removed His blessings and protection. Jeremiah declared, “Gather up thy wares” (pack up your belongings), inhabitants of Jerusalem (10:17). The people of Judah, like Israel before them, would be expelled out of the land, and afflicted (10:18).

A Faithful Prophet (10:19-20)

Though Jeremiah would serve as God’s prophet for 40 years, Judah refused to heed his warnings, and spurned his invitations to turn from their sins to the LORD. Yet, he felt the anguish of His people, and cried, “19Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: But I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it” (10:19). He was a preacher who loved the LORD, and cherished His people, but they had become a grief to bear. His own home [“tabernacle”] was destroyed, and there were none to come to his aid (10:20).

Derelict Pastors (10:21-22)

The failure of the people to hear the word of the LORD was not that of His prophet. The pastors, the civic and spiritual leaders, had failed the people (10:21). The pastors of Judah were a “brutish,” foolish, morally depraved lot, and had “not sought the LORD” (10:21a). The people, following their leadership, would not know the blessing of the LORD, and would be scattered among the heathen like sheep lost in the wilderness (10:21b).

Closing thoughts – Jeremiah foretold Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion would come upon Judah, and the cities would be destroyed, and become a haven for “a den of dragons” (jackals; wild beasts, 10:22c). Then, Jeremiah did the one thing you and I can do when we observe the frightening state of our country and world…He prayed (10:23-25).

Jeremiah confessed the natural man is foolish, and finds no wisdom or direction within himself (10:23). He prayed for God’s grace and mercy, saying, “24O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; Not in thine anger…” (10:24). He called upon the LORD to remember how the heathen had abused His people, and to pour out His wrath upon those men who had not known, or called upon Him (10:25).

Oh that God’s people would remember who the LORD is (10:6-13), and pray for His grace and mercy upon our families, friends, and nation (10:23-25).

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 Day of the LORD (Zephaniah 1) – The second of two daily devotionals.

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 35; Zephaniah 1

This is the second of two devotionals for Saturday, April 2, 2022. Our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to Zephaniah, a minor prophet who ministered in Judah during the reign of King Josiah (1:1).

Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, and served during the reign of Josiah (1:1b).  Some suggest the “Hizkiah” mentioned in Zephaniah 1:1 is King Hezekiah; if so, Zephaniah was of that king’s lineage. As noted in previous devotionals, though a child-king, Josiah set his heart to serve the LORD and obey His commandments (2 Chronicles 34:1-3). Perhaps the influence of the prophet Zephaniah was the impetus for the reforms led by the king.

Zephaniah 1 – A prophecy of imminent judgment.

Zephaniah’s pronouncement of God’s judgment was frightening and graphic. He warned Judah, nothing would be spared the wrath of the LORD. Quoting “the word of the LORD” (1:1), Zephaniah prophesied: “I will consume man and beast… fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea…Judah…all the inhabitants of Jerusalem”(1:3-4). The sins and idolatry of Judah demanded God’s judgment, for the people had “turned back from the Lord…[and] not sought the Lord, nor inquired for him” (1:6).

“The Day of the Lord” is an oft repeated phrase in Zephaniah 1, and was a warning of the day of God’s vengeance (1:7, 8, 14, 18).

The wicked would not be spared God’s judgment (1:7-8). The LORD declared He would punish the young leaders (“princes”) and “the king’s children” (1:7-8). Why? They had failed to adorn themselves in the distinctive robes of their offices (perhaps the priesthood) and according to the law (Deuteronomy 6:8). Instead, they were “clothed in strange apparel” (perhaps the fashion of the heathen, or the robes like the priests of Baal and Molech, 2 Kings 10:22).

The Terror of God’s Judgment (1:10-18)

Remember, prophecies often have an immediate and future application. In the immediate, the “day of the LORD” was the day of God’s judgment against Judah, and Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. In the far-reaching implication, the “day of the LORD” is still future and will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ.

Zephaniah 1:10 mentioned “the noise of a cry from the fish gate…and a great crashing from the hills.” The fish gate was the second most important entrance into Jerusalem, with the “Sheep Gate” being the primary gate through which sheep were led to be sacrificed at the Temple. Why was the fish gate important?

The answer is a historical fact: King Nebuchadnezzar passed through the fish gate when Babylon conquered Jerusalem! The destruction of the city, and the captivity of the people would be so thorough it was likened to searching out every crevice of the city with candles (1:12a).

Tragically, the people of Judah lived in denial of the imminent threat of God’s judgment, and said, “The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil” (1:12b). Yet, Zephaniah warned, the strongest men of Judah would be unable to save themselves, and would cry bitterly on the day of God’s judgment (1:14).

Consider the terror of the day of God’s judgment: “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness”(1:15). The trumpets would sound the alarm (1:16), and men would become “like blind men, because they [had]sinned against the LORD” (1:17). Blood of men would be poured out into the streets, and “neither their silver nor their gold [would] be able to deliver them” (1:18).

Closing thought – In spite of the prophet’s warnings, and king Josiah’s effort to call the nation to repent and turn to the LORD, the revival had been short lived.  Soon after Josiah’s death the people returned to idolatry, and the armies of Babylon plundered the land, destroying the Temple and Jerusalem, and leading the people into captivity.

Remember, we will “all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… [and] every knee shall bow to [the LORD], and every tongue shall confess to God. 12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith