Category Archives: Love

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin. (Deuteronomy 30-31)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 30-31

True to the nature of God, having promised in His justice He would punish Israel for breaking covenant with Him (Deuteronomy 29:24-29), He promises in Deuteronomy 31 to be merciful should the people repent and restore them to their land (30:1-14).

Deuteronomy 30 concludes with a strong challenge to Israel to know the Word of the LORD is sure and He will bless the people when they keep His covenant.  However, should they disobey His Laws and Commandments, He will surely bring judgment upon the nation (30:15-20).

Mindful of his own mortality and knowing the days of his earthly sojourn were ending, Moses reminded the nation he is “an hundred and twenty years old” and the LORD had said, “Thou shalt not go over this Jordan” (31:1-2).

In the tone of a loving, aged father who knows his days with his children are concluding, Moses encouraged the people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not” (31:6).  The same God who delivered Israel out of Egypt and preserved them in the wilderness will “not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (31:6).

Moses publicly affirmed Joshua’s ordination “in the sight of all Israel” (31:7-8) and challenged the spiritual leaders of the nation to be the custodians and teachers of the LORD’s Law and keep the Law and Commandments before the people (31:9-13).

Reminded God is Omniscient, the LORD revealed to Moses that after his death, the people would break their covenant with Him and “go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land” (31:14-18).  The power and influence of worship music is shown when the LORD commanded Moses to write a song to remind the people of their covenant with the LORD (31:19-22).

Deuteronomy 31 concludes with Moses giving a final charge to Joshua as he assumes the leadership of the nation (31:23).  Gathering the people, Moses challenged the Levites to take the record of the LORD’s Law and “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (31:24-26).

There are many lessons we might take from today’s scripture reading; however, the one that strikes a chord with me is:

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin.

At one hundred and twenty years old, Moses was “feeling his age” and was conscious of the inevitableness of his death.  The pressures of leading a rebellious people “forty years in the wilderness” and old age had taken its toll on the man (29:5).

Moses confessed, “I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in” (31:2).  “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” (31:14).   We read again, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers” (31:16).

Moses was old and frail; however, the fire of his convictions and dedication to the LORD had not abated. 

I am afraid the same cannot be said of my generation.  There is a growing tolerance of sin and carnality in Christian homes, Bible preaching churches, Christian schools, Bible colleges and universities.  In an effort to appease rebellious children in their own households, leaders of my generation are compromising spiritual disciplines and precepts of the ministries they are leading.

The fears Moses expressed in Deuteronomy 31:29 are, I believe, a foreshadow of what will become of many fundamental churches, schools, and institutions.

Deuteronomy 31:29 – “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”

How about you, my friend? Does the fire of godly convictions still burn in your spirit and soul?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Moral Foundation of Societal Laws (Deuteronomy 21-23)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 21-23

We find in today’s scripture reading the basis from which we derive our societal views on the sanctity of life, compassion, and decency. Signs of moral decay are around us; however, there are glimpses of compassion, rightness, and a sense of justice that continues to prevail.

Our neighbors may be ignorant of the source of their outrage when animals are mistreated, the weak are abused, or women are victims of violence. In today’s scripture you will discover the moral basis of justice and our conviction that demands kindness and fairness.

Moral Decency and Compassion (Deuteronomy 21)

Deuteronomy 21 sets forth various laws Israel was to follow. The sanctity of human life is demonstrated in the regard of a slain man whose body was discovered with no witnesses to identify his killer (21:1-9).

The just treatment of an alien woman taken as the spoil of war is addressed and the dignity of womanhood was demanded (21:10-12). Should a Hebrew man take a foreign woman as his wife, she was to be given a season of mourning (21:13). Should the husband later declare he did not desire her, she was to be treated with dignity and not to be sold as a slave. She was to be granted her freedom (21:14).

The birthright of inheritance as a firstborn son was established (21:15-17). The firstborn son’s right of a double inheritance could not be diminished, even if he was born to a least favored wife. He was his father’s firstborn and his privilege could not be reduced.

The nation was to be intolerant of rebellion in its youth (21:18) and a rebellious, stubborn son given to gluttony and drunkenness was to be put to death by the men of the city after due process (21:19-21).

Love Thy Neighbor (Deuteronomy 22)

There are many life principles we follow as a nation that originate in the Old Testament scriptures. What we consider civil behavior has its roots in Old Testament laws.  For example, your neighbors might try to find and return a stray pet to its owner. That compulsion is founded in the Israelite law that a man was required to preserve his neighbor’s property, have compassion on stray livestock (22:1-2), and hold a lost object until it was claimed by its owner (22:3).

A militant movement in the 21st century has attempted to normalize “transsexualism,” but God’s law addressed this aberration of His divine order and demanded the dress and fashion of the male and female to be distinctive (22:5).

Remembering God is Creator and life is sacred, the Israelites were to value and preserve life; even the smallest bird and her nestlings were to be treated with compassion (22:6-7).

Traditional homes in the Middle East were flat roofed and families would escape the interior heat of a home by seeking refuge on the roof at night. Demonstrating the sacred nature of human life, a “battlement” or low wall was required on the roof to prevent accidental falls that would result in injury and death (22:8).

Unlike the heathen, Hebrew women were given protections and the right of due process should their purity and testimony be called into question (22:13-21).  Practical laws and guidelines regarding the sanctity and purity of marriage were stated and adultery and rape were condemned (22:13-30). Incest was prohibited and was an abomination to God (22:30).

Deuteronomy 23

Males who underwent sexual mutilation (23:1), such as what you and I might identify as “sex change” in the 21st century, were to be put out from God’s people.

The rights of inheritance and those prohibited to have any inheritance in Israel are listed (23:2-8). Principles concerning hygiene and sanitation are enumerated, even the use of a shovel to cover human waste was endorsed (23:12-14).

A slave fleeing a foreign master was to be given safe haven in Israel (23:15-16) and female whores and sodomite men were to be excluded from the nation (23:17-18).

A Hebrew was forbidden to charge interest (usury) on a loan to another Hebrew; however, interest was allowed when loaning to a non-Hebrew (23:19-20).

Principles concerning vows are stated: 1) Making a vow is binding and is not to be entered into lightly and when failed is a sin (23:21). 2) In fact, it is better to not make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it (23:22-23).

Finally, we notice a lesson in civility and an expression of compassion for others: Strangers were permitted to eat fruit in vineyards and fields as they passed by; however, they were forbidden to employ a vessel to carry more than they could eat at one time (23:24-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Whole Duty of Man (Deuteronomy 8-10)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 8-10

Remembering Israel is at the entrance to the Promised Land, and knowing he will not accompany them when they invade, one senses an urgency in Moses’ challenge to the people.

It was important for those who stood before Moses to remember how the LORD had sustained them as a nation. Remember His commandments and providential care. Remember He had preserved them, even down to their raiment and sandals (8:4). Remember, as a father chastens the son he loves, the LORD had chastened and tried them (8:5) that they might fear and revere Him as their God (8:6).

Knowing the land was all the Lord promised (8:7-9); Moses warned that some would forget the LORD and boast in their hearts, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (8:14-17).

Is that not like you and me? When we are in trouble, facing trials and have needs, we earnestly call out to the LORD. However, when we have no needs and there is no crisis, we are tempted to be proud and self-sufficient.

Moses reminded the people the land the LORD promised to give them was occupied by nations “greater and mightier” (9:1-2) than Israel.  The LORD promised to give Israel victory, not because they were more righteous or powerful than their enemies, but because the LORD was with them (9:3-5).

Moses reviewed several historical examples of how difficult and proud the people had been during their forty-year journey in the wilderness. He rehearsed how their wickedness had provoked him to wrath and he had cast the LORD’s Commandments to the ground (9:17). When the LORD threatened to destroy the nation in his wrath, Moses had interceded and God answered His prayer and spared the nation (9:7-29).

Deuteronomy 10 continues Moses’ account of the LORD’S mercy and Him renewing His covenant and inscribing His Commandments on stone a second time (10:1-5). Moses challenged the people to obey the LORD with five imperatives:

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fearthe LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Who is the God of Israel (10:14-22)?

He is the Creator (10:14).  He is “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [i.e. to be feared]”.  He is Just (10:15-18).

The LORD could have chosen any nation; however, He chose Abraham and his lineage.  He chose Israel, not because they were greater (for the LORD “regardeth not persons”), but in an act of grace He chose to “love them” (10:15, 17).

What was Israel’s duty in light of God’s grace and love? (10:20)

Solomon summed up a believer’s duty in this:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Gender Roles and Spiritual Synergy (Numbers 35-36)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 35-36

Twelve tribes have been assigned their portion in the Promised Land (34:16-29); however, the priestly tribe of Levi was not assigned an inheritance in the land.  Instead, forty-eight cities in the midst of the lands apportioned to the other tribes were allotted to the Levites (35:1-5).

Of the forty-eight cities assigned, six were to serve as cities of refuge to which a man accused of slaying another might flee to seek justice (35:6-34).

The Book of Numbers ends on an interesting note as a concern arises regarding the matter of inheritance when a man would die and have no son to be his heir.

Though often maligned by secularists and assailed by militant women, the Scriptures prove in Numbers 36 the LORD’s sensitivity to justice and fairness in a family, and in this instance, two unmarried daughters whose father had no son to be his heir (36:1-4).

There was concern what would become of tribal lands when a man had no son. It was argued the lands assigned to a tribe would be lost should a man’s daughters marry outside their tribal bloodlines. The dilemma was solved by requiring daughters who were heirs to marry within the tribe of their father (36:5-9), thereby keeping the land within the tribe.

Numbers 36 concludes with the “daughters of Zelophehad” being assured of their inheritance in the land and their submitting to the LORD’s will that they marry men within their tribal bloodline, securing the inheritance for future generations of their tribe (36:10-13). The context of the matter of a man’s heirs and the rights of his daughters began in Numbers 27 and concludes in Numbers 36

The decision that a daughter had a right of inheritance in the absence of a son was a radical one for ancient times since women were viewed as less than men in matters of culture and inheritance.

As late as the 20th and early 21st century, the majority of women lived in oppressive conditions in the world; however, such was not to be the case among God’s people.

Lesson – The church and believers must recognize that, though gender roles differ, there is to be a spiritual synergy between male and female, husband and wife.

When a man accepts that woman was created, not as his servant, but as his helpmeet (suitable helper), and companion (Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:25) and the woman recognizes her role is fulfilled in following her husband’s lead (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:23-24), there is harmony, respect, and peace in the home and the church (Ephesians 5:31-33).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Restitution, Adultery, Sacred Vows, and Blessings (Numbers 5-6)

Daily reading assignment – Numbers 5-6

While the Commandments of the LORD are recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, the specifics for addressing disease and sin in the midst of the people is given in Numbers 5.  The LORD required His people to be a clean and holy people. Contagious diseases like leprosy were not tolerated in the camp (Numbers 5:1-4).

Saying, “I’m sorry” was not enough. (Numbers 5:5-10)

Justice was demanded when one’s actions caused another to suffer loss (5:5-6).  The need to “own” the hardships and consequences of one’s sin is illustrated.

Three steps of “making right one’s wrong” are stated.  The first, “confess their sin which they have done” (5:7a). The second, restitution, making the one who suffered loss whole (“recompense his trespass with the principal” – 5:7b). Finally, giving one-fifth more above the loss (5:7c).

Adultery and “the Law of Jealousies” (Numbers 5:11-31)

Knowing marriage is a holy covenant instituted by God between one man and one woman, the nation was intolerant of adultery and an adulterous man and woman might be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).

In Numbers 5, a man suspects his wife of adultery; however, there was no witness to her sin (5:12). Presenting his wife before the priest, the husband would state his suspicions (5:14-15). Because adultery is not only a sin against one’s spouse, but also a sin against the LORD, the priest set the wife accused of adultery “before the LORD” (5:16).

The priest was to take a clay vessel of water, put dust from the tabernacle floor in the water, and demand the accused drink the “bitter water” (5:17-20).  Stating an oath, the priest asked the wife to drink the water, charging her should she be guilty of adultery, the Lord would cause female organs “to rot, and thy belly to swell” (5:21, 27).

Should an accused wife be innocent, she was assured of the Lord’s blessings and her fertility to bear children (5:28).

The Law of the Nazarite (Numbers 6)

Vows to the LORD are sacred; however, the vow of the Nazarite was especially sacred and binding for the man or woman who voluntarily set themselves apart from lawful liberties and dedicated themselves to the LORD for as little as 30 days and as much as a lifetime (6:1-8).

Nazarites denied themselves the pleasures of “wine and strong drink…vinegar…[and] grapes” (6:3).   As an outward sign of devotion to God, a Nazarite male did not cut his hair (6:5).  Nazarites were also forbidden to touch dead bodies (6:6-8).

The Aaronic (Priestly) Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26)

We close today’s devotional with a three-step blessing known as the Aaronic Blessing.  This is my prayer for my family, church, and my “Heart of a Shepherd” family.

Numbers 6:24-26 – “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee [guard, protect, and preserve]: 25  The LORD make his face [countenance] shine [be a light] upon thee, and be gracious [favor; i.e. merciful] unto thee: 26  The LORD lift up his countenance [face] upon thee, and give thee peace [safe; well; whole].”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Lived Like a Sinner, But He Died a Prince (Genesis 46-47)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 46-47

Today’s scripture reading follows the amazing news that Joseph is alive and rules in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh (Genesis 45:25-28).  Accepting Pharaoh’s gracious offer to provide refuge from the famine for his family (45:16-19), Joseph instructed his brothers to bring his father and their families to Egypt.

Setting his heart to journey to Egypt and be reunited with Joseph; Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) last stop before entering the Arabian Peninsula, the gateway to Egypt, was Beersheba (Genesis 46:1).  There he worshipped “the God of his father Isaac” and was assured the Lord’s covenant promises would follow his family into Egypt and they would one day be restored to their land (46:2-4).

One hundred and thirty years old, the sinful deceiving ways of his youth are past and the demeanor of the old man reflects the name he now bears, “Israel…Prince with God.” Jacob’s family roster, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, is recorded in Genesis 46:8-27.

Twenty-two years has passed since Jacob last embraced Joseph and their emotional reunion is described: “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while” (46:29). Preparing his father and brothers for their audience with Pharaoh, Joseph instructed them on their decorum in the great ruler’s court (46:31-34).

 

Genesis 47 records Pharaoh’s interview with Joseph, his father Israel (aka Jacob), and five of his brothers (47:1-10). 

Remembering Joseph was seventeen years old when his brethren sold him into slavery, God blessed him with his father’s presence another seventeen years after they were reunited in Egypt (47:28).  Knowing the end of his earthly sojourn was at hand, Israel summoned Joseph to his bedside (47:29-31) and humbly expressed one dying wish:

Genesis 47:29b-30 – “29 … If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30  But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace…”

Knowing Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) son was the second most powerful ruler in Egypt, he might have requested a stately funeral; instead, his final request reflected where his heart was…in the land the LORD promised would be the perpetual inheritance of his people (Genesis 12:1).

You and I have an appointment with death and we would do well to ponder where our heart and affections lie.  Egypt was the epicenter of pleasure and wealth in Jacob’s day, but the old man remembered he was a sojourner, a foreigner and his citizenship was in another place.  The same is true for every believer; Jesus promised His followers:

John 14:2-32  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Be sure your sin will find you out! (Genesis 27-29)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 27-29

“Esau the Carnal; Jacob the Conniver” (Genesis 27)

The strife between Jacob and Esau continues in our study of Genesis with Jacob and his mother scheming to steal his brother’s birthright (Genesis 27).  Benefiting from his father’s blindness, Jacob posed as Esau and successfully stole his brother’s birthright (27:18-29).

Learning his birthright was mistakenly given to Jacob, Esau vowed vengeance and determined to murder him (27:41).  Before Esau was able to make good on this threat, Rebekah interceded with Isaac and requested that Jacob be sent away to seek safety and find a wife among her people (27:42-46).

Jacob’s flight from home is recorded in Genesis 28.  Cut off from his parents, family, and land (28:1-5);  Jacob is at the end of himself.  In his flight to Haran, the ancestral home of Abraham (11:31; 28:10), the LORD appeared to Jacob in a dream and assured him he was heir to the covenant promises God made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac (28:11-15).

Traveling east, Jacob came to Haran, and there he met Rachel, the beautiful young woman who would become his wife (29:9-12).  [As a side note, Rachel was Jacob’s cousin and their marriage in our day would be genetically ill advised; however, nearly 4,000 years ago the bloodlines of humanity were free from many of the genetic disorders that plague our day].

Falling in love with Rachel, Jacob soon realized he had met his match in her father Laban who was a notorious schemer in his own right!  Laban required Jacob labor seven years for the right to take Rachel as his wife (29:15-20).  In a beautiful poetic portrait of love, Jacob agreed to the father’s terms and we read the seven years he labored for Rachel’s hand “seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (29:20).

The seven years being ended, Jacob demanded his right to marry Rachel (29:21), but was beguiled by Laban into marrying her elder sister Leah (29:17).  Veiled as a bride, Jacob discovered the morning after his wedding that he had been deceived and had married Leah and not his beloved Rachel (29:24-25).  Demanding his right to marry Rachel, Laban forced Jacob to agree to another seven years of labor for her hand (29:26-30).

A passing phrase in this story forewarns us to the troubles that will follow Jacob’s household in the years ahead: Jacob “loved also Rachel more than Leah” (29:30).

An old idiom reads, “Chickens come home to roost!”  As it is the nature of chickens to roost in their coop each night, it is also true that sinful choices invariably catch up with us all.

Although he was hundreds of miles from home, Jacob fell victim to his father-in-law’s schemes and was reminded of the consequences of his own scheming ways;  Be sure your sins will find you out!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith