Category Archives: Ministry

God Remembered Noah (Genesis 7-8)

Scripture reading – Genesis 7-8

Genesis 6 ended with God commanding Noah to build the Ark, while Genesis 7 begins with Noah being commanded to enter the Ark, leaving us a gap of 120 years between the two chapters. What occupied Noah’s time during those years?

God had revealed to Noah his plan to destroy the earth, and commanded him to build an Ark, giving him the design of that great ship of salvation (6:14-17). Lest there be any doubt of the extent of His judgment, God made Noah to understand that the flood would be universal, destroying “all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die” (6:17).

Now God established a covenant with Noah (6:18), and his family would be saved from the flood waters being spared from God’s judgment; not because they were sinless, but because he was the object of God’s grace (6:8). Knowing He intended to restore the earth after the flood waters receded, God directed Noah to prepare to bring two “of every living thing…into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female” (6:19-20), and to store “food that is eaten… food for thee, and for them” (6:21).

Genesis 6 concluded with Noah doing “according to all that God commanded him” (6:22). Here was a man of faith; a man who had not experienced a rainfall (for the waters were still in the firmament encircling the earth, 1:7), now building a massive ship, and preaching an imminent judgment (2 Peter 2:5).

Genesis 7 – “All Aboard!”

The day came when the preacher’s sermons fell silent, and the work on the Ark was complete; “And the Lordsaid unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation” (7:1).

In addition to the male and female of each “kind” and “every sort” being saved from the flood waters (6:19-20), we read that Noah was commanded to lead into the Ark seven “of every clean beast” (7:2-3), which we know he will later sacrifice in an act of worship and thanksgiving when the flood waters recede (8:20). Noah was 600 years old “when the flood of waters” began, and he “did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (7:5-6, 16). With Noah, his family, and all the animals safe in the Ark, “the LORD shut [Noah] in” (7:16), and the waters that had been preserved in the earth since creation were “broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (7:11-12).

All was destroyed, and all “flesh died that moved upon the earth…and every man” (7:21), and “Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (7:23).

Genesis 8 – God Remembered Noah

After a year of devastating storms and floodwaters, and after a year of confinement in the Ark, the Scriptures simply state, “God remembered Noah” (8:1).

In the midst of His wrath, and the greatest cataclysmic event to ever come upon the earth, God remembered one man and his family. The world Noah had known was destroyed, and every man, woman, boy, and girl were perished in the waters. Three hundred and seventy days after the rains began, Noah was commanded, “16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee” (8:16).

Closing thoughts: Noah’s first act after disembarking from the Ark was to build an altar and offer sacrifices to God (8:20-21a). The LORD’s first act was to accept Noah’s sacrifice, and make a covenant with the man and his family (8:21b-22). Noah’s sacrifice acknowledged his sin, and need of a substitute, while God’s covenant served as His promise to extend His mercy, and promise to never again destroy the earth with floodwaters (8:21-22).

With the Ark resting on the slope of Mount Aarat as our backdrop, I close inviting you to picture in your thoughts, Noah and his family, prostrate on their faces before an altar. As the smoke of their offerings ascend to heaven, Noah looks across a valley and sees a beautiful rainbow (9:12-17), its arch appearing to reach toward the very throne of God.

By faith, Noah had entered through the door of the Ark, and God had shut the door, saving Noah and his family. So it is by faith that sinners enter another door, and are saved from the penalty of sins and eternal hell. That door is Jesus Christ who promised, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:7, 11).

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A New Heaven, A New Earth, and A New Jerusalem (Revelations 21-22)

Scripture reading – Revelations 21-22

Today we come to the end of a journey that began 366 days ago (2020 was a leap year, meaning we were blessed last February with an added day, a phenomenal that occurs every four years). Today’s devotional commentary is a monumental milestone for me, as I fulfill a personal goal of writing a daily devotional commentary following a chronological schedule through the Scriptures.

As we come to Revelation 21, let us take a moment and reflect on the events that will come to pass before that chapter.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be observed (19:1-10), and will precede the triumphant Second Coming of Christ (19:11-18). The “beast” (antichrist), and the false prophet will be cast alive into the “lake of fire” (19:19-21). Satan will be chained, and cast into the “bottomless pit” (20:1) where he will be held a thousand years during the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth (20:2-6). When a thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed to wreak havoc on the earth until he is cast into “the lake of fire and brimstone” where he will be forever tormented (20:7-9).

A dreadful, eternal judgment will follow, as the dead who had rejected God’s gift of redemption made possible in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, will appear before The Great White Throne (20:11). Death, hell, and all unbelievers, “small and great [will] stand before God, and will face eternal judgment as they are condemned and “cast into the lake of fire” (20:10-15).

Revelation 21 – A New Heaven, A New Earth, and New Jerusalem

With sin no more, God reveals “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1). The apostle John witnessed “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). Suddenly, there was a “great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (21:3).

Comforted by the presence of God in their midst, John writes, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (21:4). Imagine, no sin, no sorrows, no sufferings, no sickness, and no death!

Much more could be considered in today’s Scripture reading, especially the wonderful description of New Jerusalem (21:9-22:2); however, I will save that great study for another time, and Lord willing, another year.

We began the year with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Today we conclude our year-long study being reminded of something we have seen throughout this year: The Grace of God. John writes,

Revelation 22:21 – “21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Grace: Marvelous, matchless, unmerited. Songwriter Julia Johnston penned the hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” writing:

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Seven Seals and Seven Judgments of Revelation (Revelation 6-11)

Scripture reading – Revelation 6-11

The intensity and breadth of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 6-11) is nearly overwhelming, for the veil of future things is drawn back and we are permitted to see those things that will surely come to pass in that time that is known as The Tribulation (Revelation 6:1-18:24).

The Seven Seals of God’s Judgment (Revelation 6:1-7:17)

We read that “the Lamb” (6:1), Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God, will open or break seven seals. A seal was an instrument that guaranteed the privacy and security of the contents of a letter or other means of communication. A king would use a seal to guarantee the privacy of a letter. A seal might be used by a judge to bind an agreement between two individuals.

Four Seals and Four Horses with Riders

When Jesus Christ, “the Lamb,” breaks the seven seals in Revelation, He does so as the One with authority to unleash God’s judgments and fulfill their purpose. The first four seals are immediately followed by a rider and horse that go forth to judge the earth in an escalation of sorrows.

When the first seal is broken, a rider on a white horse goes forth to conquer and subdue the earth (6:1-2). The second seal is broken, and a rider on a red horse goes forth with a “great sword,” and removes peace from the earth (6:3-4). A third seal is broken, and a black horse and rider are sent and famine follows (6:5-6).

When the fourth seal is broken, a pale horse departs, and its rider identified as “Death, and Hell” (6:7), brings the greatest judgment the earth has faced in the Tribulation. In the wake of the fourth rider’s judgment (6:8), one fourth of the earth’s population is killed (that number today would be one billion nine hundred million souls that would perish).

The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Seals

The fifth seal marks a departure from the symbolism of riders and horses. When “the Lamb” (Jesus Christ) breaks the fifth seal, a heavenly veil is drawn back and the souls of those who have been martyred in the tribulation appear “under the altar” (6:9). We are told they are those who were slain because of their faithfulness to the “word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (6:9).

The sixth seal is broken, and a time of universal judgment begins (6:12-17) that is manifested in “a great earthquake,” the darkening of the sun, the moon appearing as blood (6:12b), and the light of the stars being extinguished (6:13). All men, great and small, will realize the wrath of God is being poured out, and will seek in vain to hide themselves (6:14-17).

Revelation 7 is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, and it is revealed that 144,000 of all the tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, will be chosen to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When “the Lamb” breaks the seventh seal, heaven will fall silent “about the space of half an hour” (8:1). “The seven angels which stood before God” will be given seven trumpets (8:1-2), and the sounding of their trumpets will usher in a time of unimaginable destruction and judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants (8:1-11:19).

Unfortunately, an interpretation of the seven angels, and the seven trumpets that accompany the breaking of the seventh seal will have to wait to another year, and another devotional.

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Beginning of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1-5)

Scripture reading – Revelation 1-5

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the “Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle,” and is both the closing book of the Bible and the final book in our yearlong study of the Scriptures.

The Book of Revelation is just that, a book of prophetic revelations of the future. It is the “Apocalypse,” literally the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ (1:1). It is God’s disclosure to believers; a prophetic insight into not only the future, but also the beginning of the end of this world with its sin and corruption.

Revelation 1:1-3 – The Apostle John’s Prologue

The historical setting of the Revelation is near the end of the first century, and at a time of increasing persecution against the Church. Some sixty years had passed since Jesus ascended to heaven, and the apostle John was an elderly man, perhaps in his 90’s. He is the last of the apostles, the others having been martyred. It was at such an hour that God saw fit to encourage His faithful servant, and the saints of God with a message of HOPE (Revelation 6:10; 8:1-5).

Revelation opens and closes with a special blessing for all who read this book of prophecy. John commences the book of Revelation by exhorting the saints, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3). Revelation concludes with Christ assuring, “Behold, I come quickly” and John promising, “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).

Consider four observations: The Object, The Purpose, The Method, and the Recipient of the Revelation (1:1-2).

The object of the revelation is Jesus Christ and it was given to Him by God the Father (1:1). The purpose of the revelation was to present our LORD in His present and future glory (1:1). The Gospels presented Jesus in His humility; however, in Revelation we see Him in His heavenly glory. In the Gospels, Jesus is the suffering Lamb that was slain, but in Revelation He is Sovereign God who reigns. In the Gospels, He is pierced; in Revelation He is praised. In the Gospels He is condemned; in Revelation He is King and Judge of the earth.

You will notice that the method of the revelation was by an angel (God’s messenger), who was sent to communicate to John all “which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). Finally, as the recipient of the revelation, it was John’s task to be a witness, to “bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony [witness] of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he [John] saw” (1:2).

The Seven Churches of the Revelation (1:4–3:22)

I do not have space to do an exhaustive study of the balance of today’s Scripture reading, however, permit me to briefly direct your attention to the seven churches of revelation that were located in Asia Minor, in what is today modern Turkey (1:4, 11).

Those seven churches are identified by their cities and their spiritual state: The church at Ephesus had departed from the love they once had for the LORD (2:1-7). The church at Smyrna, was enduring persecution (2:8-11). The church at Pergamos, whose doctrine had been corrupted, and its testimony tainted by immorality and worldliness (2:12-17). Thyatira, a church that had a testimony of loving service, faith, and endurance (2:18-19), but had spiritually backslidden and tolerated false teachers (2:18-29).Sardis, its spiritual state was described as living, but “dead” (3:1), and the Lord challenged its members to wake up, and to strengthen themselves before they died (3:2-6). The church at Philadelphia was identified as a faithful church (3:7-13).

Finally, the seventh church of the revelation was the church at Laodicea, infamously described as a proud, wealthy church, but that had become spiritually indifferent and compromised (3:14-22).

Sadly, perhaps of the seven churches, many 21st century churches might need to identify with Laodicea: “Rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (3:17).

Lord, forgive us for our pride, and self-sufficiency. Amen!

* New 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“That You May Know!” (1 John 1-5)

Scripture reading – 1 John 1-5

The First Epistle of John is believed to have been written near the close of the first century (scholars suppose between A.D. 85-90), and in the last years of the apostle’s life. Though John failed to identify himself by name, the beauty and style of the writing is similar to the Gospel of John (where John’s name also does not appear), as well as the Epistles of 2 John and 3 John.

In addition, the historical details presented in the introductory verses were written by a disciple who had intimate knowledge of our Lord. Consider the following eyewitness account regarding the historical evidences of Christ’s incarnation.

1 John 1:1 – “That which was from the beginning [Eternal God], which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” [note John 1:1-3, 14]

With an assertive, apostolic authority, John was writing to the children and grandchildren of first-generation believers. Their parents had been contemporaries of the apostles, and were probably among the first to come to Christ during the missionary travels of the apostle Paul and others. The generation receiving John’s letter would have heard firsthand accounts of Christ’s sufferings, crucifixion, death, and resurrection!

Already, persecution was an ever-present danger; however, there was a greater danger confronting the churches and that was the presence of false teachers within the congregations. There were some professing believers that had departed from the faith, and were tempting others to follow them.

John exposed the characteristics of those pseudo-believers, writing that they “walk in darkness…and do not the truth” (1:6). Some claimed to not be troubled by their sins, and John writes, “the truth is not in [them]”(1:8). Others professed they knew the Lord, but they did not obey His commandments, and John writes of them: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (2:4).

There were those who claimed to love the Lord, but their lives evidenced a love for the world and its sinful pleasures. John rebuked their hypocrisy, writing, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15b).

Realizing there were some sincere believers who were troubled by those who departed from the faith, John declared, “19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (2:19).

John’s epistle was a clear rebuke to the false teachers, and those who were following them. His exposition of the fundamental doctrines of the faith, and the Christ-like traits that should be manifested in the lives of believers, was meant to give sincere believer’s discernment and confidence in their faith.

I close today’s devotional with one of the greatest statements on saving faith, and eternal life:

1 John 5:13 – “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Parting Words (2 Peter; Jude 1)

Scripture reading – 2 Peter 1-3; Jude 1

Today’s chronological reading brings us to two epistles, written by two different authors. The letter known as “The Second Epistle of Peter” (titled in some Bibles, “The Second General Epistle of Peter,” (general meaning it was not addressed to a specific individual or congregation), was written by the apostle Peter who was one of Christ’s twelve disciples.

The second letter is titled, “The General Epistle of Jude,” and bears the name of its author in the title. Bible historians are nearly unanimous in their opinion that Jude was the half-brother of Jesus Christ, the son of Joseph and Mary, and was the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1). This James was most likely the pastor\elder of the congregation in Jerusalem (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 12:17; 21:18-25; Galatians 1:19).

2 Peter probably predates Jude; however, both were likely written in the latter half of the 1st century, and to believers who found themselves in the throes of persecution. I fear 2 Peter and Jude are not well known in today’s churches; however, they are worthy of your time and attention. The scope of this devotional is limited to “The Second Epistle of Peter.”

2 Peter 1 – An Introduction

One senses an urgency in the opening verses of Peter’s brief letter, as he called on believers to grow spiritually, pressing them to manifest the godly virtues that should be evident in the lives of all believers (1:3-7). Impelled by the imminency of his own death, Peter wrote, “14 Knowing that shortly I must put off [lay aside] this my tabernacle [physical body], even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed [modeled; given a pattern] me” (1:14).

Leaving no doubt that he expected Christ’s prophecy of his martyrdom would soon come to pass (John 21:18-19), Peter continued, “15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance” (1:15).

2 Peter 2 – False Teachers and Their Heresies

Knowing he would not have another opportunity to address believers, Peter exhorted, and warned them of the dangers they would soon be facing. He warned that enemies of the Gospel, “false teachers,” would enter the congregations, and bring with them their “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord [Christ] that bought them [i.e. redeemed them with His blood], and bring upon themselves swift destruction [judgment]” (2:1).

Tragically, Peter prophesied that many believers would accept the heresies, and so doing would turn from the truth, and give themselves to all manner of immorality and wickedness (2:2). Those wicked teachers would enrich themselves, and with their lies and insincere professions of faith, would take advantage of ignorant, foolish believers (2:3, 19-22).

2 Peter 3 – The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Peter concluded his last epistle, urging believers to remember the promise of Christ’s Second Coming, and warning that scoffers would come into their midst, and would question and ridicule the promise of Christ’s return. Wicked men would suggest that believers were vainly looking for Christ’s coming, telling lies and making the observation that nothing had changed, and “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (3:4). Such falsehoods would lead some to stray from the truth, and be turned to sinful ways.

What do you believe regarding the promise that Jesus Christ will return for believers? Some might argue, “Well, the Church has been waiting for two thousand years, and nothing has changed. If Jesus is coming back, where is He?”

Peter answered that query, encouraging believers to look at life and eternity from God’s perspective. 

Earthly life is fleeting (“a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,” James 4:14); however, the Lord is the God of eternity and “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8). Fortunately for sinners, God is slow to judge, and is patient. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (3:9).

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, don’t presume upon His patience, or scoff and question, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (3:4).

He is coming, and we should always be ready and watching!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Keep the Faith! Wear Your Spiritual Combat Boots to the Grave! (2 Timothy 1-4)

Scripture reading – 2 Timothy 1-4

Our chronological reading schedule brings us to Paul’s final epistle, and his second letter to Timothy, whom he addressed as “my dearly beloved son” (1:2a). The date of 2 Timothy is presumed to be sometime between A.D. 65-68, and was written during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome.

2 Timothy 1:1-12

Paul’s letter evidences the agape’, self-sacrificing love and concern that he had for Timothy, a man whom he loved as his spiritual son. The epistle was purposed to encourage the young preacher, and assure him of the apostle’s love, though he found his own ministry limited to Nero’s prison (1:2-4).

After affirming the sincerity of Timothy’s faith, and reminding him of his godly heritage (1:5), Paul began to challenge and exhort him to not lose heart: “Stir up [rekindle] the [spiritual] gift of God, which is in thee” (1:6). Take courage: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (1:7a). Don’t fall victim to shame, whether it is to give testimony for the Lord, or identify with Paul as “his prisoner” (1:8). Understand that preaching the Gospel will bring its share of “afflictions,” but accept them in “the power of God” (1:8b).

Paul reminded his “son in the faith,” of his own life and testimony as a “preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles (1:11). He declared, “12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (1:12).

2 Timothy 1:13-2:26 – The next verses and chapters build upon the responsibility that Timothy, and every other preacher of the Gospel bears.

The preacher is challenged to herald the Word of God with conviction (1:13), and not be deterred by adversaries (1:15). He is to “be strong” (2:1), “endure hardness” (2:3), be disciplined in studying the Scriptures (2:15), and not get entangled with foolish, pointless, vain conversations (2:16). He must not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or fight that has no righteous purpose (2:23).

2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 3:1-9  describes the ungodliness, and wickedness that will be characteristic of the last days. Reflecting on his own life and ministry, Paul challenged Timothy to be a godly example, and be true to his godly heritage, and the Scriptures he had been immersed in since he was a child (3:10-17).

2 Timothy 4

Though he realized his life and ministry were in their twilight; Paul’s love for the Lord, his passion for the Gospel ministry, and his affection for the saints of God were undiminished (4:6-8).

He had suffered persecution, and knew the sorrow of desertion (4:10a, 16). He understood his death was imminent; however, he had experienced the Lord’s presence, and strength (4:17), and was confident the Lord would “preserve [him] (4:18a). Paul was determined that he would not quit until the Lord was finished with him and took him home to heaven (4:18b).

For nearly two millennium, Paul’s life, and the manner in which he approached his last days, has served as an inspiration to believers. The aged apostle left us not only an inspiring example, but a challenge to finish our course in life, and keep the faith (4:5-8)!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Is Jesus Christ Your High Priest? (Hebrews 7-10)

Scripture reading – Hebrews 7-10

You might have heard someone use the term “deep waters,” in describing a topic or subject that is difficult, and challenging to grasp. I fear today’s Scripture reading might tempt many to label the passages “too deep,” and too difficult to understand (Hebrews 7-10).

Before you give up, allow me an opportunity to narrow your focus to one chapter, Hebrews 7, and attempt to make the difficult as simple as possible. First, allow me to introduce you to Melchisedec (7:1).

Who was Melchisedec? (Hebrews 7:1-19)

Melchisedec is mentioned in Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 110:4, and Hebrews 5-7. Scholars and preachers have long debated the identity of Melchisedec; however, we know very little about him, apart from his spiritual stature in the Scriptures.

We first meet Melchisedec in Genesis 14 where he was identified as the “king of Salem” (Genesis 14:18-20), Salem being an ancient name for Jerusalem. He is identified in both Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7:1-2, as the “priest of the most high God.” Hebrews 5:5-6 identified Jesus Christ “as a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” and Christ Himself being “called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (5:10).

In other words, Melchisedec, who appeared as the “priest of the most high God” in Genesis 14, and preceded Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection by 4000 year, was a type, a forerunner, a preincarnate portrait of Christ.

Hebrews 6:20 identified Jesus as “an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” While the Aaronic priesthood was hereditary, passed from father to son, the Melchisedec priesthood was established and appointed by “the most high God” (7:1).

Melchisedec was Superior to Abraham and His Seed. (7:1-7)

An illustration of Melchisedec’s superiority to Abraham, is shown by that patriarch returning from a successful battle, and with the spoils of his victory, offering the sacrifice of a tithe, “a tenth part of all” to Melchisedec (7:1, 4).

Melchisedec is also identified as the “King of righteousness, [the] King of Salem, [and the] King of peace” (7:1-2). Unlike the Levitical\Aaronic order of the priesthood that was dependent upon one’s physical heredity (7:5), Melchisedec’s priesthood was not dependent upon human lineage. He was the “priest of the most high God” (7:1), “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually” (7:3).

Jesus Christ is the Believer’s High Priest, After the Order of Melchisedec (7:21-28)

Melchisedec served the office of the “priest of the most high God” (7:1), and like Jesus Christ , his lineage was not that of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, the royal tribe (7:13-14).  Of Jesus we read, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec (7:17).

The Levitical priests had to continually offer daily sacrifices for their sins, and the sins of the people (7:27); however, Jesus is the perfect, sinless, perpetual high priest (7:24-28).

Jesus has the power to save us from our sins! (7:24-25)

We who have accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, do not require another priest to intercede for us. He “is able also to save [sinners] to the uttermost [wholly, completely, nothing lacking] that come unto God by him [Jesus], seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (7:24-25).

Jesus is the perfect high priest. (7:26-27)

He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (7:26-27).

Is Jesus your high priest? He is, if He is your Savior.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Challenge to Grow Up! (Hebrews 1-6)

Scripture reading – Hebrews 1-6

Nearing the conclusion of our chronological study of the Scriptures for the year 2020, we come to the book of the Bible identified as Hebrews. Some of your Bibles might suggest the title, “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.”

Because of the length of today’s reading assignment (Hebrews 1-6), I have purposed to keep the devotional brief, while giving you some historical details that I hope might enrich your study.

The Author of Hebrews

Many scholars, and preachers have supposed the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul. If he is the author, he neglected to identify himself in its opening salutation as he did in his other letters (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; and so on). There is much about Hebrews that would commend itself to Paul as its author, especially the fact that it was certainly addressed to Hebrew believers.

The Date of Hebrews

The date of the writing of Hebrews is uncertain; however, most scholars agree that it must have been composed to Hebrew believers before Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed (A.D. 70). Persecution and imprisonment were beginning in the Roman empire, in fact, Hebrews 13:23 mentions that Timothy was expected to soon be “set at liberty.”

The Recipients of Hebrews

I have already expressed the opinion that the letter was written to Hebrew believers. Those saints would have had knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, and understood the references to the priesthood, the Temple, and sacrificial offerings (10:11).

I also propose that the epistle was written to a second generation of believers, especially since the author takes to task some of the saints who were failing to evidence spiritual maturity (5:12-13). They had been privileged to sit under the preaching of the Gospel, and instruction in the God’s Word (Hebrews 5:14; 13:7). The author expressed great disappointment that the recipients had failed to grow into spiritually mature believers.

A Closing Thought

Could it be there are some reading today’s Scripture who might see themselves among those who “ought to be teachers” (5:12)? To be content with the “milk” of God’s Word and remain a spiritual preemie? No wonder there are many 21st century believers who are spiritually anemic, and lack spiritually discernment.

Hebrews 5:14 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith