Category Archives: Ministry

Armageddon and the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (Revelation 16; Revelation 17)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Revelation 16; Revelation 17

Review – The Seventh Trumpet and Its Judgments (Revelation 11-15)

The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe poured out on the earth and its inhabitants. Rather than repent of their wickedness, and turn to God, the nations of the world were stirred to anger and their sins demanded God’s judgments (11:18). The devil was revealed as the “great red dragon” (12:3, 9), and the antichrist, empowered by him, was promoted to rule over a great coalition of nations (13:1-2).

Another man of great wickedness, the false prophet, was empowered by the devil, and deceived the nations of the earth. He commanded all men and nations should worship the antichrist as god (13:11-15). Men who refused “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” were denied an opportunity to “buy or sell” (13:17).

John beheld the Lamb, Jesus Christ, standing on mount Zion, and with him the 144,000 preachers of the tribulation (14:1). The apostle, then, saw three angelic messengers sent from the throne of God (14:6-8). The message of the third angel was a warning, that any who received the mark of the beast (antichrist) would be tormented forever (14:11).

Two judgments followed the third angel, and the first was portrayed as a harvest of grain (14:14-15), and the second a harvest of grapes (14:17-20).  Then, John “looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened” (15:5). “[S]even angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles [or belts worn round the waist]” (15:6). To each of the seven angels was given a “golden vial” or bowl filled with “the wrath of God” (15:7).

Revelation 16 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

The Five of the Seven Bowls (16:1-11)

The seven angels were sent, and commanded to pour God’s wrath out of their bowls upon those who worshipped the antichrist (beast), and had accepted his mark in their hand or forehead (16:1). Each bowl or vial represented a judgment of God. The first angel poured out a judgment that caused “a noisome and grievous sore” (or ulcer, 16:2). The plagued poured out by the second angel turned the sea to blood, and so contaminated the waters that “every living soul [creature] died in the sea” (16:3).

The third angel, bearing the third bowl, turned the fresh waters of the earth to blood (16:4). Destroying the fresh water of the earth would be catastrophic for all humanity. Lest any complain and protest God’s judgment, the angel declared spoiling the fresh waters with blood was a fitting judgment for mankind, for “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (16:6). Then, the altar itself said, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

The judgment borne by the fourth angel followed, and was poured out “upon the sun” (16:8). The consequence was an increase in the sun’s heat and radiation that “men were scorched with great heat” (16:8). Rather than repent, and call out to God for mercy, men “blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (16:9).

Then, “the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat [throne] of the beast [antichrist]; and his kingdom was full of darkness” (16:10). The darkness shrouded the lands and people ruled by the antichrist (16:10), and the terror was so excruciating that men “gnawed their tongues for pain” (16:10b). Still, they did not repent, but “blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores” (16:11).

The Sixth Bowl – The Euphrates River Dried Up (16:12-14)

The judgment brought by the sixth angel was directed against “the great river Euphrates” (16:12), which is the longest and most important river in the Middle East. The region depends upon the Euphrates for navigation (ships can sail up the river some 1200 miles), and irrigation of farms and orchards. Although a 2000-year-old prophecy, the unthinkable is happening today…the Euphrates River is drying up! With the salt water and freshwaters polluted by blood, and the Euphrates dried up, John saw what he described as “three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (16:13). Frogs are deemed unclean (Leviticus 11:10, 41), and their vileness was symbolic of the demons that had influenced the antichrist and false prophet (16:13). So, was revealed the means by which those evil men had influenced the earth (16:14).

It was “the spirits of devils” that compelled “the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14). While the nations of the earth gathered “into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (16:16), the Lord comforted those believers who had survived the judgments of the tribulation, and promised, “Behold, I come as a thief” (16:14).

The Seventh Bowl (16:17-21)

The seventh and final angel came forth with the wrath of God filling his bowl, and God lifted up His voice, and said with a loud voice, “It is done” (16:17).  Thundering’s, lightnings, and an earthquake greater than any that had preceded it followed the pronouncement (16:18). The city of Jerusalem was “divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” (16:19). The earth will be so devastated by the earthquake that islands and mountains will disappear (16:20). Hail will fall from heaven, and the weight of each hail stone will be “about the weight of a talent” (100 pounds or more, 16:21).

Closing thoughts – I hope to address the balance of our Scripture reading (Revelation 17) at another time, and in another year. I conclude for now with the observation that men will refuse to repent of their sins, even though all mankind will have suffered before the Second Coming of Christ. Instead of crying to God for mercy, the wicked who refuse the Lord will blaspheme the name of God (16:21). I close today with the invitation by the writer of Hebrews:

Hebrews 3:15 – “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

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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.

Faithful Witnesses: The 144,000 (Revelation 14; Revelation 15)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 14; Revelation 15

Author’s note – If you have been a follower of Heart of A Shepherd the past two years, you should share my sense of accomplishment as December 31, 2022 marks the conclusion of a two-year daily devotional journey through the Scriptures. What began as a devotional challenge to my church family, is now followed in over 200 nations and territories.

January 1, 2023 will mark a new beginning as Heart of A Shepherd returns to Genesis, and begins anew, a two-year chronological journey through God’s Word. It continues to be my goal to fulfill Paul’s challenge to Timothy when he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Heart of A Shepherd will have a new website design as we begin a new year. If all goes as planned, current subscribers should have a seamless transition to the new website. Please email me at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com if you find you are not receiving daily devotional posts.

Today’s Devotion and Scripture Reading

As we come to Revelation 14 and 15, we are prophetically in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. Christ opened the seventh and final seal of the scroll (Revelation 8:1), and seven angels with trumpets awaited their time to sound the judgment of God that followed (8:2, 6). Revelation 8:7 through Revelation 11:14 recorded the first six blasts of the trumpets. The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe to befall the earth and its inhabitants during the tribulation.

Revelation 12 identified the devil as the “great red dragon” (12:3-4). In Revelation 13, two men portrayed as beasts (13:1, 11), rose to power. They will be empowered by the devil, possessed by demons, and do great things. The first man, the antichrist, will beguile the nations of the earth, and establish a 7-year peace treaty. The world will believe the antichrist can insure peace and prosperity for all people. Yet, when 3.5 years are past, the antichrist will unleash his fury against God and His people, and demand he be worshipped as god (13:5-10).

A second leader, identified as “another beast” (13:11-18), will be the devil’s false prophet. He will demand all men worship the antichrist (13:12), and take his mark “in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (13:16). Those who refuse the mark, will be unable to buy, sell, or trade in the economy of the tribulation (13:17). The number of the beast (antichrist) was given as 666 (13:18). (Today’s devotion will be taken from Revelation 14).

Revelation 14

As John looked toward the future tribulation, he beheld “a Lamb” (15:1). Who was the Lamb? He was the same Lamb who unsealed the scroll with seven seals…Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Revelation 5:1-2, 5-6). John saw Christ, the Lamb, standing on mount Zion (the site of the Temple in Jerusalem), and with him were 144,000 evangelists (whom we met in Revelation 7, 7:4-8). They had preached the Gospel during the tribulation, and witnessed “a great multitude” from every nation call upon God for salvation (7:9-10). John heard what I believe was the voice of God, sounding like “many waters…a great thunder” and accompanied by harps (14:2).

The 144,000 and the Song of the Redeemed (14:3-5)

John listened as the 144,000 preachers began to sing a “new song before the throne” of God (14:3a). It was the song of the redeemed (14:3b). While it seemed all the world followed the antichrist, the 144,000 refused to defile themselves. They rejected the mark of the beast, and were counted by the Lord as “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (14:4). The 144,000 were not only the first of many who remained faithful to God and the Lamb (14:4), they were also sincere in their witness, for “in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (14:5).

Three Angelic Messengers (14:6-11)

As John looked on, he observed three angels sent from the throne of God as messengers. Though the 144,000 evangelists had faithfully preached and called men to repent during the tribulation, God was merciful and also sent an angel to preach “the everlasting gospel” to all the world (14:6). The voice of that angel was loud, and he admonished sinners to turn to their Creator (14:7).

A second angel followed, and his message was one of judgment. He warned, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (14:8). In the Scriptures, Babylon was a type of the world, and represents here the world government and authority of the antichrist (14:8).

A third angel followed, and warned, if any worshipped the beast (antichrist), and accepted his mark in their forehand or hand, they would be condemned to God’s wrath. Their doomed was to be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Jesus Christ)” (14:10). Those sinners who received the mark of the beast were warned, they would be condemned to everlasting torment (14:11).

Closing thoughts (14:12-20) – Revelation 14 concluded with a prophecy of two judgments yet to come in the Tribulation. The first judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grain and described as seven bowls of judgments that would be poured out on the earth (14:14-16; 16:1-21). The second judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grapes, and is a picture of the battle of Armageddon (14:17-20; 19:11-21). The horror of that final battle, when the antichrist and his forces will be defeated, was revealed…for the blood of men who died in the battle will reach the “horse bridles,” and stretch for 200 miles.

Revelation 14:12-13 described those who will be saved, and martyred during the Great Tribulation. In spite of sorrows and persecution, there will be saints who persevere, keeping “the commandments of God” and keeping “the faith of Jesus” (14:12). Though many will die, the Lord declared them “Blessed,” for they will have rest, and their works will be commended by Him (14:13).

What do your works say about you and your faith?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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 Emergence of the King of the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 9; Revelation 10)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 9; Revelation 10

Continuing our study in the Book of Revelation, we find ourselves chronologically in the prophetic time known as the Tribulation. The prophet Jeremiah foretold it would “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Christ taught His disciples, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). The apostle Paul, in his letter to believers at Thessalonica, foretold a false peace would precede the Tribulation, and people would say, “Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Christ had opened six of seven seals that bound a scroll recording the judgments that would precede His Second Coming (Revelation 5). Six seals and their judgments were recorded in Revelation 6, and that chapter closed with the announcement, “the great day of his [God’s] wrath is come” (6:17). The seventh seal was opened in Revelation 8, and “there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (8:1).

Then, “seven angels which stood before God…were given seven trumpets” and would announce seven divisions of God’s judgment to come (8:2). Four of the seven trumpets were sounded by angels in chapter 8, and each was followed by four judgments (8:7-12). As John looked on, he “heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” (8:13) As we will see, Revelation 9 will reveal the fifth and sixth trumpets to announce the first and second woes to follow.

Revelation 9

The Sound of the Fifth Trumpet (9:1-12)

When the fifth trumpet sounded, John “saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit” (9:1). Though the identity of the “star” was not given, by comparing other Scriptures with our text, it is clear the “star” was figurative of the devil. The falling star was the fallen angel Lucifer, who is the devil (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-16; Luke 10:18). He was given a “key to the bottomless pit,” where a multitude of demons were chained awaiting their day of judgment (1 Peter 3:19-20).

When the devil “opened the bottomless pit…there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace” (9:2). The place of torment was a place of fire and darkness, and the smoke that billowed up from the depths of the pit darkened the sun and the air (9:2). John then observed what he described as a horde of locusts that emerged from the pit (9:3). Though named “locusts,” we can construe from the description they were symbolic of the demons of hell coming forth as an innumerable swarm of evil spirits (9:3). They were forbidden to hurt the grass or any green thing that was growing, but were permitted to afflict men who had “not the seal of God in their foreheads” (for they were not of the Lord, 9:4).

Locusts generally have a lifespan of five months, and so these that emerged from the pit were permitted to torment men five months (9:5). The pain and sorrow of that day would be so great, men would cry for death to release them from their misery, but even “death shall flee from them” (9:6). The appearance, terror and sorrow afflicted by the demons (portrayed as voracious locusts) was recorded in Revelation 9:7-10.

The King of the Demons Revealed (9:11-12)

Unlike locusts which swarm in mass so thick they might darken the sky for hundreds of miles, the locusts described by John were organized under a vile king. Who was the king? He was identified as “the angel of the bottomless pit” (9:11). The “bottomless pit” was a place of fire, darkness, and eternal torment (Job 26:6; 28:22). Job described it as “a fire that consumeth to destruction” (Job 31:12). Solomon warned, “Hell and destruction are before the Lord” (Proverbs 15:11). So, the demons of the pit were organized under the rule of one “whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon” (9:11). With that revelation, the first woe was ended, and two more would follow (9:12).

Closing thoughts (9:13-21) – Notice the sixth trumpet will sound and introduce the second of three woes (9:13). This time of judgment will continue through to Revelation 11:14. Imagine the terror on the earth when the devil is given the keys to the bottomless pit, and unleashes the demons of that place to swarm the earth, leaving a path of death and destruction. Billions will perish after suffering afflictions so grave they will cry for death to come, and even “death shall flee from them” (9:6). Yet, even those sorrows will not move men to repent.

I invite you again, repent of your sin, and accept Christ as your Savior before it is eternally too late!

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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.

Judgment: Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 8

Our study in “The Revelation of the Apostle John” finds us in the midst of the Tribulation as we come in our search into Revelation 8. The setting continues to be the throne of heaven (Revelation 4:2), and the focus those things witnessed and recorded by John the apostle (Revelation 4-7). He had beheld God sitting on His throne, and holding in His right hand a book or scroll bearing seven seals (Revelation 5:1). (Some scholars have suggested the scroll was the deed to the earth, its inhabitants, and those things which were yet to come. Perhaps that is an apt depiction).

As John looked on, he heard the voice of a “strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (5:2) John wept when no one was found worthy to open the book (5:2). Yet, there was someone, and it was Christ whom the Scriptures described as “the Lamb” who stood by the throne of heaven (5:6). When He took in hand the scroll, John heard all creatures of heaven, earth, and sea lift up their voices and say, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (5:13).

When the first seal was opened, the first of four horsemen emerged riding on a white horse. I have identified him as the antichrist, and we know from Scripture he will proffer a peace treaty, and will rule a large part of the earth without going to war (Revelation 6:2). Christ then opened the second, third, and fourth seals, and each was followed by the emergence of a horsemen bringing with him death and destruction (6:3-8). The fifth and sixth seals followed, and introduced an ever-growing terror and a time of suffering such as the world had not known, Yet, the time of tribulation was only beginning (Revelation 6:9-7:17).

Revelation 8 – The Seventh and Final Seal

When the seventh seal was opened, the prophetic moment was so terrifying in its anticipation, that “there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (8:1). I have wondered, has there ever been a time past when heaven was silent? It seemed the angels looked in stunned, foreboding silence. By the time the seventh seal was broken, the earth was in the midst of great tribulation, and was filled with violence, suffering, sorrow, and death. What more could befall humanity and men not repent, and cry out to God for mercy?

Seven Angels Bearing Seven Trumpets (8:2-5)

John then saw seven angels, “which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets” (8:2). (The names of the angels were not given, but I wonder if the angel Gabriel was not one of the seven. Remember, he identified himself to Zechariah as one that did “stand in the presence of God,” Luke 1:19). Since ancient times, trumpets have been a means of communication. They have been employed in war, worship, announcing the coronation of kings, and sounding a warning of judgment.

The seven angels did not sound their trumpets, and John observed “another angel [that] came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer” (8:3). The heavenly altar was a “golden altar…[and] was before the throne” of God (8:3). The angel carried a golden pot of coals upon which incense burned (8:3b), and the smoke rising from the incense symbolized the “prayers of all saints” (perhaps the prayers of the tribulation saints, 8:3, 4). The “golden altar” was reminiscent of the altar of incense nearest the curtain that had separated the outer courts of the Tabernacle and Temple from the “Holy of holies” (wherein was the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat).

Suddenly, the silence of heaven was broken when the angel bearing the censer, “filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth” (8:5). The horror of judgment was heard from the earth as “there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (8:5).

The Blaring of Four Trumpets (8:6-12)

We read, “the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound,” and thus heralded a time of dreadful judgment should follow (8:6). The first trumpet sounded, and hail, fire, and blood fell from heaven to earth and one-third of the trees and grasses of the earth were burned (8:7). A second trumpet sounded, and John saw “a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood” (8:8). Perhaps describing a great volcanic explosion, the result was one third of sea creatures died, and one third of the ships at sea were destroyed (the hardships that would follow this catastrophe are unimaginable, 8:9).

The sound of the third trumpet brought a disaster caused by a great meteor or asteroid passing through earth’s atmosphere (described as a burning lamp or torch, 8:10). It fell to the earth and polluted the rivers and fresh waters (8:10). This astronomical wonder was called “Wormwood,” a plant with toxic leaves (8:11).

The fourth, of the seven trumpets, was a judgment that extinguished one third of the light of the sun, moon, and stars (8:12). Imagine the terror of the darkness, and the hardships caused when one third of the light and heat of the sun was eroded. Agricultural crops would fail, plunging temperatures would stifle growth in many regions, and death would ensue.

Closing thoughts (8:13) – A threefold angelic cry of “Woe,” followed the first four of the seven trumpets, and there were yet three more trumpets that would sound the terror of God’s judgment (8:13). I close with a couple of observations. The first, the “smoke of the incense” that was burned on the golden altar before God’s throne reminds us God hears the prayer of His people (8:3-4). Secondly, the judgments that followed the soundings of the trumpets remind us no sin of man will go unpunished.

Though the wrath and judgment of God will be poured out on the earth, I remind you, the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Will you turn your heart to the Lord, and receive his offer of salvation, before it is too late?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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 Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6; Revelation 7)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 6; Revelation 7

Revelation 5 established Christ alone was “worthy to open the book [scroll] and loose the [seven] seals” (5:5). He, who was “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David” (5:5), was also “the Lamb” that had been slain (5:6-7). As John looked on, “the Lamb” took the scroll from God, and suddenly the four beasts about the throne, and the 24 elders, and a multitude of angels said with “a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (5:12).

Every creature, in heaven, earth, and hell worshipped the Creator, and praised Him saying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever”(5:13). Then, the beasts about the throne said, “Amen,” and the 24 elders “fell down and worshipped Him” who is the Lord God Eternal (5:14).

Revelation 6 – The Tribulation

The First Seal – A White Horse and Rider (6:1-2)

The Lamb, who was Christ, had taken up the scroll with seven seals, and opened the first seal. John testified, “I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see” (6:1). The opening of the first seal marked the beginning of the tribulation. As John looked on, he saw “a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (6:2).

A white horse was the choice steed of a conqueror, and a picture of both peace and cessation of war. Though he was not identified by name, I believe the rider on the white horse was symbolic of the antichrist. He carried a bow, but there was no mention of arrows. From Scripture, we know the antichrist will be welcomed by the world as one who might save the nations from turmoil. He will promise seven years of peace (1 Thessalonians 5:3), but in the midst (3.5 years) will break his treaty (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; Daniel 9:24-27), and usher in a season of violence, trouble and sorrow like the world has not known.

The Second Seal – A Red Horse and Rider (6:3-4)

Christ then opened the second seal, and the second beast about the throne said to John, “Come and see” (6:3). John beheld the emergence of a red horse, a symbol of blood and fire. His appearance broke the 3.5 years of false peace promised by the antichrist. Bearing “a great sword,” he brought with him war, and violence reigned on the earth (6:4).

The Third Seal – A Black Horse and Rider (6:5-6)

When the third seal was broken, the third beast said to John, “Come and see” (6:5). As he looked on, there came forth, “a black horse.” The rider on the black horse carried in his hand “a pair of balances” (6:5). Black, a symbol of death and devastation, promised a dreadful season of famine and starvation (6:6).

The balance scales borne by the rider on the black horse symbolized the rationing of meager grain. Understanding a “penny” in the first century was one day’s wages, the dearth of the tribulation will be so great a man will labor a day for only a “measure” or quart of wheat.

The Fourth Seal – A Pale Horse and Rider (6:7-8)

The opening of the fourth seal was followed by a fourth beast saying to John, “Come and see” (6:7). The apostle testified, he looked, “and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him” (6:8a). Notice, the rider on the pale horse was named “Death,” and sitting behind him was another named “Hell” (6:8).

The pale horse and its riders (Death and Hell) ushered in a devastating time of sorrow and suffering. One-fourth of the earth’s population would perish, being killed in four ways; “with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (6:8b). (Imagine, with the current population of the earth nearly 8 billion souls, 2 billion would perish in this time of tribulation.)

Some will die by the sword, a symbol of war. Others will go hungry and starve to death. The mention of death, is probably a reflection of widespread disease (perhaps multiple pandemics will sweep the world). The beasts may not be wild beasts, but creatures that carry disease bringing death (rats, mosquitos, and other pests).

Closing thoughts (6:9-17) – Time and space do not allow an exposition of the fifth (6:9-11), and sixth seals (6:12-17), but I hope to address them in another year. Notice in Revelation 7 there were two groups of people addressed. The first (7:1-8), those saved during the tribulation and sealed as belonging to God (7:1-3). The number sealed is given as 144,000, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (7:4-8).

The second group identified in Revelation 7 was a multitude of saints who will be saved during the tribulation, no doubt because of the witness of the 144,000 evangelists from every tribe of Israel. An elder came to John and asked, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” (7:13). John did not know, and answered the elder, saying, “Sir, thou knowest” (7:14). The elder revealed they were martyrs, “which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14).

Millions will be martyred in the tribulation, but they will be given a great privilege for their sacrifice. They are promised they will be “before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple” (7:15). They will be free from the sorrows of this world, and will want for nothing (7:16). Why? For the Lamb will be their Shepherd, and will “feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (7:17).

Think about it: There is coming a day when all tears and sorrows will be wiped away (7:17). There will be no hunger, thirst, sorrow or death. No more crying, and no more pain. “For the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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.

Is the Lord Ashamed of You? (Revelation 3; Revelation 4)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 3; Revelation 4

Our study of The Revelations of John the Apostle brings us to Revelation 3 and 4, and the last three of the seven churches of Revelation. Our former devotion considered the churches at Ephesus (2:1-7), Smyrna (2:8-11), Pergamos (2:12-17), and Thyatira (2:18-29). Today’s devotion will consider the Church in Sardis (3:1-6), and look forward to addressing the church in Philadelphia (3:7-13), and Laodicea (3:14-22) in the future.

As you read the passage written to the three churches, notice the style and format by which each was addressed in chapter 2 continued in chapter 3. The churches named were actual congregations in John’s day; however, the letters addressed to them were prophetic in nature. In other words, the seven churches also served as “types” of future churches and congregations. Another similarity is seen in how each church was addressed: namely that an “angel” acted as the Lord’s messenger. Notice also, the congregations were commended and affirmed for their virtues, yet rebuked for tolerating sin (with two exceptions, Smyrna (2:8-11) and Philadelphia (3:7-13)

The Church in Sardis (3:1-6)

Notice the message of the angel concerning Sardis: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (3:1). Living, but dead…what a tragic summation of a congregation that was busy about religion with its traditions, while being totally unaware they were spiritually dead. The believers of Sardis were working; yet, they were condemned: “I have not found thy works perfect before God” (3:2). Is that not the case with many congregations today? Churches are busier than ever, but how many are busy living the truth?

A little lesson from history: Some scholars compare the church of Sardis with the church period known as the Dark Ages (began around the 4th century AD). There are Biblical historians who identify the works attributed to Sardis with the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism with its rituals (many derived from ancient paganism), traditions, and extrabiblical teachings, drew the world of the 4th century into a millennium of spiritual darkness. That dark veil shrouded the world, particularly Western Europe, until it was challenged during a period known as the Reformation. The Reformation, was used by God to slowly disperse the spiritual darkness of the “Dark Ages.”

While the majority of believers of Sardis were spiritually dead (as were churches in the Dark Ages), there were a few who remained faithful. Those few, many of whom became martyrs, were said to “have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (3:4). In other words, in spite of the backslidings of the majority, there were a few who did not defile themselves with sin. They were spiritual overcomers, victors, and the Lord promised: “the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (3:5).

Closing thought – What a wonderful statement! The Lord declared He would not be ashamed of the believer who kept himself unspotted by sin, and said of him: “I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (3:5).

Can the Lord say that of you?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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.

Revelation: The Beginning of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1; Revelation 2)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 1; Revelation 2

Our 2-year chronological study of the Scriptures brings us to the final book of the Bible, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle.” The Book of Revelation is just that, a book of prophetic revelations of the future. It was the “Apocalypse,” literally the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ (1:1). It was 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. While our Scripture reading is Revelation 1 and 2, today’s devotional will serve as an introduction to the book, and offer a brief survey of those chapters.

The Apostle John’s Prologue (1:1-3)

The historical setting of the Revelation is near the end of the first century, and at a time of increasing persecution against the saints of the Lord. Some 60 years had passed since Jesus ascended to heaven. Now elderly, the apostle John was perhaps in his 90’s. He was the last of the apostles, the others having been martyred. It was at such an hour that the LORD saw fit to encourage John 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 commenced the book of Revelation, 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). The Book of Revelation concludes with Christ’s assurance, “Behold, I come quickly,” and John’s promise, “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).

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

The first two verses of John’s Revelation stated the object of the revelation as Jesus Christ, and it was given to Him by God the Father (1:1). The purpose of the revelation was to present Christ in His present and future glory (1:1).

While the Gospels presented Jesus in His humility (humanity), the Book of Revelation presented Him in His divine (heavenly) glory. Jesus Christ was the Lamb that was slain in the Gospels, but in Revelation He is the Sovereign God who reigns. In the Gospels, Jesus was pierced, while in Revelation He is praised. In the Gospels He was condemned and crucified; in Revelation He is presented as the returning King and Judge of the earth.

Notice the method of the revelation was by an angel (God’s messenger), who was sent from God to communicate all “which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). Lastly, as the recipient of the revelation, John was tasked to be a witness, and 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)

John was commanded to write “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (1:4). Time and space do not permit an exhaustive study of Revelation 1 and 2; however, I invite you to direct your attention to the seven churches that were located in Asia Minor, in what is today modern Turkey (1:4, 11). Of particular note, John identified the seven churches and their spiritual state.

The church at Ephesus was commended for much (2:2-3), but condemned for having departed from the love they once had for the LORD (2:1-7). The church at Smyrna, often identified as the “Martyrs Church,” was praised for enduring persecution (“tribulations, and poverty,” and slander, 2:8-11). The church at Pergamos, whose doctrine had been corrupted by two heresies (the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans), was exhorted to repent immediately or Christ would make war with the church (2:12-17).

Thyatira, often described as the “Church of Spiritual Whoredom,” has been suggested by some to be a fitting portrait of the Roman Catholic Church. Thyatira was extolled for its “works, and charity, and service, and faith, and patience” (endurance, 2:18-19). Yet, was said to have suffered “that woman Jezebel,” and was guilty of seducing God’s servants “to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (2:20). (The Old Testament Jezebel brought idolatry into Israel’s northern kingdom, and gross immorality. In the same way, the Roman Catholic Church has introduced and observes to this day rituals that originated with pagan practices.)

Closing thoughts – Our next devotional will consider the church at Sardis (its spiritual state was described as living, but “dead,” 3:1). The church at Philadelphia was identified as a faithful church (3:7-13). Lastly, the seventh church of the Revelation was the church at Laodicea. That church was infamously described as a proud, wealthy church, and had become spiritually indifferent and compromised (3:14-22).

Sadly, perhaps of the seven churches in Revelation, the majority of 21st century churches would 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). Tragically, some reading this devotional may realize they are in the midst of a Laodicean church. I urge you, get out before the chastening hand of the Lord befalls you and that church (3:19).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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.

Saints and Scoundrels in the Church (2 John; 3 John)

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Scripture reading – 2 John; 3 John

The Second Epistle of John and The Third Epistle of John were written near the end of John’s life, and prior to the book known as “The Revelation.” Today’s study will serve as a brief introduction to 2 John and 3 John.

The Second Epistle of John

Though not by name, the introductory verse of 2 John identified the letter’s recipient: “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth” (1:1).

While the writer of The Second Epistle of John did not identify himself by name, scholars are generally agreed the author was John. The style of the letter, its tone and theme reflect the 1st Epistle of John. Preferring the title “elder,” as opposed to apostle, John wrote to a fellow believer and her family whom he addressed as “the elect lady and her children” (1:1). That phrase has given cause for debate over the centuries. Some propose “the elect lady” had a broad implication, and the churches in general were the recipient.

Others believe, as I do, that John was writing to an individual believer (“the elect lady”) and the “children” of her household. She was obviously a believer whose testimony was respected and beloved by John and other believers (1:1b). The closing verses of this small epistle also give cause to believe the letter was penned to a specific believer and her household. As he concluded the epistle, John expressed not only his desire to soon visit the household of “the elect lady,” but also sent a greeting to her on behalf of “the elect children of thy elect sister” (no doubt her nieces and nephews, 1:12-13).

The Third Epistle of John

In his third letter, John once again introduced himself as “the elder” (1:1). The word “elder” served as a description of both an office among the churches (“elder\pastor”), and an indication of maturity (being an older pastor).

The epistle was addressed to a believer named Gaius, whom John described as “the well-beloved,” and expressed a brotherly affection writing,  “whom I love in the truth” (3 John 1:1). John’s affection and admiration of Gaius was both a friend and brother in Christ. Remembering the apostle’s challenge to love the brethren “in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), and to “love one another” (1 John 3:7, 11), John’s epistle to Gaius effused with sincere, agape’ (self-sacrificing) love (3 John 1:1-8).

Of course, not all in the churches were loving, and John identified one enemy in particular… Diotrephes. Diotrephes was the antithesis of brotherly love, and the apostle spared no words in condemning him (3 John 1:9-11).  John identified Diotrephes’ hypocrisy, exposed his shameless self-promotion (1:9) and spiritual insubordination (1:10a). He documented his criticisms, accusations, and opposition to John’s leadership as an apostle and elder (1:10). John left no doubt regarding the fate of Diotrephes, and identified him as one who “doeth evil [and] hath not seen God” (1:11).

John closed his third epistle with a note of affirmation for a believer named Demetrius.  He wrote of that believer: “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (1:12).

Closing thoughts – An old adage goes, “Times have changed, but people have not!”

Like the 1st century church, the church of the 21st century has its “well-beloved Gaius” (1:1) and faithful Demetrius (1:12). Their testimonies are tried, faithful and true. Nevertheless, the timidity of pastors and the shallowness of church leaders in the 21st century has allowed a proliferation of men and women of the stripe of Diotrephes. Even the most faithful churches will have their share of “Diotrephes” who in their desire to have the preeminence, will attack even the most faithful pastors with “malicious words” (3 John 1:9-10). Of such a one, the church must recognize them by their works and words, and cast them out (3 John 1:10).

Are you a “wellbeloved Gaius,” a “Demetirus” known for your testimony and love for the truth, or a “Diotrephes” functioning like a spiritual cancer in the midst of the congregation?

When there is a Diotrephes in the midst, church leaders are obligated to identify and confront him; if he will not repent, cast him out! (3 John 1:10; Matthew 18:17).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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 Character of Spiritual Overcomers (1 John 5, 2 John)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – 1 John 5, 2 John

A Note from the Author: Our chronological study of the Scriptures is in the homestretch! Our 2-year reading schedule is coming to an end, and it is my prayer you are making plans to re-enlist. Heart of a Shepherd will return to Genesis on January 1, 2023, and begin a new journey in God’s Word.

I am looking forward to unveiling a new website for Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals. The new website will combine daily devotionals that follow our chronological reading plan, host daily video devotionals, and provide links to audio and video recordings of sermons from our ministry at Hillsdale Baptist Church, Tampa, FL. Other resources on the Heart of a Shepherd website will provide additional enrichment. If you have not already, please subscribe to ensure Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals will continue to be sent to your email.

Today’s Scripture reading concludes our study of The First Epistle of John, and introduces The Second Epistle of John. Though only 13 verses long, I believe the second epistle was a personal letter to an individual, whom John addressed as “the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1:1). However, I will wait to a later date to consider John’s second epistle. I invite you to consider with me the 5th and final chapter of The First Epistle of John.

Review of 1 John 1-4

Although brief (only 21 verses in length), 1 John 5 was a powerful finale to John’s letter to believers. We noticed in earlier chapters how John did not mince words in warning believers there were enemies of Christ and the Gospel in the midst of the churches. In 1 John 1, I identified the philosophy of the Gnostics, their carnality, and open rejection of Christ’s person, life, death, and resurrection. In chapter 2, John issued a powerful call to believers, and admonished them, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (2 :15a). Lest anyone minimize his warning, the apostle declared, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15b).

1 John 3 contrasted the lifestyle of sincere believers (3:1-3) with those whom John likened to the children of the devil (3:4, 8, 10). While the “sons of God” reflected the righteousness of Christ in their daily walk (3:2-3), the children of the devil continued in their unrighteousness (3:8, 10). Lastly, in 1 John 4, the apostle warned the “spiritof antichrist” was in the world (4:3). He called on believers to love one another (4:7-8), even as God manifested His love “toward us… [and] sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (4:9).

1 John 5

Spiritual Distinctives of Sincere Believers (5:1-3)

The character of the believer was defined as one that “believeth that Jesus is the Christ” (5:1a). The evidence of genuine salvation was that a believer would love God, and be assured of His love (5:1b). Two other proofs of the sincerity of one’s salvation was a believer will “love the children of God…and keep His commandments’ (5:2). Tragically, some reading today’s devotion may find themselves in a church that reviles God’s law and commandments as legalism. How can this be?

Employing a popular adage in today’s English language, John “doubled down” on the importance of one’s attitude toward the commandments, and wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (5:3). What is the implication of that verse? A believer who loves God not only obeys His commandments, he does not find them heavy or burdensome.

This is a good time to pause, and ponder: What is your attitude toward the commandments, precepts, and principles of God’s Word? If you love the Lord, you will love and keep His commandments. If you despise His commandments and resent those who teach them, you do not love the Lord, and are not a child of God.

Becoming an Overcomer (5:4-5)

Believers are addressed by many names in the Scriptures. We are identified as the “Children of Light” (John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5), the “Children of the Day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and the “Children of God” (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 5:2). Another name for believers is revealed in 1 John 5:4: Nikao” or “Nike (yes, the name from which the athletic shoemaker “Nike” derives its name).

1 John 5:4-5 reads: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh [Nikeo] the world: and this is the victory that overcometh [Nikeo] the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh [Nikeo] the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Everyone “born of God” is “Nikao” (an overcomer, 5:4a). Essentially, “Nikao” means victory or one victorious. The implication of 1 John 5:4-5 is that believers are spiritual overcomers. We are victorious and overcome the world with its enslaving lusts and pride (1 John 2:16), when we have faith (5:4), and believe Jesus is the Son of God” (5:5). By faith, believers have the potential to be victorious, and overcome the world (5:5).

Closing thoughts – The Scriptures are filled with saints who by faith became “Nikao,” spiritual overcomers in their day. Noah was “warned of God,” and “prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Abraham left his family and country, and “went out, not knowing whither he went…10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8, 10). Moses, by faith, rejected the privileges of a prince of Egypt, and “forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him [God] who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Spiritual overcomers believe Jesus is the Son of God, love and keep God’s commandments, love one another, and live by faith.

Are you a spiritual overcomer?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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.

Is There Any HOPE? (1 John 3; 1 John 4)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – 1 John 3; 1 John 4

We continue our devotional study of the Epistles of John, and come today to 1 John 3 and 4. John was writing to believers near the end of the 1st century, and who found themselves living in a world becoming increasingly hostile to them and the Gospel. After admonishing believers to “love not the world” (1 John 2:15-17), the apostle warned that there were “many antichrists” in the world and tragically, within the congregations (1 John 2:18-23).

Who were the antichrists? Some professed to be believers and were intolerant of sound doctrine (1 John 2:19). Others were false teachers (1 John 2:22-23), who purposed to seduce believers and lead them astray from the truth (1 John 2:26). John assured believers, if they would abide [literally sin not] in Christ, and were sensitive to the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, they would discern truth from error (2:27-28). The focus of our devotion will be 1 John 3:1-3.

1 John 3

Recalling chapter and verse numbers were not in John’s original manuscript (these being added by editors), John’s letter continued in chapter 3 with a wonderful, affectionate reminder: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (3:1).

A Message of HOPE (3:1-3)

Believers are not only the object of God the Father’s love (3:1), we are “the sons of God” (3:1a), and therefore strangers in the world. Knowing the world rejected Christ, and “knew Him not” (3:1b), we who are “the sons of God” do not look to the world for our identity or affirmation. As we heed God’s Word, and yield to His will (Romans 12:1-2), we grow spiritually and are changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers who look in anticipation for the coming of Christ, will find “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (3:2).

In fact, the believer’s HOPE motivates him to be ever purifying his soul of sin, that we might be pure and holy, “even as He is pure” (3:3).

What is HOPE?

Hope, in my opinion, is something you might have and do not appreciate, until it is lost. For instance, it is easy to define “hopeless.” Despair, despondent, dejected, downhearted, downcast, depressed are all terms that describe a state of hopelessness. HOPE, however, is a challenge to define. Words like anticipation, aspiration, and expectation might capture some of the essence of HOPE; however, they fall short in accurately defining it. Generally, the world considers HOPE to be little more than wishful thinking. Interestingly, the ancient world had many gods (gods of war, love, light, fertility, healing, death, beauty, and agriculture); however, to my knowledge no civilization worshiped a “god of hope.”

The God of Hope

HOPE occurs 143 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Twenty-six times in the Psalms, the LORD and His Word are referred to as the believer’s object of HOPE. We are to “Hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24), “Hope in [His] mercy” (Psalm 33:18), and “Hope in [His] judgments,” because the LORD is just (Psalm 119:43).

The prophet Jeremiah identified God as the believer’s object of HOPE, writing, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is” (Jeremiah 17:7). HOPE was also a frequent theme of the apostle Paul, who in his letter to believers in Corinth, wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Believer, our God is the God of HOPE!

The Believer’s HOPE

The world defines hope as probabilities and wishful thinking; however, the believer’s HOPE is a confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His ability to keep all He has promised. In other words, the LORD and His promises are the object of the believer’s HOPE.

Two Dimensions of Biblical HOPE: Faith and Action.

HOPE was one of three virtues Paul employed when he defined the essence of a believer’s character: “And now abideth faith, HOPE, [and] charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In his letter to believers in Rome, Paul prayed, “Now the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in HOPE” (Romans 15:13a).

Application – Biblical HOPE is an active expectation the LORD will fulfill all He has promised. HOPE accepts circumstances and challenges as from the hand of the Lord (Romans 8:28). HOPE believes God, and makes the best of one’s circumstances. HOPE trusts, and obeys the LORD even when all seems hopeless.

Closing thoughts –An Old Testament example of Biblical HOPE is identified in the lives of four young Jewish men. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the first Jews taken captive to Babylon (Daniel 1). Their last memories of family, the city of Jerusalem, and their homeland were of a fallen, defeated people. Humanly speaking, all hope was lost. Yet, how did they respond to their circumstances? Did they follow their brethren, embrace the culture of the world, and bow their wills to the commands and idols of a pagan king? No!

Those four young men followed Daniel’s example, who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). They determined to keep God’s covenant, and obey His Law and Commandments, and HOPE in the LORD.

Biblical HOPE aspires to a pure life, even as the LORD is pure and holy. (1 John 3:3)

Have you any HOPE?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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.