Category Archives: Politics

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 7-9)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 7-9

Like most prophets in their generation, Jeremiah’s cry for Judah to turn back to the LORD, was despised and went unheeded by Judah. For four decades, the prophet faithfully preached the Word of the LORD, but was reviled by His own people and experienced the scorn of the nation’s leaders who persecuted and imprisoned him.

Jeremiah 7 – The words Jeremiah was commanded to preach in the very threshold of the Temple were frightening and foreboding. 

I am struck by the hypocrisy of Judah.  In their wickedness, the people had sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (7:30-31), yet they continued the pretense of worshipping the LORD in His holy Temple (7:1-2, 4)!  They made a show of public worship, but Jeremiah exposed their abhorrent sins. The people oppressed the orphans and widows (7:6). They shed the blood of the innocent. They were thieves, murderers, adulterers, and idolaters who offered sacrifices to idols (7:6-11).

The LORD warned Jeremiah, “they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee… This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished” (7:27-28). Jeremiah warned, “the land shall be desolate” (7:34).

Jeremiah 8 – “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” 

The people continued in their wickedness in spite of Jeremiah’s warnings, and refused to repent of their sins and turn to the LORD.  So calamitous would be the LORD’s judgment that not even the bones of the dead would be spared indignity (8:1-2). The horror and hardships of captivity would be so grave the people would prefer death over exile (8:3).

Judah had become a nation that cried for peace (8:11, 15), but there would be no peace because the people had rejected the God of Peace!  “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” summed up the imminence of God’s judgment (8:20).

Jeremiah 9 – The “weeping” prophet laments the sins of his people and the judgment that would befall them.

Jeremiah’s heart was so overcome with grief that tears failed him. Had he been allowed, the prophet would have retreated to the isolation of the wilderness rather than live in the midst of “adulterers” and wicked men (9:2).

The LORD’S condemnation of the wicked in Jeremiah’s day is relevant to 21st century believers. We read, “They bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant [strong; mighty; heroic] for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil [sin; wickedness; ] to evil, and they know [understand; acknowledge] not me, saith the LORD” (9:3)

One wonders why a statement of the obvious, the failure to be “valiant for the truth,” was necessary (9:3)?

Is that not the fundamental sin, the spiritual flaw of many believers? Is that not the core issue of Bible preaching churches and religious institutions of our day?

The hypocrisy in Jeremiah’s day is rivaled by our day. The LORD condemned Judah for failing to “speak the truth” (9:5). A man would speak “peaceably to his neighbor… but in heart” would lie in wait to ambush and entrap him (9:8).

Proud, stubborn, boasting, incorrigible, murderer, thief, adulterer, idolater…these were the sins named among God’s people. Such wickedness does not merit mercy or forgiveness; however, is that not the very expression of grace? In spite of Judah’s sins, the LORD continued to invite His people to remember that He was loving and just.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – “23  Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“The Cry of a Compassionate Prophet” (Jeremiah 4-6)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 4-6

Our study in the Book of Jeremiah continues with chapters 4-6 as our Scripture reading, and Jeremiah 4 as the focus of today’s devotional commentary.

We have so far considered: The calling of Jeremiah to be God’s prophet to Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 1); the assertion that Israel and Judah, though beloved by the LORD, as a husband loves his wife (Jeremiah 2:1-12), had rebelled and broken their covenant with the God (2:13-37); finally, Jeremiah’s declaration that the LORD had divorced His people for their spiritual adultery and failure to obey His commandments (3:1-5, 20-24).

Jeremiah 4

Israel, consisting of the northern ten tribes, has been removed from her land and the people taken into captivity by Assyria, nevertheless, the LORD extended to His people an invitation:

Jeremiah 4:1 –  “If thou wilt return [turn back; i.e. repent], O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away [detest; depart from] thine abominations [idols] out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove [no longer wander; i.e. the LORD would have compassion on].”

What a comfort that verse should be to believers. While the sins and wickedness of Israel were almost incomprehensible (immorality, worship of idols, child sacrifices), the LORD was still pleading for the people to repent, promising He would have compassion on them.

Moving from His invitation to Israel (4:1-2), Jeremiah was commanded to appeal to Judah (the southern tribes) to repent of her sins. Illustrating how sin hardens the hearts of a nation, Jeremiah used two metaphors.

The first, a sin hardened heart is like a farmer’s field that needs plowing before it can be planted. Jeremiah called upon the people of Judah to recognize the hardness of their hearts. Painting a picture of a farmer breaking up the ground with a plow to prepare it for planting, Jeremiah encouraged the people to, “Break up your fallow ground [with a plow], and sow not among thorns [which would choke out new growth]” (4:3).

The second picture is that of a sin-calloused heart: Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart” (4:4a). Jeremiah concluded the call to repent with the warning that, should Judah not repent of her sins, God would pour forth His fury like fire, and “burn that none [could] quench it, because of the evil of [their] doings” (4:4).

The balance of Jeremiah 4 is a vivid portrait of the future days of God’s judgment (4:5-31).

Reminding Jeremiah, he has been called to be a spiritual watchman for the LORD, God commanded His prophet, “Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities [fortified; walled]” (4:5).

Jeremiah was to call the people to retreat into the city, warning their adversary, like a lion, was coming from the north, identified as “the destroyer of the Gentiles” (4:7). We know this adversary was Babylon and the lion its king, Nebuchadnezzar (4:7).

Understanding the path of destruction Judah would soon face, Jeremiah warned the judgment of God would be swift, like a “dry wind” and a “full wind” (4:11-12). The sight of Nebuchadnezzar’s army would move “the heart of the king” to perish (4:9) and his chariots would come like a whirlwind, his horses swifter than eagles (4:13).

Realizing the dreadful judgment of the LORD and the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah wept and cried out to the LORD (4:19-20).

Jeremiah 4:19-20 – “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. 20  Destruction upon destruction [lit. disaster upon disaster] is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.”

The destruction that would soon descend upon Judah and Jerusalem is graphic in detail (4:23-31).

Before I close today’s devotional commentary, allow me to draw your attention to the catalyst of God’s judgment for it is the same today as it was in Jeremiah’s day. The people had rejected God, despised His Law and Commandments, embraced wickedness, and become spiritually oblivious to discern good and evil (4:22).

I will close allowing Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome to be the sum of the wickedness of man that demands the judgment of God.

Romans 1:21-22 – “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wicked Know No Shame (Zephaniah 1-3)

Scripture reading – Zephaniah 1-3

Our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to Zephaniah, a minor prophet who ministered in Judah during the reign of King Josiah (1:1).

Zephaniah 1 – A prophecy of imminent judgment.

Zephaniah was tasked with pronouncing God’s judgment on His people in frightening and graphic details. He warned Judah, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD” (1:2). Nothing would be spared the wrath of the LORD: “I will consume man and beast… fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea…Judah…all the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (1:3-4).

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

Remember the prophecies often have an immediate and future application. In the immediate, the “day of the LORD” was the day of God’s judgment against Judah when Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. In the prophetic application, the “day of the LORD” is still future and will be fulfilled in the Second Coming of Christ when He comes in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:10 mentions “the noise of a cry from the fish gate…and a great crashing from the hills.” The fish gate was the gate that led to the fish market, but you may wonder why is this important. The answer is a historical fact: King Nebuchadnezzar passed through the fish gate when Babylon conquered Jerusalem! The destruction of the city and the captivity of the people would be so thorough that it was likened to searching out every crevice of the city with candles (1:12a).

The people lived in denial saying, “The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil” (1:12b). Even the strongest men of Judah would cry out on the day of God’s judgment (1:13). How terrible is the day of God’s final judgment?

Zephaniah 1:15 – “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Zephaniah 2 – An Exhortation to Repent

Remembering the LORD is longsuffering, we are not surprised to read that the prophet Zephaniah called upon Judah to repent and, “seek…the LORD, all ye meek of the earth…seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger” (2:3).

Because of their wickedness, Zephaniah prophesied the judgment of God against four major Philistine cities, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron” (2:4). The Moabites and Ammonites would fall to Babylon as divine punishment for their abuses of Israel (2:8-11). The Ethiopians (of the lineage of Cush whose land was southeast of Egypt on the continent of Africa) would be slain (2:12). Assyria and its great capital city, Nineveh, would be utterly destroyed by Babylon. The destruction of Nineveh so complete it would be uninhabitable, a wasteland and a haven for wild beasts (2:13-15).

Zephaniah 3 – The Necessity of Divine Judgment Against Jerusalem

Zephaniah laid out the case regarding the wickedness of Jerusalem that demanded God’s judgment (3:1-4). That city had become “filthy and polluted,” and was a violent city (3:1). Her civil leaders (princes and judges) were like “roaring lions…wolves” that gnaw the bones of the poor and helpless (3:1). Her spiritual leaders (prophets and priests) were “treacherous” and violent (3:4).

Zephaniah assured the people of Judah, the LORD was just and He would not “do iniquity…He brings His judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame” (3:5).

What an appalling statement! Innocence was lost. Moral purity disdained. The politicians and religious leaders were so given to sin and wickedness that they felt no shame! Though their wickedness was widely known, they felt no sense of humiliation. In spite of God’s judgment of other nations’ sins, Judah had failed to be moved to repent of her sins (3:6-7).

Zephaniah’s ministry closed with not only a warning of the day when God would gather the nations of the earth to be judged (3:8), but also when He will gather the remnant of Israel from all nations who will call upon and serve Him (3:9).

In that day, the day of the LORD, sin, shame, and pride will be removed (3:11-14), God’s people will rejoice for the LORD is King (3:14-17), and the people will be restored to the LORD who will dwell in the midst (3:18-20).

What a glorious day that will be!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The hour of revival had past, and it was too late! (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35

Today’s Scripture readings are parallel accounts of the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35). 2 Kings was a contemporary history record; however, 2 Chronicles was authored while Israel and Judah were in captivity. Both are historical accounts of the promise of blessings (when kings obey the LORD’s Law and Commandments) and judgment (when those same kings rebel and disobey the LORD). Today’s devotional commentary will focus on the accounts in 2 Kings 22-23.

2 Kings 22

The glorious reign of Josiah, the grandson of King Manasseh (who reigned in Judah 55 years) and the son of Amon (a wicked king who reigned two years), was a period of revival in Judah.

Josiah began to reign when he was eight years old, and perhaps because of the influence of his mother, he chose to do “that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (22:2).

The king commanded that the Temple be repaired (22:3-7), and in the course of doing so the high priest Hilkiah found “the book of the law in the house of the LORD” (22:8). The “book of the law” was taken to King Josiah and “when the king had heard the words of the book of the law…he rent his clothes” in a public act of repentance and humility (22:11).

Josiah, overwhelmed by the words of the law and its promises of blessings and cursings (22:12-13), sent messengers to enquire of a prophetess named Huldah (22:13-14). Huldah confirmed to the king that the sins of Judah had sealed the nation’s fate and judgment was imminent (22:15-20). Josiah was assured that he would not see the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem in his lifetime because his “heart was tender” and he had humbled himself before the LORD (22:18-19).

2 Kings 23

Josiah set his heart to begin a national reformation of Judah, and one that reached northward to the land and remnant of Israel (2 Kings 23). Gathering all the leaders and people of Judah, the king renewed Judah’s covenant with the LORD (23:1-3).

The king commanded the Temple be cleansed of idolatry and all the elements associated with such wickedness destroyed, ground to powder, and burned (23:4-6). Demonstrating the depth of depravity to which Judah had descended, we find there were “houses of the sodomites” (homosexuals) located on the Temple mount “by the house of the LORD” (23:7).

Josiah took his crusade for reformation to Bethel where Jeroboam, the first king of the northern ten tribes, had established idolatry (23:15). With the exception of two faithful prophets who were buried near Bethel, Josiah’s cleansing of wickedness in that land was so thorough that he commanded the bones of the wicked be removed from their tombs and burned (23:16-19).

Josiah also observed the Passover on a scale that had not been followed since the days of the Judges (23:21-23; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19).

The reign of Josiah was celebrated in Judah. In the annals of Judah’s history there was “no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (23:25).

Nevertheless, it was too late for Judah. The wickedness of King Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, and Judah’s willingness to follow the sins of Manasseh, had sealed the fate of that nation. “The LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (23:27).

Three rebellious kings followed Josiah in quick succession (23:31-37) and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, began to overshadow the land (2 Kings 24).

For Judah, the hour of revival had past, and it was too late.

Genesis 6:3 – “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man…”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Alone is God and There is No Other! (Isaiah 40-43)

Scripture reading: Isaiah 40-43

The breadth of today’s Scripture reading is so great that I am limiting my devotional commentary to Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40

The destruction of Jerusalem and God’s judgment against Judah for her wickedness appears imminent in Isaiah 40. Knowing the grace and longsuffering of the LORD, we are not surprised that nearly a century passed before Babylon attacked the capital city, destroyed the Temple, and took the people captive.

Let’s take a few minutes and glean from Isaiah 40 some insight into the character of God.

The God of Israel is portrayed as longsuffering, forgiving and comforting (40:1-2).   Seven hundred years before he was born, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah was foretold here (40:3-5; Matthew 3:3).

Observing the temporal nature of this earthly life and knowing that our lives are like grass that withers and flowers that fade, Isaiah declares, “the Word of our God shall stand forever” (40:6-8). What comfort we should take from our confidence in the immutable nature of God! Times change and men change; however, God changes not and His Word is established forever!

Who is my God? 

He is the Creator and the depths of the waters in the oceans are like “the hollow of his hand” (40:12a).  He knows the span of the heavens, the stars, moons, and planets.  He has calculated the dust of the earth and knows the weight of the mountains and hills (40:12b).

My God is so great that all the nations and their armies of the earth are as nothing to Him (40:15-17). 

There is nothing and no one greater than my God!  The beauty of earth’s sphere reflects the glory of His throne and men are like grasshoppers in his presence (40:22-23).  He is omniscient, and calls the stars of heaven by name (40:26).  He is Everlasting God, Creator and Sustainer of all things (40:28).  He is my Savior and my Strength (40:30-31).

Isaiah 40:30-31 – “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

From whence did my God come?

He was God before there was time and creation.  I confess my poor finite mind cannot explain this doctrine, but His person and handiwork, are they not evidenced in all He has created? (Psalm 90:1-2)

Isaiah 43:10b-11, 13a – “… I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour…13  Yea, before the day was I am he…”

Before the first day…there was God!  He alone is God!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“And it came to pass” (Isaiah 37-39; Psalm 76)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 37-39; Psalm 76

After Hezekiah humbled himself before the LORD, tore down the “high (unholy) places” and restored worship and sacrifices in the Temple; “it came to pass” (37:1) that God allowed an enemy to taunt, mock, and scorn the people of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36).

Isaiah 37 – God Hears and Answers Prayer

Receiving the threats of war from Rabshakeh, the emissary of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, Hezekiah humbled himself, “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house [Temple] of the LORD” (37:1).

Desperate for an assuring word from the LORD, Hezekiah sent messengers to Isaiah telling the prophet, “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy” (37:3).

Isaiah encouraged the king saying, “Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me” (37:6). The LORD promised to “send a blast”, literally a spirit that would trouble the king of Assyria; a rumor that drove him to return to his country where he would be assassinated (37:7).

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, renewed his threat against Jerusalem and mocked Hezekiah’s faith in God, reminding the king of all the nations that had already fallen to his armies (37:8-13). After receiving Sennacherib’s threat, the king took the letter to the Temple, “spread it before the LORD,” and prayed: “O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only” (37:14-15, 37:20).

Isaiah sent word to Hezekiah that the LORD had heard his petition and “the king of Assyria, He shall not come into” Jerusalem (37:33). The LORD promised, “I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (37:35).

Isaiah 37 concludes with the LORD sending an avenging angel that slayed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (37:36). Sennacherib then retreated to Nineveh where he was slain by his own sons (37:37-38).

 

Isaiah 38 – A Premature Obituary: “Thou Shalt Die.”

God wonderfully answered King Hezekiah’s prayer and gave Jerusalem and the king a great triumph over Assyria. The king, no doubt rejoicing, received Isaiah who then delivered a sobering prophecy:  “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (38:1).

While that prophecy was not unusual, for it stated a reality all sinners must inevitably face, it overwhelmed Hezekiah who “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD” (38:2).

The king “wept sore,” praying, “O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight” (38:3).

The LORD received Hezekiah’s prayer and promised to add fifteen years to the king’s life (38:4-6).  As a miraculous sign that his life would be extended, God turned the shadow on the sundial back ten degrees (38:7-8).

Isaiah 38 concludes with a psalm of thanksgiving composed by King Hezekiah, rejoicing in God hearing his prayer and extending his years (38:9-22).

Isaiah 39 – Flattery, Pride and a Foolish King

News of Hezekiah’s sickness had traveled through diplomatic channels and “Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered” (39:1).

No doubt, flattered by his guests, Hezekiah permitted the ambassadors from Babylon to see the wealth of his treasury (39:1-2). When Isaiah learned of the king’s guests, he questioned and then admonished Hezekiah (39:3-4).

Isaiah admonished the king that his arrogant decision to display the nation’s wealth would end with the king of Babylon taking away, not only Judah’s wealth, but also his sons and heirs to the throne (39:7). With humility, the king humbled himself and accepted Isaiah’s rebuke saying, “Good is the word of the LORD” (39:8).

A Spiritual Lesson Concerning Pride

I have witnessed men and women, who after experiencing a measure of success in their endeavors, permitted their hearts to swell with pride. Setting aside humility and dependence on God that was the incentive and catalyst of God’s blessings, they failed to remember, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Life Challenge: Deflect the best things men say about you, and don’t believe the worst; for somewhere in the middle is the truth about your character and person.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

How Do You Answer an Insolent Fool? (Isaiah 35-36)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 35-36

There are two timelines in today’s Scripture reading. Isaiah 35 describes the yet future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Isaiah 36 then turns our focus back to the imminent threat of the Assyrian army that had laid siege to the city of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 35 The earth and the nations of the world after Christ’s judgment and His Millennial Kingdom

After the Second Coming of Christ, His reign on the earth will usher in a time of peace and prosperity like the world has not known since before Adam sinned.

The earth will be restored and the desert will bring forth life and flower with beauty reflecting God’s glory (35:1-2). The physically weak will be strengthened (35:3) and the fearful will be emboldened (35:4). Christ’s reign will be one of perfect justice and believers will find security in Him.

When Christ reigns the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will jump for joy (35:5), the dumb will break forth into singing (35:6), and the desert will flow with streams of water (35:6b) and bloom like an oasis (35:7). What a glorious day that will be!

The world in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be at peace and believers will come to Zion (new Jerusalem) with “songs and everlasting joy” (35:9). In that day, the day when Christ reigns on the earth, “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (35:10). What a happy day that will be!

Isaiah 36 – Isaiah 36 turns our focus from the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 35) to Isaiah’s Day, about 701 B.C.

We find Jerusalem under siege as the Assyrian armies overran and defeated Israel (taking captive the northern ten tribes). The Assyrians have conquered the outlying cities and fortresses of Judah and are encamped outside the great walls  of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36).

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe, sums up Isaiah 36-39 writing, “Hezekiah [the king of Judah] faced three crises in a short time: an international crisis (the invasion of the Assyrian army), a personal crisis (sickness and near death), and a national crisis (the visit of the Babylonian envoys).”  [The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets]

The events of Isaiah 36 follow a national revival that had been led by Hezekiah, King of Judah.

We read in 2 Chronicles 32:1 that Sennacherib king of Assyria invaded Judah, “after these things.” After what things? What had occurred in Judah just before the Assyrians invaded? The answer to that question is found here:

2 Chronicles 31:20-21 – “20  And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God21  And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.”

After Hezekiah had done that which was good, and right, he followed after truth (2 Chronicles 31:10). Hezekiah restored the Temple and worship after he had set his heart to seek God, and obey the law and commandments. Then, and only then, did he begin to prosper. And yet, after those things, an enemy threatened to overthrow the king, destroy Jerusalem, and remove God’s people out of the land.

An emissary of the Assyrian King Sennacherib named Rabshakeh, was sent to confront King Hezekiah (36:4-8) and he demand tribute be paid to the king of Assyria.

Hezekiah sent representatives to reason with Rabshakeh; however, he was insolent and reproached Hezekiah (36:4) and his faith in Judah’s God (36:7).

Somehow Rabshakeh, the Assyrian king’s emissary, had knowledge of Hezekiah’s foolish appeal to Egypt for an alliance and knew that effort had failed. Rabshakeh suggested that should the Assyrians give Judah two thousand horses, they would lack the soldiers to go to war (36:8-9).

Rabshakeh went so far as to suggest that Assyria was laying siege to Jerusalem because Judah’s God had told him to, “Go up against the land, and destroy it” (36:10).

Hearing the emissary’s message and fearing it would disturb the soldiers defending the city walls of Jerusalem, Judah’s leaders asked Rabshakeh to deliver his message in the Syrian language (36:11-12), a language that common soldiers would not understand. Instead of delivering the message as requested, the messenger raised his voice against the men on the wall, mocking King Hezekiah and his faith that God would deliver Judah (36:13-22).

Realizing they were hearing the words of an insolent man, the soldiers on the wall, “held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not” (36:21).

We will pick up our narrative on the siege of Jerusalem and King Hezekiah’s response tomorrow. I will close today’s devotion with a question and a spiritual lesson.

How do you answer an insolent fool? – SILENCE!

Proverbs 26:4-5  “Answer [speak; respond; reply] not a fool according to his folly [foolishness; stupidity], lest thou also be like [equal to; resemble] unto him. 5  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise [shrewd] in his own conceit [eye; confidence; disdain].”

“Solomon warned his son in verse 4 that responding to a fool in the midst of his folly has the potential of drawing you into his folly—and you become like him—a fool!

Stated in a different way—You cannot reason with a fool!

It is a waste of time and effort to reason with a man who has rejected Truth and refuses to heed the clear exposition of God’s Word.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Millennial Reign of Jesus the Messiah (Isaiah 31-34)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 31-34

We continue our Scripture reading in the Book of Isaiah with Israel, the northern ten tribes having fallen to Assyria and its armies now threatening Judah.

Isaiah 31

King Hezekiah’s attempt to appease Assyria’s king with gold and silver had failed. Receiving news of the fall of Samaria and the inhabitants of Israel taken captive, the king of Judah sent emissaries to Egypt to seek an alliance against Assyria (31:1). Isaiah condemned the king for his failure to turn to the LORD for help and declared, “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit” (31:3).

In spite of the king’s failure to turn to God, the LORD promised He would “come down to fight for mount Zion” (31:4b) and “the LORD of hosts (would) defend Jerusalem” and “preserve it” (31:5). Isaiah called on the people to repent of their sins (31:6-7), and promised the LORD would come to their defense and “then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword” (31:8).

Isaiah 32

Isaiah 32 opens with a yet to be fulfilled promise of the coming of the Messiah who “shall reign in righteousness” (32:1). Who is the Messiah who will reign as King? Nathanael confessed that Jesus Christ is “the Son of God…the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

Jesus promised His followers He would come again (John 14:1-6) and the angels who were at His ascension promised His disciples, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

When Jesus Christ comes again, He will come as a conquering King and will sit in judgment over the nations of the earth. The apostle John wrote, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).

When Christ sits on His throne in Jerusalem the curse of sin that blights and scars the earth will be removed. The eyes of the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and stammering tongues will speak (32:3-4). The barren wilderness will become a fruitful garden (32:15). There will be righteous judgment in the land (32:16), and because righteousness rules, there will be “peace…quietness and assurance for ever” (32:17).

What a contrast to our world where there is no justice in the land. Where rioting and violence, sickness and death are perpetual threats.

Lesson – When righteousness rules, there is peace (32:17).

Isaiah 33

Isaiah 33 picks up the story of King Hezekiah’s failed attempt to appease Assyria, but the prophet warned that the destroyer (Assyria) would itself be destroyed (33:1).

Though the majority of Judah had rebelled and turned from the LORD, there were a few in Judah who prayed and God heard their prayers. The faithful few prayed, “O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble” (33:2). God answered their prayers and promised to deliver Jerusalem by setting Himself against Assyria (33:10-12).

God fulfilled His promise of judgment and destroyed Assyria’s army. The defeat of Judah’s adversary was so complete that it struck fear in the hearts of the people (33:13-14).

A Messianic prophecy of Christ’s Second Coming is found in the closing verses of Isaiah 33. When Christ returns He will repel and destroy the armies of the nations of the earth that will be gathered against Jerusalem (33:17-24).

In the “New Jerusalem” where Christ will reign, there will be no sickness or sin (33:24).

Isaiah 34 speaks of God’s great and universal judgment of the nations of the world.

Isaiah 34 focuses on the “Day of the Lord’s Vengeance,” His final judgment of the nations of the world (34:8).

The nations of the world will be assembled (we know prophetically that this is the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19:11-21). Isaiah describes how God will pour out His wrath on the nations for how they mistreated and slaughtered His people (34:1-2). No nation will be spared the wrath of the LORD, and the earth and the heavens will be moved by God’s judgment (34:3-4).

The immediate focus of Isaiah’s prophecy was Edom (or Idumea) and its capital city “Bozrah” (34:6). Edom served as an example of what will become of the nations, when God takes vengeance on the world.

God’s judgment will be terrifying and complete: blood-soaked land, streams running dark, fire and smoke ascending, cities uninhabitable except for wild beasts (34:6-15).

Isaiah warned all the prophecies of the LORD would come to pass and “no one of these shall fail” (34:16).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Lesson in the Sovereignty and Judgment of God (Isaiah 23-27)

Scripture reading: Isaiah 23-27

Isaiah continues his prophecy against the nations in today’s Scripture reading that is admittedly, challenging to both read and understand! This may be your first attempt to read Isaiah’s prophecies and I encourage you to press on. Pray for the LORD to open your eyes to understanding as you open your heart. The primary focus of today’s commentary will be Isaiah 23-24.

Isaiah 23

Three ancient cities are the subject of Isaiah 23. The city of Tyre is the principal subject of the chapter. Tyre was a major shipping port in ancient times (23:1), and was located in Philistia on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea of what is today’s southern Lebanon. Tyre and Zidon (also spelled Sidon) were the two major cities of ancient Philista (23:2, 4, 12). The third city is Tarshish (23:1), a major shipping port in today’s Spain.

Isaiah prophesied that Tyre would be “laid waste” (23:1). Biblical prophecy and recorded history validate that the Chaldeans (the citizens of Babylon) conquered Tyre (23:2-15).  Trade and commerce were disrupted in that region for seventy years (23:15-17).

Why would Israel be interested in the destruction of Tyre? 

The answer to that question is found in these words: “The LORD of hosts hath purposed it…He stretched out his hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms” (23:9, 11).  The destruction and devastation of Tyre would be a testimony of God’s sovereignty.

No nation, including our own, is so powerful that it can escape God’s judgment once He has set His face against it.

Isaiah 24

Isaiah 24 continues the theme of God’s judgment against the nations, describing a scene where the earth is defiled by sin (24:1-5).  Isaiah prophesied that the earth is cursed and in the day of the LORD, the day of His judgment, “the inhabitants of the earth” will be burned (24:6).

The scene is one of universal judgment (24:1-12) and universal suffering (24:16-17). The earth is violently shaken as the LORD will “punish the host of the high ones…and the kings of the earth” (24:21). The Second Coming of Christ will mark the end of the Great Tribulation (24:23).

Isaiah 25-26

Isaiah 25 transitions from God’s judgment of the nations (Isaiah 23-24) to Israel rejoicing in the LORD who is a refuge for His people (25:1-12).

Isaiah 26 finds Judah restored to her land and rejoicing in the LORD who has promised peace, rest, and everlasting security (26:1-4).

Isaiah 27

Scholars believe the three beasts described in Isaiah 27:1 represent prophetically three empires of the world.

The chapter ends with a yet to be fulfilled prophecy: The restoration of the children of Israel to their land where they will “be gathered one by one” (27:12).

A closing thought: The earth and her inhabitants live under the curse of sin. News reports of natural disasters (earthquakes, storms, pollution), epidemics, violence and rioting serve as daily reminders that “the whole creation groaneth and travileth in pain together” (Romans 1:22).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Apostasy and Tragic End of Israel [the northern kingdom] (2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17

Our Scripture reading in the Book of 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings are parallel records of the same period in Israel and Judah’s history. While the names of the kings and their successors might be laborious, don’t overlook the testimony of God’s sovereignty over the kings and their kingdoms.

The northern ten tribes, known as Israel, whose capital was Samaria, had continued their rebellion and rejection of God’s Covenant, Laws, and Commandments. Judah, the kingdom in the south whose capital was Jerusalem, though blessed with a succession of kings who feared the LORD, was yet following in the idolatrous steps of her sister to the north.

2 Chronicles 28 introduces us to a young king named Ahaz, whose reign marked a dramatic spiritual decline when he turned from the LORD (28:1), and “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim” (28:2; 2 Kings 16:2).

Ahaz made no pretense of fearing the LORD, and the ways of the wicked and the worship of their gods became his way (28:3-4). The king not only burnt incense to idols, he also committed the horror of burning and sacrificing “his children in the fire” (28:3b; 2 Kings 16:3).

The king’s wickedness accelerated Judah’s spiritual decline and eventual destruction. Because Judah had rejected the LORD, He removed His blessing and the nation began to be afflicted. Syria’s king invaded Judah and carried away “a great multitude” (28:5a). The king of Israel soon followed Syria with an invasion of Judah that is described as “a great slaughter” (28:5b).

The depth of wickedness to which Israel had descended is shown when we read that the children of Israel took away 200,000 of their Judean brethren as captives (28:8). Only the intervention and condemnation of a prophet, identified as Oded, deterred Israel from enslaving their own brethren, the people of Judah (28:9-15).

When the Edomites invaded Judah, rather than turn to the LORD for help, King Ahaz appealed to the king of Assyria, and took from the treasuries of the Temple and palace a payment for his protection (28:16-21; 2 Kings 16:7-8).

The depth of Ahaz’s wickedness was evidenced when he ordered the construction of an altar to the gods of Assyria. The king stripped the Temple of its sacred vessels, removed the altar of the LORD, and finally closed the doors of the Temple (28:23-24; 2 Kings 16:10-18).

2 Kings 17

2 Kings 17 gives us the record of God’s final judgment against Israel for breaking their covenant with Him (17:1-6). After a three-year siege of Samaria, the capital of Israel, the city fell and the king of Israel was taken captive and imprisoned by the Assyrians (17:4-6).

Judah, rather than heed the warning of God’s judgment as demonstrated in the fall of Israel, continued in her sins and the people “hardened their necks” (17:14). They not only rejected the LORD, His Law and Commandments, they also established places of idol worship like the heathen (17:15-16), and sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (17:17).

Why did this desolation befall Israel? It was a fulfillment of God’s covenant promises with the nation. The LORD had warned His people, should they rebel and reject His Law and Commandments, He would remove them from their land (Deuteronomy 28:25, 49-50, 52, 63-68) and enslave them (Deuteronomy 28:29, 33, 48, 68). Assyria was the nation God chose to fulfill His covenant promise of judgment. Following the practice of ancient kings, Assyria resettled Israel with people from other nations (17:24).

Judah, after witnessing the fall of Israel, continued in the sinful ways of her sister to the north. We will soon see that God will pour out His wrath on His people.

A closing thought: We might be shocked at the depth of sin and depravity to which Israel and Judah descended, especially as we remember they offered their sons and daughters as burnt sacrifices to idols.

However, my question stands as this: Is a society that kills its unborn in the mother’s womb any better? The United States has taken the lives of sixty million infants, sacrificed as an inconvenience to “women’s rights.”

Surely the LORD, Who did not spare Israel and Judah from judgment, will not tolerate the sins of our nation forever.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith