Category Archives: Politics

“The Fearless, Fearful and Foolish” (Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9)

Scripture reading – Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9

History gives abundant testimony of the tension, conflict, and hostility the world holds toward God, His Word, and His people. In today’s Scripture reading (Matthew 14, Mark 6, and Luke 9), the animosity of human authority toward God and His prophet takes center stage.

The ministry of John the Baptist had been powerful, and the prophet had not minced words when confronting the sins of his day. Not even the most prominent politician in Israel had been spared the prophet’s condemnation (Matthew 14:4).

Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod the Great, was “the tetrarch” of Galilee, a tetrarch being a ruler of one-fourth of a Roman province (Matthew 14:1). Herod had divorced his wife and married Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Matthew 14:3-4; Mark 6:17). Their incestuous marriage had not only been an affront to God (Leviticus 18:16), but also to the Jewish people.

John the Baptist had tenaciously condemned such wickedness in Israel and said to Herod, “It is not lawful for thee to have her” (Matthew 14:4). Herod became so exasperated with John’s public rebukes that he had the prophet bound and imprisoned (14:3). Though he wished to put him to death, Herod “feared the multitude, because they counted him [John] as a prophet” (14:5). Herodias, on the other hand, had no political qualms and she “would have killed him; but she could not” (Mark 6:19), “for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy” (Mark 6:20).

Now a great banquet was held for Herod’s birthday, and the daughter of Herodias, after being instructed by her mother to dance before Herod and his guests, had instructed her to ask for the head of John the Baptist when the king offered to reward her (Matthew 14:6-7). Following her mother’s instructions, the daughter of Herodias, demanded, “Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger” (Matthew 14:8). Too proud to confess his error, Herod complied with the daughter’s wicked request, and “sent, and beheaded John in the prison” (Matthew 14:10).

The news of Christ’s ministry and His miracles had reached the ears of the king (Mark 6:14) and Herod “said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him…he said, It is John [the Baptist], whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead (Mark 6:14–16).

Herod’s alarm, that Jesus was John the Baptist, struck fear in the heart of the wicked king. He was haunted by guilt knowing he had murdered an innocent man, and a prophet of God. Rather than confessing his sin; however, Herod wrestled with guilt, and was troubled by fear (Proverbs 29:25). He feared John when he was alive (Mark 6:20), and he was terrified when he heard of the miracles of Jesus, believing John the Baptist was raised from the dead. The king had silenced John’s tongue, but he could not quiet his own guilty conscience.

Later on, when Jesus was arrested, He would have one meeting with Herod (Luke 23:6-11); however, at that time the LORD “answered him nothing” (Luke 23:9). The blood of John the Baptist was on his hands, and the soul of the king was damned by his wickedness.

Let us take a spiritual lesson from Herod: We might find temporal solace in the diagnosis of a psychologist or psychiatrist, and even salve our conscience with prescription drugs or other enhancers; however, if the root problem is sin, there is only one answer:

“Submit [subdue; yield] …to God. Resist the [temptations] devil”…acknowledge your sins, and let the tears of mourning pave the way to God’s forgiveness and joy (James 4:7-10).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

No Karma: My God Has Got the Whole World, In His Hands (Esther 6-10)

Daily reading assignment – Esther 6-10

The world calls it, “Instant Karma,” an ideology attributed to Buddhism and Hinduism. Instant Karma suggests a “payback” for one’s past actions. Of course, what one has done in the past might be good or bad, and the “payback” serve as its reward.

Instant Karma seems to suggest a “Cause and Effect” that is fatalistic and devoid of the influence of divine sovereignty and intervention. As a believer, I have faith in God’s promises. I know God is sovereignly directing the course of humanity to His purpose and end. I am confident, “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

There is an undeniable principle of “Cause and Effect” in this world and it is summed up in this: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Esther 6

Esther 6 is a beautiful example of God working in the heart of a king. King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes I), found himself in a place many of us have found ourselves…enduring a sleepless night.

It is revealed that the king’s insomnia (6:1) was used by God to direct his thoughts and the heart of the king to His divine end. From the king’s perspective, however, it was just another sleepless night, and thus he determined to have his servants read historical records that chronicled his reign.

Providentially, for there is no other explanation for it, the name of Mordecai, Queen Esther’s adopted father, came to the king’s attention. Ahasuerus, was reminded how Mordecai had intervened to foil a plot to assassinate the king (2:21-23). Recalling the event, the king wondered aloud, “What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?” (6:3).

Learning from his servants that Mordecai had not been honored for his service (6:3), the king determined to immediately correct that slight and reward him. Providentially, in that very moment, Haman, the adversary of the Jews who had successfully plotted to have the king sign a decree to exterminate all the Jews, entered the king’s court (6:4-5).

Haman was approaching on a mission to request that Mordecai be hanged from the gallows he had constructed in his courtyard (6:4-5). In a wonderful twist of what some might call “Instant Karma,” Haman listened as the king desired his advice on the means of honoring a servant in “whom the king delighteth to honour” (6:6).

Haman mistakenly believed he was the man the king desired to honor, and suggested a lavish, public parade.

 Esther 6:8-9Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.”

Ah, the irony when Haman was commanded to be the one to honor Mordecai, the very man whom he was plotting to hang (6:10-11)!

Esther 7-10

The balance of Esther 6 and the remaining chapters (Esther 7-10) give testimony to the sovereignty of God as He providentially directed the thoughts, plots and plans of men to His divine purpose and end.

Haman’s wicked scheme to annihilate the Jews was not only thwarted, but he fell victim to the very gallows he had constructed to hang Mordecai (Esther 7:7-10).

Dear friend, all men are free will agents; however, God can and does steer the course of human choices to accomplish His plan and purpose.  King, president, governor, judge, sheriff, employer, teacher, pastor, or parent…none are beyond the sovereign purpose and will of God.

Solomon taught his son, “The king’s heart is in the hand [power; rule; authority; under dominion] of the LORD, as the rivers [streams] of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will [pleasure; desire; favor]” (Proverbs 21:1).

No man acts independent of God; after all, “He’s Got the Whole World, In His Hands!”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Divine Providence: The Invisible Hand of An All-Loving God (Esther 1-5)

Daily reading assignment – Esther 1-5

The Book of Esther is known as one of only two books in the Bible that never mentions God by name (the other is the Song of Solomon). That fact, however, cannot dismiss the indisputable evidences of divine providence seen throughout the pages of this book. Chronologically, the events recorded in the Book of Esther fall in the midst of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

What is divine providence?

Simply defined, providence means “to foresee” or “to see before.”

The late Dr. Edward M. Panosian, my Bible college history professor who sparked within me a passion for history, quotes in his book, The Providence of God in History, the observation of 19th century historian Hollis Read: “History, when rightly written, is but a record of providence; and he who would read history rightly, must read it with his eye constantly fixed on the hand of God.” 1

Many great minds have attempted to define providence. T. Dewitt Talmage, a 19th century clergyman observed: “Despots may plan and armies may march, and the congresses of nations may seem to think they are adjusting all the affairs of the world, but the mighty men of the earth are only the dust of the chariot wheels of God’s providence.”

Author and theologian J.I. Packer said of divine providence, “[God] knows, and foreknows, all things, and His foreknowledge is foreordination; He, therefore, will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man.”

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, stated, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man.”

I add to the chorus of others who have defined Divine Providence my own definition of the same: Providence is God’s sustaining oversight of His creation, and His direction of all things to His appointed end and purpose which is His glory and my good. The providence of God is practical, personal, and cannot be divorced from God’s divine purpose. 

The apostle Paul suggested the same, writing: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Book of Esther is a testimony of both God’s providence in the life of a young Jewish maiden and the preservation of His chosen people. The LORD sovereignly guided the affairs of a secular empire to fulfill His divine purpose and end. The focus of today’s devotional commentary is Esther 1 and Esther 2:1-7.

Esther 1 – A Royal Divorce, Persian Style

King Ahasuerus (also known in history as King Xerxes I) was king of Persia. He was the fourth of five kings to rule the Empire of the Medes and the Persians. He was the grandson of Cyrus the Great, and the son of King Darius I. He reigned over Persia (modern Iran) from 486 B.C. to 465 B.C.

Ahasuerus was ruler of the most powerful nation in the world, and his kingdom extended from India to Africa (1:1), including one hundred twenty-seven provinces that embraced all of today’s Middle East (1:4). Nevertheless, the Persian empire was past its zenith and the events recorded in Esther 1 occurred, according to Greek historian Herodotus, before Ahasuerus attacked Greece and suffered the loss of the Persian navy.

Three lavish feasts are recorded in Esther 1. The first lasted one hundred-eighty days (1:3-4). The second feast, though lasting only seven days, was greater than the first and was a scene of sin and drunken debauchery (1:5-8). The third feast, apparently coinciding with the king’s drunken, weeklong banquet, was hosted by Queen Vashti for the women of the city (1:9).

Drunk with wine, and apparently at the loss of his senses, King Ahasuerus commanded his beautiful queen to parade herself before his guests (1:10-11). Queen Vashti, however, refused to obey the king’s command (1:12). Her refusal created a royal crisis (1:13-18) for a drunken king too proud to humble himself and accept that his queen was the better and wiser of the two. Enraged, Ahasuerus issued a royal decree that forever banished his queen from her throne and the king’s palace (1:19-22).

Esther 2:1-7– A Defeated King and A Virgin Who Became Queen

Having suffered his first defeat and the loss of his navy, Ahasuerus returned to his throne and then “he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her” (2:1). The king’s rash banishment of Queen Vashti (1:19-22), had set in motion a series of events that propelled a Jewish maiden named Hadassah, whose Babylonian name was Esther (2:7), from the anonymity of a maiden, to the throne of Persia.

Although some 50,000 people of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah had returned to Israel (Ezra 1), there were many who had chosen to remain in Babylon, among those was a Jewish man named Mordecai (2:5-7). Mordecai, had taken Hadassah into his household after the deaths of her parents and brought her up as his daughter (2:7). The premature death of Esther’s parents, and her adoption by Mordecai, were both part of God’s sovereign, providential plan for her life.

1Edward M. Panosian, The Providence of God in History (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1996), p. 21.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“HIS-STORY: The Cyclical Nature of God’s Providences and Man’s Fallen Nature”

You are invited to Hillsdale Baptist Church for this Sunday’s 10:30am worship service as Pastor Smith continues his prophetic series with our current focus on the writings and prophecies of Joel, the prophet of Judah.

Like other Old Testament prophets, Joel’s prophecies carried not only an imminent application to God’s people in his day, but were also a foretelling of events that are not yet come to pass. In fact, many of the headline news events we are observing in today’s world appear to be setting the stage for the fulfillment of prophecies we read in Joel 2-3.

There is, as the title of this blog states, a cyclical nature in history that evidences not only the sovereign, providential hand of God, but also the sinful, fallen nature of mankind. There is the rise, glory, decay, and eventual destruction of nations. There is a recurring pattern in the history of humanity that is one of spiritual darkness, followed by emerging light, that eventually fades away once again to darkness. There are times when there is a glimmer of hope for a national revival, a spiritual awakening, and renewal. Eventually, however, the depraved nature of humanity seems determined to eclipse the light entirely.

In this repeated cycle of spiritual light and darkness, where do you think we are as individuals, families, communities, churches, and as a nation? I fear we are seeing a growing darkness that is determined to extinguish the LIGHT. I sense an oppression that is already at war with Biblical faith, traditional family values, and our Constitutional freedoms as a nation and people.

There are many things to be learned from history, but the most important is that God is sovereign and we can be confident in His promises and providences. Jesus Christ is KING, LORD, and is Coming Again!

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God is With You in The Midst of Trials (Ezra 1-3)

Scripture reading – Ezra 1-3

Our chronological Scripture reading schedule brings us today to the Book of Ezra and the return of the Jews to their homeland. Jeremiah had prophesied the captivity of Judah would last seventy years (Jeremiah 25:9-11), and when it was finished, the Jews would return their homeland. True to His Word, God remembered the prophecies of Jeremiah and “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” (1:1).

Ezra 1 is a testimony that God is faithful to His promises.

Permit me a recap of historical events that led up to the miraculous return of God’s chosen people to their homeland. The following dates are approximate; however, they give us a timeline that serves as a reminder that“HIS-STORY” is a testimony of God’s sovereignty and providential dealings with His people.

Solomon’s Temple is believed to have been completed in 949 B.C. In 722 B.C. the Northern Kingdom known as Israel, fell to Assyria. Nebuchadnezzar first subdued Jerusalem and Judah in 606 B.C., taking Judah’s King Jehoiakim captive, along with several other Jewish youth, among them Daniel (Daniel 1:3-4). The 606 B.C. date was the commencement of the seventy years of captivity that Jeremiah had prophesied (Jeremiah 25:9-11). Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The Medo-Persian armies conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.

In 536 B.C., seventy years after the first Babylonian captivity, Cyrus of Persia became the sole regent of the Babylonian empire and issued an edict proclaiming, “the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (1:1-2).

Seventy years after the first captivity began, God moved on the heart of Cyrus to free the Jews to “go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem” (1:3).

Consider two extraordinary events found in the opening verses of Ezra. The first, that God moved on the heart of a heathen king to finance the rebuilding of His Temple in Jerusalem. The second, that Cyrus issued and edict freeing the Jews to return to their homeland.

The same LORD who moved the heart of a pagan king to do His will, is the same God who controls the heart of every authority in your life. King Solomon taught his son, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

After granting the Jews liberty to return to their homeland, only a small number, less than 50,000, shared the vision and heart for returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple (1:5). With the exception of some priests and Levites, only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were represented in the number who were sensitive to the Spirit of God and were willing to leave Babylon and begin the task of rebuilding the Temple and Jerusalem.

Why were the other tribes not moved to return to the land God had promised His people for an inheritance? I fear they had been in Babylon too long (taken captive by Assyria 136 years prior to Judah’s captivity). The Babylonian culture was part of them and they had no heart of longing for the land of their ancestry. Sadly, the majority of the Jews treasured Babylon, and their hearts were not in Jerusalem.

Where is your treasure?

 Matthew 6:19-2119 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Let Us Never Forget 9\11

So much has changed in our world since the morning of September 11, 2001. It might be argued that whatever innocence (or naivety) that remained in our society, was suddenly rent from the heart of our nation when Islamic terrorists, in an unprovoked attack, struck a blow at the soul of America.

The World Trade Center, an international symbol of American capitalism collapsed in a pile of rubble. The Pentagon, a symbol of our nation’s military might, suffered a direct hit.  The crash of United Airlines Flight 93 into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, became a symbol of American heroism as average citizens determined they would not go to their deaths as helpless victims.

“We the People” became one that day as sorrow, anger, and patriotic zeal spanned the differences that often divide us. Race, religion, and political ideologies were set aside for an all too brief season as we grappled with an assault on our individual freedoms and sanctity as a nation.

We congregated in America’s churches, sought solace in each other’s company, wept and prayed. For a time, there was hope of a spiritual awakening, a humility and sincere turning back to the LORD that would bring revival in the hearts and souls as a nation. Instead, we find America torn asunder by petty partisanship, and violence that not only afflicts our cities, but assaults our sensibilities of law and justice.

King David asked, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1). The answer: Because the nations, the political governing bodies of the world, are opposed to God, and the people of the earth are by nature, rebellious. The greater question to ponder is, “Why is God so patient, so longsuffering with sinners?”

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Never Forget Those Who Died…and Those Who Stood: I Am a Proud American!

SEVENTH IN A PACKAGE OF NINE PHOTOS.–– An explosion rips through the South Tower of the World Trade Towers after the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, which departed from Boston en route for Los Angeles, crashed into it Sept, 11, 2001. The North Tower is shown burning after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the tower at 8:45 a.m. (AP Photo/Aurora, Robert Clark)

“Israel’s Redeemer is Strong; the LORD of Hosts is His Name” (Jeremiah 49-50)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 49-50

Today’s Scripture reading continues the record of God’s vengeance against those nations that had been the adversaries of Israel and Judah. In our previous passage of Scripture (Jeremiah 46-48), we considered the LORD’s vengeance against Egypt (Jeremiah 46), Philistia (Jeremiah 47), and Moab (Jeremiah 48). Jeremiah 49-50continues the same prophetic warnings against those nations who had abused God’s people. We can take many lessons from God’s judgment of the nations; however, I suggest the overriding truth is this: God is sovereign over humanity and the LORD of the world’s nations.

Jeremiah 49 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam

Like the Moabites (Jeremiah 48), the Ammonites were also descendants of Lot’s incest with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:32-38). Jeremiah prophesied that the lands occupied by Ammon would one day be returned to Israel (49:2). The sins of the Ammonites were not only their adversarial relationship with Israel, but also their greed and covetousness (49:4-5). In a wonderful evidence of God’s grace, Jeremiah prophesied when Christ’s comes to reign on the earth, numbered among the believers would be “the children of Ammon” (49:6).

The Edomites (49:7-22), descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, were to be destroyed like “Sodom and Gomorrah” (49:13-18). Nebuchadnezzar would come upon Edom like a roaring lion (49:19) and the army of Babylon would sweep over the land like an eagle (49:22).

The nation of Syria, represented by its capital Damascus would be destroyed in God’s judgment (49:23-27).

Three nomadic Arabian tribes including Kedar (49:28-29), Hazor (49:30-33) and Elam (49:34-37) were condemned for judgment. Jeremiah 49:38-39 foretold the extent of Christ’s kingdom will also include the land of Elam.

Jeremiah 50 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Babylon

Jeremiah 50 is an incredible passage of Scripture that foretells the destruction of Babylon, a nation that in Jeremiah’s day was not only the most powerful the world had ever witnessed, but which seemed invincible in its day.

Though Babylon was conquering all nations at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, nevertheless, the LORD foretold a coalition of nations “out of the north” (50:3, 9, 41-42) would so destroy and devastate Babylon that the city would not be fit for man nor beast (50:3). We know from the Scriptures and history the collation of nations out of the north would be the Medes and Persians under the leadership of King Cyrus.

Jeremiah prophesied the “children of Israel” would be liberated by the nation that conquered Babylon and the people would return to their land (50:4-7).

God warned the captives of Babylon to flee the city for her destruction was sealed (50:9-16). Babylon had scattered God’s people like sheep (50:17) and God promised in revenge, “Babylon [would] become a desolation among the nations” (50:23). Babylon had defied God, therefore, He was going to take vengeance on that nation (50:24-32). The fall of Babylon in that time was so great it was prophesied that “the earth is moved” by her fall (50:46).

I close by inviting you to consider God’s promise to His people. Though Israel and Judah were to be scattered among the nations, God would not forget His people and warned the nations, Israel’s “Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: He shall thoroughly plead [the cause of His people] and in that day the “inhabitants of Babylon” will be terrified (50:34).

Our God is the LION of Judah!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The End is the Beginning (2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36

We complete two historical books in today’s Scripture reading: 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

2 Kings began with Elijah prophesying in Israel (2 Kings 1:4-16) when he was suddenly taken into heaven by a whirlwind by what appeared to be a “chariot of fire, and horses of fire” (2:1-11). 2 Kings concludes with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the people of Judah being led away to Babylon.

2 Chronicles 36 gives us a brief historical record of the succession of four evil kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36). Not only had the kings failed Judah, but also her religious leaders were guilty of leading the nation into wickedness and idolatry.

2 Chronicles 36:14 – “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.”

God sent prophets who faithfully heralded a warning of God’s judgment, but the people of Judah refused “till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).

2 Kings 24 – Judah Becomes a Vassal State to Babylon

There was “no remedy,” no hope for Jerusalem or Judah. Jerusalem was overwhelmed by the armies of Babylon that no doubt numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and included mercenary soldiers from other nations (24:2). In the year that Nebuchadnezzar became king (605 BC), he defeated Egypt, Assyria, and Judah submitted to serve as a vassal state of Babylon (24:7).

2 Kings 25 – The Final Siege of Jerusalem

After being under siege for nearly two years (25:1-2), there was no bread in the city and the people began to resort to cannibalism (Jeremiah 38:2-9; 52:6; Lamentations 4:3-10; Ezekiel 5:10).

Enrico Giacomelli, IV Kings 25:7, Volume 1, 1869-1870 edition.

Realizing all was lost, King Zedekiah fled the city with his guards; however, he made it only as far as Jericho before he was captured (25:4-6). Zedekiah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar to be judged. Being found guilty of rebellion, Zedekiah was forced to watch the slaying of his sons before their executioners put out his eyes and carried him away in chains to Babylon (25:7).

Fulfilling God’s prophecies of judgment against Jerusalem, the Babylonians “burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem” (25:9), and broke down the walls of the city (25:10).

Babylon removed all the vessels of the Temple (25:13-17), and either took captive or slew the leaders of Judah who might have threatened an uprising (25:11, 18-21), leaving behind only the poorest of the people (25:12).

After being imprisoned 37 years (25:27), King Jehoiachin, came into the favor of Evil-Merodach, the son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar (25:28-30) and was made comfortable at the king’s table until his death.

2 Chronicles 36 concludes with a message of hope for God’s people.

Jeremiah prophesied when 70 years of captivity were fulfilled, God’s people would return to their land (36:21). Seventy years after Jerusalem was defeated and the Temple was destroyed, we read:

2 Chronicles 36:22-23 – “22  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23  Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

God’s Word is true and His promises are sure!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Reward of a Faithful Prophet (Jeremiah 35-37)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 35-37

The prophet Jeremiah ministered to Judah during the reigns of five kings: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36).

Two sons of King Josiah reigned after his death. Jehoahaz, the youngest son of Josiah, was made king; however, soon after he was deposed and taken as a prisoner to Egypt. In Jehoahaz’s absence, his elder brother Jehoiakim was made king of Judah.

The timeline for Jeremiah 35 is during the reign of Jehoiakim (35:1).

Jeremiah 35 – God Rewards Spiritual Integrity

God commanded Jeremiah to put the household of the Rechabites to the test and prove them as a contrast with the unfaithfulness of Judah.

Jeremiah was told to invite the Rechabites to the Temple and offer them wine to drink (35:2). The prophet obeyed as he was commanded and set wine before the Rechabites and said, “Drink ye wine” (35:5). True to the vows that had been made by a godly ancestor named Jonadab, the Rechabites refused the wine saying, “We will drink no wine” (35:6-11).

Jeremiah 35:12-19 presents a distinction of the honor and integrity of the Rechabites contrasted with the dishonor of the people of Judah. While the Rechabites honored the vows of an ancestor (35:12-14), the people of Judah and Jerusalem refused to heed the word of the prophets and repent of their sin (35:15).

Because of their disobedience, God warned, “I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered” (35:17).

Jeremiah 35 closes with the LORD affirming to the sons of Rechab that their faithfulness and spiritual integrity (35:18) would be rewarded with God assuring that there would always be a godly man numbered in their lineage (35:19).

Jeremiah 36 – The Word of the LORD Despised, Rejected, and Burned with Fire

Unable to go to the Temple to declare the Word of the LORD, God commanded Jeremiah to employ a secretary, a scribe named Baruch, who was instructed to write in a scroll, “all the words of the LORD, which he [the LORD] had spoken unto him [Jeremiah]” (36:4). Jeremiah instructed Baruch to go to the Temple and read the words written in the scroll and call upon the people to “return every one from his evil way” (36:6-7). Baruch obeyed Jeremiah and read the inspired words of the scroll “in the ears of all the people” (36:8-10).

When Baruch had finished reading, he was summoned by the elders (the princes of Judah) to account for the origin of Jeremiah’s words saying, “How didst thou write all these words at his mouth” (36:17). Baruch declared concerning Jeremiah that he “pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book” (36:18).

Careful to leave Baruch’s scroll in the chamber of Elishama, a scribe, the princes of Judah took the message of the scroll to King Jehoiakim who demanded the scroll be retrieved and read in his presence (36:20-21).

As a man named Jehudi began reading the scroll (36:21-22), the king became enraged and slashed the leaves of the scroll with a knife and then “cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth” (36:23). Rather than repent of their sins, the hearts of the king and his servants were so calloused that “they were not afraid, nor rent their garments” (36:24).

The LORD then commanded Jeremiah a second time to take a roll and write again the words which were contained in the first scroll “which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned” (36:28). Added to the words of the scroll was a threefold prophecy against Jerusalem and the King Jehoiakim:

Babylon would conquer and destroy Judah (36:29); the king would not be succeeded by a son (36:30a); and as the king had despised the scroll upon which the Word of the LORD was written, his dead body would not be afforded the honorable burial of a king (36:30b).

Jeremiah 37 – The Reward of a Faithful Prophet: Accused, Treated with Disdain, Beaten and Imprisoned.

We are introduced to King Zedekiah in chapter 37 and he is the last king to reign before the fall of Jerusalem (37:1-13). Zedekiah was little more than a puppet who served at the pleasure of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

As the armies of the Chaldeans and the Egyptians clashed over the spoils of Judah (37:4-7), King Zedekiah hypocritically called upon Jeremiah saying, “Pray now unto the LORD our God for us” (37:3). Rather than prayer, the LORD directed Jeremiah to warn Zedekiah that the Chaldeans would soon burn the city (37:6-10).

Rather than the nation repenting and turning to the LORD, the people turned on Jeremiah and accused him of betraying Judah and siding with the Chaldeans (37:11-13).

In spite of his protests that their accusations were false (37:14), the people took Jeremiah, beat him, and cast him into prison where he remained (37:11-21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith