Category Archives: Prophecy

Who Is Your God? (Jeremiah 10-13)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 10-13

Our study of the prophecies of Jeremiah continue today with our Scripture reading comprising Jeremiah 10-13. Jeremiah 10 will be the focus of today’s devotional commentary.

Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry spanned the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. He was a man of passion who loved the LORD and faithfully proclaimed His Word from His calling as a young man (Jeremiah 1:6-8) to the fall of Jerusalem and the first years of Babylonian captivity. He endured the scorn of his people, the persecution of his nation’s leaders, and wept as Judah fell to Babylon. His reputation as the “weeping prophet” is borne out by the sorrows that are recorded in the book that bears his name and in the Book of Lamentations, his second book.

Jeremiah challenged the people to contrast the false gods whom they worshipped (10:1-5) with the God of Israel who had revealed Himself to Israel (10:6-11).

Jeremiah 10:1-5 – Jeremiah Mocked the Idols Men Worshipped.

Describing the absurdity of worshipping idols conceived and made by men, Jeremiah pictured a man cutting down a tree, carving and shaping an idol from the wood (10:3), then overlaying it with silver and gold (10:4).

Mocking the idea of anything man might make being a god worthy of worship, Jeremiah stated the impotence of such a god: It cannot move about of its own will (10:4b); it cannot speak (10:5a); in fact, it must be carried about by one foolish enough to worship and sacrifice to its image (10:5b). Jeremiah admonished the people, “Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (10:5c).

Jeremiah 10:6-11 – There is None Like the God of Heaven.

I will step away from my role as an author and allow the Scriptures to declare the majesty of God without commentary.

Jeremiah 10:6-7 – “6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is greatin might. 7  Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Jeremiah 10:10 – But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Jeremiah 10:12 – He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

Jeremiah 10:16 – The portion of Jacob is not like them: for He is the former [framer; potter; maker] of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.

Who is Your God? (10:6-16)

My God is the Great One, unlike any other (10:6). He is the King and Sovereign of all nations (10:7). He is incomparable in His person, majesty, and wisdom (10:7b). He is Truth (10:10a). He is the God of life (10:10b). He is the Eternal, Everlasting King, the Sovereign of Creation (10:10c). He is a God of righteousness and justice (10:10d).

My God is the One and Only Creator (10:12a) and sustains the earth by His power (10:12b) and in His wisdom He set the expanse of the heavens (10:12c). He is the God of Jacob (10:16a) and Israel is His chosen inheritance (10:16b).

My God is the “framer,” the maker, the creator of all things (10:16b). He is “the LORD of hosts,” the Commander and Master of the angels of heaven (10:16c).

Who Is Your God?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“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

“We are the Clay, and Thou Our Potter” (Isaiah 64-66)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 64-66

Today’s Scripture reading is Isaiah 64-66; however, today’s devotional commentary will focus on the closing verses of Isaiah 63 and Isaiah 64.

Isaiah 63

To put Isaiah 64 in context, I invite you to look back to Isaiah 63, the chapter preceding today’s devotion, and consider a series of cries Isaiah made to the LORD for Israel and Judah (63:15-19).

Isaiah petitioned the LORD that He would show mercy and compassion to His people (63:15b). He reminded God that He alone was the Father and Redeemer of Israel. (63:16).  The prophet prayed for the LORD to return and help His people (63:17b), and reminded Him that He had chosen Israel to be a holy people, but their enemies had destroyed the Temple (63:18, a future event).  Though alienated from God by their sins, the people reminded the LORD, “We are thine” (63:19).

Isaiah 64 – Three Cries to the LORD

We consider three cries to the LORD that are recorded in Isaiah 64. The first was a cry for the LORD to save His people from their adversaries (64:1-4). In the immediate, the enemy who would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple would be Babylon. However, this is also a far-reaching prophecy that is still future. The description of “when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil” (64:2) is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ at the climax of the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 21:11-19).

Isaiah prayed for the LORD to come and execute judgment (64:3) and prove He alone is God, and He helps those who wait on His coming (64:4).

The second cry was one of confession (64:5b-8). Isaiah confessed the universality of man’s sin.

Without exception, we are all sinners by birth (64:5) and the problem of sin is universal. Isaiah confessed, “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses [our best attempt at keeping the law and commandments falls short] are as filthy rags [bloody, soiled rags]” (64:6).

Isaiah observed that the hearts of the people were so hardened by sin that there was “none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee” (64:7a). The LORD Who is Holy and will not look upon sin, had turned his face (his blessings and mercies) from the people and they were consumed and enslaved by their wickedness (64:7b).

Realizing the helpless, hopeless state of the nation, Isaiah confessed, “O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (64:8).

Like clay in a potter’s hands who shapes, and fashions it into a vessel that reflects his will and purpose, believers should acknowledge God is sovereign and it is His desire to fashion us as the work of His hand (64:8b).

We close with Isaiah’s cry for forgiveness on behalf of Israel and Judah (64:9-12).

Isaiah reminded the LORD, “we are all thy people” (64:9b). Recollecting that we are considering events that had not yet happened, but would when Nebuchadnezzar’s army lay siege to Jerusalem, Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, “our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee” destroyed by fire (64:10-11).

No doubt a prayer that the people would pray in Babylon during their captivity, Isaiah prayed, “Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?” (Isaiah 64:12)

Isaiah 65-66 is God’s answer to Isaiah’s questions. We are blessed to look back on history and know God did hear the prayers of His people, and Israel did return to her land as a nation.

Truth – God is never slack concerning His promises!

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

There was No Man, No Intercessor (Isaiah 59-63)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 59-63

We continue our chronological reading of the Scriptures with Isaiah 59-63 serving as today’s Bible reading assignment. My devotional commentary will be limited to Isaiah 59.

Isaiah 59 is a message to the wicked and serves as a terrible indictment against the sins of the nation. Consider several principal points we can take from this chapter.

The first, God longed to save Israel from judgment, but the people were unwilling to repent of their sins (59:1-2).

God was able and willing to save the people, if they cried out to Him (59:1). However, the sins of the people had alienated them from the LORD (59:2), and He refused to hear their impenitent prayers (Psalm 66:18).

The sins of Israel, like the sins of our nation, demanded God’s judgment (59:3-8).

As a whole, the society of Isaiah’s day was cruel and perverse. The hands of the people were “defiled with blood.” They were liars (59:3). There was no justice in the land and none who desired truth (59:4a). The people had put their faith in liars and conspiracies (“mischief”) that they might continue in their sin (59:4b).

They were like “cockatrice’ eggs” (i.e. newly hatched poisonous vipers), ruining and killing (59:5-6). They raced to commit evil and gave little thought to the blood they would shed or the wake of destruction they had caused (59:7). They knew nothing of peace, cared nothing for justice, and mislead any who followed them (59:8).

Isaiah 59:9-11 lists the effects of a nation’s wickedness upon society:

Lawlessness and spiritual darkness (59:9); despair and hopelessness (“grope for the wall like the blind” – 59:10); hostility (“roar all like bears” – 59:11) and mourning (“mourn sore like doves” – 59:11); injustices (“we look for judgment, but there is none” – 59:11), and despair (“salvation…is far off” – 59:11).

There was hope for Israel, but only if that nation confessed and repented of their sins (59:12), hypocrisy (59:13), injustices (59:14), abuse and persecution of the righteous (59:15).

The LORD looked upon Israel and mourned “that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 59:16). Seeing “no man” to intercede, the LORD was moved to bring “salvation…and His righteousness” (59:16). That salvation would be offered through the suffering Messiah who would be rejected (53:3), sacrificed “as a lamb to the slaughter” (53:7), and “bare the sin of many, and (would make) intercession” (53:12).

The Second Coming of Christ, His Millennial Kingdom on earth, and His judgment of the wicked is prophesied (59:17-21).

Christ will judge the wicked on the basis of His righteousness (59:17a) and will exercise vengeance on those who rejected Him (59:17b-18). Christ will return to reign as “Redeemer…to Zion” (in Jerusalem) and He will rule those who have repented of their sins (59:19-20).

Christ’s return as a Righteous King and Judge is sealed as a perpetual covenant: “My spirit…my words…shall not depart…from henceforth and for ever” (59:21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Seek Ye the LORD While He May Be Found” (Isaiah 54-58)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 54-58

Today’s devotional commentary will be limited to Isaiah 54-55.

Isaiah 54Who is Our God?

Following the prophetic portrait of a suffering, dying Savior in chapter 53, Isaiah 54 opens with a call for the people of Israel to “break forth into singing” (54:1) in a prophetic picture of Israel’s return from captivity.

Using the familiar marriage portrait of a husband and wife (54:5), the LORD is pictured in this passage as the husband and Israel as a barren wife (54:1). When her years of tears and sorrows in captivity are fulfilled, Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be invited to turn to the LORD.

Looking to the Millennial Kingdom, Israel was promised when that nation is restored to the land that her presence and shadow will be greatly enlarged, “on the right hand and on the left.” We who are Gentiles by birth are children of God by faith and no longer Gentiles, but spiritual heirs (54:2-3).

Who is the God of the Scriptures? Isaiah 54:5 reveals He is “thy Maker” (Creator), “thine husband” (Master), the “LORD of hosts” (God of war), “Redeemer” (Savior), the “Holy One of Israel” (Holy God), “The God of the whole earth” (Sovereign God). What a great God we serve!

Isaiah 55 – A glorious invitation from the LORD to the Gentile nations.

The “servant” of God Who suffered and died in Isaiah 53 is revealed in Isaiah 55 to have offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Israel had been invited to break forth into singing in Isaiah 54, but in Isaiah 55 the invitation is given to “every one that thirsteth” (55:1), Israel and other nations (55:5).

Isaiah 55:6-13 is one of the great invitations in all Scripture. Seek the LORD”, turn to Him confessing your sin before it is too late (55:6).  Repent, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD” (55:7).

Warning: Only fools presuppose their thoughts and ways are right apart from God’s revelation (55:8-9).

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I close with an observation concerning the emphasis and preeminence the Word of God is given in Isaiah 55:11.

Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word [truth; revelation] be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void [ineffectual; empty; i.e. having no effect], but it shall accomplish [do; make] that which I please [take pleasure or delight in], and it shall prosper [succeed] in the thing whereto I sent it.

“My Word…shall not return unto me void!” (Isaiah 55:11)

What a great promise for those who teach God’s Word! Indeed, to all who share God’s Word, the LORD promises His Word, will accomplish what He pleases and “it shall prosper.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Have I no power to deliver?” (Isaiah 49-53)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 49-53

The focus of today’s devotional commentary will be Isaiah 49; however, permit me a moment to highlight the other chapters in today’s Scripture reading.

Isaiah 50 promises the LORD will not abandon His people. Isaiah 51 is an exhortation for God’s people in Babylonian captivity to remember God’s covenant promises made by the LORD (51:1-2). Although the Jews were captives in Babylon and the city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, God had not forgotten His people or His promises (51:3-23)!

The prophetic setting for Isaiah 52:1-12 is the Babylonian captivity. Isaiah prophesies how the LORD will stir the hearts of His people to return to their homeland. Isaiah 52:13-14 gives us a prophetic portrait of the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Isaiah 53 continues the portrait of God’s suffering “servant” that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s sorrows (53:1-3), suffering (53:4-9), and sacrificial death on the cross (53:10-12).

Isaiah 49 – God’s Love for His People

I believe the prophetic setting of Isaiah 49 is the Millennial Kingdom after Christ’s Second Coming and it is He who speaks to the “isles” (a metaphor for the Gentile nations – 49:1).

What are some things we learn about Christ in Isaiah 49?

Before the Messiah would be born, His mission was determined by the LORD Who called Him by name when He was yet in His mother’s womb (49:1b). The LORD would put the Word of God in His mouth that would be like a “sharp sword” (49:2; Revelation 1:16). He would be the LORD’S servant to Israel for the purpose that God might “be glorified” in Him (49:3).

The Messiah would come first to the Jews (49:5; Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; Acts 3:25-26). Christ would then turn to the Gentiles (49:6b; Acts 13:46-47; Romans 1:16).

The coming Messiah would be despised and rejected (49:7a); however, when He comes a second time, He will be honored as one that “Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee” (49:7b).

God will not forget His chosen people and the heavens will rejoice and the people will be comforted (49:13). Many will despair during the Babylonian captivity and will say, “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (49:14).

Isaiah describes God’s enduring love for Israel in three portraits (49:15-15:1).

The first portrait of God’s love is a mother’s love for her nursing son (49:15-23). Like a loving mother who will surely not forget her infant son, the LORD promised, “they [a nursing mother] may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (49:15). The LORD assures Israel, I will not forget you for “I have graven thee [lit. engraved you] upon the palms of my hands” (49:16a).

Isaiah 49:17-21 describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people. Many will die in the overthrow of Judah and the captivity; however, the Jews will remain a distinct people in Babylon. When the time comes for the people to return from captivity to their homeland, the number who return will be so great they will need more land (49:19-21).

Isaiah 49:22-23 is a prophetic picture of the latter days before Christ’s Second Coming. The twentieth century witnessed the beginning of this prophecy when Israel was reconstituted as a nation (1948), and the Gentile nations of the world were stirred to transport the Jews to their homeland (49:22).

Isaiah 49:22 – “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring [carry] thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried [borne; taken] upon their shoulders.”

The second portrait of God’s love for Israel is that of a mighty, courageous warrior (49:24-26).The LORD will save His people (49:24), cause their enemies to turn on one another (49:25), and will be their LORD, Savior, and Redeemer (49:26).

A loving, forgiving husband is the third portrait of God’s love for Israel (50:1-3). Under the law, a husband was permitted to divorce an adulterous wife (50:1). Israel and Judah; however, had broken their covenant with the LORD, and it was they, not the LORD, who sold themselves as slaves of sin (50:1b). God had not divorced or put away His people.

In spite of their sins, the LORD promised He had not forsaken them and He had the power to redeem them (50:2-3).

Lesson – The same God who had the power to “dry up the sea” (i.e. Red Sea – Exodus 14:1-13) and “clothe the heavens with blackness” (50:3; Exodus 20:21) asks: “Have I no power to deliver?” (50:3).

There are times we feel as though the LORD has forgotten or abandoned us. We begin to feel unloved, downcast, discouraged, and alone. Be assured, the LORD has not forgotten or forsaken you! He asks, “Have I no power to deliver?” (50:3). He is waiting for you to turn your thoughts to Him.

Isaiah 43:1b – “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

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