Category Archives: Prophecy

“I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his three friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would have brought him some comfort and pity, he had soon realized they had come with one opinion: that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad had assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). He had opined that the wicked have a hard life that is characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and they go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). Of course, the implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19:1-5 – Job’s Bitter Complaint Against His Friends

Job accused his friends of tormenting his soul, and breaking him “in pieces with words” (19:2). He protested that they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed for how they had humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Frustrated with their meddling, Job rebuked them, and suggested if he was wrong, then let it be his fault alone (19:4). Contrary to their allegations, Job again declared he was innocent of wrongdoing (19:5).

Job 19:6-12 – Job’s Complaint Against God

A familiar complaint is once again raised by Job against the LORD. He felt he had been unfairly entangled with sorrows that exceeded his failures (19:6), and that when he cried out to God heaven was silent (19:7). Entrapped, humiliated, his world uprooted, Job felt everything had been brought against him (19:8-12).

Job 19:13-20 – A Crisis of Alienation and Loneliness

We can identify in Job’s afflictions the solitude of one who is suffering greatly. He acknowledged God’s hand in his trials, writing, “13He [God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from” (19:13). Though God was the author of his troubles, the response of his family, friends, and others had left him deeply wounded.

Job felt alone. Forsaken by his family (19:14a), forgotten by his friends (19:14b), slighted by his servants (19:15-16), and abhorred by his wife (“my breath [life, spirit] is strange to my wife” (19:17). Even “young children,” the picture of innocence, “despised” him (19:18). Finally, the friends he thought dearest, had turned against him (19:19).

Job 19:21-27 – Job’s Plea for Pity and Vindication

Turning his thoughts from self-pity, Job begged for pity and understanding (19:21-22). He entreated that the defense of his innocence be recorded so that future generations might look upon his afflictions with wonder, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know their cause, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (19:25).

Looking through the lens of sorrows and trials that he believed were unjustified, Job’s faith had remained unshaken, and he was confident that God his Advocate and his Redeemer, would rescue and ransom him out of his trials. Though worms would destroy his body, Job was confident that his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would one day see God (19:26-27).

Job concluded his rebuke of Bildad, admonishing him that the day of God’s judgment would come, and he would regret the injustices he had committed against him (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Tower of Babel and One Big Unhappy Family (Genesis 10-11)

Scripture reading – Genesis 10-11

The conflicts among the races and nations of the world have their origin in today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 10-11). Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons and concludes by introducing us to Terah, the father of Abraham, the patriarch. We find in Genesis 10-11 the common kinship of all humanity, traced back to Noah’s three sons.

Genesis 10 is where God begins to deal with the Hebrew people through the lineage of Shem. Though the Old Testament focuses upon the history of Israel, and God’s dealing with His chosen people, nonetheless, the LORD never forsook humanity.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 records the names of sixteen sons who were born to Noah’s three sons (and perhaps as many daughters). Genesis 10 registers seventy individual nations that emerged from Noah’s sons: fourteen associated with Japheth (10:2-5), thirty linked to Ham (10:25-27), and twenty-six from Shem (10:21-31).

Japheth, Noah’s oldest son, was the father of many Gentile nations (9:27; 10:2-5), among them the ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the European people (namely, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, Spanish, and the English).

Ham, Noah’s youngest son who was identified as “Canaan” in Genesis 9:25, was father to some of the great empires of the ancient world, among them the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and some scholars would suggest Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, and African tribes (10:6-20).

Although cursed to be a “servant of servants” (9:25-27), the accomplishments of Ham’s progeny were so vast that it appears they set their minds to cast off the curse of being a “servant of servants.” Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the son of Cush, was the first ruler following the flood (10:8-10). He was a “mighty hunter” (10:9), and founded what would become ancient “Babel…in the land of Shinar” (10:10).

Shem, Noah’s second born son, was “the father of all the children of Eber” (10:21-31). Scholars believe the name “Eber,” is an ancient word from which the word “Hebrew” was derived (10:21). “Eber” was the father of the Hebrews (Abraham is described as “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, and the nomadic Arab tribes and nations.

Shem’s lineage is the ancestral line through which God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer Savior. Genesis 10 concludes leaving no doubt that all nations and people in our world today are descended from Noah’s three sons:

Genesis 10:32 – “32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”

Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel

Resisting God’s command to “replenish the earth” (9:1), Noah’s sons and their families continued as “one language, and of one speech” (11:1), and congregated in “a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there” (11:2).

Arising from their desire to continue as they were (being “of one language, and of one speech,” 11:1), mankind resolved to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (11:4). Man’s sinful pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion was summed up in this: Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4).

Once again, we are made privy to a heavenly conversation when the LORD determined to intervene, lest the wickedness and rebellion of man be carried so far that there would be no hope of salvation, and “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (11:6).

Confounding their one language into multiple languages, the LORD caused the work on the tower and the city to cease, and men were forced to scatter abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (11:7-8).

Genesis 11 concludes with the lineage of Shem, and leading our Bible study to a great crossroads in the history of mankind: God calling Abraham (11:31-12:1).

Friend, never forget that the story of history is “HIS-STORY;” a testimony of God’s invisible, providential hand and His “Amazing Grace.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Tale of Two Lineages (Genesis 5-6)

Scripture reading – Genesis 5-6

Genesis 4 concluded with Cain being driven from the presence of Adam’s household (4:12-16),and him taking a wife, and establishing an ungodly lineage (4:17) that would be the curse of righteous men (4:18-24).

Several sons and daughters were born of Adam and Eve’s union (5:4); however, it was a son whom Eve named Seth that God chose as His godly lineage (4:25). Seth had a son whom he named Enos, and then we read, “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (4:26).

Genesis 5 – A Tale of Two Lineages

Before we identify the two lineages that proceeded from Adam and Eve, consider for a moment the incredibly long life spans of the men of these first generations. For instance, Adam lived 930 years (5:4); his son Seth lived 912 years (5:8); and Enos lived 905 years (5:11). How might we explain the longevity of early human life?

Various scholars have tackled that question, and many have scoffed at the possibility of men living nine hundred years or more. Although not original with me (and I do not know whom to cite as my source), there are generally two explanations: That earth’s atmosphere was an expanse of water “above the firmament” (1:7) and therefore shielded man and the world from harmful environmental factors that hasten aging (an example would be the cosmic rays of the sun). A second explanation for longevity, and one I believe is most important, is that the human race was more genetically pure, and there was less disease and sickness. By the way, the longevity of man in those early centuries would have contributed to a boom in population growth that some have estimated might have reached billions of souls before the Flood!

The ungodly lineage of Cain was recorded in Genesis 4:16-24, but remember only a few of his descendants are named, and only because of their important role in the Biblical narrative. I hope to address Cain’s lineage at a later time.

The godly lineage of Adam, through his son Seth is given in Genesis 5 and takes us through to the birth of Noah, and his three sons, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (5:32).

Genesis 6 – Judgment and Destruction: The Worldwide Flood

Like our day, the world of Noah’s day before the Flood evidenced not only a population explosion, but also a wickedness that motivated God to intervene, allowing the Flood to cleanse the earth, in preparation for His promise of a Redeemer to be fulfilled. Once again, we are made privy to the thoughts and heart of God.  Seeing the proliferation of sin in the world, the LORD avowed, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3).

The heart of man had become so consumed with wickedness, that even the godly lineage (“the sons of God”), intermingled with the “daughters of men” (6:4, I believe a reference to the line of Cain). God determined, “every imagination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5). Grieved by the wickedness of man, the LORD declared, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (6:7).

I close inviting you to consider an incredible phrase, and a wonderful doctrine:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). The statement concerning Noah’s spiritual relationship continues: “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (6:9).

Genesis 6:8 is the first mention of God’s “grace” in the Scriptures (although amazing grace was evident when the LORD sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness with skins).

How did Noah respond to God’s gracious commandment to build an ark to the saving of his house, and thereby establishing His covenant (6:18)? He responded in the same way that all sinners must to be saved…Faith. Noah believed God!

Hebrews 11:7 – “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things [and events] not seen as yet, moved with fear [took heed of God’s warning and used due diligence], prepared an ark to the saving [deliverance] of his house; by the which [FAITH] he condemned the world [of unbelief], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

Noah’s faith in God was expressed in his obedience: “Thus did Noah; according to all that God had commanded him, so did he” (6:22).

What of your faith? What do your works say about your faith, and trust in God? After all, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sin is Like A Slithering Snake (Genesis 4)

Scripture reading – Genesis 4

Adam’s sin, and his fall from God’s favor, had immediate consequences on himself, his wife, and the world God had created.

Satan was cursed and his fate sealed with the revelation that he would be at enmity (an enemy) with “the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it [the seed of the woman, fulfilled in Jesus Christ] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel [fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion]” (Genesis 3:14-15).

The sanctity of marriage and the home were affected, as the woman’s role would become one of pain in childbirth, and a desire to please her husband, who would “rule” (headship or authority) over her (3:16).

Adam, as the federal head of humanity, and the caretaker of God’s creation, learned that the curse of his sin not only affected the human race, but infected all creation: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (3:17b-19).

While the consequences of sin were grave and irreparable in Adam’s hands, there was hope in the revelation of God’s mercy and grace: 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (3:21).

Rather than risk man eating of the fruit of “the tree of life” (2:9; 3:22) and living forever in his fallen state, Adam and Eve were shamefully, but mercifully driven from the Garden. God placed at its east entrance “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (3:24).

In Genesis 4 we learn that Eve had borne Adam two sons, Cain, the elder (4:1), and his younger brother Abel (4:2).  

The curse of sin was soon manifest in the home. Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the LORD, as they had seen demonstrated and taught by Adam (4:3-4). God accepted Abel’s offering that consisted of “the firstlings [firstborn]of his flock and of the fat thereof” (4:4); however, he rejected Cain’s offering of “the fruit of the ground” (4:5), for it fell short of the standard of a blood sacrifice that God had demonstrated when He covered man’s nakedness with the skins of animals (3:21).

Abel’s offering followed God’s pattern, and was a humble acknowledgement of his sinfulness and need for God’s grace and forgiveness (Hebrews 11:4; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Cain’s sacrifice, the fruits and vegetables of the ground, was an offering of the fruit of his labor, but insufficient to represent the blood offering which was symbolic for covering sin. Sin offerings could only be accepted from one who came with humility and a heart of repentance (4:3,5).

Rather than accept the LORD’s rejection with self-abasement, Cain became angry, and with his face betraying his wayward heart, “his countenance fell” (4:5b)! God mercifully confronted Cain, and reasoned with him, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (4:6). Cain, stubborn and proud, refused God’s invitation to “Do Right” (i.e. “doest well” – 4:7a), and failed to heed the admonition, “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (4:7b).

Notice the swift degradation of sin as the first son, in a sudden act of jealousy, murdered his brother (4:8-9).

Luke 11:50-51 identifies Abel as a prophet, implying that he had reasoned with his brother to obey God (4:8a). Tragically, the degressive nature of sin in Cain’s heart moved from pride and jealousy, to defiance and hatred, and “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (4:8b). He hated Abel, “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).

Summary thoughts: God had warned Cain, “sin lieth at the door” (4:7).

That is the nature of sin. Sin stalks mankind just as a wild animal stalks its prey. Knowing the blood of Abel had stained the soil of the earth, God mercifully confronted Cain, and five times reminded him that Abel was his brother (4:9-10); yet, each time, Cain hardened his heart and became more defiant. Depressed with his guilt, and overwhelmed with its consequences (4:13), he exaggerated his suffering (4:14).

Consider three spiritual principles from today’s devotional.

The first, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Cain had a choice; heed God’s invitation to “doest well,” or face the consequence of sin lying at the door (4:7). Cain rebelled, and murdered his brother.

A second principle is summed up in this: “His [a sinners] own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, And he shall be holden [entrapped] with the cords of his sins” (Proverbs 5:22). Like a snake silently slithering, then apprehending its prey, constricts the life of its victim. Patterns of sin, if unbroken, will bind the soul until there is no hope.

The third principle is, the greater sin’s guilt, the greater the sinner’s depression. When a man despises correction, and refuses to repent and confess his sin, his sin invariably leads him to deeper, more dominating sins (4:13-14).

An invitation: There is hope for deliverance from sin’s constraining grip and guilt…Repentance!

The prodigal son, came to the end of himself, confessed his sin, humbled himself, and found forgiveness (Luke 15:17-19). That same path of restoration and happiness is open to all.

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 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Tragedy in Paradise (Genesis 2-3)

Scripture reading – Genesis 2-3

Genesis 1:26-27 made us privy to a corporate decision of the Godhead that Adam would be created in the image of God. We read, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (1:26a). Notice that the plurality of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, is indicated in Genesis 1:26a in two ways. In English, “God” appears to be singular; however, in Hebrew it is the plural name for God, “Elohim.” Another indication of the Godhead is the plural pronoun, “us.”

The image of God was not a physical likeness, for “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). The body of man is lifeless, without God breathing into man “the breath of life” by which Adam “became a living soul” (2:7). The word, “breathed” (2:7), is the word used to describe a blacksmith using a bellows to rekindle a fire and increase the heat of the fire. When God breathed into Adam’s body, he imparted life into him, and man became a living soul, conscious of life and his Creator.

God not only gave Adam life, He also gave Him purpose.

As the federal head of the human race, Adam was commissioned to be a steward of God’s creation, and to “have dominion” (1:28), meaning to prevail and rule over, to harness and utilize earth’s resources. Adam was “to dress…and keep” the garden of Eden (2:15), signifying he was to garden and guard, thereby keeping God’s creation in perfect order. As a bountiful garden, Eden was to give man and beast “meat,” meaning food for life (1:29-30).

Adam was also instructed that he might eat of every tree in the garden (2:16), with one exception: “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (2:17).

Why did God put a tree in the garden, and then forbid Adam to eat its fruit?

The answer to that question deals with the nature of man. Adam was not a mindless robot; he was given the privilege of “free will.” He had the freedom and responsibility of free choice; the power to choose between rightand wrong (Gen. 2:9, 16-17).

For example, he was given the liberty to freely eat of any tree (1:29; 2:16), and to eat as much as he wanted, with one limitation: the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17).

We do not know anything of the nature of that tree; however, we know in Eve’s opinion it was “good for food…pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (3:6). Nevertheless, the fruit of that tree was the one thing forbidden of Adam, and the only limitation God placed on his life (3:6).

The tree of knowledge of good and evil was the one place Adam could turn from God.

Adam may not have understood why the fruit of the tree was forbidden; however, it was an opportunity for him to choose to love and trust God.

Eve strayed from the loving boundaries God had placed on humanity, and Adam, as the federal head of the human race, made a decision that had a fatal consequence for all mankind: “He did eat” (3:6). Their consciences awakened to sin, and “the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17), for the first time, Adam and Eve felt shame and fear (3:7-10). God interrogated Adam, asking him, “Where art thou?” (3:9). Adam confessed, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (3:10).

The consequences of Adam’s sin were not limited to himself or his wife.

He was condemned for his disobedience, and its effect was immediate and far-reaching. His labor in this earthly life would be judged, and the fertile ground that had once brought forth a bounty of fruit, would be cursed, and choked with thorns and thistles (3:17-19). Without God’s intervention, Adam was a doomed soul, for the LORD had warned him, “thou shalt surely die” (2:17). In an act of grace, and loving compassion, God “made coats of skins, and clothed” Adam and Eve (3:21).

Adam’s Sin is Our Problem (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

Adam was the first man, the head of the human race, and his nature, like his genetics, was passed from generation to generation. The apostle Paul write later: “21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22). We read the warning, “For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a); but those who accept Christ as Savior are promised, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Roman 6:23b).

Romans 10:13 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

Scripture reading – Revelations 21-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“It is Done!” (Revelations 16-18)

Scripture reading – Revelations 16-18

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study of God’s judgments that will be poured out upon the earth in the latter-half of the tribulation, a period of three and a half years, known as “The Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 7:9, 14; 16:4-7; 22:14-15). Today’s devotional commentary will focus upon Revelation 16.

Revelation 16 – Seven Angels and Seven Bowls (vials) of Judgment

Revelation 16 opens the next phase of God’s judgment as He summons seven angels to go forth bearing seven “vials” or bowls of “the wrath of God.” The bowls are symbolic of individual judgments that will be poured out on the earth (16:1).

There are seven distinct judgments (i.e. bowls). The first bowl of judgment will result in open sores or ulcers, and will afflict all those who have taken “the mark of the beast,” and worshipped his image (16:2). The second judgment disturbs the sea (probably the Mediterranean Sea which is in the vicinity of Babylon), and its waters will become “as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul (i.e. the fish of the sea) [will die] in the sea” (16:3).

The third bowl of God’s wrath will poison the fresh waters, that are described as “the rivers and fountains of waters.” The waters will become as blood (16:4). The third angel states the justification for God’s judgments, declaring His righteousness (16:5) demanded man’s wickedness be condemned (16:6).

Revelation 16:6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. [In a literal sense, they are punished as they deserve, for their wickedness.]

A voice will arise from the altar in heaven and will state, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

A fourth angel will then go forth, and will bear a bowl of judgment that will cause the sun to become unbearably hot, so that it will “scorch men with fire” (16:8). Rather than repent of their wickedness, men will revile and curse God’s name (16:9).

The fifth bowl of God’s wrath will be poured out upon the antichrist and his throne (16:10), and a heavy, frightening darkness will descend on the earth. Once again, though their bodies will bear the “pains and sores” of God’s judgments (16:11), men will not repent.

The sixth angel will bear a bowl that will dry up the Euphrates River (a principal waterway in the Middle East), enabling the armies of the nations to make their way toward Israel (16:12-15). Three evil spirits are described, who will be unleashed to stir the nations of the earth to go to war in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14b).

The Lord will then warn the people of the earth, “15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, andkeepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (16:15), as He gathers all the armies of the earth to “Armageddon” for the final judgment (16:16).

The seventh angel will then be sent with the bowl of God’s wrath that will affect the air and atmosphere of the earth (16:17). Suddenly a voice will cry out from the throne of heaven, saying, “It is done” (16:17b).

God’s final judgment will be accompanied by terrifying natural events: “Voices, and thunders, and lightnings;” and a great earthquake like none that had ever been seen (16:18).

“The great city,” which I believe is Jerusalem, will be “divided into three parts;” however, not destroyed (16:19a). The other great cities of the earth will fall, and “great Babylon” will be utterly devastated by God’s wrath (16:19).

The continents of the earth will shift, and the mountains will fall (16:20). Great hail stones will fall to the earth (the weight of a “talent” may be estimated between 90 to 150 pounds). Still, men who survived will refuse to repent (16:21).

So much more could be written of that great and awful day of judgment; however, I will reserve that to another year.

I close reminding you that wise men and women are looking for, and anticipating Christ is coming (16:15). If you are not ready for His judgment, I urge you to repent of your sins, and turn to Christ before it is too late.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

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

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

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

Scripture reading – Revelation 6-11

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

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

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

Four Seals and Four Horses with Riders

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

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

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

The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Seals

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Parting Words (2 Peter; Jude 1)

Scripture reading – 2 Peter 1-3; Jude 1

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

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

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

2 Peter 1 – An Introduction

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

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

2 Peter 2 – False Teachers and Their Heresies

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

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

2 Peter 3 – The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Died for You; Will You Live for Him? (1 Peter 1-5)

Scripture reading – 1 Peter 1-5

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the First Epistle of Peter. Though brief in comparison to other books of the Bible, this small letter is a spiritual gold mine, but to sum up its doctrines and applications in one devotional commentary is an impossible task. For the sake of brevity, I will limit my focus to Peter’s opening salutation, 1 Peter 1:1-2.

Historical Background

The Roman Empire was near its peak when this letter was written to first century saints. Reaching as far west as Britain, and into the African continent as far south as Egypt, Rome’s territories covered nearly two million square miles. The emperor of the day was the infamous Nero, and by the time Peter penned his epistle, the dark clouds of persecution were beginning to form. The church would soon experience its first wave of persecution, and among those who would become martyrs were the apostles Paul, and Peter, the author of our Epistle.

The Author – “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:1a)

What a testimony of God’s saving grace!  Peter, the fisherman (Mark 1:16-20), brother of Andrew, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and an apostle!  He was a natural leader, and along with James and John, was privileged to be named in Christ’s inner circle (Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:23). He was the disciple who had boasted he would never deny Jesus (Matthew 26:29-35), but thrice denied Him the night He was betrayed (Matthew 26:69-74). Humiliated, broken, and finally restored; Peter became a testimony of faith, courage, and faithfulness to the Lord.

The Addressees of the First Epistle of Peter (1 Peter 1:1b-2)

Peter identified the recipients of his letters as “the strangers [sojourners; exiles] scattered [dispersed] throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). Who were these “strangers”? They were not “strangers” to Peter, but aliens in this world (1:1) because they had been scattered from their homelands (1:1). Driven from their homes by religious persecution, they were believers, who had accepted the Messiah, and become sojourners, people without a home or country.

They were not only “Strangers”, they were the Saved, the Elect,” the chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1:2a). The elect were the same in Peter’s day as they were in every generation.  God’s chosen people are elect.  The blessing for you and me is that anyone can be elect if he or she accepts Christ and becomes part of God’s family.  To be elect is a term of endearment, much like a parent refers to his children as his family.  When we become a part of God’s kingdom, we become part of His family, and we are elect – endeared to the Father.  

I believe the “elect” are chosen by God, according to His foreknowledge, and they are the objects of His saving grace, through faith in the sacrificial offering of Christ for our sin [His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection]. The apostle Paul described “election” in Ephesians 1:4 in these words:

Ephesians 1:4 – “According as [Even as] He hath chosen us in Him [for Himself] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy [consecrated & set apart] and without blame [above reproach] before him in love.”

Who then are the chosen? Who are the elect? Who can be saved?

Some might take me to task on this point, but my answer is, “whosoever will” (John 3:16; Romans 10:13).  The elect are “whosoever will.”

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in himshould not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

My heart rejoices to close with this eternal promise:

“And He [Jesus] is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith