Category Archives: Rebellion

Attitudes are an External Indicator of the Bent or Direction of One’s Heart and Thoughts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 13

Our society defines attitudes from an emotional perspective and deflects personal responsibility.  If someone exhibits a bad attitude, psychologists deem them victims—victims of poverty, neglect, rejection or abuse. Rather than taking responsibility and self-correcting one’s bad attitude, people find it easier to cast dispersion upon a peer or an authority figure they feel has failed them.  In the process of deflecting responsibility for one’s attitudes, they dig a deeper emotional and spiritual rut!

Today’s devotional will challenge you to look into your own heart for the cause of attitudes that beset you.  More than emotions, attitudes are an external indicator of the bent or direction of one’s heart and thoughts.

Proverbs 13:1  “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction [correction]: but a scorner [scoffer] heareth not rebuke [firm reproof].”

Notice the heart attitude of the “wise son”—he hears and heeds his father’s correction, reproof and rebuke.  His attitude toward his father’s discipline is that of a learner, unlike the scorner. The scorner “heareth not rebuke”—he mocks the authorities in his life and holds them in derision. He blames others for his attitudes and justifies his rebellion by focusing on what he perceives as their failures. He is a slave to “stinking thinking”, a pattern rooted within the bent of his heart and thoughts. Allow me to illustrate this truth with a childhood memory.

I remember NASA illustrating the entry of space capsules into earth’s atmosphere in the 1960’s and emphasizing the attitude of the nose of the capsule.  Attitude was the word NASA used to define the direction of the top or nose of the capsule as contrasted with the heat shield at its base. If the attitude of the nose were right, the heat shield at the base of the capsule would deflect the fiery heat of earth’s atmosphere. If the attitude of the capsule were wrong, the capsule and its occupants would burn up upon re-entry. Life and death were directly related to the attitude of the capsule’s nose.

That same principle is true concerning our attitudes. A pattern of bad attitudes will drive one emotionally and spiritually down a path of self-destruction.  However, the answer to a life of bad attitudes [anger, rebellion, resentment, jealousy, etc.] is not to merely confess and correct negative attitudes or emotions…it is to get to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of a sinful heart! In other words, as goes the heart so goes the attitude!

A Right Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Right Attitude

A Wrong Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Wrong Attitude

My friend, if you are waging war with sinful attitudes, the solution is not for others to change, but for you to change. Too many look outside themselves for a solution to enslaving attitudes…a different spouse, different school, different job, different church…foolishly thinking different will make a difference! Not so!

If you are weary of battling with enslaving attitudes, look to the bent and direction of your own heart and “stinking thoughts”.  Take a few minutes and do an honest, spiritual heart check-up and take responsibility for your attitudes! Get control of your thoughts and you will overcome your attitudes (Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 23:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t Be a Fool: Character Does Matter!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 2 Kings 11-15

My first memory of a public debate over the importance of a man’s character in public office dates to 1992 when President Bill Clinton was first running for President of the United States.  Twenty-five years later, I am still stunned the obvious would be a matter of debate.

The moral values rooted in the heart of a man define his character and drive his disciplines in thought and deed.  Character is the compass that charts a man’s course in conduct and life and a leader’s character profoundly affects his sphere of influence. A man’s character will either bless or curse his home, marriage, ministry, business and public office.

The opening verses of 2 Kings 11 are illustrative of the matter of character and indicative of the depths of depravity a soul will descend when driven by a covetous heart set upon power, position and possessions.   Athaliah, a murderous wench and the mother of Ahaziah king of Judah, seeing her son was dead, (2 Kings 8:25-26; 9:27), directed the murder of her grandchildren so she might succeed her son to the throne of Judah (2 Kings 11:1).

In spite of his grandmother’s murderous rampage, Joash, the infant son of king Ahaziah was spared when his aunt hid he and his nurse in her house for six years (2 Kings 11:2-3).   In the seventh year of queen Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada, a commander of Judah’s army revealed a son of the late king Ahaziah had survived the slaughter of the king’s sons (11:4-11).   Swearing allegiance to Joash, the military leaders crowned him king of Judah (11:12) and executed queen Athaliah  (11:13-16; 2 Chronicles 23:12-15).

Following the death of Athaliah, the nation of Judah enjoyed a season of spiritual revival (2 Kings 11:17-21).   Jehoiada, the high priest, renewed the nation’s covenant with the LORD “that they should be the LORD’S people” (11:17) and directed the destruction of the altars of Baal (11:18).   Although only seven years old (11:21); Jehoash (i.e. Joash), was profoundly influenced by the high priest and “all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet” (11:20).

The revival in Judah was far reaching and “Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (2 Kings 12:2).   The king directed renovation of the Temple that had fallen into disrepair; however, when Jehoiada died, the king neglected the Temple and apostasy once again took root in Judah (2 Chronicles 24:15-22).

Sadly, the life of Jehoash ends tragically in 2 Kings 12:17-21.   Without his godly mentor, Jehoash evidenced shallowness in both his faith and character.   When the king of Syria threatened Judah, rather than look to the LORD, Jehoash bribed the heathen king of Syria by giving him the tithes and offerings in the Temple treasuries.   Soon after, two servants assassinated Jehoash.

Does a man (or woman’s) character matter? I will allow the Word of God to answer that question.

Proverbs 29:2 – When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Monday, July 03, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 10-12

In our last reading in Leviticus, Aaron and his sons were ceremoniously consecrated to the priesthood (Leviticus 8-9).  What a glorious day it was for all Israel when Aaron blessed the people, offered sacrifices and “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people” (Leviticus 9:23)!  The LORD displayed His presence and approval when “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat” (Leviticus 9:24) and “all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24b).

One would hope that blessed display of God’s favor might continue with all Israel maintaining a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case.  Tragedy soon fell upon the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).

What great sorrow that priests would sin against the LORD.  We are not told the motive or reason the eldest sons of Aaron offered “strange fire”; however, we read it was not “commanded” by the LORD.  My own speculation is, given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; pride moved the sons of Aaron to exalt themselves before the people.  Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge these earthly representatives of His heavenly throne and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).

Aaron, the father of Nadab and Abihu, was no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths.  Moses reminded Aaron the LORD sanctified the priesthood and demanded He alone be glorified before the people.  Of Aaron we read, he “held his peace” (10:3), meaning he was silent.

The LORD commanded the bodies of Nadab and Abihu be taken outside the camp for burial (10:4-5); and, lest the people be tempted to sorrow and grieve over the deaths of those who sinned against the LORD, God warned Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, to not make a public display of their sorrow before the people (10:6-7) and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:7).

Priests were not to drink wine or strong drink when they ministered before the LORD (10:8-10).  Of the sacrifices offered before the LORD, a portion was to serve as meat for Aaron and his sons (10:12-15).

God instructed Moses and Aaron regarding meat the children of Israel could eat and the meat they were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11).   Large beasts that are “clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud” (11:3) were acceptable; however, beasts that are not were forbidden.  Examples of forbidden beasts are the camel (11:4), “the coney…the hare” (11:5-6) and “the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you” (11:7).

Leviticus 11:9-23 lists other meats acceptable and forbidden, including fish (11:9-12), birds (11:13-20) and insects (11:21-23). Leviticus 12 instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).

I close today’s devotional commentary pondering what “strange fire” (10:1-7) is present in American churches today under the pretense of worship.  When the goal of worship services is excitement and entertainment as opposed to hallowed and holy, I suggest what many call worship is nothing less than “strange fire”.

If pride motivated Aaron’s sons to offer incense without the LORD’s command (and I believe it was); then what must the LORD see when “worship” leaders and music groups lead an audience with music that has an overriding rock beat moving the audience to cavort about under the guise of worship?

Friend, God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).  If what we call worship looks like the world and acts like the world, it is not holy!

In other words, “If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Who You Gonna Blame?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 13-18

We continue our reading of the prophecies of Ezekiel with a reminder he is a prophet and priest, numbered among the Jews who are captives in Babylon.  The LORD has charged Ezekiel with the unenviable task of delivering a message of woes and judgments against Israel and his own people.  God commanded Ezekiel, “prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (11:4); however, the people would not repent.

False prophets become Ezekiel’s focus in chapter 13 when the LORD commanded the prophet, “prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy” (Ezekiel 13:2).   Lying prophets and prophetesses pretended to be the LORD’s prophets; however, their prophecies were lies pacifying the people’s lusts and belying the inevitability of God’s judgment against the nation (13:1-23).

Some elders of Israel living in Babylonian captivity come to Ezekiel in chapter 14 feigning a desire to hear the Word of the LORD; however, the LORD revealed to the prophet they were idolaters and not sincere worshipers of the God of Israel (14:1-5).  Rather than entertain the hypocrisy of the elders, Ezekiel called them to repent of their idolatry and warned them concerning the false prophets (14:6-11). The LORD charged Ezekiel to declare a series of four judgments He would send upon Israel (14:12-21), but also promising He would spare a remnant of the city (14:22-23).

With the elders of Israel serving as his audience (note 14:1), the LORD reveals to Ezekiel three prophetic pictures of judgment (Ezekiel 15-17).  The first is a vine (15:1-8), often a symbol of Israel in the scriptures (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:1).  The destruction of the vine by fire is a prophetic picture of God’s judgment against Jerusalem and Judah (5:6-8).

The second prophetic picture portrays Israel as an abused woman whom the LORD out of His mercy chose to be His wife (16:1-7) and out of His love and grace showered with jewels and fine robes (16:8-14).   Rather than serving her husband out of love and gratitude, the wife repaid her husband’s favor heaping shame and humiliation on him with her gross immorality.  Israel, like an unfaithful wife, had turned from the LORD Who chose her.  The sins committed by Israel are staggering and the evidence of her wickedness are named by Ezekiel.  The nation had played the harlot (16:15-16), made idols (16:17) and the people offered their sons and daughters as sacrifices to idols (16:20-21).

Rather than repent and turn to the LORD for His protection and blessings, Israel turned to her heathen neighbors (Egypt, vs. 26; the Philistines, vs. 27; the Assyrians, vs. 28; the Chaldeans, vs. 29) and her compromise was akin to the wife playing a harlot on street corners (16:22-34).

Having stated the sins of God’s people, Ezekiel was charged with declaring God’s judgment (16:35-43).   Those nations (i.e. “thy lovers”, vs. 36) with whom Israel had compromised would despise her and be the instruments God would use to punish His people.  Israel’s sin and rebellion against God was greater than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah because she had enjoyed God’s favor; however, she despised the LORD, rejected His Law, and committed the same abominations as the heathen (16:44-52).  In spite of the nation’s wickedness, God promised to not forget His covenant with Israel and to restore her (16:53-63).

The third picture of God’s judgment against Israel is a riddle of two eagles and three vine shoots (i.e. “twigs”) planted in Israel (17:1-24).  As discussed earlier, the vine, and in this chapter the cedar of Lebanon, are pictures of Israel; while Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon is pictured as an eagle in the Bible.  The prophet Jeremiah writes concerning Nebuchadnezzar, “he shall fly as an eagle” (Jeremiah 48:40; 49:22).  Leaving no doubt Nebuchadnezzar is the eagle and Israel and her king are the objects of God’s approaching judgment, we read:  “Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon” (Ezekiel 17:12).

In spite of the utter destruction and devastation of Jerusalem and Judah, the LORD promises to take a “twig” and replant it in Israel (17:22-23) and exalt “the low tree” (17:24).  Bible scholars believe, and I am inclined to agree, the “twig” represents the humble birth of Jesus Christ who will one day return as the King of kings and LORD of lords.

I conclude today’s devotional commentary with a passage of scripture from which I will be preaching this Sunday morning, Ezekiel 18.

There was no debate over the question of God judging Israel for sin; however, a question of responsibility for the calamities facing the nation rose among the people.

The younger population said,  “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” (18:2).  In other words, some were blaming the nation’s troubles and miseries on the sins of their forefathers.  In our day when “blame shifting” is epidemic and everyone is a victim, Ezekiel 18 is applicable to the homes of believers and non-believers .

The universality of man’s wickedness and the inevitable consequences of sin are declared by the LORD: Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (18:4).  While all have sinned, nevertheless, the LORD is just and His judgments are right and He blesses the man who chooses righteousness and obeys His statues and judgments (18:5-9).

Herein is a spiritual lesson for us all: Every generation bears responsibility for its sins and God does not hold a father accountable for the sins of his son (18:10-13) no more than he holds a son accountable for the sins of his father.   When a son see his father’s sins, but chooses the way of righteousness, that son will not bear his father’s guilt (18:14-17); however, the father will be punished for his own sins (18:18-20).

So, who you gonna blame for your troubles?

I close with a challenge to parents who, though not perfect parents, are loving parents but find themselves burdened with an adult child that is a sorrow to their hearts.  Guard your heart against false guilt!  Don’t allow a child wallowing in the mire of self-pity give you cause to despair.  No man or woman has the privilege to blame others for the consequences of their own sinful choices.

God is just and He judges every man and woman “according to his ways” (18:30).   A family will suffer consequences for a family member’s sinful choices; however, the key is in how you respond to those troubles and sorrows.

Remember:  “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20). 

 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

An unabridged devotional commentary on 1 Kings 19-22 for Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 19-22

We conclude our reading of 1 Kings, reminding you that Elijah has, in the power of the LORD, withstood the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18).  Jezebel, the wicked wife of Ahab, learns Elijah had slain the prophets of Baal and sends a messenger to threaten the prophet with the same end (19:2).  Learning of the threat against his life, Elijah fled into the wilderness for fear Jezebel would make good on her threat (19:3).

Remembering this great prophet was but a man, we suspect he was physically exhausted and emotionally spent from the spiritual contest with the prophets of Baal.  In spite of his great victory, Jezebel’s threat against his life caused Elijah to despair (19:4).  In a moment of irony, the prophet fled to save his life, but also “requested for himself that he might die” (19:4)!

Rather than rebuke His prophet, the LORD sent an angel to minister to Elijah while he slept (19:5-8).  When Elijah awoke, he found food to eat and water to drink. Awaken a second time, Elijah was instructed to eat and drink and prepare for a long journey of 40 days (19:8).

Arriving in Mt. Horeb and dwelling in a cave, the LORD came to Elijah and asked, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (19:9).  Elijah complained to the LORD that of all the prophets, he alone was alive and all Israel had forsaken the LORD (19:10).  The LORD came to Elijah a second time and asked, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (19:13).  The LORD encouraged Elijah there were “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (19:18).

Elijah departed Mt. Horeb as the LORD had commanded him, but along the way the LORD gave him Elisha, a man who would be an encouragement to the old prophet and ultimately his successor (19:19-21).

1 Kings 21 records a story familiar to all Bible students.  King Ahab coveted the vineyard of a man named Naboth; however, Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to the king (21:1-4).  Jezebel, learning of what she perceived to be Naboth’s slight against her husband the king, determined to take the vineyard and had two witnesses bring false accusations against Naboth declaring he had blasphemed God and punishing him by stoning (21:5-13).  Hearing Naboth was dead, Jezebel encouraged Ahab to rise and take possession of his vineyard (21:14-15). Ahab took possession of Naboth’s vineyard (21:16).

The LORD commanded Elijah to go and confront Ahab and prophesy the king would die in the place the “dogs licked the blood of Naboth” (21:19).  Knowing the calling of a prophet is to faithfully and fearlessly proclaim the Word of the LORD, it comes as no surprise that Ahab and Jezebel looked upon Elijah as their adversary.  Ahab said Elijah was “he that troubleth Israel” in 1 Kings 18:17.  Evidencing the regressive nature of sinners who reject God’s Word, Ahab greets Elijah saying, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” (21:20).

Rather than retreat, the old prophet faithfully delivered the message of the LORD, declaring the king’s death, the end of his lineage as king, and prophesying the ignoble end of his wife, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel” (21:21-23).  Hearing the prophesy of his death, Ahab responded in an act of repentance and humility, tearing his robes and fasting (20:27).  Although his repentance was short-lived, God spared Ahab for a season and Elijah prophesied his son would suffer die in his stead (20:28-29; 2 Kings 9:14-37).

We conclude our study of 1 Kings with Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah allying himself with king Ahab against the king of Syria.   This final chapter records Ahab’s death on the battlefield against the king of Syria and the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophesy that the dogs would lick his blood as they had Naboth’s (22:37-40).   However, rather than focus on Ahab’s death, I draw your attention to the confrontation between Ahab and a prophet identified as “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (22:8).

Evidencing the nature of a godly king, Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, desired the LORD’s direction before going to battle (22:5).   Ahab complied with Jehoshaphat’s request and gathered nearly four hundred prophets who falsely prophesied the LORD would give Israel and Judah victory on the battlefield over the king of Syria (22:6).   In spite of the prophesies of nearly four hundred men, godly Jehoshaphat was not satisfied and enquired if there was not another prophet in Israel (22:7).

Now there was one prophet in Israel who had not received the invitation to prophesy before the kings, “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (22:8).   Ahab explained Micaiah had not been invited to prophesy saying, “I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (22:8).

King Ahab complied with Jehoshaphat’s request and Micaiah was summoned to stand before the kings and prophesy (22:9-10).  Sitting in the “gate of Samaria”, the most public venue in the capital, Ahab’s prophets, led by one named Zedekiah, agreed in their prophesy that the LORD would give Israel and Judah victory over Syria (22:10b-12).  The servant Ahab sent to invite Micaiah to prophesy warned him the other prophets were of “one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good” (22:13).

In a moment of irony, Micaiah prophesied exactly what Ahab wanted to hear (22:15); however, the king rebuked him and demanded, “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?” (22:16).

Micaiah answered, prophesying Ahab would die and Israel would be “scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd” (22:17).  Acknowledging his own self-fulfilling sentiment, Ahab said to the king of Judah, “Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?” (22:18).

Micaiah completed his task as God’s prophet, boldly confronting Zedekiah and the four hundred men who prophesied lies with him (22:19-23), declaring the true prophet would be revealed by whose prophesy came to pass (22:24-25).  As prophesied, Ahab died in battle and the people were scattered (22:36-40)

I close today’s devotional commentary noting Ahab’s disdain and reluctance to invite Micaiah to prophesy, because “I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (22:8), has become, in my opinion, the malady of Bible fundamental churches, schools, and institutional boards.

Is that not the nature of sinners?  Pulpits of what were once thriving Bible fundamental churches are being filled with preachers dedicated to soft-pedaling God’s Word, appeasing the masses and giving them what they want to hear.  Pulpit committees, deacon boards, and boards of Christian schools and institutions are dedicated to insuring the voices heard in boardrooms and pulpits are those that will “prophesy good” while they dismiss and silence pastors, administrators, and faculty who are willing to give a clarion call concerning the way of sin and compromise.  Like Micaiah, because their voices are not in harmony with the sentiment of the majority, they are undesirable and unwelcome.

While Jehoshaphat desired to hear a true word of prophecy; Ahab was committed to the prophets that would tell him what he wanted to hear and he and all Israel suffered failure.

The same is no less true of our churches, schools and institutions.  Dismiss the warning of faithful men and you do so to your own demise.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Dismiss the warning of faithful men and you do so to your own demise.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 19-22

I am posting two versions of today’s devotional commentary from 1 Kings 19-22.  This blog post is an abbreviated version of a longer one that will soon follow.

We conclude our study of 1 Kings with Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah allying himself with king Ahab against the king of Syria.  This final chapter records Ahab’s death on the battlefield against the king of Syria and the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophesy that the dogs would lick his blood as they had Naboth’s (22:37-40).  However, rather than focus on Ahab’s death, I draw your attention to the confrontation between Ahab and a prophet identified as “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (22:8).

Evidencing the nature of a godly king, Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, desired the LORD’s direction before going to battle (22:5).  Ahab complied with Jehoshaphat’s request and gathered nearly four hundred prophets who falsely prophesied the LORD would give Israel and Judah victory on the battlefield over the king of Syria (22:6).  In spite of the prophesies of nearly four hundred men, godly Jehoshaphat was not satisfied and enquired if there was not another prophet in Israel (22:7).

Now there was one prophet in Israel who had not received the invitation to prophesy before the kings, “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (22:8).  Ahab explained Micaiah had not been invited to prophesy saying, I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (22:8).

King Ahab complied with Jehoshaphat’s request and Micaiah was summoned to stand before the kings and prophesy (22:9-10).  Sitting in the “gate of Samaria”, the most public venue in the capital, Ahab’s prophets, led by one named Zedekiah, agreed in their prophesy that the LORD would give Israel and Judah victory over Syria (22:10b-12).  The servant Ahab sent to invite Micaiah to prophesy warned him the other prophets were of “one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good” (22:13).

In a moment of irony, Micaiah prophesied exactly what Ahab wanted to hear (22:15); however, the king rebuked him and demanded, “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?” (22:16).

Micaiah answered, prophesying Ahab would die and Israel would be “scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd” (22:17).  Acknowledging his own self-fulfilling sentiment, Ahab said to the king of Judah, “Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?” (22:18).

Micaiah completed his task as God’s prophet, boldly confronting Zedekiah and the four hundred men who prophesied lies with him (22:19-23), declaring the true prophet would be revealed by whose prophesy came to pass (22:24-25).  As prophesied, Ahab died in battle and the people were scattered (22:36-40)

I close today’s devotional commentary noting Ahab’s disdain and reluctance to invite Micaiah to prophesy, because “I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (22:8), has become, in my opinion, the malady of Bible fundamental churches, schools, and institutional boards.

Is that not the nature of sinners?  Pulpits of what were once thriving Bible fundamental churches are being filled with preachers dedicated to soft-pedaling God’s Word, appeasing the masses and giving them what they want to hear.  Pulpit committees, deacon boards, and boards of Christian schools and institutions are dedicated to insuring the voices heard in boardrooms and pulpits are those that will “prophesy good” while they dismiss and silence pastors, administrators, and faculty who are willing to give a clarion call concerning the way of sin and compromise.  Like Micaiah, because their voices are not in harmony with the sentiment of the majority, they are undesirable and unwelcome.

While Jehoshaphat desired to hear a true word of prophecy; Ahab was committed to the prophets that would tell him what he wanted to hear and he and all Israel suffered failure.

The same is no less true of our churches, schools and institutions.  Dismiss the warning of faithful men and you do so to your own demise.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Pay Day, Someday”

Friday, June 23, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 7-12

Ezekiel’s prophetic ministry, while a captive in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:3), continues in chapter 7 when the LORD commands the young prophet to declare to Israel, “An end, the end is come” (7:2, 5).   The sins of the people exhausted God’s patience and the judgment of the nation was sure (7:3-4, 7-13).  The nation had rejected the LORD, ignored the warnings of His prophets and the siege of Jerusalem was soon at hand (7:10-21).  (Remember, Ezekiel is prophesying from Babylon while Jeremiah is prophesying in Jerusalem in the years leading up to the final destruction of that city).

The LORD instructed Ezekiel to “make a chain” (7:23), a symbol of the captivity that would remove them from the land as exiles in Babylon for 70 years.  Less someone accuse Him of injustice, the LORD declared, “I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD” (7:27).

Ezekiel 8 offers insight into how far the people had departed from worshipping the LORD and refusing to obey His Law and Commandments.  The Temple of the LORD was defiled with idols (8:1-18) and even the elders of the people, those entrusted with teaching the Law and exercising righteous judgment had committed idolatry in secret places.

God’s judgment of the rebellious people begins in Ezekiel 9 when the LORD calls six men (most likely angels carrying out God’s judgment) and commands them to go throughout the city.  Another man, portrayed as a scribe, was to place a mark on the foreheads of those who “sigh and that cry for all the abominations” being committed in the midst of God’s people (9:1-4).   While the wicked were slain (9:5-6a), those who grieved over the sins of the people and received the mark on their foreheads were spared (9:6b).  Perhaps to encourage His servant, the LORD reveals His heavenly glory in Ezekiel 10.

Ezekiel 11 records God’s warning of judgment against the leaders of the city, “five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people” (11:1).  The LORD informed Ezekiel, “these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city” (11:2).  The leaders were guilty of dismissing the prophecies of God’s judgment and encouraging the people to “build houses” (11:3) when they should have been repenting of their sins and turning to the LORD.

God commanded Ezekiel, “prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (11:4).  Empowered and emboldened by the “Spirit of the LORD” (11:5), Ezekiel courageously proclaimed God’s judgment (11:6-12) and one leader named Pelatiah suddenly fell dead (11:13).  The LORD comforted Ezekiel promising, although many would die in the destruction of Jerusalem and many others would be taken captive to Babylon, a remnant would one day be restored to the land (11:14-21).

Our scripture reading closes with Ezekiel 12 and a remarkable symbolic act portraying the destruction, desolation and captivity that was at hand.  The LORD instructed Ezekiel to, for all to see, pack and remove his “stuff” (12:3).  Removing his personal belongings, he was to dig a hole in the wall leaving the people wondering why he was doing so (12:4-8).  When the people asked, Ezekiel was to tell them it was a sign of what would happen to “the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them” (12:9-10). Although prophesying from Babylon, Ezekiel revealed to the people what the king and those taken captive from Jerusalem would suffer (12:11-16).

Dismissing the LORD’s patience and longsuffering, some in Israel scorned the prophecies of God’s judgment saying, “the days are prolonged, and every vision faileth” (12:22).  God commanded Ezekiel to warn the people they would soon see the fulfillment of the LORD’s prophecies against the nation (12:23-24).  Six years later, Babylon’s army overran the walls of Jerusalem, taking the people captive, and fulfilling every word of Ezekiel’s prophecies.

A quote of the late Dr. Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) is appropriate as I close today’s devotional commentary: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.”

My friend, I fear 21st century Christians and churches are guilty of dismissing the consequences of sin and, in the words of Dr. Robert G. Lee, the promise there is a Pay Day Someday.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith