Category Archives: Salvation

Old Testament Sacrifices and What They Teach Us About God’s Character

Monday, June 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 1-3

Having introduced the Book of Leviticus in an earlier post, we turn our attention to today’s scripture reading, Leviticus 1-3.

Leviticus 1-3 states what God required of Israel in sacrificial offerings and it serves as a lesson for the 21st century believer: God demands that His people be a holy, sanctified people.

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe writes in his “Be Series” on the Book of Leviticus:

“Leviticus tells New Testament Christians how to appreciate holiness and appropriate it into their everyday lives.  The word holy is used 91 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times.  References to uncleanness number 128. There’s no question what this book is all about.” [BE Series – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch]

The sacrifices offered in the Old Testament were a figure of which Jesus Christ was the perfect, complete, “once and for all” sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:10).

The first offering required in Leviticus is the “ burnt offering” (1:1-17).  The children of Israel were to bring to the Tabernacle “a male without blemish” (1:3); placing “his hand upon the head” of the bull, sheep or goat, the worshipper identified with the animal’s death as the substitutionary sacrifice for his sin (1:4-5, 10, 14-15).  The sacrifice was then killed and the priest would take the blood and sprinkle it on the altar (1:5, 11).

The second sacrifice noted in Leviticus is the “meat offering” (a better translation would be “meal” or food offering) (Leviticus 2).  Also know as an oblation (meaning “gift” or present); it was a non-blood offering that consisted of grain (“fine flour”), oil and frankincense (2:1).  The priests were to take a portion of the “meal offering” for their families and the rest was to be offered as a burnt offering (2:2

The third offering was a “sacrifice of peace offering” and was a blood offering (Leviticus 3).  Unlike the “burnt offering”, the “peace offering” could be male or female; however, the standard, “without blemish”, applied and the priests inspected the offerings to insure they were acceptable sacrifices (3:1, 12).  As with the “burnt offering”, the worshipper would “lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle” (3:2) and the priests would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar.  My examination of sacrifices found in Leviticus will continue in our next devotional commentary.

We, who identify with Jesus Christ as the sacrificial offering provided by God for our sins, are not under obligation to bring animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:4) since “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

I close highlighting the “without blemish” standard the LORD required of sacrifices under the Law.  Sacrificial offerings were to be of the highest quality. I am sure the temptation for many was as it is today, to give the LORD something, but not necessarily the best.  The apostle Paul had in mind the same “without blemish” standard for believers when he wrote: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

The LORD required of Old Testament sacrifices the best and He requires no less of His people today.  Our bodies, our lives are to be “holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1).  Holy, sanctified, set apart and dedicated to the LORD.  Acceptable, pleasing and conforming to the will of God; anything less is unacceptable!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: The Lord Alone is Worthy of Your Trust!

Wednesday, May 23, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 60-62

Our scripture reading today is three brief psalms by David, each one inspired by events in the life of the king and focused on the faithfulness and character of God.

The superscription of Psalm 60 indicates it was written at a time the Edomites invaded southern Israel.  David deployed a portion of his army under his trusted general Joab who thwarted the invasion and defeated Edom (1 Chronicles 18:1-13).  Although the king had not yet received word from the battlefront, David wrote Psalm 60 expressing confidence that the LORD would give His people the victory (60:11-12).

The setting for Psalm 61 is uncertain; however, the prayer of the king is indicative of a time he faced danger and called out to the LORD to come to his aid.  In the midst of his cry for help, David reflected on the goodness and faithfulness of the LORD in times past (61:3-4) as his assurance God hears and answers prayer (61:5-6).

The historical context of Psalm 62 is unknown; however, David’s focus upon the character of the LORD is certain.  Consider David’s numerous reflections on the LORD.

The first reflection, God is our Salvation, Strength (i.e. Rock) and Refuge (62:1-2, 6-7). The second reflection, our HOPE is in God, therefore we wait upon Him (62:5) and we shall not be moved or shaken (62:6b).

Notice in verse 9 how David’s view of men and circumstances changed after he meditated on the character of the LORD and reflected on His faithfulness.

Psalm 62:9 – Surely men of low degree are vanity [empty; i.e. are nothing more than hot air], and men of high degree are a lie [deceitful; deceptive]: to be laid in the balance [scales; i.e. to be weighed by God], they are altogether lighter than vanity [empty; i.e. are nothing more than hot air].

David reminds us “the best of men are men at the best” (Charles Spurgeon)!  Some men are born of privilege while others are men of humblest means; however, in God’s eternal scales they are nothing but men apart from Him (62:9).  Pity the fool whose confidence is in man!

Some men trust in riches; however, David warns God’s people to not be as the wicked who covet wealth and, putting their confidence in possessions, oppress the innocent and spoil the weak (62:10).

Psalm 62 closes with an exhortation for GOd’s people to place their trust and confidence in the LORD Who is just and “renderest [rewards; pays] to every man according to his work [deeds; labor; actions]” (Psalm 62:11-12).

Friend, I can attest from experience that few men are worthy of your confidence and trust!  Most men and women have their agendas and invariably seek their own advantage.  Few are those who seek the LORD!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Who is the LORD?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 20-24

Absalom is dead!  The rebellious son of David who led an uprising against his father and openly mocked the king in the sight of the people by going into his father’s harem, killed by Joab contrary to the king’s wishes (2 Samuel 18).  Rather than rejoicing in his army’s victory over his adversaries, David mourned the death of his son Absalom giving cause for Joab to rebuke David (2 Samuel 19:1-6).

The tribe of Judah readily embraced David’s return to the throne in Jerusalem; however, in spite of the victory over Absalom and his forces, all was not well in Israel and a wicked man named Sheba, a son of the tribe of Benjamin, opposed David (2 Samuel 20:1-4).

Israel, consisting of the northern ten tribes, had always entertained certain displeasure in having a king of Judah reign over them, and because Saul, Israel’s first king was a Benjaminite, there was an animosity that tribe held toward David.  When Sheba rose up against David, there were thousands willing to oppose the king (20:4-13).  David’s men swiftly put down the rebellion and the conflict ended with Sheba being beheaded (20:22).

Suffering three years of famine, the LORD revealed to David there would not be a healing of the land until he righted a wrong committed by his predecessor, king Saul against the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21:1-14).  David set right the wrong against the Gibeonites when he captured seven men of Saul’s lineage and hanged them.

A beautiful psalm of David’s is recorded in 2 Samuel 22 and answers the title I gave today’s devotional commentary, “Who is the LORD?”

2 Samuel 22 is a psalm of rejoicing and thanksgiving.  Consider briefly some of the golden nuggets of truth found in this chapter regarding the LORD and, for the sake of our study; I invite you to join me and use personal pronouns to apply the attributes of the LORD to your life.

The LORD Who is Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existing God is my place of safety for He is my Rock, Fortress, and Deliverer (22:2).  The LORD is my Refuge, my Rock, Shield, Salvation, and my Savior in times of trouble (22:3).

The LORD is the object of my praise (22:4) and when enemies assail me, He is my Defender (22:5).  When I call upon the LORD in my distress He hears my cry and is my Deliverer (22:6-20).

The LORD is also my Rewarder; He rewards those who follow after righteousness and keep His laws (22:21-25).

The LORD is Just and rewards His people according to their ways and works (22:26-28).

Looking back on the years he was an exile in the wilderness, David remembered the LORD’s presence and faithfulness (22:29-43).  In the midst of hardships, David found the LORD was his Light in the midst of darkness (22:29) and his Strength when he faced adversaries (22:30-35).

Not knowing what this day might hold for you, or me I close today’s devotion inviting you to consider David’s assertions regarding the character of our LORD (2 Samuel 22:31-33).

2 Samuel 22:31-33 – “As for God, his way [path] is perfect [upright; complete]; the word [commandment] of the LORD is tried [pure; refined]: he is a buckler [shield] to all them that trust [confide; seek refuge] in him.
32  For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?
33  God is my strength [fortress; rock] and power: and he maketh my way perfect [upright; complete].”

Friend, face today’s challenges confident the LORD rewards faithfulness and He is your strength and guide!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Let Us Worship the LORD!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scripture Reading – 2 Corinthians 6-8

Wherever you are in the world this Sunday, May 7, 2017, I trust you are heeding the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews:  “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).  The “day approaching” is the imminent return of the LORD Jesus Christ.  For this pastor, there is no other place I want to be than worshipping the LORD with His people!

I am continuing my series, “Perspectives on the Cross” in today’s 10:30 AM service and considering the perspectives of the Nameless Faces of those “that passed by”, the Religious Hypocrites represented by the chief priests, scribes and elders, and the two thieves dying on crosses beside the cross on which Jesus Christ suffered and died.

In today’s 6:00 PM service I will invite our church family to consider the “First Mention Principle” of interpretation as we examine “Seven ‘Firsts'” found in Genesis 14-15.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

What Became of Simon After He Helped Bear Christ’s Cross?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Mark 15-16

The setting of Mark 15-16 is the crucifixion of Christ.  I am currently in the midst of a series titled “Perspectives on the Cross” at Hillsdale Baptist Church and relishing the opportunity to slow down and consider details that were part of the arrest, trials, and crucifixion of Christ.  Although familiar to all my readers, I pray today’s devotional commentary will be as enriching for you as it is for me.

The Middle East has always been a boiling caldron of violence, rebellion, and nation overthrowing nation.  In Jesus’ day the Romans were imposing their “Pax Romana” on Israel and the Jews were chaffing under the oppression of Roman taxes and the presence of Roman soldiers.  The threat of rebellion was constant and no Roman official was more efficient at putting down rebellion than Pilate, the Roman governor, appointed by Caesar Tiberius.  Pilate’s harsh rule fueled rebellion and insurrection among the people and his excessive cruelties had even reached the ears of Caesar.

Our scripture reading in Mark 15 follows the illegal trials Jesus had suffered before the high priests and the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:53-72).  Having condemned Jesus, but lacking the authority to put Him to death, they led Jesus away to be tried by Pilate (Mark 15).

Hearing the accusations the chief priests, elders and scribes brought against Jesus, Pilate was amazed He remained silent and did not answer their charges (15:2-5).  Knowing his adversaries were not interested in justice, but motivated by “envy” and spite (15:10), Pilate attempted to free himself and Jesus from the entanglement of Jewish injustices (15:6-9).  In keeping with tradition during the Passover, Pilate offered to free one prisoner, and suggested to the mob that had gathered that Jesus be released (15:9, 12).  Rather than free Jesus, a man Pilate had judged innocent; the wicked Jews demanded the release of Barabbas, a notorious robber, insurrectionists and murderer (15:7, 11).  Having heard their bloodthirsty cries that Jesus be crucified (15:14), Pilate made the fateful decision against his own soul and, “willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified” (15:15).

His fate having been decided, Roman soldiers returned Jesus to a judgment hall called Praetorium and called “together the whole band” of soldiers (some 40-60 men) and began to mock and humiliate Jesus, stripping Him of his clothes they scornfully hailed Him, “king of the Jews” (15:16-20a).   When they tired of mocking Jesus, they “led Him out to crucify Him” (15:20).

Prisoners condemned for crucifixion were forced to bear their cross to Golgotha (the place of the skull); however, Jesus was so weakened from the scourging and loss of blood that a man named “Simon a Cyrenian” was forced to assist Jesus with his cross (15:21).  It is on this point I will pause and ponder, “What became of Simon from Cyrene after he helped bear the cross on which Jesus was crucified?”

I believe the answer to that question is found in the latter part of Mark 15:21 where we read:  “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross” (15:21).

Mark gives the names of two sons of Simon, Alexander and Rufus, who were apparently known to believers of the first century.  It is my speculation Simon’s two sons were named because they, like their father Simon, were themselves Christians and members of the church.  That is a point I cannot prove; however, among the thousands who were saved following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the fact that Simon and his sons are named gives me hope they were believers and known in the church.

We do not know what became of Simon after he bore the cross to Golgotha.  I like to think he stood not too far from the cross and observed Jesus, an innocent, sinless man, bearing the sins of those who crucified Him and the world.  Simon’s pilgrimage for the Passover from Cyrene in northwest Africa (modern Libya) to Jerusalem had providentially led him to the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36).

Friend, have you been to Golgotha, the place called Calvary, and gazed upon the man dying in the midst of two thieves (15:27-28)?  Have you heard the mocking and scorn of those who crucified Him and listened as He prays, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34)?   Behold the man, not only forsaken by those He loved, but as He bears the penalty of our sins prays, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless Son of God, died bearing the penalty of your sins.  Have you accepted Him as your Savior?  I urge you today, in this very reading to, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

This Sunday at Hillsdale Baptist Church, Tampa, FL

“A Word from God’s Word”

Continuing my series, “The Path to the Cross” in this Sunday’s 10:30am service, I will resume my study of the “perspectives” of the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross.

After a brief respite, I begin anew our study, “Lessons on Faith From the Life of Abraham” in Sunday’s 6:00pm service.  Our focus this week is Genesis 13 and my message, “A ‘LOT’ to Remember”.  I will focus on spiritual lessons from the example and failures of Abraham’s nephew Lot.

“The Calvary Quartet”

It is a joy to welcome once again “The Calvary Quartet” to Hillsdale Baptist Church this Sunday morning!  Unlike the entertainment driven ideology of most churches, The Calvary Quartet shares Hillsdale’s passion for music to be foremost a medium of praise and worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Rather than applause, you are invited to honor the LORD with a good hearty “AMEN” if you feel so moved, and a generous love offering at the close of the service as our act of appreciation to the group.

A Partnership for Higher Education:  Maranatha Baptist University

Last Sunday evening I shared with our church family the exciting possibility of Hillsdale partnering with Maranatha Baptist University and our church becoming a “Bridge” – a satellite location for Distance and Online Learning with the MBU.  Whether aspiring to earn an associate degree, pursue a master’s degree, or take college courses for your own enrichment, the opportunity of an education with a regionally accredited Christian institution is exciting.  Please sign up in the lobby if you or a loved one has an interest.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

How Much Sin is Tolerable in the Church?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 13-16

To set today’s scripture reading in context, the focus of this devotional commentary is Exodus 12 that addresses the preparations for the tenth plague and the institution of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

After suffering nine plagues (Exodus 10-11), Pharaoh again hardened his heart and refused to heed Moses’ demand from the LORD that Israel be freed to go, worship and serve God.  Moses warned Pharaoh the tenth plague, would mean the death of the firstborn, from the throne of Pharaoh to “all the firstborn of beasts” (11:5).  Once again Pharaoh hardened his heart (11:10) and the LORD “smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” (12:29-30).

Taking its name from the LORD sparing His people the tenth plague that struck the firstborn of Egypt, God instructed Moses to institute the Passover  (Exodus 12:1-14, 27-28).   The LORD directed Moses and Aaron to command every household to sacrifice a lamb; not just any lamb, but a lamb “without blemish, a male of the first year” (12:15).   Putting the blood of the lamb on the side posts and lintel of the doorposts of the houses (12:7), the LORD promised He would “pass over” their homes when He saw the blood of a lamb (12:12-13).

The perpetual observance of the “Passover” was to serve as a lasting memorial and testimony of the night the LORD spared the firstborn of Israel because of the blood of the lambs that were slain.  The family was to eat the passover lamb with “unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs” (12:8-11, 14-19).  “Leaven”, in our modern vernacular the equivalent of yeast, was not used in bread during the Passover season (12:15, 17-20).  Leaven consisted of dough that had been leftover from a previous day and allowed to ferment.  Taking a pinch of fermented dough and kneading it into a fresh batch of flour dough would in time permeate the whole and cause the bread to rise.  The permeating nature of a little leaven is in the scripture a symbol of the nature of sin; in other words, sin is among God’s people what leaven is in bread dough and, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).  As a reminder that God does not tolerate sin among His people, leaven and leavened bread was forbidden in Hebrew households during the Passover (12:15, 19-20).

I hope to post a devotional commentary on Exodus 13-16 before this day has passed; however, the application of Exodus 12 is too important to overlook.  The Passover, the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish, was necessary to set a distinction between Egypt and Israel.  Nine plagues had given Pharaoh and Egypt the incontestable evidence that Israel’s God was the God of creation.  Egypt and her king; however, had hardened their hearts and refused to heed God’s command. To spare Israel the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, the LORD required the blood of the lamb as a testimony of the penalty of sin; without the blood of the lamb the household would be slain. So it is for all sinners because the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) and, “without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness; deliverance]” (Hebrews 9:22).  All the lambs sacrificed were a type, a picture, of God’s punishment of sin fulfilled in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews writes: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).   Paul writes in his letter to believers in Corinth,

“For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The difference between Israel and Egypt was the Israelites, as an act of faith, applied the blood of the lamb to the doorposts of their homes and when the LORD saw the blood He passed over sparing the firstborn.  Believer, you are spared the penalty of your sins, not because of any good works you have done (Ephesians 2:8-9), but because your faith is in the redemption and forgiveness of sin we have in Christ, God’s sacrificial Lamb (Romans 3:23-25, 28).

In closing, let’s take a lesson from the LORD’s intolerance of leaven in the households during the Passover.  With the blood of the lamb applied to the doorposts, leaven, a symbol of sin, had no place among God’s people.  Friend, that fact is no less true in your life, home, church or school.  Sin, like leaven in bread during the Passover, is intolerable in the lives of God’s people and the Church (1 Corinthians 5:6).  Paul instructed the Church to, “Purge out therefore the old leaven…keep the feast…with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).  For a practical application, what is the application for purging sin from our lives, homes, church and institutions?   We are to be intolerant of sin in our midst (Hebrews 18:15-17)!

1 Corinthians 5:9, 11, 13 – 9  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators…11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat…
13  …Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

Wonder why Bible believers and our churches are so spiritually anemic?  Begin here…for sin, like leaven, will inevitably pollute the whole if it is not purged from the church.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith