Category Archives: Salvation

He that is Mighty Watches Over Israel! (Ezekiel 46-48)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 46-48

Today’s Scripture reading concludes our devotional study of the Book of Ezekiel. We have followed the prophet from his work as a 30-year old priest ministering to His people “in the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezekiel 1:3), to God calling him to serve as His prophet.

Ezekiel prophesied the judgment of God against Judah and foretold the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon. The prophet warned the Temple would be destroyed and the land left desolate. While false prophets lied to the people, Ezekiel faithfully confronted their sins, and warned the imminent judgment of God (2:3-5).

While the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were assured, the LORD revealed to Ezekiel that He would not altogether forsake Israel, promising to one day resurrect the nation (Ezekiel 37).  The LORD encouraged His prophet that the Jews would not only be restored to their land, but even described in exacting detail the dimensions of the new Temple the LORD Himself would build in the Millennium Kingdom (Ezekiel 40-43).

Having prophesied the Jews would be restored to their land, the guidelines and the role of priests was defined in Ezekiel 44:9-31. The division of the land was given, including the portion set aside for the LORD (45:1-5) and the portion of the sacrifices to be offered in memoriam to Christ’s sacrifice (45:6-27). Three Feasts or festivals are renewed during the Millennial reign of Christ: The New Year’s Feast (45:18-20), the Passover (45:21-24), and the Feast of the Tabernacles (45:25).

Ezekiel 46 – Sabbaths, New Moons, and Sacrifices

Ezekiel’s record of his vision of the Temple and the worship and offerings continues in chapter 46. Worship on the Sabbath and on the New Moon is noted (46:1-3). Guidelines for feasts and regulations for sacrificial offerings observed during the Millennial Kingdom are given (46:4-15).

Ezekiel 47 – The River of Life

The source of the “River of Life” is observed by Ezekiel as coming forth from the threshold of the Temple (47:1-2). The water begins to flow as a trickle of water and is described as ankle deep (47:3); however, it soon became a mighty river that nourished the city and the land (47:4-5).

The “River of Life” will bring new life to the land of Israel, nourishing trees, healing the Dead Sea and turning it into a thriving sea of life with fish (47:6-12) where fisherman cast their nets.

Guidelines, instructions, and boundaries for dividing the land is recorded in Ezekiel 47:13-23.

Ezekiel 48 – The Land Divided Among the Tribes of Israel

With the central portion of Israel, the land around the Temple and Jerusalem, noted as a sacred district (48:8-22), there were seven tribes to the north that were assigned their lands by tribe (48:1-7). The land south of the sacred district was assigned to the five remaining tribes (48:23-29).

Jerusalem, the capital city and the seat of Christ’s government during His millennial reign is described as having twelve gates, each named for one of the twelve tribes (48:30-35). I invite you to notice that new Jerusalem is given a new name: “Yahweh Shammah,” meaning, “The LORD is there” (48:35).

I close with an observation: With the exception of Israel, the nations and people of the antiquity are either a footnote in history or have been altogether assimilated into the populations of the world. The Jewish people alone stand out as the exception.

The Jews have survived indescribable suffering, atrocities, purges, and attempts at mass annihilation. Yet, there exists today a small sliver of land in the Middle East known as Israel, a testimony of God’s faithfulness and sovereign care of His people.

There is no explanation for the existence of the Jewish people apart from Elohim.

He that is Mighty watches over Israel!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Missing Veil (Ezekiel 40-42)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 40-42

Ezekiel 40-42 gives us a prophetic time not yet fulfilled when Israel, safely restored in her land will set her heart to build a new temple (the last was destroyed in 70 A.D.) and worship the LORD. The Temple described in today’s Scripture reading is the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom. Ezekiel 40-42 gives us the plans, dimensions, physical attributes and future construction of the Millennial Temple.

Ezekiel 40 – A Vision of a New Jerusalem and the Temple

Israel’s captivity in Babylon was 70 years and the time of the vision recorded in Ezekiel 40 is in the “five and twentieth year” of the Jewish captivity (40:1).  Ezekiel has been in captivity for 25 years, and 14 years had passed since Jerusalem was destroyed (40:1).

The LORD sent an angelic messenger whom Ezekiel described as “a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass” (40:3). The messenger held in his hand a “line of flax” (a tape measure) and a “measuring reed of six cubits long” (40:3, 5). While there is some debate regarding the exact length of a cubit, we will accept the traditional definition of one cubit being 18 inches in length.

The measurement of the outer court of the Temple is given (40:5-26), along with the measurement of the inner court (40:27-47). Ezekiel noticed there were rooms used to prepare sacrifices (40:32-38), and butcher tables that were used to prepare meats (40:39-43).

Ezekiel 40:48-41:26 – The Outer and Inner Sanctuaries of the Temple

The Temple in Ezekiel’s vision had a large portico (porch) measuring thirty-five feet long and its width twenty-one feet (41:2). The Outer Sanctuary of the Temple measured seventy feet by thirty-five feet (41:1-2). The Inner Sanctuary, known as the Holy of Holies, was a perfect square measuring thirty-five feet by thirty-five feet and its walls were ten and one-half feet thick (41:3-5).

The side chambers of the Temple were three stories tall with a winding staircase leading to the upward floors. Thirty rooms were on each floor of the chambers (41:6-11).

Ezekiel 41:16-26 records the Temple decorations, furnishings, and the design of the doorframes. Remembering this is the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom, I invite you to consider there is one item missing in this Temple that was essential in Moses’ Tabernacle, and in Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod’s Temples.

Notice there is no mention of the Veil that separated the Outer Sanctuary of the Tabernacle and the Temple from the Inner Sanctuary known as the Holy of Holies.

The veil in the Temple separated the outer court from the Holy of Holies where was found the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat symbolizing the throne and presence of God. The veil represented man’s separation from God. Only the High Priest could enter into the Holy Place, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 26:33).

We read in Matthew’s account of Christ’s death on the Cross: “When he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51).

Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection removed the veil that separated sinful man from God. We, by faith in Christ, have access into the presence of God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

Hebrews 10:19-20 – “19  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“O Ye Dry Bones, Hear the Word of the Lord!” (Ezekiel 37-39)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 37-39

Jerusalem is destroyed, the Temple a pile of charred debris, and Judah as a land has been left desolate. Ezekiel was ministering to a people who were strangers among a heathen, idolatrous nation. The prophets had foretold a captivity of seventy years before God would restore His people to their beloved Promise Land; however, the news of Jerusalem’s fall had left the people in a hopeless state.

With all in ruins, and the people scattered among the nations, what hope was there to return to their homeland?

Ezekiel 37 – Dry Bones Revived

Ezekiel 37 is a prophetic illustration of Israel’s resurrection after captivity, and the reunification of the people who had been divided into two nations since the close of King Solomon’s reign.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 – A Valley Full of Dry Bones

The LORD gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley that was full of dry bones and proposed the question: “Son of man, can these bones live?” (37:3)

This valley of dry bones appears to have been the scene of a great battle, and the bones were left after the flesh had decomposed. Of course, there was no life, because there was no flesh in the valley of dry bones. The prophet had long known the experience of preaching to the people of a dying nation, but now the LORD commanded Ezekiel, “Prophesy upon these bones” (37:4a).

God assured, “I will cause breath to enter into you [i.e. the dry bones], and ye shall live: 6  And I will lay sinews [tendons] upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD” (37:4-5).

Notice the phrase: “Ye shall know that I am the LORD” (37:5).

We have seen that phrase repeated throughout our study of Ezekiel. The purpose in God judging Israel, Judah, the Ammonites, Moabites, Assyria, and eventually Babylon has always been the same: That men would acknowledge that the God of Israel is the One True God and there is no other!

Obedient to the LORD’s command, Ezekiel began to prophesy to the valley of lifeless, dry bones (37:7). Suddenly there was a trembling in the valley as the bones began to come together, “bone to his bone… the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them” (37:7-9).

The scene before Ezekiel was a valley of lifeless bodies, perfectly whole, but with no life in them. The LORD then commanded Ezekiel, “Prophesy unto the wind [and] say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live” (37:9).

Imagine the scene: Ezekiel calling forth the wind in the name of the LORD, and suddenly there was a stirring throughout the valley as the slain “stood up upon their feet!” (37:10)

Ezekiel 37:11-14 gives us the interpretation and purpose of the vision of dry bones.

The dry bones in the valley were symbols of the “whole house of Israel,” both the northern ten tribes known as Israel, and Judah (37:11). The dry bones represented the hopeless state of God’s people (37:11b). Both Israel and Judah had become desolate lands, and the people were scattered among the nations of the world like the lifeless dry bones in the valley (37:11c).

Ezekiel’s message was to encourage the people that, though Israel appeared to be dead, and the hope of being a nation was lost, the LORD had not forgotten His covenant promises. He would gather His people and “bring [them] into the land of Israel” (37:12). He would breathe life into Israel by putting His spirit in them. The people would know that it was the LORD Who had “spoken it, and performed it” (37:14).

What lessons can you take from the valley of dry bones?

The valley of dry bones was a lifeless, hopeless scene; a national tragedy for Israel and Judah who had broken their covenant with God, and forsaken His Law and Commandments. Like the bones scattered in the valley, the people were scattered among the heathen nations. All seemed hopeless.

Your valley of dead, dry bones might be a crisis of health, a conflict with a loved one, or a besetting sin that has enslaved your soul. Remember, the same God who stirred a valley of lifeless bones and raised an army to its feet, is our God! The LORD is the giver of life and He is faithful to His promises. He will not forsake His people!

John 6:63 – “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

Romans 8:11 – “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Prophecy: Babylon the Great is Fallen; however, God has not Forgotten Israel (Jeremiah 51-52)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 51-52

We continue our chronological schedule through the Word of God, concluding our journey in the book of Jeremiah with today’s Scripture reading, Jeremiah 51-52. We have followed the ministry of Jeremiah as he preached to Judah, a nation on the brink of God’s judgment. Israel is no more. Judah has fallen; the Temple is destroyed, and the city of Jerusalem has been left desolate. God, however, had not forgotten or forsaken His people. Babylon’s invasion of Judah had left a path of suffering and destruction, but Jeremiah prophesied that the LORD would have His revenge against Babylon for its abuses of His people.

Jeremiah 51 – The Vengeance of God: Babylon the Great is Fallen

Jeremiah began his prophecy against Babylon in chapter 50, and continues foretelling that nation’s precipitous fall in chapter 51.

Jeremiah had prophesied a coalition of nations that would come against Babylon, “an assembly of great nations from the north country” (50:9). Babylon would “be a spoil” (50:10), “a desolation among the nations” (50:23). God had not forgotten how Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed His Temple in Jerusalem, and the LORD declared “the vengeance of His Temple” (50:28).

God’s people would be made to dwell in Babylon for seventy years of captivity; however, Jeremiah prophesied, “Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel” (51:5).

Jeremiah identified the enemy that would come against Babylon, prophesying, “the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple” (51:11).

Who is the LORD that moved the nations of the earth to do His bidding? He is the Creator, who “made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding” (51:15).

Though the most powerful nation in its day, the fall of Babylon would be swift and severe and no man, woman, or child would be spared (51:20-24). The cruelties Babylon afflicted on Jerusalem, her own citizens would experience (51:25). The “king of the Medes” (Cyrus who led a coalition of the Medes and Persians) was foretold to fulfill the LORD’S purpose, and “make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant” (51:29). What Babylon had sown, she would reap (51:34-35).

Jeremiah 51:45-64 – Jeremiah’s prophecy warned God’s people to flee Babylon before its fall.

Jeremiah wrote his prophecies in a scroll (a book) and sent them by a scribe who was commanded to read the prophecies against Babylon in the streets of that great city (51:59-62). When Seraiah, the scribe, had read all the prophecies against Babylon, he was told to tie a stone around the book and “cast it into the midst of Euphrates” (51:63) saying: “Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her” (51:64).

Jeremiah 52 – When All Seemed Lost, A Glimmer of Hope

Jeremiah 52 returns us to the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his rebellion not only against Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jeremiah 37:1-10), but also against the LORD. Jeremiah had urged Zedekiah to accept Babylon’s reign over Judah, warning to rebel would mean Jerusalem would be destroyed and the people led away captive (Jeremiah 38).

When Zedekiah’s attempt to seek an alliance with Egypt failed, the king of Judah realized all was lost. Fleeing Jerusalem with a small entourage of soldiers (52:7), Zedekiah was overtaken by Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers near Jericho (52:8). The king of Judah and his sons were taken to Nebuchadnezzar who ordered Zedekiah’s sons slain, the king’s eyes put out (52:9-10), and him to Babylon in chains (52:11).

Jeremiah’s prophecies conclude noting that Nebuchadnezzar had led three sieges against Jerusalem and a total of four thousand six hundred citizens of Judah had been taken captive to Babylon (52:28-30).

Reminding God’s people that all was not lost, thirty-seven years after Jerusalem was destroyed, Jehoiachin, the king of Judah who was held captive in Babylon, found favor in the eyes of Evilmerodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and was raised up from prison to dine at the king’s table the rest of his days (52:31-34).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: Persecute God’s Messenger, But You Do So at Your Peril! (Jeremiah 32-34)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 32-34

17_Weigel Engraving _Hananiah & Jeremiah 28
Emory Pitts Theology archives

In Jeremiah 27, the prophet had been commanded by the LORD to, “Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck” (27:2) and was commanded to go to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyrus, and finally to King Zedekiah of Judah, and warn them their lands and people would all become servants to “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant” (27:6).

Notice that Nebuchadnezzar was the LORD’s “servant” (27:6). Though driven by his own passion for power and riches, the truth was that the king of Babylon was being used by God to further His divine plan of chastening for the sins of Judah.

In spite of Judah’s sins and the coming seventy years of Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah assured the people that the LORD would not forget His covenant and would restore them to their land (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Today’s devotional commentary will focus primarily on Jeremiah 32.

Jeremiah 32 – What became of Jeremiah, the LORD’s messenger, and his prophecy?

Rather than heed Jeremiah’s admonition, King Zedekiah “shut him up” (32:3), literally and physically!  As the army of Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, Jeremiah was “shut up in the court of the prison” (32:2).  Despising the prophet’s message from the LORD (32:1), the king of Judah scorned God’s messenger and treated Jeremiah with disdainfully (32:3-5).

As an act of faith in God’s promise that Judah would be restored to her land after the captivity, Jeremiah purchased a field in Judah from his cousin Hanamel (32:6-8). Purchasing land when Jerusalem was facing imminent destruction was foolish from a human perspective; however, the prophet’s actions served as a testimony that he was confident that the LORD would restore His people to their land after the Babylonian captivity (32:9-15).

Jeremiah 32:15 – “For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”

Jeremiah 32:16-25 – Jeremiah’s Prayer of Faith

Remembering Jeremiah was still imprisoned by King Zedekiah while the siege of Jerusalem was underway, the prophet meditated on the greatness of the LORD, remembering God is Creator (32:17), Merciful (32:18), “the Great, the Mighty God, [and] the LORD of hosts” (32:18).

The LORD’S counsel (i.e. purpose) is great and He is mighty in His works (32:19). He knows the ways of man and He is just, rewarding every man according to His works (32:19; 2 Corinthians 5:10). He is the God of miracles (32:20-22). He remembers His covenants with His people (32:23), but because Israel and Judah had rejected His Law and Commandments, the LORD had delivered them over to be chastened under the oppression of the Chaldeans (32:24-25).

Jeremiah 32:26-44 – God’s Judgment Will Not Fail; His Promises Are Sure

The LORD rehearsed with Jeremiah the sorrow that was to come upon the people because of the sins of Israel and Judah (32:26-44).  Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city of Jerusalem with fire and the people would suffer disease and famine (32:26-29).  God remembered the wickedness and idolatry of the people (32:30-34) and how they had sacrificed their sons and daughters to Molech (32:35).

The LORD had determined that Jerusalem would be destroyed and His people would be captives; however, He would remember His covenant and promise to return them to their land (32:36-44)

Jeremiah 33 – A Message of Hope and Comfort: The Messiah King is Coming

Jeremiah 34 – The Destruction of Jerusalem and the Captivity of King Zedekiah

I close remembering the disdain King Zedekiah and the people had for Jeremiah.

And such is the fate of many who serve as God’s messengers and faithfully declare His Word. “ For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“I Am With Thee…I Will Redeem Thee” (Jeremiah 14-17)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 14-17

Today’s Scripture reading continues Jeremiah’s prophetic warnings concerning the judgment that would soon befall Judah. It is believed by the date of our text that Judah has been invaded and Jerusalem besieged by King Nebuchadnezzar. The sorrow and desperation of God’s people and the reality that He had determined His judgment was a great sorrow for Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 14 – A Judgment of Drought

Knowing God often chastises a nation physically for its sin and wickedness, we are not surprised to read that there was a “dearth,” a drought in Judah. The LORD had withheld rain and there was a great famine (Jeremiah 14:1-22). “There was no rain in the earth” (14:4) and cows delivered their calves, but forsook them because there was no grass (14:5).

In the midst of the famine, and desperate for help, the people began to pray to the LORD, making a pretense of confessing and repenting of their sins (14:7-9). But God, who knows what lies is in the hearts of men (Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Romans 8:27), knew the people were not sincere and would not turn from their sins.

The LORD announced His judgment would not be deterred (14:10-12).

Jeremiah’s heart being heavy with sorrow interceded for Judah, and suggested the sins of the people was due to false prophets who had led them astray (14:13). The LORD conceded the presence of false prophets in Judah; however, He declared, “I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them” (14:14).

Nevertheless, the people had disobeyed God and turned from His Law and Commandments. They had persecuted the prophets of the LORD and turned to false prophets. Because of their wickedness, the LORD declared the people would die by famine and the sword (14:16).

Jeremiah 14 continues with the prophet weeping day and night (14:17). Babylon had invaded the land and the presence of death and judgment was everywhere. Jeremiah observed,

Jeremiah 14:18a – If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine!”

Understanding the magnitude and decisiveness of God’s judgment, Jeremiah wondered, “[LORD], Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!” (14:19)

Interceding for his people, Jeremiah identified with and confessed the sins of Judah (14:20) and implored the LORD, “Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake [i.e. remember Israel was identified with God who chose them], do not disgrace the throne of thy glory [heaven’s throne]: remember, break not thy covenant with us” [remember Your covenant promises] (14:21).

Jeremiah confessed that only God could save Judah (14:22).

Jeremiah 15 – The Inevitability of God’s Judgment

Judah’s wickedness had passed the point of no reprieve and the LORD responded to Jeremiah’s intercessory prayer (14:20-22).  Judgment would come upon the nation and the death and destruction that would spell the end of Judah was described in vivid detail (15:1-9).

Jeremiah 15:10-21 gives us a window into the soul of the prophet when he cried out to the LORD and lamented the sorrows and rejection he had suffered as God’s prophet (15:10).  Though he had become an object of scorn and persecution (15:15), Jeremiah found refuge and hope in God’s promises (15:18-21).

Jeremiah 15:20-21 – “…I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 21  And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.”

What a blessed promise for those who endure persecution and put their trust in the LORD!

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 – “57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Who Is Your God? (Jeremiah 10-13)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 10-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is Your God?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 7-9)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 7-9

Like most prophets in their generation, Jeremiah’s cry for Judah to turn back to the LORD, was despised and went unheeded by Judah. For four decades, the prophet faithfully preached the Word of the LORD, but was reviled by His own people and experienced the scorn of the nation’s leaders who persecuted and imprisoned him.

Jeremiah 7 – The words Jeremiah was commanded to preach in the very threshold of the Temple were frightening and foreboding. 

I am struck by the hypocrisy of Judah.  In their wickedness, the people had sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (7:30-31), yet they continued the pretense of worshipping the LORD in His holy Temple (7:1-2, 4)!  They made a show of public worship, but Jeremiah exposed their abhorrent sins. The people oppressed the orphans and widows (7:6). They shed the blood of the innocent. They were thieves, murderers, adulterers, and idolaters who offered sacrifices to idols (7:6-11).

The LORD warned Jeremiah, “they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee… This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished” (7:27-28). Jeremiah warned, “the land shall be desolate” (7:34).

Jeremiah 8 – “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” 

The people continued in their wickedness in spite of Jeremiah’s warnings, and refused to repent of their sins and turn to the LORD.  So calamitous would be the LORD’s judgment that not even the bones of the dead would be spared indignity (8:1-2). The horror and hardships of captivity would be so grave the people would prefer death over exile (8:3).

Judah had become a nation that cried for peace (8:11, 15), but there would be no peace because the people had rejected the God of Peace!  “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” summed up the imminence of God’s judgment (8:20).

Jeremiah 9 – The “weeping” prophet laments the sins of his people and the judgment that would befall them.

Jeremiah’s heart was so overcome with grief that tears failed him. Had he been allowed, the prophet would have retreated to the isolation of the wilderness rather than live in the midst of “adulterers” and wicked men (9:2).

The LORD’S condemnation of the wicked in Jeremiah’s day is relevant to 21st century believers. We read, “They bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant [strong; mighty; heroic] for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil [sin; wickedness; ] to evil, and they know [understand; acknowledge] not me, saith the LORD” (9:3)

One wonders why a statement of the obvious, the failure to be “valiant for the truth,” was necessary (9:3)?

Is that not the fundamental sin, the spiritual flaw of many believers? Is that not the core issue of Bible preaching churches and religious institutions of our day?

The hypocrisy in Jeremiah’s day is rivaled by our day. The LORD condemned Judah for failing to “speak the truth” (9:5). A man would speak “peaceably to his neighbor… but in heart” would lie in wait to ambush and entrap him (9:8).

Proud, stubborn, boasting, incorrigible, murderer, thief, adulterer, idolater…these were the sins named among God’s people. Such wickedness does not merit mercy or forgiveness; however, is that not the very expression of grace? In spite of Judah’s sins, the LORD continued to invite His people to remember that He was loving and just.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – “23  Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wicked Know No Shame (Zephaniah 1-3)

Scripture reading – Zephaniah 1-3

Our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to Zephaniah, a minor prophet who ministered in Judah during the reign of King Josiah (1:1).

Zephaniah 1 – A prophecy of imminent judgment.

Zephaniah was tasked with pronouncing God’s judgment on His people in frightening and graphic details. He warned Judah, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD” (1:2). Nothing would be spared the wrath of the LORD: “I will consume man and beast… fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea…Judah…all the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (1:3-4).

“The Day of the Lord” is an oft repeated phrase in Zephaniah 1 and was a warning of the day of God’s vengeance (1:7, 8, 14, 18).

Remember the prophecies often have an immediate and future application. In the immediate, the “day of the LORD” was the day of God’s judgment against Judah when Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. In the prophetic application, the “day of the LORD” is still future and will be fulfilled in the Second Coming of Christ when He comes in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:10 mentions “the noise of a cry from the fish gate…and a great crashing from the hills.” The fish gate was the gate that led to the fish market, but you may wonder why is this important. The answer is a historical fact: King Nebuchadnezzar passed through the fish gate when Babylon conquered Jerusalem! The destruction of the city and the captivity of the people would be so thorough that it was likened to searching out every crevice of the city with candles (1:12a).

The people lived in denial saying, “The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil” (1:12b). Even the strongest men of Judah would cry out on the day of God’s judgment (1:13). How terrible is the day of God’s final judgment?

Zephaniah 1:15 – “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Zephaniah 2 – An Exhortation to Repent

Remembering the LORD is longsuffering, we are not surprised to read that the prophet Zephaniah called upon Judah to repent and, “seek…the LORD, all ye meek of the earth…seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger” (2:3).

Because of their wickedness, Zephaniah prophesied the judgment of God against four major Philistine cities, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron” (2:4). The Moabites and Ammonites would fall to Babylon as divine punishment for their abuses of Israel (2:8-11). The Ethiopians (of the lineage of Cush whose land was southeast of Egypt on the continent of Africa) would be slain (2:12). Assyria and its great capital city, Nineveh, would be utterly destroyed by Babylon. The destruction of Nineveh so complete it would be uninhabitable, a wasteland and a haven for wild beasts (2:13-15).

Zephaniah 3 – The Necessity of Divine Judgment Against Jerusalem

Zephaniah laid out the case regarding the wickedness of Jerusalem that demanded God’s judgment (3:1-4). That city had become “filthy and polluted,” and was a violent city (3:1). Her civil leaders (princes and judges) were like “roaring lions…wolves” that gnaw the bones of the poor and helpless (3:1). Her spiritual leaders (prophets and priests) were “treacherous” and violent (3:4).

Zephaniah assured the people of Judah, the LORD was just and He would not “do iniquity…He brings His judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame” (3:5).

What an appalling statement! Innocence was lost. Moral purity disdained. The politicians and religious leaders were so given to sin and wickedness that they felt no shame! Though their wickedness was widely known, they felt no sense of humiliation. In spite of God’s judgment of other nations’ sins, Judah had failed to be moved to repent of her sins (3:6-7).

Zephaniah’s ministry closed with not only a warning of the day when God would gather the nations of the earth to be judged (3:8), but also when He will gather the remnant of Israel from all nations who will call upon and serve Him (3:9).

In that day, the day of the LORD, sin, shame, and pride will be removed (3:11-14), God’s people will rejoice for the LORD is King (3:14-17), and the people will be restored to the LORD who will dwell in the midst (3:18-20).

What a glorious day that will be!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A God Who Hears and Answers Prayer (2 Chronicles 32-33)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 32-33

Today’s Scripture reading is an abridged version of the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah that has been considered in several earlier passages (2 Kings 18:17-36; 19:35-37; 20:1-21; Isaiah 16:1-22; 17:21-38; 38:1-8; 39:1-8). Today’s devotional commentary will focus solely on 2 Chronicles 32.

2 Chronicles 32 – An Enemy at the Gate

Assyria’s defeat of Israel to the north opened the way for Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, to invade Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem (32:1).

King Hezekiah consulted with his leaders and determined to enforce the city walls and deprive Assyria’s army of water by stopping the streams, and pooling the water in the city (32:2-5). Displaying his faith and confidence in the LORD, Hezekiah challenged the people:

2 Chronicles 32:7-8 – “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more [lit. greater] with us than with him8  With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”

Sending messengers and writing letters to the citizens of Jerusalem, Sennacherib spoke against Hezekiah and questioned their confidence in the king. The king of Assyria also spoke against the God of Israel, asserting their God was no greater than the gods of other nations whom he had defeated (32:9-14). Finally, Sennacherib declared that Hezekiah had deceived the people of Jerusalem, leading them to believe their God was greater than the gods of Assyria (32:15-20).

How did Hezekiah respond to the attacks on his character and the offense Sennacherib had raised against the God of Israel?

2 Chronicles 32:20 – “Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.”

Isaiah describes this moment observing that “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the [Assyrian] messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD” (Isaiah 37:14-17).

Hezekiah’s focus was not on the threats of his enemy or his own strengths. The king’s faith and hope were in the LORD who heard the king’s prayer and “saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (32:20).

Responding as spiritual men, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah “prayed and cried to heaven, 21  And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria…22  Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem…” (32:21-22).

2 Chronicles 32 closes with a stunning account of Hezekiah becoming ill because he failed to render to the LORD the glory God alone was due (32:25).  The king was “sick to the death” (32:24); however, when the king “humbled himself” (32:26), God restored his health.

Permit me to close with an observation and application. 

King Solomon taught his son, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).

I have observed that precept validated many times in my lifetime. A leader’s character does matter!  Whether it is the leadership of a nation, state, city, church or school, a leader’s character leaves an indelible impression on people.

Leaders who choose righteousness and justice are a source of joy; however, wicked leaders will inevitably bring a people to sorrow and ruin. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith