Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

Are you ready for Christ’s coming? It may be today! (Acts 1)

Scripture reading – Acts 1

The “Book of Acts,” also known as the “The Acts of the Apostles,” is a pivotal book in the New Testament. The book is, as its name implies, a record of the actions and activities of the Apostles following Christ’s bodily resurrection.

 Jesus appeared to His followers on at least ten separate occasions following His resurrection from the dead.

He first appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9), and other women who came and found His tomb empty (Matthew 28:8-10).  He then appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5), and later to two followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). He then appeared to ten of the disciples, less Thomas who was not present (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29).  Eight days later, He appeared in the midst of the eleven disciples, and Thomas was present (John 20:24-29). Jesus also appeared to seven of His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, which was known to the Jews as the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23).

In his epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul chronicled Jesus’ appearance to five hundred followers at one time, and then to James (I Corinthians 15:6-7). Lastly, before He ascended to heaven, Jesus appeared to His disciples, and commissioned them to “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Observations – The literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central hope of believers (Luke 24:39-40; 41-43; Acts 1:3). Therefore, Jesus stayed with His disciples 40 days after His resurrection, and emboldened them with “many infallible proofs,” that forever changed their lives (Acts 1:3). After exhorting His disciples to “WAIT for the promise of the Father… [and] ye shall be BAPTIZED with the Holy Ghost” (1:4-5),  Jesus “was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (1:9).

Then, two angels appeared to the disciples, and assured them with a promise that has been the hope of believers for 2,000 years: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (1:11).

Closing thoughts – The resurrection and promise of Christ’s imminent return forever changed the disciples’ perspective on their lives and ministry. They lived, ministered, and died in anticipation He would come again, and His coming would be sudden and unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

 Are you ready for His coming? It may be today!

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Tribulation and the Signs of Christ’s Coming (Matthew 24, Matthew 25)

Scripture reading – Matthew 24, Matthew 25

Today’s Scripture reading is a parallel passage to our earlier devotional commentary over Mark 13 and Luke 21. The focus of this devotional is Matthew 24.

Jesus and His disciples were departing the Temple, when the disciples commented to Him regarding the great stones of the Temple (24:1; Mark 13:1; Luke 21:5). Jesus then prophesied the destruction of the Temple, saying, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2).

Stunned by His prophesy, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Tell us, when [what time; how long] shall these things be [i.e. when will they come to pass]? and what shall be the sign [token; i.e. distinguishing mark] of Thy coming [advent; return], and of the end [completion; consummation] of the world [age]?” (Matthew 24:3).

Christ answered the disciples’ questions with a sweeping prophecy that fills the balance of Matthew 24 and Matthew 25. He identified eight signs as “the beginning [i.e. the birth pangs] of sorrows” (24:8), signs and events that will precede His Second Coming.

Eight Signs the Second Coming of Christ is Near: 1) A great deception led by a proliferation of “false Christs” who will deceive many (24:5); 2) International conflicts described as “wars and rumors of wars [and] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdoms against kingdom” (24:6-7a); 3) Universal, natural disasters: “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places” (24:7b); 4) An increase in persecution, martyrdom, and hatred for believers (24:9-10); 5) A great apostasy and falling away of pseudo-believers (24:10); 6) An increase in false prophets who “shall deceive many” (24:11); 7) An allure of sin that will diminish a love for righteousness and Truth (24:12); 8) The universal declaration and proliferation of the Gospel of the kingdom to all nations and people (24:14).

Yet, with all the signs the coming of Christ is near, the worst is yet to be. There will follow a period of Tribulation the prophet Daniel described as the “abomination that maketh desolate” (24:15; Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Jesus warned, “For then shall be [shall come to pass] great [high; large; prolonged] tribulation [affliction; distress; trouble], such as was not since [from] the beginning of the world to this [until] time, no, nor ever shall be”(24:21). The world will witness unparalleled sorrows as the end draws near (24:21) and believers who live in the tribulation are urged to be cautious, for “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible [which it is not, because God will protect His people], they shall deceive the very elect” (24:23-24).

Many “false Christs will arise” (24:24); however, when He returns, His coming will be unmistakable. He will come “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (24:27).

Signs in the heavens will precede Christ’s coming (24:29-30). The world will be shadowed with the terror of darkness, for “the sun [shall] be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” (24:29a). The solar system will fail, for “the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (24:29b). In that day, as the earth is shrouded in terrifying darkness, Jesus Christ, the “Son of man in heaven,” will be seen “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30). His coming will strike terror in the hearts of men as “all the tribes of the earth mourn” (24:30).

Closing thoughts – To the saints who believed in Christ during the Tribulation, His coming will be glorious. Christ will “send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (24:31). What a glorious day that will be!

Are you ready for His coming?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Signs of the Time, and the Second Coming of Christ (Luke 21, Mark 13)

Scripture reading – Luke 21, Mark 13

We continue our parallel study of the Synoptic Gospels with today’s Scripture reading. Remember, the timeline for Luke 21 and Mark 13 is in the midst of the final week of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the Cross is imminent. Jesus has continued to teach in the Temple (Mark 13:1); however, our text gives us a window into a private conversation between the LORD and four disciples–Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3).

“Eschatology: The Doctrine of the Last Things” (Mark 13)

Jesus was preparing His disciples for events that would upset their expectations of an earthly kingdom over which He would reign. He foretold two catastrophic events in Mark 13. The first, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the disciples’ generation. A generation being 40 years, that prediction did come true in 70 AD when Rome conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Mark 13:3-8, 14-21, 28-31). The second calamitous event prophesied will follow the Great Tribulation (13:14-23), and is still future: The end of the world as we know it (13:24-31).

The balance of our devotional will focus on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples (13:3).

Mark 13:1-5

As Jesus departed the Temple, the disciples said to Him, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” (13:1) Taking national pride in the Temple, the disciples were in essence, saying, “Look at the great stones that make up the Temple, and its beauty.” Jesus’ response shocked the disciples, for He answered their boasts, saying, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (13:2).

The disciples were stunned. To the Jews, the Temple was the holiest place on earth. They understood, if the Temple were destroyed, and reduced to a pile of rubble with not one stone upon another, then it would also mean the destruction of Jerusalem, and Israel.

Going out the eastern gate of the city, Jesus ascended the Mount of Olives, and sat down (13:4). Looking to the west He could see the Temple on Mount Moriah, the highest peak of the city (also the place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac).

Peter, James, John, and Andrew came privately to the LORD, and asked: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (13:4). Notice they did not ask, “Why must this Temple be destroyed?” or “How can we avoid the destruction of the Temple?” Instead, they asked, when shall these things be? What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? (Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7)

Jesus’ did not answer the disciples’ question; instead, He challenged their focus, saying, “Take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5).

“When?”, was not to be the concern of His disciples or followers. The date and hour when the Temple would be destroyed, or the end of the age would come, is God’s business. Jesus went on to teach His disciples, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (13:32).

The believer’s role is not to predict the day or the hour the Lord will return. Instead, we are to “take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5). In other words, be prepared for the coming of the LORD. How are we to prepare? We are to “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (13:33).

Closing thoughtsMark 13:33 exhorts believers: 1) “Take ye heed,” keep your eyes fixed, for you cannot know when the LORD is coming; 2) “Watch,” stay awake, be vigilant, be busy with tasks God has given you; 3) “Pray,” constantly praying in anticipation of the LORD’s return. He has promised His return will be sudden, unexpected, “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

Revelation 3:3Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Are you ready for His coming?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The End; but Merely the Beginning (Malachi 2; Malachi 3; Malachi 4)

Scripture reading – Malachi 2; Malachi 3; Malachi 4

Our study of the Old Testament Scriptures concludes today with a brief summary of three chapters in the book of Malachi – chapters 2, 3, and 4, (chapter 4 is so brief I decided to combine it with this devotional, and devote tomorrow’s devotion to an introduction of the New Testament Scriptures).

Malachi 2

Malachi’s focus on unfaithful priests continued in chapter 2, for those spiritual leaders were guilty of accepting inferior offerings, and sacrificing them (though they knew they were a violation of God’s Law, 1:7-8). The prophet confronted the priests, and accused them of despising the privilege of the priesthood (2:1-2). He warned the priests, the LORD would curse them for they had not served from the heart (“ye do not lay it to heart,” 2:2). In a graphic portrayal of God’s disdain for their hypocrisy, the LORD warned, “I will corrupt your seed [grain, or possibly their children], And spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts [refuse which was supposed to be disposed of outside the city]; And one shall take you away with it” (2:3).

It was the duty of the Levites to live righteous lives, and teach the people the Law (2:4-7). Yet, many of the priests had led the people astray, causing them to stumble (2:8). They had corrupted the Law, and God warned he would cause the people to despise them (2:9).

Particular condemnation was directed to men of the tribe of Judah, for they were guilty of divorcing their wives, and taking heathen, idolatrous wives (2:11). Those men were hypocrites, and Malachi warned they would be “cut off” and their sacrifices rejected by the LORD (2:12-13). Some men came hypocritically to the altar with sacrifices and tears, but the prophet warned, the LORD “regardeth not the offering any more, Or receiveth it with good will at your hand” (2:13). Hypocritically they dared to ask, Why? Why does the LORD reject our sacrifices? (2:14)

Malachi spared no words in condemning the men, for they were guilty of violating the sanctity of marriage (2:15). Rather than rejoicing in the wife of their youth (Proverbs 5:15-21), and honoring God’s design for husband and wife to be “one” (meaning, “one flesh,” Genesis 2:21-25; Matthew 19:16), they had divorced their wives. Tragically, 21st century believers and their churches have followed this same pattern of wickedness, and divorce is commonplace. Malachi declared God’s heart on the matter of divorce, and said, “16For the Lord, the God of Israel…hateth putting away [divorce]” (2:16a). Why? For divorce is as violent to the spirit, as tearing a garment (2:16b). Divorce is an act of treachery against God and one’s spouse (2:16c).

Warning: God will not hear our prayers, nor receive our praise when we are hypocrites in actions, attitudes, and words (2:17).

Malachi 3

Two great prophecies of the Old Testament are found in Malachi 3. In verse one we read the prophecy of a “messenger” the LORD promised to send, and was fulfilled by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, the Messiah (3:1; Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27; John 1:29-31). We find the prophecy of the first coming of the Messiah (3:1b-6) that would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. He was “the messenger of the covenant,” for in Him the people delighted for He preached of the love, grace, and mercy of God (3:1b).

Remembering prophecies often carry an imminent application and a far-reaching implication, the LORD likened the Second Coming of Christ as a fire of judgment, for He will be “like a refiner’s fire, and like a fuller’s soap” (a picture of purifying and cleansing, 3:2-3).

The sins of the people were recorded in Malachi 3:5, but we are reminded that God is immutable, loving and gracious for He assured Israel, “fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 6For I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (3:5-6).

Malachi confronted two other sins of the people (3:7-15). Though the people had vowed they would give the LORD the first fruits (Nehemiah 10:34-39), they had robbed God of His tithes and offerings (3:7-8). Malachi warned, while they robbed God of that which was His, they had sacrificed God’s blessings (3:9). The prophet exhorted the people, “10Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be meat in mine house, And prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, If I will not open you the windows of heaven, And pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (3:10).

The people also denied their wrongdoing, and complained against the LORD with “stout” (hard) words (3:13). They complained there was not profit in serving God, saying, “It is vain to serve God” (3:14).

Malachi 4

Our study of Malachi and the Old Testament Scriptures concludes with a final prophetic message. Malachi 4:1 foretold the Second Coming of Christ as a day of fire and judgment of the wicked: “all that do wickedly, shall be stubble” (4:1).

Though the wicked have reason to fear the coming of the LORD (4:1), believers who fear and revere His name, will greet the “Sun of righteousness,” (4:2a), who brings healing and blessing (4:2). Christ’s future coming is described as a day of rejoicing, and pictured as calves released from their stalls and leaping for joy (4:2). In that day, the wicked that persecuted the righteous will themselves be judged, and “they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet” (4:3).

Closing thoughts (4:5-6)  – The Old Testament Scriptures concludes with a promise and a great warning. The LORD promised the day will come when He will send the Old Testament prophet Elijah, whose coming will precede the Second Coming of Christ near the end of the Great Tribulation (4:5). Elijah’s ministry would not only announce the coming judgment of the LORD, but would also heal the homes of God’s people, and “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, And the heart of the children to their fathers” (4:5a).

Our study of the Old Testament began with sin and the fall of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman (Genesis 3). The Old Testament concludes with a warning that prophesied the Second Coming of Christ and His judgment, for the curse of sin will not be removed until He comes again (4:6).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The King Cometh (Zechariah 13; Zechariah 14)

Scripture reading – Zechariah 13; Zechariah 14

Dear Heart of a Shepherd follower, I am glad to return with today’s devotional commentary as my wife and I recover from a bout with COVID this last week. It was the first interruption of our chronological 2-year study of the Scriptures (having posted 545 continuous days of daily devotions).

Today’s Scripture reading (Zechariah 13-14) concludes our study of the prophecies of Zechariah, prophet to the post-exilic people of the Babylonian captivity. He was a faithful servant of the LORD, and one whose ministry was to exhort those building the Temple to finish the work to which they had been appointed.

Zechariah was also privileged to foretell some of the great Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. He foretold the Messiah would come to Jerusalem, “riding upon an ass, and upon the colt the foal of an ass,” and would be hailed as King (Zechariah 9:9; 11:12-13; Matthew 27:37; Mark 11:7-11). He predicted the Messiah would be betrayed (Zechariah 11:12-13Luke 22:47-48; Matthew 26:14-16) for the purchase price of a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:12-13Matthew 27:9-10).

Five centuries prior to Christ being crucified, Zechariah described the scene of His suffering on the cross, writing, “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, And they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, And shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10John 19:34; John 20:25-27). Notice the prophecies of Zechariah were fulfilled by Christ in exacting detail!

The prophetic setting of Zechariah 13 is the Second Coming of Christ, which began with Zechariah 12:1 and a portrayal of the Battle of Armageddon (12:2-8), and Israel’s deliverance from the heathen nations bent on that nation’s destruction (12:9-14).

Zechariah 13

When Christ returns to reign over the nations, there will be an ever-flowing fountain of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness (13:1). The land will be purged of idols, and false prophets will be silenced (13:2-6).

Drawing a prophetic picture of Christ’s betrayal, and the disciples fleeing when He was arrested, we read, “against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, Saith the Lord of hosts: Smite the shepherd [Christ], and the sheep [disciples] shall be scattered” (13:7).

Zechariah 13:8-9 gives a graphic biographical portrayal of what I believe predicts the great assault upon Judah and Jerusalem in the Tribulation. Two thirds of the people of Judah will be killed, and the 1/3 that survives will suffer a great affliction portrayed as a refining fire, and will call to the LORD who will hear their cries (13:9).

Zechariah 14 – Armageddon and the Second Coming

Nations Aligned Against Jerusalem (14:1-2)

The opening verses of chapter 14 predict Jerusalem will be overrun by the heathen nations of the world, and half the inhabitants will be led away as spoils of war (14:1). Yet, the gathering of those nations will be a testimony of the sovereignty of God, for it is He that will “gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (14:2a). The Jews will suffer the ravages of war, as Jerusalem “shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; And half of the city shall go forth into captivity” (14:2).

Glorious Triumphant Return of Jesus Christ (14:3-7)

In the hour when all seems lost for Jerusalem, the LORD will come roaring out of heaven, “and fight against those nations” for it will be “the day of battle” (14:3a). As conquering King, Jesus will stand upon the ridge of the Mount of Olives (14:4a), and it will divide beneath His feet forming a great valley (the result of a great earthquake, 14:4b; Isaiah 29:6; Revelation 16:18-19). The survivors of the siege of Jerusalem will flee to safety through the newly formed valley (14:5). In that day, light shall not be clear [light] nor dark, but a day known to the Lord (14:6-7).

Geographical Changes to Israel When Christ Returns (14:8-11)

Life-giving waters will flow from the Temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Joel 3:18), through Jerusalem. The waters will divide, flowing to the “former sea” (Dead Sea) and to the “hinder sea” (Mediterranean Sea, 14:8). The topography of the land will be changed as the hills and mountains about Jerusalem will be laid level like a plain, and Jerusalem will be lifted up (14:10). Because the LORD reigns in Jerusalem, there will be peace, and its people shall be safe (14:11).

Judgment of Israel and the LORD’s Enemies (14:12-15)

What becomes of those nations that gathered against Israel? All will be judged and afflicted by the LORD (14:12a). Some will suffer a flesh-eating plague that will consume their flesh (14:12b). Others will be afflicted with a disease when their eyes decay in their sockets (14:12c), and the tongues of others will be consumed (perhaps a picture of cancer, 14:12d).

All Israel will know that which afflicted their enemies was from the LORD, even as they turn against one another (14:13). Because the nations will pass through Judah to lay siege to Jerusalem, the people will seize the spoils of the heathen (14:14). The implements of war employed by Israel’s enemies will be destroyed (described here in terms the people in Zechariah’s day would understand, 14:15).

Conversion of the Nations to the LORD (14:16-19)

Not all the people of the nations will be destroyed, for some will turn to the LORD, and come to Jerusalem to worship Him (14:16). Notice too, both Israel and the people of the earth will make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of the Tabernacles in the Millennial Kingdom (14:16b; Leviticus 23:33-44).

Yet, there will be some who survived the Great Tribulation that will eventually fail to go up “to worship the King, the Lord of hosts,” and will be judged and suffer drought (14:17). A nation like Egypt, that depends upon irrigation rather than rain, will suffer plague for failing to honor and worship the LORD (14:18-19).

A Perpetual Testimony to God’s Glory (14:20-21)

Everything about the Millennial Kingdom will be a testimony to God’s holiness. Even the bells on the harnesses of horses will give testimony as “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” (14:20a). The lowest pots in the LORD’s Temple will be equally holy as the “bowls before the altar” (14:20b). Indeed, everything “in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts” (14:21a). The Temple will be a holy place, and no unclean people will enter and defile it (14:21b). Why will sacrifices be offered during Christ’s earthly kingdom? They will serve as a lasting memorial to Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, and the sins of the world.

Closing thought – The book of Zechariah began with the prophet calling God’s people to repent, and ends with Israel being a holy nation, Jerusalem a city of peace and the center of worship, and the LORD reigning on His throne in the Temple.

Revelation 19:11, 14, 1611And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war…14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean…16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Copyright 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Four Beasts, Four Kingdoms, and God Who is Sovereign (Daniel 7)

Scripture reading – Daniel 7

An old adage goes, “Hindsight is 20\20,” and that is certainly true when we are privileged to look at Bible prophecy “in the rearview mirror.” Continuing our chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the midst of The Book of Daniel, and its engaging and illuminating prophecies. I do not have time or space for an in-depth study of the prophecy recorded in Daniel 7, yet, I pray a simple study and interpretation of today’s Scripture will be a blessing,

Daniel 7

With the historical events of the rise and fall of Babylon behind us (Daniel 1-6), the next six chapters of our study will be prophetical (Daniel 7-12). The year before us is 553 BC, and was “the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1). Perhaps remembering the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams (Daniel 7), “Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters” (7:1). As you will see, Daniel’s dream paralleled Nebuchadnezzar’s great image and was a vision of future events.

I suggest there are three parts to Daniel’s dream (7:2-14), with the first section being of four beasts that represented four kings and their kingdoms (7:2-6). The second part of the dream was a dramatic, and terrible transformation that occurred to the fourth beast (7:7-12). The third section was a heavenly vision of the LORD sitting on His throne (7:13-14).

Four Beasts and Four World Empires (7:2-8)

Awakened from his sleep, Daniel wrote, “I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea” (7:2). The “great sea” was the “sea of humanity,” and represented the Gentile nations of the world (Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 17:1, 15). “The four winds of the heaven [that] strove upon the great sea” (7:2) portrayed the judgment of God coming from all directions…the east, north, south, and west winds.

The four beasts of Daniel’s dream were a parallel of the depiction of Nebuchadnezzar’s great image (Daniel 2) that foretold four great Gentile kingdoms. The first beast was depicted as a lion with the eagles’ wings (7:4). Like the head of gold of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, it was a symbol of Babylon. The prophets often depicted Babylon as a lion and eagle (Jeremiah 4:7, 13; 48:40; 49:19, 22; 50:17; Habakkuk 1:6, 9). The “lion-hearted” man was said to have his wings plucked, and to “stand upon the feet as a man” (possibly reminding us how Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled for seven years until he acknowledged God, and then his beastly heart was replaced with “a man’s heart” 7:4).

The second beast in Daniel’s dream resembled a bear with three ribs in its mouth (7:5). Corresponding to the silver arms and chest of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (2:32, 39), the bear represented the Medes and Persians who would overwhelm Babylon in a night. The bear was portrayed as rising up on one side, and must symbolize how the Persians would become the greater of the Medo-Persian kingdoms. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth might represent three kingdoms that were overcome, but that would be mere speculation on my part.

The third kingdom was represented by a leopard with four wings and four heads (7:6). We have the privilege of looking back on history, and know Greece would supplant Persia as the world empire, and was portrayed in Nebuchadnezzar’s image as having a belly and thighs of brass (2:32, 39). The swiftness of the leopard was a tribute to the speed with which Alexander the Great led Greece, conquering the world in three years’ time (334-331 BC). When Alexander died as a young king of 32 years, Greece was divided into four regions and ruled by four generals, hence, the four wings and heads of the leopard (7:6).

Rome, portrayed as a “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” beast with “great iron teeth” was the fourth beast of Daniel’s dream (7:7). Equivalent to the legs of iron of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (2:33, 40), Rome was portrayed as a brutal kingdom. The ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (2:33-35) are represented in Daniel’s dream as the ten horns of the fourth beast (7:7). Representing the strength of a beast, the horn served in the Bible as a symbol of kings (1 Samuel 2:10; Psalm 132:17).

The Antichrist: The Rise of the “Little Horn” (7:19-20)

Daniel observed a “little horn” arose in the midst of ten horns (a league of ten kingdoms), and dislodged three horns (kings) in its rise to power (7:8). The prophetic significance was a king would arise in the midst of what would be the Roman Empire, and rise above other kings to reign (7:19-20). Students of prophecy believe the “little horn” will be the antichrist of the last days, for he is depicted as having “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (indicative of pride, boasting, and blasphemy, 7:8, 11, 20, 25). He will be the enemy of the saints, and will reign for 3.5 years (“a time,” being one year; “and times,” two years; “and the dividing of time,” a half year, 7:25).

Closing thoughts (7: 9-14, 26-28) – The reign of the “little horn” (antichrist) will fail, and be destroyed (7:11, 26), when God, who is “the Ancient of days” sits in judgment (7:9-10).  When Jesus Christ, “the Son of man,” descends from “the clouds of heaven” (7:13), the “little horn” (antichrist) will be judged and cast into the lake of fire (7:11; Revelation 19:20). Christ, the “Son of man,” will be sovereign of a perpetual kingdom (7:14, 28; Mark 14:61-62) and will rule the world a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-8). We join Daniel in being overwhelmed by the vision of history that is yet to be (7:28), but resting in the sovereignty of God and His promises.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Bible Prophecy: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of Four World Empires (Daniel 2)

Scripture reading – Daniel 2

Our study of the Scriptures returns to the Book of Daniel, with a fascinating chapter that presents us with a prophetic panorama of world empires. We will observe in Daniel 2 an image of a man that symbolized four successive empires: Babylon, the Medo-Persian, Greece, and Rome. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation by Daniel is the focus of today’s devotional. The historical setting of our study is “the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar” (2:1).

A Sovereign’s Dream (2:1-13)

We find Nebuchadnezzar’s “spirit was troubled” (2:1). The phrase, “Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams” (2:1), implied he was troubled by a recurring dream and perplexed he was unable to remember the dream. Unable to sleep (2:1), the king summoned his counselors and related he had a dream, and his “spirit was troubled to know the dream” (2:3). Ever willing to please the king (especially since the power of life and death was in his hands), the king’s counselors proposed, “tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation” (2:4).

Nebuchadnezzar’s response caused the wise men to panic, for he said, “the thing (dream) is gone from me” (2:5). The king was not only demanding an interpretation of the dream, but the dream itself! Shaken by his demand, the king warned his counselors, “if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill [a refuse; a heap of ruins]” (2:5). Nebuchadnezzar promised a reward for the man who interpreted his dream (2:6), but the counselors answered again, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it” (2:6).

With the threat of death over their heads, the Chaldean counselors protested, “There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter” (2:10). Provoked by their words, the king commanded every wise man of Babylon be put to death (2:12). Though Daniel and his friends were not numbered among the wise men that had appeared before the king, the command was universal, that the “wise men should be slain,” and so “they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain” (2:13)

A Servant’s Dilemma (2:14-16)

Learning the king decreed all wise men of Babylon be slain, Daniel respectfully questioned the haste of the decree, and “Arioch (the captain of the king’s guard) made the thing known to Daniel” (2:14). Daniel then sought an audience with Nebuchadnezzar (2:16a), and requested an allotment of time and “he would shew the king the interpretation” of his dream (2:16b).

A Sovereign Divine (2:17-24)

With the king’s agreement, Daniel went home, and requested “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions” (2:17), intercede for him in prayer, that God would reveal to him the king’s dream and its interpretation (2:18). The LORD answered their prayers “in a night vision” (2:19a), and Daniel worshipped the LORD rejoicing He is “God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His” (2:20). Daniel boasted, His God is sovereign of creation, for “He changeth the times and the seasons,” (2:21a), and “He removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (2:21b).

With knowledge of the “deep and secret things” revealed to him by the LORD (2:22), Daniel went to Arioch, the king’s captain, and urged him to stay the execution of the wise men (2:24). He then vowed he was able to make the king to know not only his dream, but also its interpretation (2:24).

Daniel’s Appearance Before Nebuchadnezzar (2:25-35)

Saying, “there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” (2:28), Daniel told the king he had dreamed of “a great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible” (2:31).

The vision was of a man whose “head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay” (2:32-33). The golden head of the image was Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom (2:32a, 38), and was followed by a lesser kingdom represented as having a “breast and his arms of silver” (the Medo-Persian empire, 2:32b, 39). The brass belly of the image represented the Greek empire that succeeded Persia (2:32c, 39), and was followed by a “fourth kingdom [that was] represented as “strong as iron” (2:40a), with “legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay” (this would be Rome, 2:33, 40).

Daniel’s Analysis of the Dream (2:36-45)

The dream concluded with a violent event, for Daniel had a vision of a stone “cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (2:34, 40). The image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream came to a violent end, when it was crushed and broken by a stone that “was cut out without hands” (2:34a), and “smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (2:34b). The feet and toes of the image, representing ten nations that would emerge from the Roman empire (“the iron legs”) would be crushed and scattered by the wind like chaff (2:35). The mix of clay and iron feet represented man’s futile attempt to seek peace and unity among the nations (2:41-43). “The stone [that] was cut out of the mountain without hands” and crushed the image, would itself become the fifth kingdom that grew to become “a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (2:35).

Closing thoughts (2:46-49) –Overwhelmed with the knowledge of the dream and its meaning, Nebuchadnezzar paid homage to Daniel (2:46), who reminded the king he was merely a messenger. The king answered Daniel, “your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret” (2:47). The king promoted Daniel, and made him “a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon” (2:48). Daniel remembered his friends who had prayed for him, and they were set over the governance “of the province of Babylon” (2:49a). As a man second to the king in authority over Babylon, “Daniel sat in the gate of the king” (2:49b).

Do you know “the stone [that] was cut out of the mountain without hands” (2:45), and “smote the image…and filled the earth?” (2:35) The stone is none other than the LORD Jesus Christ, whom the Scriptures reveal to be “the stone which the builders rejected” (Matthew 21:42-44; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 1 Peter 2:7-8). The stone is symbolic of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Judgment of the Nations (Joel 3)

Scripture reading – Joel 3

Today’s Scripture reading marks the end of the Book of Joel (only three chapters long), and an introduction to the prophetic Book of Daniel. This devotional will conclude our study of Joel. A second devotional will follow, and serve as the introduction to the Book of Daniel.

I believe this final section of our study actually began with the closing verses of Joel 2. In its immediate context, the prophecies of Joel were given as the Assyrian army laid siege to Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah recorded how the LORD intervened for the city, and sent His angel who smote 185,000 soldiers (Isaiah 37:36). King Sennacherib had been forced to retreat to his homeland, where he was later assassinated by his sons (Isaiah 37:33-38).

The Day of the LORD is the prophetic day of God’s judgment, when He will take vengeance on those nations that abused Israel and Judah. With the assurance of His perpetual presence “in the midst,” Israel would know Him as “the LORD your God,” and the day would come when Israel would “never be ashamed” (2:27).

In my opinion, the “last days” began with Christ’s earthly ministry, and the prophecy of the outpouring of His Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (2:28-30; Acts 2:16-20). Nevertheless, the events recorded in the closing verses of Joel 2 and Joel 3, will not be fulfilled until the close of the Tribulation, and will mark the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.

Joel 3 – The Judgment of the Gentile Nations

A Day of Reckoning for the Nations (3:1-2)

Joel 3:1 was partly fulfilled when the LORD moved on the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, to grant the Jews liberty to return to their homeland where they would rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3). Yet, the final fulfillment of Joel 3 will not come to pass until the close of the Tribulation. The LORD promised He will one day gather His people from the nations (3:1), and exercise judgment on the Gentile nations for their sins against Him and His people (3:2).

Enumeration of the Sins of the Gentiles (3:3-6)

The nations of the earth have forever been at war with God and His people, yet, the sins of some nation have been so egregious, they are specifically named for judgment: Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine (3:4), Egypt, and Sodom (3:19).

The sins committed against God’s people are an offense to God, and He judged the Gentile nations guilty. Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine, Egypt, and Sodom had scattered His chosen people with their persecutions, and parted the land He gave as an inheritance to Israel (3:2c). Those nations had enslaved the Jews (3:3a, 6), trafficked boys and girls as sexual slaves, and placed no more value on their lives than wine (3:3). Spoiling the gold and silver of the land, they had taken away that which was the LORD’s (3:4-6).

Justice and Judgment (3:4, 7-8)

The sins of the Gentile nations will be punished, and they will receive the recompence (be repaid) in kind for the sins they committed against the LORD and His people (3:4). The LORD determined to gather His people and restore them to their land (3:7), and the nations that enslaved them would themselves become slaves (3:8a). Their sons and daughters will be sold “to the Sabeans” (a caravan people of the southern Arabian Peninsula), and trafficked to far away lands (3:8b).

Warfare of the Nations (3:9-16)

Through His prophet, the LORD summoned the nations to gather and prepare for war (3:9). Contrary to the Millennial kingdom and its peace (when the weapons of war will be fashioned into plows, Micah 4:3), the LORD commanded the nations to “beat [their] plowshares into swords, and [their] pruninghooks into spears” (3:10). The nations of the world will assemble for battle (3:11), for the LORD was prepared to judge them “in the valley of Jehoshaphat” (its geographic al location cannot be ascertained, 3:12).

Drawing a picture of Himself as a farmer readied to harvest, the nations of the world were portrayed as ripe for judgment. The LORD’s judgment is likened to a farmer coming with his sickle sharpened, and ready to tread nations underfoot like grapes in a vine press (3:13). A multitude will gather against God’s people (3:14), but it is the LORD whose judgment will darken the sun, moon, and stars (3:15). Suddenly, He will “roar out of Zion, And utter his voice from Jerusalem; And the heavens and the earth shall shake: But the Lord will be the hope of his people, And the strength of the children of Israel” (3:16).

The Promise of the LORD’s Perpetual Presence (3:17-21)

Through the LORD’s judgment of the nations, the children of Israel and Judah will come to know Him as “the LORD [their] God” who dwells in Zion (3:17a). The city of Jerusalem would be holy, and no “strangers” (unbelievers) will “pass through her any more” (3:17b). The land will be fertile, the waters will flow, and the River of Life will flow from “the house of the LORD” (3:18). The LORD will avenge the wickedness of Egypt and Edom, for they were guilty of violence and shedding the “innocent blood” of Judah (3:19).

Closing thoughts (3:20-21) – Joel’s prophecies end with the LORD promising Judah the nation will “dwell forever” in the land, “and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (3:20). He will purge the people of their sins, and will forever dwell among them “in Zion” (3:21). Our study of Joel began with a judgment of locusts (Assyria’s army) descending upon Judah and Jerusalem (1:4), and ends with the triumph of God’s people restored to their land and the LORD reigning forever in Jerusalem (3:20-21).

The day of judgment is coming, not only for the nations, but for all men and women. Are you prepared for God’s day of judgment? When the books are opened, and “every man [and woman] will be judged “according to their works?” (Revelation 20:13), will your name be “found written in the book of life?” (Revelation 20:15)

Revelation 20:1515And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

He that is Mighty Watches over Israel! (Ezekiel 48)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 48

Today’s Scripture marks the conclusion of our study of The Prophecies of Ezekiel, the prophet of God to the children of Israel living in Babylon. Ezekiel 48 returned to the matter of dividing the Promised Land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom.

The prophet had recorded the borders of the land of Israel in Ezekiel 47:15-20. The westernmost boundary was the Mediterranean Sea (47:15-17, 21). The northern boundary of Israel in the Millennial began with the Mediterranean Sea in the west and reached eastward to Damascus (47:15-17). The eastern boundary of the land was the Jordan River (47:18). The southern border, located south of the Dead Sea, followed a river westward to the Mediterranean Sea (48:19).

Instructions were also given in Ezekiel 47 for dividing the land among the sons of Joseph (47:13-14). Joseph was father of two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were numbered among the Twelve Tribes (for the Tribe of Levi was chosen by the LORD to serve Him as priests to Israel). The descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh would each receive a portion of the land (47:14).

Ezekiel 48 – The Division of the Land in Messiah’s Kingdom

Faithful to His promise, the LORD will gather the Twelve Tribes of Israel from the nations of the world, and restore them to their land in His Millennial Kingdom.

Seven Tribes North of the Sacred District (48:1-7)

Beginning with the tribe of Dan in the north and reaching south, the first seven tribes were assigned their portions (48:1). To the south of Dan was Asher (48:2), and was followed by Naphtali (48:3). Next to Naphtali was Manasseh (48:4; Genesis 48:5-6, 22), and south of Manasseh was Ephraim (48:5). The tribal land of Reuben was south of Ephraim (48:6), and next to it was Judah (48:7).

The Central Land Dedicated to the LORD (48:8-22)

The central land was set aside by the LORD to serve as the location of the Temple (48:8-9), and the city of Jerusalem. The portion assigned to the Levites bordered Judah’s southern border (48:13). The priests’ portion was north of the city, but south of the land assigned to the Levites (48:10-12). South of the priests’ land was New Jerusalem, described as “a profane place,” meaning a common, not holy land (48:15).

The city will be 9 miles square, with houses and “suburbs” (open spaces for pasture) found within its borders (48:15-17). There will also be land for farming, to provide “food unto them that serve the city (48:18). Workers, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, will reside in and serve the city (48:19).

The “prince” of the land, who will serve as the administrator for the LORD, will be assigned a portion of land to the east and west of the Sacred district (48:21-22).

Four Tribal Lands South of the Central Land (48:23-28).

Land for the tribe of Benjamin was immediately south of the Sacred section (48:23), and was followed by Simeon(48:24), Issachar (48:25), Zebulun (48:26), and Gad, the southernmost tribe (48:27-28). Ezekiel 48:29 reminded Israel that the division of the land was determined by the LORD.

The Gates of Jerusalem (48:30-35)

Jerusalem of the Millennial Kingdom will have twelve gates, with each bearing the name of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (48:30-34). The circumference of the city will be 35.8 miles, or about 9 miles square (48:35).

Closing thoughts (48:35b) – The name of the new Jerusalem will be changed, for it will be called “Yahweh Shammah,” meaning, “The LORD is there” (48:35b).

For some, the boundaries and geographical locations may seem unimportant, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  The locations given to each tribe serves as a legal transaction between Yahweh and His people.  No nation today may lay perpetual claim to these lands, for they have been given to the Twelve Tribes as an inheritance.

What a great inspiration for the Jews living in captivity, and to the other tribes that they will one day receive their inheritance! The LORD promised His people there would come a day when He would draw the Twelve Tribes of Israel out of the nations, and bring them home. That day is yet to be, but the promise of “Emmanuel” (“God with us”) will be perpetual, for the glory of the LORD will dwell forever in the midst of His people. What a glorious day that will be!

He that is Mighty watches over Israel!

Copyright 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Millennial Kingdom and the River of Life (Ezekiel 46; Ezekiel 47)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 46; Ezekiel 47

Our study of the Millennial Kingdom continues, even as our study of The Prophecies of Ezekiel nears the end. Thank you for taking this journey with me, and for persevering through difficult passages that were unfamiliar to some.

We have considered the Temple of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom (Ezekiel 40:48-41:26), its dimensions, courtyards, sanctuaries, and décor (Ezekiel 41:16-21). Ezekiel had witnessed the glory of the LORD filling the Temple (42:15), and recorded the ordinances and laws that the priests and Levites would follow in its administration (Ezekiel 43-44). The prophet was instructed to record the division of the land, beginning with the sacred district where the priests and Levites would reside (Ezekiel 45).

Ezekiel 46 – Worship in the Millennial

In the Millennial Kingdom, Israel will worship the LORD on the Sabbaths, and on the New Moon. The “Prince” of Jerusalem ((45:7-8; 46:2), whom I suggested will be a government official serving the LORD as administrator, was observed by Ezekiel entering the east gate of the Temple grounds (46:2). The prince, the representative of the people, came to the Temple for worship, entering through the east gate even as the people entered through the north and south gates (46:3).

Guidelines were given for the sacrifices (46:4-8), which the prince was obligated to bring for the priests to offer on his and the people’s behalf. The prince was to enter and depart by the east gate, while the people were to enter by either the north or south gates, and depart from the one opposite of that which they entered (46:8-9). The prince and the people would worship together, with him being in their midst (46:10).

Ezekiel recorded the procedure for offerings and worship on the feast days (46:11), as well as the freewill offerings of the prince (46:12). There will also be an observance of daily sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom (46:13-15). A one-year-old male lamb will be offered every morning, along with a grain offering accompanied by oil (46:14-15).

Regulation of Land Inheritances During the Millennial Kingdom (46:16-18)

As noted in the previous devotional (Ezekiel 45), the prince of the millennial kingdom will have sons, and bequeath to them a portion of his lands. The sons could not divide the lands and assign any portion to another not of the prince’s family (46:16). Should the prince give land to a servant, it would be returned to the prince on the Year of Jubilee (every 50 years, 46:17). Furthermore, the prince was forbidden to take possession of lands that belonged to the people (46:18).

Kitchens of the Temple (46:19-24)

Two sets of kitchens are noted as places the priests would prepare and cook the trespass and sin offerings. There will be kitchens located on the west side near the buildings of the priests, and designated for the priests and the preparation of their meals (46:19-20). Four kitchens, located in the four corners of the Temple courtyard (46:21-22), will be used by the priests to prepare and cook the sacrifices of the people (46:23-24).

Ezekiel 47 – The River of Life in the Millennial Kingdom

A “Pure River of Water of Life” (Revelation 22:1-2) flowed from the Temple (47:1), its waters bringing new life to the land of Israel. The source of the river was the Temple (47:1), and its waters began as a trickle, flowing east, southeast, and only ankle deep at first (47:2-3). As the waters flowed, the river became deeper, moving from the ankles (47:3), to the knees (47:4), the waist (47:4), and finally so deep the river was uncrossable (47:5).

The Purpose of the River of Life (47:6-12)

Beginning in the Temple, the waters brought new life, and transformed the land by nourishing the trees, bringing sustenance and healing to the desert (47:7-8). Flowing into the Dead Sea, its waters were seen teeming with all manner of fish (47:9), and fisherman cast their nets and brought in an abundance of fish (47:10). While salt marshes provided salt for the people (47:11), the waters of the river nourished fruit trees whose leaves never withered (47:12; Psalm 1:3).

The Boundaries of the Land (47:13-21)

While Ezekiel 48 will identify the division of the land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel, we find instructions regarding the inheritance of Joseph’s sons (Ephraim and Manasseh), who would each receive a portion (47:13-14). The north, east, and southern boundaries of the land are given, with the Mediterranean Sea serving as the western border (47:15-21). The land will be divided “according to the tribes of Israel” (47:21).

Guidelines for Strangers (Gentiles) in the Midst of Israel (47:22-23)

Being assured the children of Israel will receive all the LORD promised in His covenant, we conclude with an additional guideline and provision for “the strangers” (non-Hebrews) who identified themselves with the LORD and the children of Israel. The distinction between Jew and Gentile will be done away, and the “stranger” that lived among the children of Israel will be given an inheritance among God’s people (47:23).

Closing thoughts – Perhaps you have experienced broken promises. There are some who promise friends and family an inheritance, only to have others swoop in like thieves and steal what was pledged. There are others who beguile loved ones, leading them to believe they are valued and will be remembered in a tangible way, yet knowing they have no plans to fulfill their promises. The LORD, however, is faithful and true to His promises. What He promises, He will certainly fulfill. What a blessed promise believers have, and one no thief can wrest away from us. Christ has promised:

John 14:1–21Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.