Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

Remember When Preachers Warned God’s Judgment Was Imminent?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Zephaniah 1-3

Our devotional reading in 2 Chronicles 29-32 (see October 31, 2017) was timely, given today’s scripture reading in the Book of Zephaniah follows chronologically my commentary on King Hezekiah’s reign in Judah.  The introductory verse of Zephaniah sets the time of this prophetic book during the reign of King Josiah, the grandson of Hezekiah.  A brief lineage of the prophet Zephaniah is given in the opening verse of this book that bears his name.

Zephaniah 1:1 – “The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.”

Zephaniah was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah and served as prophet to Judah during the reign of Josiah (1:1b).  Some suggest the “Hizkiah” mentioned in Zephaniah 1:1 is King Hezekiah; if so, Zephaniah was born of royal lineage.  King Josiah, like his grandfather Hezekiah, sought to lead Judah back to the LORD and perhaps it was the influence of Zephaniah that was the impetus for the king’s longing for revival.

The prophecies of Zephaniah not only warn Judah of God’s approaching judgment (1:2-2:15), but prophetically warn the day is coming when God will judge all nations.  Zephaniah declared the severity of God’s wrath in terms that left no doubt the time of judgment was imminent.  Quoting the LORD, Zephaniah prophesied:

Zephaniah 1:2-3 – “I will utterly consume all things…man and beast…fowls of the heaven, the fishes of the sea…I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.”

In spite of the prophet’s warnings and King Josiah’s effort to call the nation to repent, the revival was short-lived.   Following Josiah’s death, the people returned to idolatry and soon after the armies of Babylon plundered the land, destroying the Temple and Jerusalem, and leading the people into captivity.

The prophecies of Zephaniah, though imminent for Judah, foretold God’s judgment not only against Judah, but all nations of the world.  Having herald God’s warning of judgment against Judah, Zephaniah turned his message toward other nations, prophesying God’s judgments against the Philistines (2:4-8), Moab and Ammon (2:8-11), and Ethiopia and Assyria (2:12-15).

Judah, specifically the capital city of Jerusalem, becomes the prophet’s focus in Zephaniah 3.  The inhabitants of Jerusalem were privilege to have the Temple in their midst and priests and prophets ministering among them.  In spite of God’s grace and mercies, the citizens of Jerusalem worshipped idols and took pleasure in wickedness.

Zephaniah describes Jerusalem as “filthy and polluted” (3:1), disobedient, incorrigible [“she received not correction”] and faithless (3:2).  Her rulers like “roaring lions” (3:3), her judges like “evening wolves”, her spiritual leaders “light [reckless] and treacherous [deceivers]” (3:4) and her priests “polluted [defiled; desecrated] the sanctuary…have done violence [violated; wrong] to the law” (3:4).

Lest some say the LORD is unjust, Zephaniah testifies, “The just LORD is in the midst…every morning doth He bring His judgment to light” (3:5).

Having prophesied God’s judgment of Judah and the nations, Zephaniah foretells God would one day gather the nations of the world for a universal judgment… “all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy” (3:8).

Zephaniah concludes with a prophecy yet to be fulfilled, promising the LORD will one day gather Israel, restore His people to their land, and dwell in the midst (3:14-20).

On a personal note, when I was a young believer I often heard preachers heralding the prophecies of God’s final judgment on the nations and humanity.  Knowing the wickedness and violent straits of today’s world, I am surprise the pulpits of Gospel preaching churches have grown silent regarding the wrath and final judgment of God.  [Perhaps the word “surprise” is an overstatement since sissy preachers hardly have the stomach or the courage to preach against sin, let along a lukewarm congregation tolerate preaching on God’s judgment.]

To the church of Laodicea, which I believe is the church of the last days, the LORD commanded the apostle John to write…

Revelation 3:15-16 “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

I am afraid a “lukewarm” generation is filling the pulpits and occupying the pews of churches and schools that were once leaders of Bible fundamentalism, but have become “neither cold nor hot…[and are] rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:15-16).

We need a generation of preachers who have the zeal, courage and devotion to call believers to repent and warn the nations of the earth the judgment of God is imminent!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Are you ready for Christ’s coming? It may be today!

September 30, 2017

Scripture Reading – Acts 1-2

Our scripture reading this Saturday, September 30, 2017 introduces us to a pivotal book in the New Testament, the Book of Acts, also known as the “Acts of the Apostles”.   As its name implies, the Book of Acts records the actions and activities of the Apostles following Christ’s bodily resurrection and translation to heaven after commissioning His disciples 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).

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 the other women who came to His empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10).  He then appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5) and to two followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).   Later He appeared to ten of the disciples, less Thomas who was absent and Judas who had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-29).  Eight days later He appeared in the midst of the eleven disciples, this time with Thomas present (John 20:24-29).   Jesus appeared to seven of the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, known to the Jews as the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23).  In his epistle to the church at Corinth, Paul recorded Jesus’ appearance to five hundred followers and then to James (I Corinthians 15:6-7).  He last appeared to the eleven disciples before He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:3-12).

There are several foundational truths in this introduction to the Book of Acts.   Because the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central hope of Christianity (Luke 24:39-40; 41-43; Acts 1:3), Jesus stayed with His disciples forty days and emboldened them with “many infallible proofs”, an experience that forever changed their lives (Acts 1:3).

Jesus exhorted His disciples to WAIT for the promise of the Father…ye shall be BAPTIZED with the Holy Ghost” (1:4-5).  Before He ascended to heaven He commissioned them to be witnesses (Acts 1:8) and as they watched, Jesus “was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).  Two angels, appearing as men in “white apparel”, appeared giving the disciples 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.” (Acts 1:11).

The reality of a crucified, risen and returning Savior transformed the disciples from self-promoting sinners arguing among themselves who should be the greatest (Luke 9:46, 22:24), to servants asking nothing for themselves and left wondering when Christ would “restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6).

One of the many lessons we can take from Acts 1-2 is:

When God’s people remember the main thing is a crucified, risen, and returning Savior, conflicts and divisions cease in the church.

The imminent return of Jesus Christ forever changed the disciples’ perspective on their own lives and ministry.   James would write to the early church, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1).  Knowing Jesus Christ promised to return, but not knowing the hour, James exhorted believers:

James 5:7-9 – Be patient [longsuffering; slow to anger] therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman [farmer] waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early [autumn] and latter [spring] rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts [keep hope alive]: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9 Grudge not [stop complaining & grumbling] one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

Friend, I do not know when the LORD will return (Acts 1:7), but I believe it is soon and  imminent.  We also know the LORD’s coming will be sudden, unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

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

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The King is Coming!

September 29, 2017

Scripture Reading – Obadiah

Today’s scripture reading is the book of Obadiah, consisting of only one chapter that is twenty-one verses in length.   With the exception of his name, the exact identity of the author and the date of its writing is unknown; however, the opening sentence of the book identifies its subject… “The vision of Obadiah” (Obadiah 1:1a).

The focus of Obadiah’s vision from the LORD is Edom (1:1-16) and Israel (1:17-21).  The people of Edom were descendants of Esau (Genesis 25:30; 36:1), the brother of Jacob and son of Isaac (Genesis 25:19-26).  The nation of Israel was the lineage of Jacob, born of his twelve sons, the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel.

From their mother’s womb, there was jealousy and conflict between Esau and Jacob and the feud between them continued not only throughout their lifetimes, but also through their descendants.   God rejected Esau and chose Jacob and his lineage as heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3).  While God commanded Israel to view Edom as “thy brother” (Deuteronomy 23:7), Edom harbored resentment toward Israel (Ezekiel 35:5) and was her adversary.

For this brief commentary, I will divide the book of Obadiah into three sections:

1) The prophecy of Edom’s destruction (1:1)

2) The wrongs committed by Edom against Israel, identified as “thy brother Jacob” (1:2-16)

3) God’s promise He would deliver Israel from captivity (1:17-18), defeat her enemies (1:19-20), and ultimately establish His kingdom and throne in Jerusalem (1:21)

Obadiah 1:21 has yet to be fulfilled, but points to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when He will sit on David’s throne, reign as the Messiah King, and “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Please Pray: God sometimes calls a nation to repent through natural cataclysmic events.

September 8, 2017

Scripture Reading – Joel 1-3

I found today’s scripture reading especially graphic in light of the devastating blow suffered by Houston from Hurricane Harvey and the path of destruction Hurricane Irma is leaving as she makes her way across the Caribbean and towards South Florida today.  Adding to the calamity in our region of the world is the news of a major earthquake in southern Mexico this morning.

A novice reader of the Bible recognizes the prophet Joel is writing about a national disaster in terms that are symbolic, nevertheless powerful.  Joel is describing the “Day of the LORD” (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14) and the impending judgment of God against Judah.

The Book of Joel describes three catastrophic invasions.  The enemy in Joel 1 is a natural enemy…a plague of locusts that destroys the crops leaving both men and beasts starving (1:7, 10-12, 16-20).

The enemy in Joel 2 is the impending invasion by the armies of Assyria (2:1-27) described in verse 20 as “the northern army” (or the army to the north).   Joel was to sound the alarm, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion” (2:1)… warn Judah an enemy was coming.  Describing the swath of destruction, Joel warns, “the day of the LORD cometh…A day of darkness and of gloominess…a fire devoureth before them…before their face the people shall be much pained” (2:1-6).

Why? Why was the LORD bringing this upon Judah?  That the people might turn…to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (2:12-13).  Reminding the nation the LORD is “gracious and merciful” (2:13), Joel called upon Judah to repent of her sins and turn to the LORD.

Joel prayed for a national revival:  “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children…17  Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (2:16-17).

Knowing the LORD is gracious and merciful, Joel promised if the people repented, God would restore the nation, bless the land and “restore to you the years that the locust have eaten…26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (2:18-26).

Joel 3 is a future event…the regathering of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem (3:1) and the Gentile nations gathering against Israel (3:2) in what I believe is the final battle…Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).   Remembering the ill-treatment suffered by the Jews down through the centuries (3:3-8),  the LORD promises to make war against the Gentiles (3:9-17).   Two Gentile nations are specifically named for destruction… “Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah” (3:19).   Egypt representing that great nation south of Israel and Edom the Arab nations to the north and east of Israel.

I close today’s devotional commentary with a personal observation as one who lives in the path of a hurricane the mayor of Miami describes as “epic”.   In a few days, after the storms have passed and the toll on life and property is assessed, there will be a national debate bordering on hysteria about the cause of these massive storms.   Some of the discussion will be sensible and scientific; however, media bias and liberal politicians will beat their drums and bewail “Climate Change” and reproach humanity as the cause.

A mere handful might dare broach the Biblical and historical reality God often calls a people to repent of their sin through natural cataclysmic events.

I am not suggesting the devastation suffered by Houston, the Caribbean and the potential of suffering in Florida from Hurricane Irma is the judgment of God.   However, I will confess the United States has turned from God, His Laws and precepts.

America is guilty of gross sins…the negligence of justice; the celebration of gross immorality; and the deaths of 60 million infants.  Of such a people we read, “for blood it defileth [corrupts; pollutes] the land [earth; country]: and the land cannot be cleansed [purged; atoned; forgiven] of the blood that is shed therein” (Numbers 35:33).

Pray for Texas, Florida and our nation to turn back to the LORD.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Third World War

Friday, August 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Daniel 7-12

Reading through the Bible in one year is a wonderful challenge; however, I find myself doing little more than a “fly-over” when it comes to writing a devotional commentary on passages of scripture that captivate my heart and move my spirit. Having read the Book of Daniel scores of times over the years and preached a verse-by-verse study as recently as 2014, the prophetic scenes found herein continue to astound me as I reflect upon those things that have come to past and those which are yet before the world.  What a stunning testimony for the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture!

In our scripture reading today, Daniel 7-12, we are given a panorama of prophetic history beginning with the rule of “Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1) and continuing with the reign of “Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (9:1).   The longevity of Daniel’s service to the kings, from being taken captive as a teenager and continuing through the latter days of his life, is a testimony of Daniel‘s character, talents and integrity. While other rulers of the Chaldean kingdom were purged from office during transitions of kings and kingdoms, Daniel’s character earned him trust of numerous kings, both Chaldean and Persian.

Daniel 7-12 records a series of prophetic visions and reveals that Daniel had knowledge of the prophecies of Jeremiah.  Daniel writes, “I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2).

Bearing sorrow for the sufferings of Israel, Daniel identified himself with the sins of the nation and confessed, “We have sinned…we have done wickedly” (Daniel 9:5-15).  With a penitent heart, Daniel prayed, “O Lord…let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem…O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive” (9:16-19).  The LORD then sent His angel Gabriel to comfort and give the interpretation of Daniel’s vision, including the seventy weeks of desolation (9:20-27).

Daniel 10 marks another transition of leadership in Babylon with the rise of “Cyrus king of Persia” (10:1) under whom Daniel would serve.  Daniel’s prophetic visions continue as God sends “Michael, one of the chief princes” (10:13) to interpret the things God revealed to him in visions, including the fall of Persia to the “prince of Grecia” (10:20-21).

Darius the Mede was reigning over Babylon and the Persian Empire in Daniel 11 when the LORD revealed to Daniel the fall of Persia and the rise of a great king we recognize as Alexander the Great, king of Greece (11:2-3).   God revealed to Daniel the fourfold division of Greece following the reign of Alexander (11:3-4) and the international conflicts that would follow between nations with the collapse of Greece (11:5-20).

The balance of Daniel 11 is a panorama of prophetic scenes too numerous to study in this devotional commentary (Daniel 11:21-45) and take us from the offenses and desecrations committed by one we know historically to be Antiochus Epiphanes (11:25-35) to the rise of the Antichrist in the time of the Tribulation (Daniel 11:36-12:13) described as “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (12:1), “even to the time of the end” (12:4).

Permit me an opportunity to close this reading of Daniel’s prophecies with some personal observations.

The news of “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6) is an inescapable, undeniable reality of our times.  Headline stories of newspapers, radio broadcasts and cable news scream WAR and I believe the stage is set for the rise of the Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45; 12:1-4).

Impassioned by a religious fervor that identifies itself as ISLAM, the ancient enemies of Israel are threatening to spark the Third World War.  The volatile rise of Islam in the Middle East, the military aggression of North Korea, China and Russia coupled with the anemic response of politicians to anarchist activities within the United States is setting the stage for the 70th week of Daniel and the Tribulation Period.

Friend, we live in volatile times, but God is no less sovereign today than He was in Daniel’s tumultuous times.  Let us join Daniel and rest in God’s assurance in the closing verses of Daniel 12: “Blessed is he that waiteth,…” (Daniel 12:12a).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

He That is Mighty Watcheth Over Israel!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 43-48

With today’s assignment, we conclude our scripture reading in the Book of Ezekiel.  We have followed Ezekiel from his work as a 30-year old priest ministering in obscurity to the Jews “in the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezekiel 1:3) to God’s call for him to confront the sins of the people and prophesy the imminent judgment of God on the nation (2:3-5).

Israel rejected the Word of the LORD and the people refused to repent of their sins.  False prophets, feigning to be prophets of the LORD, rose among the people and led them into greater wickedness (13:1-23).  The “shepherds” of the nation, priests and leaders whose responsibility it was to lead the people, failed the nation and turned to idols and human sacrifice (16:15-34).

While the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and Judah are assured, the LORD revealed to Ezekiel He would not altogether forsake Israel, promising to one day resurrect the nation (Ezekiel 37).  The LORD encouraged His prophet that the day would come when the Jews would not only be restored to their land, but described the dimensions of the Temple they would build (Ezekiel 40-42).

The temple Israel will build when she is restored to the land following the Babylonian captivity is described in detail.  The Book of Ezra describes the building of the same temple.

Ezekiel, however, describes in chapter 43 a temple that has yet to be built and is the temple of Christ’s millennial reign.  Ezekiel is given a vision of that temple and describes the glory of the LORD filling it (43:2-5).

Promising the Jews will return to their land, guidelines and the role of priests are described in Ezekiel 44, including the restoration of the Passover and worship in the Temple (Ezekiel 45-46).  The lands assigned to the tribes of Israel is also given (47:13-23; 48:1-35).

Admittedly, much of today’s reading (Ezekiel 43-48) is not only difficult to grasp, but has little immediate application; however, I close with a pertinent and simple observation:

While all the nations and people of the ancient past are either a footnote in history or 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; and 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 chosen people.

You question, “Is there a God?”

There is no human explanation for the existence of the Jewish people and Israel apart from Elohim for He that is Mighty watcheth over Israel!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

We Serve a Risen Savior!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 23-24

Today’s Bible reading brings us to the third of the Gospel accounts concerning those things Jesus Christ suffered on our behalf according to the scriptures (Isaiah 53).  Declaring Jesus an innocent man and not guilty of political sedition for which the chief priests accused Him, Pilate sought a political escape from the wicked demands of His accusers (Luke 23:1-5).

Hearing Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate sent Him to be tried before Herod, a political nemesis and the puppet king appointed by Rome to rule in Galilee (23:6-7).  Knowing Herod’s hands were guilty of the blood of John the Baptist, Jesus stood silent before him refusing to answer or acknowledge him as one with authority (23:8-9).

Luke 23:12 reminds me of the ancient adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

We read, “Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves” (23:12).  That day the notorious pair shared in the injustice of the ages…condemning Jesus Christ the sinless One; they became forever yoked by the travesty of justice they committed and the eternal judgment of God.   Friend, be mindful; rebels are bound by a mutual disdain of truth and truth bearers!

There is much I could expound upon in today’s reading; however, I will close by inviting you to notice the disciples’ response after they witnessed Jesus’ ascension to heaven (Luke 23:50-53).

Luke 24:50-53 – “And He [Jesus] led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them.
51  And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52  And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53  And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”

The fact of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead forever changed the lives of His disciples.  Their hearts filled with joy, their tongues could not be silenced but by death!  Each one, facing a martyr’s death, died giving testimony of the reality, the fact, and the undeniable truth they served a risen Savior!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith