Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

The Devil is Behind the World’s Hatred of the Jews and Israel

Friday, December 22, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Revelation 12-17

Today’s scripture reading is a prophecy of the last half of the Tribulation years.  Because the length of the assigned reading is far too long for a brief devotional commentary, I will limit today’s devotional to Revelation 12.

From the time of his fall, Satan and the angels who followed his rebellion (described as “the third part of the stars” who were cast out of heaven – Revelation 12:4; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17), have warred against God.  Satan’s failed rebellion in heaven continued on earth when he, in the form of a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God (Genesis 3).

Revelation 12 is a prophetic portrait of the war of the ages and is set in the second half of the Seven Years Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22).

The woman described in Revelation 12:1 is the nation of Israel; identified by the twelve stars in her crown representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  It is this woman, symbolic of Israel, that is the focus of Satan’s final stand against God.  Israel, pictured as a woman with child suffering labor pains, is an image of persecution (12:2).  The birth of the child being delivered is symbolic of Israel’s coming  Messiah.

The “great red dragon” is Satan (12:3-4) and the “seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads” (12:3) represent nations and thrones that are confederates in the devil’s unrelenting attack on Israel.

Revelation 12:4 describes the rebellion Satan led among the angels in heaven when his heart was lifted up in pride (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17).  After being cast out of heaven (12:7-9), the devil’s focus was to destroy God’s promise of a Savior Redeemer by annihilating the Hebrew people.

The woman (Israel) gives birth to a son in Revelation 12:5b, describing Christ’s birth (His virgin mother Mary being a daughter of Israel of the tribe of Judah) and His ascension to heaven, “caught up unto God”  (reminding us of Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension – Acts 1:9).

Revelation 12:7-12 turns our focus back to heaven and the rebellion of one-third of the angels led by the “great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (12:9a).  The devil “was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (12:9b).

Adding to the Devil’s deviant resume’ is his title, “the accuser of our brethren” (12:10). We understand from Job 1-2 that Satan, although cast out of heaven, has access before the throne of God and is the persecutor of the Jews and believers.

The cross, rather than a symbol of defeat, became a symbol of victory and salvation with the resurrection of Christ from the dead (12:10b-12a).  Having failed to prevent Christ’s resurrection, the devil pours out his wrath on Israel and “persecuted the woman [Israel] which brought forth the man child” (meaning Christ, 12:13).

Israel’s flight from persecution during the Tribulation is described as “the woman …given two wings of a great eagle”, possibly drawing upon the picture of Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt “on eagles’ wings” (Exodus 19:4).  As the trials and troubles of the last years of the Tribulation increase, some of Israel will find a safe place in the wilderness and be spared (12:14); others will become the object of the devil’s wrath as the nations of the earth align against the Jews (12:15-17).

The Hebrew people have been, and continue to be, the object of hate and persecution in the world.  Anti-Semitism is increasing dramatically and its horrid head is visible in the Middle East, throughout Europe, and in the United States.  None of these facts should surprise us. Christ warned His Disciples The Great Tribulation would bring a time of trouble like the world has not seen (Matthew 24:21).   The spirit of anarchy, rioting, violence, and terrorist attacks we are witnessing in our society are ominous signs the Tribulation years are upon us.

Friend, take courage; we know the end of the story and the defeat of Satan’s rebellion is certain.  When Christ comes again, he will defeat Satan and crush the nation’s aligned with him (Rev. 19:11-21).  After the Millennial years, the devil and his demons will be condemned to the lake of fire for ever (Revelation 20:3, 7-10).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Scripture Reading for Friday, December 8, 2017

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Followers and Hillsdale Family,

Today’s Scripture reading is Revelation 1-6.  I hope to post a devotional commentary later today; however, for now I encourage you to continue our “Read-Thru the Bible” schedule in the absence of my commentary.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Hope Renewed

Friday, November 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Zechariah 8-14

Today’s Scripture reading continues the prophecies of Zechariah which we began last week.  Zechariah was a young prophet and a contemporary of the elder prophet Haggai. The two men ministered together in Jerusalem at the time a remnant of the Jews returned to rebuild the temple.

While the focus of Haggai’s prophecies was to encourage the people to finish rebuilding the temple, the prophecies of Zechariah had a far-reaching context, not only applicable to the world of his day, but also the world at the Second Coming of Christ as Messiah and the end of time.

The passages of Scripture assigned to today’s reading consist of seven chapters and are too long for me to do a sufficient job in writing a brief devotional commentary.

In the midst of enjoying family over the holiday, I hope you’ll seek a private time with the Lord and His Word.

With the heart of the shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

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