Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

Sing Unto the LORD! (Psalm 89; Psalm 96)

Scripture reading – Psalm 89; Psalm 96

Music has always been a central part of worshipping the LORD.  Had you been privileged to visit the Temple, you would have heard singers and musicians leading the congregation of Israel in worship. Their lives were dedicated to singing, playing, and composing songs of praise. Reading the psalms, you come to realize the deep, personal relationship the writers had with their subject…the LORD! Psalm 89 and Psalm 96 call upon the congregation to sing, sing unto the LORD!

Psalm 89 – The Person and Attributes of God

Psalm 89 was composed by “Ethan the Ezrahite,” and some scholars suggest he was also known as Jeduthun, a musician of David’s era. We can be certain he was a Levite, and his composition would have been sung in worship in the Temple. Time and space do not permit a thorough study of Psalm 89; however, I invite you to consider a few of God’s attributes detailed in the psalm.

A Call to Worship the LORD (Psalm 89:1-4)

God is merciful and faithful (89:1-2), and His promises never fail (89:3).

Divine Attributes (Psalm 89:5-18)

God is incomparable (Psalm 89:6-8), and He is to be feared and revered (89:7). He is strong and faithful (89:8). He is the Sovereign in nature, and the seas obey His will (89:9; Matthew 8:24-27). He is Sovereign of the nations, and He rules the “sea” of nations (89:10).

God is the Creator, and the mountains rejoice at His name (89:11-12). He is just, merciful, and to be trusted (89:14). He is righteous (89:16), and our protector (89:18). The LORD is “the Holy One of Israel, [and He] is our King (89:18).

God is Faithful, and No Promise of His Ever Fails. (89:19-52)

The LORD keeps covenant with His people, and He never forgets His promises (89:19-25). He is “my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (89:26). He is merciful (89:28), and just; and those who break His Covenant will not go unpunished (89:26-32). He is holy, and cannot lie (89:35). He is a righteous Judge, and sin will not go unpunished (89:38-45). He is just, and in Him is life, purpose, mercy, and forgiveness (89:46-51). He is worthy of praise, for He is “LORD for evermore” – eternal, perpetual, everlasting God (89:52).

Psalms 96 – “O SING unto the LORD a New Song!”

Psalm 96 is an evangelistic psalm of praise, a universal invitation to “all the earth” to worship and sing praises unto the LORD (96:1). Three times the psalmist invites worshippers to sing:  “1O sing unto the Lord a new song: Sing unto the Lord, all the earth. 2Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; Shew forth his salvation from day to day” (96:1-2).

What was this “new song?”  (96:1-2)

I believe it was a song of salvation, a song of redemption; and an invitation to all who worship the LORD to “shew forth His salvation” (96:2). The psalmist invites God’s people to, “Declare His glory among the heathen [all non-Hebrew people]” (96:3).

Not only are we to “sing unto the LORD,” we are also exhorted to “Give unto the LORD” (96:7-8). The psalm opened with a trifecta invitation to “Sing,” and now there is a triplicate invitation to Give: Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. 8Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: Bring an offering, and come into his courts” (96:7–8).

The evangelistic thrust of Psalm 96 continued with an invitation to “worship the LORD” (96:9). Sincere worship acknowledges the holiness of God, and those who worship Him, fear and revere Him (96:9). We who worship the LORD are to declare to “the heathen that the Lord reigneth…and He shall judge the people righteously” (96:10).

Psalm 96 concludes with a doxology, reminding us the sin Adam thrust upon the world, the curse of sin, and its effect upon nature has been “that the whole creation groaneth [sorrows] and travaileth [agonizes] in pain [i.e. pangs of death]” (Romans 8:22).

However, the psalmist foresaw a day when there would be rejoicing in nature: “the heavens…the earth…the sea…the field… [and] the trees of the wood [will] rejoice (96:11-12). What was the cause for rejoicing in nature? When the LORD comes to “judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the people with his truth” (96:13).

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Creator, and King of Glory, Is He Your Lord? (Psalm 24)

Scripture reading – Psalm 24

Psalm 24 was written by David. Consisting of only ten verses, it has inspired many great hymns and anthems. [The brackets within the verses contain amplifications by this author.]

God is the Sovereign of His Creation (24:1-2)

Stated emphatically, and with no ambiguity in the opening verses of Psalm 24, is the truth that God is Creator, possessor, sovereign, and sustainer of His creation.

Psalm 24:1-2 – “The earth is the LORD’S [Jehovah; Eternal God], and the fulness [all it contains] thereof; the world [inhabitants], and they that dwell [inhabit; abide] therein. 2  For he [the LORD] hath founded [laid the foundation] it upon the seas, and established [prepared; erected] it upon the floods [waters; streams].”

The LORD is Eternal God, and the Creator of all things, and “without Him was not anything, made that was made” (John 1:3). As Creator, He is owner of the earth’s resources, and all that inhabits it. He has set the boundaries of the sea and the dry land (24:2). He is the Sustainer. Because the LORD is Sovereign, David asked:

What Manner of Man Might Draw Nigh unto the God of Heaven? (24:3)

Psalm 24:3 – “Who shall ascend [come up; scale] into the hill [mountain] of the LORD? or who shall stand [arise; rise] in his holy [hallowed; sacred] place?”

Can anyone merit the favor of God, or be worthy to enter into His presence? Might a rich man earn good standing with God by donating to charity, and giving his riches to help the poor? Does fasting, praying, worshipping, or showing kindness to another give one entrance into the presence of the LORD?

David listed four characteristics of the man who may enter the presence of the LORD.  (24:4)

Psalm 24:4 – “He that hath clean [innocent; guiltless; blameless] hands, and a pure [clear; innocent] heart [mind]; who hath not lifted up [removed] his soul [life; person] unto vanity [lying; deceit], nor sworn [taken an oath] deceitfully [fraud; i.e. lacking integrity].”

A man must have “clean hands” to enter into the LORD’S presence (24:4a). How might a man acquire “clean hands,” before a holy God? A comparable question was asked and answered in Psalm 119:9, where we read: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” 1 John 1:9reminds us the way to be cleansed is to “confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For a man to have “clean hands,” he must heed God’s Word, and confess his sins.

No man enters into the LORD’S holy place unless he has a “pure heart(pure in heart, thoughts, and motives, 24:4b). The man who enters the “holy place” cannot be like the Pharisees, who thought by portraying outward piety, their prayers would be heard, and answered (Matthew 23:25-28). The LORD, knowing the hearts of men, condemned the Pharisees saying, “Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28).

The man who enters God’s presence must also guard his soul from the “vanity” of the world (24:4c). What is the “vanity” of the world? It is the pleasures, sins, and philosophy of the world that promises much, but never satisfies the heart. The rich man boasted to himself that bigger barns and more goods would satisfy his soul (Luke 12:16-18). Beguiled by riches, he had failed to plan for God’s judgment, and “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20).

A man who enters the presence of the LORD must also have integrity, and he will not swear deceitfully (24:4d). The saints of God are honest and truthful. They are conscious of the Lord’s presence, and they will not cheat, lie, or swear falsely. They are not bound by a contract, but by a consciousness of God’s holiness.

David promised a twofold reward to them who seek the LORD. (24:5-6)

Psalm 24:5 – “He shall receive [accept] the blessing [prosperity] from the LORD, and righteousness [rightness; justice] from the God [i.e. Almighty God] of his salvation.”

When a man seeks the LORD with “clean hands,” a “pure heart,” guards his heart from vanity, and walks with integrity, he is promised “the blessing from the LORD” (24:5a), and declared righteous and just in His sight. David declared on behalf of all Israel, “This is the generation [age; people] of them that seek [follow; worship] him[the LORD], that seek [seek out; require; desire] thy face [the LORD’S countenance and face]  O Jacob [Tribes of Israel]. Selah [pause]” (24:6).

Hail to the King of Glory! (24:7-10)

The coming Messiah, the “King of glory,” is the subject of Psalm 24:7-10. Five times the LORD is identified as the “King of glory.” Who is this “King of glory?” He is the LORD, the “LORD of hosts” (24:8, 10).

In ancient times, the city gates were where private and governmental business was transacted.  The elders, and the king’s ambassadors, sat in judgment at the gates. Beginning with the elders, and chief leaders of the city, David commanded the people to hail the coming of the “King of glory” (24:7).

Psalm 24:7 – “Lift up [hold up] your heads, O ye gates [gates of the city of Jerusalem]; and be ye lift up [men who sat in the gates], ye everlasting [perpetual; ancient] doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

Who was this “King of glory?” He was “the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal God] strong [mighty; powerful]and mighty [heroic; warrior], the LORD mighty in battle [war; combat; warfare]” (24:8). A thousand years after Psalm 24 was composed, Jerusalem celebrated Jesus’ entrance into the city, and identified Him as the “the Son of David,” and therefore heir to the throne. Within that same week, those same voices cried against Jesus, “Let Him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22-23; 1 Corinthians 2:8).

Closing thoughts – Perhaps that is the reason David announced, not once, but twice for the “gates” (24:7, 9) to lift up their heads and hail the coming of the “King of glory” (24:9-10). The world rejected Jesus when He came the first time; however, all nations will be forced to hail His Second Coming.

Psalm 24:9–109Lift up your heads, O ye gates; Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in. 10Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

Hail to the King, the LORD of heaven’s armies, for He is the King of glory!

Revelation 1:77Behold, he [Christ] cometh with [in the] clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him [on the Cross]: and all kindreds [people and nations] of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Are you ready for His coming?

With the heart of a shepherd,

HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Where is Your Citizenship? (Psalm 87)

Scripture reading – Psalm 87

The title of Psalm 87 is “A Psalm or Song for the Sons of Korah.” Who were the “sons of Korah?” They were of the priestly tribe of Levi, and descended from of the lineage of Kohath, one of three sons of Levi (the other being Gershon and Merari). The Kohathites duties were sacred, for they were assigned the care of the Tabernacle furnishings, including the Ark, the lampstand, tables, altar, and the curtains.

Psalm 87 is one of a number of psalms assigned to the “sons of Korah,” who not only served as musicians for worship, but became the guards or gatekeepers of the Tabernacle in David’s day (1 Chronicles 9:19-21). The time or occasion of the psalm is not known; however, I believe it had prophetic implications.

The focus of the psalm is Zion (87:2), the mountain range where Jerusalem and the Temple were built. We read, the LORD laid the “foundation” for worship on the mountains of Zion, and it was the place He loved “more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (87:2). Of Zion, the city of Jerusalem, we read, “3Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah” (87:3).

I believe the glory of Jerusalem was not only that it was the place of worship for Israel, but will prophetically become the place of “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,” where Christ will reign (Revelation 21:2-3).

Various nations are mentioned in Psalm 87:4, and it is noted that men would boast of the city of their birth. One man would boast he had been born in Rahab (Egypt, Isaiah 30:7), another in Babylon. Other men would boast that Philistia, Tyre, or Ethiopia was their place of birth (87:4).

Sincere believers, those who have been born again by faith (John 3:3, 16), will boast that they are the citizens of Zion, for the LORD, “the highest himself shall establish her [Jerusalem, the city of Zion]” (87:5). If you are a born again believer, you are a citizen of New Jerusalem by salvation! When “the Lord shall count [take the final census], when he writeth up the people [in His book], [it will be said of the children of God]this man was born there. Selah” (87:6).

With the final census taken (Revelation 20:12-14), and the judgment of those whose name was “not found written in the book of life” past (Revelation 20:15), new Jerusalem will “come down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2). “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

What a great day that will be! Christ will sit upon His throne in Jerusalem, and “the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: All my springs [i.e. fountains of living water] are in thee” (87:7).

Friend, is your name written in “the book of life?” When the final census is taken, will you be able to say of Jerusalem where the LORD will reign, “I was born (again) there?” (87:6)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

You are Invited to Worship with Hillsdale Baptist Church as we Celebrate the Resurrection! (10:00 AM – EDT)

“He is not here: for He is risen, as He said.Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:6)

* Heart of a Shepherd Devotional followers: Today’s Scripture Reading is Leviticus 20-21. However, because today is Resurrection Sunday, I have devoted today’s devotional post to the Cross, and the Resurrection; the central doctrine of the Scriptures. You are invited to join today’s worship broadcast, 10:00 AM (EDT) at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the greatest event in history. His death, burial, and bodily resurrection is central to all that we believe and preach. The apostle Paul, in his letter to believers in Corinth, declared, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Fulfilling the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures, the resurrection of Christ is the critical doctrine, the linchpin upon which the Christian faith rests, and is foundational to the Gospel we preach.

The resurrection is not only the hope of today’s believers (1 Corinthians 15:19-20), but was the expectation of the saints of ancient times. Job expressed his confidence of life beyond the grave in these words: “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come [renewal; release from the grave] (Job 14:14).

The psalmist expressed his conviction in the resurrection, writing, “God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me” (Psalm 49:15). Christ revealed the ancient patriarchs, though dead, were alive: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:32b).

The Resurrection of Christ is the blessed hope of every believer. While today is a memorial to our rejoicing in His resurrection, every Sunday we gather as a congregation is a testimony of our faith, “He is risen, as He said” (Matthew 28:6).

Rejoicing in a risen Savior,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
https://tv.gab.com/channel/HeartofAShepherd1
https://mewe.com/p/heartofashepherdinc

A New Heaven, A New Earth, and A New Jerusalem (Revelations 21-22)

Scripture reading – Revelations 21-22

Today we come to the end of a journey that began 366 days ago (2020 was a leap year, meaning we were blessed last February with an added day, a phenomenal that occurs every four years). Today’s devotional commentary is a monumental milestone for me, as I fulfill a personal goal of writing a daily devotional commentary following a chronological schedule through the Scriptures.

As we come to Revelation 21, let us take a moment and reflect on the events that will come to pass before that chapter.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be observed (19:1-10), and will precede the triumphant Second Coming of Christ (19:11-18). The “beast” (antichrist), and the false prophet will be cast alive into the “lake of fire” (19:19-21). Satan will be chained, and cast into the “bottomless pit” (20:1) where he will be held a thousand years during the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth (20:2-6). When a thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed to wreak havoc on the earth until he is cast into “the lake of fire and brimstone” where he will be forever tormented (20:7-9).

A dreadful, eternal judgment will follow, as the dead who had rejected God’s gift of redemption made possible in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, will appear before The Great White Throne (20:11). Death, hell, and all unbelievers, “small and great [will] stand before God, and will face eternal judgment as they are condemned and “cast into the lake of fire” (20:10-15).

Revelation 21 – A New Heaven, A New Earth, and New Jerusalem

With sin no more, God reveals “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1). The apostle John witnessed “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). Suddenly, there was a “great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (21:3).

Comforted by the presence of God in their midst, John writes, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (21:4). Imagine, no sin, no sorrows, no sufferings, no sickness, and no death!

Much more could be considered in today’s Scripture reading, especially the wonderful description of New Jerusalem (21:9-22:2); however, I will save that great study for another time, and Lord willing, another year.

We began the year with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Today we conclude our year-long study being reminded of something we have seen throughout this year: The Grace of God. John writes,

Revelation 22:21 – “21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Grace: Marvelous, matchless, unmerited. Songwriter Julia Johnston penned the hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” writing:

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelations 19-20)

Scripture reading – Revelations 19-20

Our Scripture reading brings us to future events that have captured the imagination of the saints of God for two millennia. The apostle John wrote in vivid detail the same prophetic scenes that the prophets Zephaniah and Zechariah had foretold would come to pass.

The events recorded in Revelation 19 follow the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:1-8), whom we have seen was the symbol of all false religions, and the enemy of God and believers. John observes that the kings of the earth, and all the people, will be stunned when Babylon falls, and will mourn her sudden destruction (Revelation 18:9-20). Several remarkable events follow the destruction of Babylon.

Revelation 19

A scene of praise and worship begins, as the people of heaven begin saying, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore [Babylon], which did corrupt the earth with her fornication [false religions], and hath avenged the blood of his servants [believers] at her hand” (19:1-2).

Imagine the voices of all the redeemed, the saints of both the Old and New Testaments, and the martyrs of the Tribulation, all lifting their voices and shouting, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (19:6).

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:7-10)

A heavenly wedding feast will follow as the Lamb, Jesus Christ the Son of God, takes His spiritual bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-27), as His wife (19:7). The church, who are the true believers, is described as a wife who has “made herself ready” for her groom (19:7). Her clothing portrays her preparation, for she is “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8).

The Marriage Supper being ended, the stage is set for the next glorious event:

The Second Coming of Christ (19:11-16)

Christ is portrayed coming from heaven (19:11a), and riding upon a white horse (a symbol of victory, and spotless, sinless perfection). He rides under a war banner that bears His name: Faithful, for He is ever faithful to His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20); True, for He is true to His Word and will not lie (Titus 1:2). He is coming to judgethe earth in righteousness (19:11) and to make war against the antichrist and the nations that will assemble against Israel.

Christ will be accompanied by the armies of heaven (19:14), whom I imagine are the believers who were in attendance at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (notice they wear the same robes as those that were described at the feast, 19:8, 14). Christ is coming as a fierce warrior, and He will destroy the enemies of God and His saints (19:15-16).

The Battle of Armageddon (19:17-19)

I believe the host of heaven that accompany Christ, will not come to wage war themselves, but to witness the sudden destruction that will befall “the beast” (the antichrist), and “the kings of the earth and their armies” (19:19). Christ comes wearing the name written on His robes, “KING OF KING, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16).

The battle having been won, an angel summons carrion (flesh-eating birds) to the battleground to devour the carnage (the battlefield is described in Revelation 14:20 as “the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs,” or a spread of 200 miles). For more on the battle scene of Armageddon, go to Zephaniah 1:14-18 and Zechariah 14:1-13.

The Judgment of the Beast (Antichrist) and the False Prophet (19:19-21)

The battle having been won, the beast (antichrist), and his false prophet who had performed miracles to deceive the people, are both “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20). This is the dreadful place of judgment where all unbelievers, the demons, and the devil will eventually be judged for all eternity.  It is described as “a furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:42), “everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8), and a place of “[torment] day and night for ever and ever” (20:10).

Lord willing, I will address the Millennial Reign of Christ (20:1-6), God’s final judgment of Satan (20:7-10), and the final judgment of unbelievers (20:11-15), in another year.

I close inviting you to search your heart, and make sure your salvation; trust Jesus Christ as your Savior before it is eternally too late (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Acts 16:30-31).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“It is Done!” (Revelations 16-18)

Scripture reading – Revelations 16-18

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study of God’s judgments that will be poured out upon the earth in the latter-half of the tribulation, a period of three and a half years, known as “The Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 7:9, 14; 16:4-7; 22:14-15). Today’s devotional commentary will focus upon Revelation 16.

Revelation 16 – Seven Angels and Seven Bowls (vials) of Judgment

Revelation 16 opens the next phase of God’s judgment as He summons seven angels to go forth bearing seven “vials” or bowls of “the wrath of God.” The bowls are symbolic of individual judgments that will be poured out on the earth (16:1).

There are seven distinct judgments (i.e. bowls). The first bowl of judgment will result in open sores or ulcers, and will afflict all those who have taken “the mark of the beast,” and worshipped his image (16:2). The second judgment disturbs the sea (probably the Mediterranean Sea which is in the vicinity of Babylon), and its waters will become “as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul (i.e. the fish of the sea) [will die] in the sea” (16:3).

The third bowl of God’s wrath will poison the fresh waters, that are described as “the rivers and fountains of waters.” The waters will become as blood (16:4). The third angel states the justification for God’s judgments, declaring His righteousness (16:5) demanded man’s wickedness be condemned (16:6).

Revelation 16:6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. [In a literal sense, they are punished as they deserve, for their wickedness.]

A voice will arise from the altar in heaven and will state, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

A fourth angel will then go forth, and will bear a bowl of judgment that will cause the sun to become unbearably hot, so that it will “scorch men with fire” (16:8). Rather than repent of their wickedness, men will revile and curse God’s name (16:9).

The fifth bowl of God’s wrath will be poured out upon the antichrist and his throne (16:10), and a heavy, frightening darkness will descend on the earth. Once again, though their bodies will bear the “pains and sores” of God’s judgments (16:11), men will not repent.

The sixth angel will bear a bowl that will dry up the Euphrates River (a principal waterway in the Middle East), enabling the armies of the nations to make their way toward Israel (16:12-15). Three evil spirits are described, who will be unleashed to stir the nations of the earth to go to war in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14b).

The Lord will then warn the people of the earth, “15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, andkeepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (16:15), as He gathers all the armies of the earth to “Armageddon” for the final judgment (16:16).

The seventh angel will then be sent with the bowl of God’s wrath that will affect the air and atmosphere of the earth (16:17). Suddenly a voice will cry out from the throne of heaven, saying, “It is done” (16:17b).

God’s final judgment will be accompanied by terrifying natural events: “Voices, and thunders, and lightnings;” and a great earthquake like none that had ever been seen (16:18).

“The great city,” which I believe is Jerusalem, will be “divided into three parts;” however, not destroyed (16:19a). The other great cities of the earth will fall, and “great Babylon” will be utterly devastated by God’s wrath (16:19).

The continents of the earth will shift, and the mountains will fall (16:20). Great hail stones will fall to the earth (the weight of a “talent” may be estimated between 90 to 150 pounds). Still, men who survived will refuse to repent (16:21).

So much more could be written of that great and awful day of judgment; however, I will reserve that to another year.

I close reminding you that wise men and women are looking for, and anticipating Christ is coming (16:15). If you are not ready for His judgment, I urge you to repent of your sins, and turn to Christ before it is too late.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

The Expulsion and Defeat of Satan (Revelation 12-15)

Scripture reading – Revelations 12-15

The imagery of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 12-15) is profound, and complicated. I will limit the devotional commentary to focusing on Revelation 12; however, I encourage you to read today’s full Scripture reading assignment.

A novice Bible student might be so stunned by the descriptions and characters in Revelation 12, that he forgets there is practical meaning and application behind the narrative. Remember, in Revelation, we are observing literal events that will come to pass in the Tribulation.

Three characters in Revelation 12: A Woman Great with Child (12:1-2); A Great Red Dragon (12:3-4); and the birth of a “Man Child” (12:5).

Israel – A Woman Great with Child (12:1-2)

Who was this woman who was “with child,” and is pictured as one “travailing in birth” (12:2)? I believe the woman “with child” is a description of Israel as a people.

She is described as, “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1). Israel’s glory, her prestige as God’s chosen people, her “crown of twelve stars,” symbolizing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and her labor and travail with child was because the Christ child, God’s Redeemer would be born of and come out of Israel.

A Great Red Dragon (12:3-4)

The “great red dragon” is a symbol of Satan (12:3), and his being cast out of heaven is repeated here as it was described in the prophesies of Isaiah (14:12-15), and Ezekiel (28:12-17). Satan was the angel Lucifer, until his heart was lifted up with pride, and he led a rebellion against the God of heaven in which one-third of the angelic host followed him in an uprising against God.

Satan did all he could to prevent the birth of the promised Redeemer, seeking to destroy, to annihilate Israel, the people through whom God had promised the Christ child would be born (fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that through his lineage all the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). When Christ was born, the devil attempted to have Him killed, by King Herod’s assault on the children of Bethlehem. When Christ was crucified, and rose from the dead, sin and death were defeated, Satan turned his fierce wrath upon believers, and Israel.

The devil, the great dragon, knowing his time is short in the Great Tribulation (12:12), will make one last desperate attempt to destroy the true Israel (12:13-15), but he will fail when the earth opens up and swallows his forces (12:16).

A “Man Child” (12:5)

Who is the “man child” (12:5)? He is Jesus Christ. He was the son born of Israel (his mother being Mary), and of the lineage of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). He was born of the virgin, but was rejected by Israel. However, when He comes again, He will come and reign for a thousand years.

The woman who “fled into the wilderness” (12:6).

This is a prophesy that Israel as a nation and people will flee into the wilderness in the second half of the tribulation (lasting 3.5 years, or 1260 days, 12:6). Israel will seek refuge from the wrath of the devil and his forces.

A Heavenly Battle (12:7-9)

A heavenly war will be waged between “Michael (the archangel) and his angels” and the dragon and his angels (12:7-9). The devil’s defeat is assured, and he and his fallen angels will be “cast out into the earth” (12:9).

There is much in today’s Scripture reading that might baffle you, but you can be assured of this one thing:

Satan is a defeated foe, and God has assured believers the victory!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

The Seven Seals and Seven Judgments of Revelation (Revelation 6-11)

Scripture reading – Revelation 6-11

The intensity and breadth of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 6-11) is nearly overwhelming, for the veil of future things is drawn back and we are permitted to see those things that will surely come to pass in that time that is known as The Tribulation (Revelation 6:1-18:24).

The Seven Seals of God’s Judgment (Revelation 6:1-7:17)

We read that “the Lamb” (6:1), Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God, will open or break seven seals. A seal was an instrument that guaranteed the privacy and security of the contents of a letter or other means of communication. A king would use a seal to guarantee the privacy of a letter. A seal might be used by a judge to bind an agreement between two individuals.

Four Seals and Four Horses with Riders

When Jesus Christ, “the Lamb,” breaks the seven seals in Revelation, He does so as the One with authority to unleash God’s judgments and fulfill their purpose. The first four seals are immediately followed by a rider and horse that go forth to judge the earth in an escalation of sorrows.

When the first seal is broken, a rider on a white horse goes forth to conquer and subdue the earth (6:1-2). The second seal is broken, and a rider on a red horse goes forth with a “great sword,” and removes peace from the earth (6:3-4). A third seal is broken, and a black horse and rider are sent and famine follows (6:5-6).

When the fourth seal is broken, a pale horse departs, and its rider identified as “Death, and Hell” (6:7), brings the greatest judgment the earth has faced in the Tribulation. In the wake of the fourth rider’s judgment (6:8), one fourth of the earth’s population is killed (that number today would be one billion nine hundred million souls that would perish).

The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Seals

The fifth seal marks a departure from the symbolism of riders and horses. When “the Lamb” (Jesus Christ) breaks the fifth seal, a heavenly veil is drawn back and the souls of those who have been martyred in the tribulation appear “under the altar” (6:9). We are told they are those who were slain because of their faithfulness to the “word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (6:9).

The sixth seal is broken, and a time of universal judgment begins (6:12-17) that is manifested in “a great earthquake,” the darkening of the sun, the moon appearing as blood (6:12b), and the light of the stars being extinguished (6:13). All men, great and small, will realize the wrath of God is being poured out, and will seek in vain to hide themselves (6:14-17).

Revelation 7 is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, and it is revealed that 144,000 of all the tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, will be chosen to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When “the Lamb” breaks the seventh seal, heaven will fall silent “about the space of half an hour” (8:1). “The seven angels which stood before God” will be given seven trumpets (8:1-2), and the sounding of their trumpets will usher in a time of unimaginable destruction and judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants (8:1-11:19).

Unfortunately, an interpretation of the seven angels, and the seven trumpets that accompany the breaking of the seventh seal will have to wait to another year, and another devotional.

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Beginning of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1-5)

Scripture reading – Revelation 1-5

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the “Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle,” and is both the closing book of the Bible and the final book in our yearlong study of the Scriptures.

The Book of Revelation is just that, a book of prophetic revelations of the future. It is the “Apocalypse,” literally the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ (1:1). It is God’s disclosure to believers; a prophetic insight into not only the future, but also the beginning of the end of this world with its sin and corruption.

Revelation 1:1-3 – The Apostle John’s Prologue

The historical setting of the Revelation is near the end of the first century, and at a time of increasing persecution against the Church. Some sixty years had passed since Jesus ascended to heaven, and the apostle John was an elderly man, perhaps in his 90’s. He is the last of the apostles, the others having been martyred. It was at such an hour that God saw fit to encourage His faithful servant, and the saints of God with a message of HOPE (Revelation 6:10; 8:1-5).

Revelation opens and closes with a special blessing for all who read this book of prophecy. John commences the book of Revelation by exhorting the saints, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3). Revelation concludes with Christ assuring, “Behold, I come quickly” and John promising, “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).

Consider four observations: The Object, The Purpose, The Method, and the Recipient of the Revelation (1:1-2).

The object of the revelation is Jesus Christ and it was given to Him by God the Father (1:1). The purpose of the revelation was to present our LORD in His present and future glory (1:1). The Gospels presented Jesus in His humility; however, in Revelation we see Him in His heavenly glory. In the Gospels, Jesus is the suffering Lamb that was slain, but in Revelation He is Sovereign God who reigns. In the Gospels, He is pierced; in Revelation He is praised. In the Gospels He is condemned; in Revelation He is King and Judge of the earth.

You will notice that the method of the revelation was by an angel (God’s messenger), who was sent to communicate to John all “which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). Finally, as the recipient of the revelation, it was John’s task to be a witness, to “bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony [witness] of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he [John] saw” (1:2).

The Seven Churches of the Revelation (1:4–3:22)

I do not have space to do an exhaustive study of the balance of today’s Scripture reading, however, permit me to briefly direct your attention to the seven churches of revelation that were located in Asia Minor, in what is today modern Turkey (1:4, 11).

Those seven churches are identified by their cities and their spiritual state: The church at Ephesus had departed from the love they once had for the LORD (2:1-7). The church at Smyrna, was enduring persecution (2:8-11). The church at Pergamos, whose doctrine had been corrupted, and its testimony tainted by immorality and worldliness (2:12-17). Thyatira, a church that had a testimony of loving service, faith, and endurance (2:18-19), but had spiritually backslidden and tolerated false teachers (2:18-29).Sardis, its spiritual state was described as living, but “dead” (3:1), and the Lord challenged its members to wake up, and to strengthen themselves before they died (3:2-6). The church at Philadelphia was identified as a faithful church (3:7-13).

Finally, the seventh church of the revelation was the church at Laodicea, infamously described as a proud, wealthy church, but that had become spiritually indifferent and compromised (3:14-22).

Sadly, perhaps of the seven churches, many 21st century churches might need to identify with Laodicea: “Rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (3:17).

Lord, forgive us for our pride, and self-sufficiency. Amen!

* New 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith