Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

Don’t Give Up Hope!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 37-42

Not only is today’s reading a lengthy one, it also has details with numbers and measurements that are sure to leave the average reader wondering what possible application could this have to a 21st century student of God’s Word.   For the sake of brevity, I suggest a simple outline of chapters 37 through 42.

Ezekiel 37 is a prophetic illustration of Israel’s resurrection as a nation (remember, the prophet is ministering to the Jews in Babylon after the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem).   My younger readers might enjoy watching a video\audio clip of “Dry Bones” (I avoid referring to it as a “gospel song” since there is hardly a gospel lesson in the recording; however, the classy style of the “Delta Rhythm Boys” compared with today’s “recording artists” is worth the watch).   Ezekiel 37 is not only a prophetic picture of Israel’s resurrection as a nation, but also the unification of the people divided into two nations since Solomon’s reign.

Ezekiel 38 prophesies events that are yet to occur on an international scale against Israel.  There is neither time or space to enter into the debate of the nations portrayed in this chapter; however, it is my opinion this is a prophecy there is a day when the ruler of the north (38:14) which I believe is Russia (38:2 – “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”) will lead an invasion of Middle Eastern nations (identified as “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya” – 38:5) against Israel.   Ezekiel 38:14-39:18 details the invasion of the armies and their defeat.  The LORD intervenes and Israel’s victory will be so overwhelming that the burial of the dead will take seven months (39:14).

Israel’s captivity in Babylon was 70 years less one and the time of the writing of Ezekiel 40 was in “the five and twentieth year” of the Jewish captivity (40:1).   Ezekiel 40-42 gives us a prophetic time not yet fulfilled when Israel, safely restored in her land will set her heart as a nation to build a new temple (the last destroyed in 70 AD) and worship the LORD.  The plans, dimensions, physical attributes and future construction of the future temple are given in Ezekiel 40-42.

Our scripture reading today concludes with Ezekiel 42; however, chapter 43 continues the narrative concerning the future temple with the promise the heavenly glory of the LORD Himself will fill the temple (Ezekiel 43:2-4).

As I close, consider this: The LORD wanted His people to never give up hope!

Remember Ezekiel’s immediate audience was His own people who were captives in Babylon.  Many had witnessed the devastating destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem.  Humanly speaking, all was lost and apart from divine intervention, the Jews would be numbered among those nations that had come and gone; their cities covered by the sands of the desert and the people assimilated into the populations of the earth and forgotten.

However, such was not the case with God’s chosen people with whom He covenanted to be their God.  God promised Abraham he and his descendants would be a blessing to all the earth (Genesis 12:1-3), a promise not fulfilled until the coming of Jesus Christ.  The Jews rejected Christ at His first coming as a suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53); however, at the end of the Tribulation they will see Him come as a conquering King and He will rule from Jerusalem and the people will worship Him during the Millennial in a new temple.

In the midst of reading the numbers and dimensions of a future temple, consider the revival of joy and hope among God’s people when they were reminded God had not forgotten them and all was not lost!  The day was coming when a new temple would be built and God’s glory would once again fill the temple and the world would know the LORD is in the midst of His people!

Friend, don’t give up hope…remember, this same LORD promised His disciples He was going away to “prepare a place” for them and “will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-4).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Let Us Worship the LORD!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scripture Reading – 2 Corinthians 6-8

Wherever you are in the world this Sunday, May 7, 2017, I trust you are heeding the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews:  “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).  The “day approaching” is the imminent return of the LORD Jesus Christ.  For this pastor, there is no other place I want to be than worshipping the LORD with His people!

I am continuing my series, “Perspectives on the Cross” in today’s 10:30 AM service and considering the perspectives of the Nameless Faces of those “that passed by”, the Religious Hypocrites represented by the chief priests, scribes and elders, and the two thieves dying on crosses beside the cross on which Jesus Christ suffered and died.

In today’s 6:00 PM service I will invite our church family to consider the “First Mention Principle” of interpretation as we examine “Seven ‘Firsts'” found in Genesis 14-15.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Israel, the LORD Has Not Forsaken You!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Jeremiah 27-31

The setting of today’s reading in Jeremiah is in the midst of the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah whose reign ended when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple and the city of Jerusalem and took the nation captive.

In today’s passage, the LORD has given Jeremiah a prophecy he is to declare, not only to Judah, but also the surrounding nations… Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyrus, and Zidon (27:3-4).  Employing the symbol of a yoke and ropes, Jeremiah was to declare to the nations that resisting Nebuchadnezzar’s domination was futile and self-destructive.

Declaring He is Creator and Sovereign of the earth (27:5-6), and Nebuchadnezzar is “My servant” (27:6), the LORD revealed the rule of Babylon over the nations would span three generations, that of Nebuchadnezzar, “his son, and his son’s son” (27:7).   Jeremiah warned those nations that resisted Babylon would be destroyed and urged the nations to succumb to Nebuchadnezzar’s rule with the promise they would be restored to their lands (27:8-11).Yoke

Jeremiah was to exhort Zedekiah, king of Judah, to accept the yoke of Babylon as the fate God had determined for the people and to dismiss the prophesies of false prophets who pretend to prophesy in the name of the LORD.  Some falsely prophesied the exiled king Jechoniah and the vessels of the temple taken by Babylon would be restored shortly (27:12-17, 20); however, God had determined He would no longer tolerate the sin and rebellion of Judah and the only hope of the people was restoration to the land after the captivity (27:18-22).

Jeremiah 28 is a dramatic scene in the Temple between a false prophet named Hananiah and the prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah, bearing the yoke and ropes the LORD commanded him to fashion in chapter 27, listens as Hananiah falsely prophesies the restoration of king Jeconiah, father of Zedekiah, and the defeat of Babylon (28:1-5).  Reminding the people the test of whether or not a prophet is of the LORD is if his prophecies come to pass; Jeremiah answers Hananiah’s false prophecy of the king’s restoration with “Amen” (28:6-9).Jeremiah 27

Breaking Jeremiah’s yoke, Hananiah mocked the prophet and prophesied the yoke of Babylon on Judah would span only two years (28:10-11). Jeremiah went out of the Temple, but the LORD sent him to confront Hananiah for his lies and warn he would die in the course of that same year (28:12-17).

Jeremiah 29 records a letter Jeremiah sent to those whom Nebuchadnezzar had first taken captive to Babylon (29:1-4), instructing the people to set their roots in Babylon for a season… “build ye houses…plant gardens…Take ye wives…bear sons and daughters…seek the peace of the city…and pray unto the LORD for it” (29:5-7).  Urging the people to dismiss false prophets who predict a brief captivity, Jeremiah prophesied the captivity would be for 70 years, but also promising they would one day return to the land the LORD had promised them (29:8-10).Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah encouraged the people with the fact of the LORD’s love and longsuffering, promising to one day restore His people to their land (29:11-14).

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Continuing his role as God’s prophet, Jeremiah prophesied the remaining remnant of God’s people in Jerusalem and Judah would, because of their sin and rebellion, suffer many things before Nebuchadnezzar would take them captive (29:14-23).  In the closing verses of chapter 29, Jeremiah addresses a letter from Shemaiah, a false prophet in Babylon living among the Jewish captivity.

Jeremiah 30-17The LORD revealed in a dream to Jeremiah the restoration of the Jews to their land in chapters 30-31.  The prophecies recorded in these chapters had an immediate implication and would be fulfilled in 70 years (29:10). However, there is also a future fulfillment described as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (30:7) when the LORD will judge the nations of the earth at the close of the Tribulation when Jesus Christ will reign on David’s throne (30:9).   The LORD promised Israel will return to her land (30:10-22).

Jeremiah 31 continues the theme of Israel’s restoration to the land.  Jeremiah 31:2-22 points to the return of the Jewish people after being scattered throughout the earth (note that “Ephraim” and “Samaria” refer to the Northern Ten Tribes taken captive by the Assyrians and were not part of the Babylonian captivity and return to Judah).

I close with the observation that the LORD knows His people and He has never forsaken Israel.  Unlike the fickle love of men, the LORD’s love for His people is unconditional love. Jeremiah writes, “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).New Covenant

The Jews continue as a persecuted, scattered people; however, be assured, “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” (Jeremiah 31:10).

In the closing verses of Jeremiah 31, the LORD promises to establish a “new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (31:31).  The “new covenant” will be the law the LORD writes on the hearts of His people with the promise He “will be their God, and they shall be my people” (31:33, and quoted in Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:14-18).  I believe the “new covenant” is established through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Matthew 26:27-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Greatest Generation, Millennials, and the Millennial Kingdom

Friday, March 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 56-61

We noted in our last study of Isaiah 55 the invitation of the LORD to the Gentiles to look to the suffering and death (53:3-10) of the “servant” of God in Isaiah 53 as their sacrifice for sin.  The prophet preached, “Seek the LORD…Let the wicked forsake his way…return unto the LORD” (55:6-7).

Having given an invitation to salvation through the perfect, sinless sacrifice God the Father would provide in His Son (John 1:29; 1 John 4:14), the prophet calls to everyone, both Jew and Gentile, to turn from their sinful ways to the LORD and be sanctified, set apart.  The subject of the Sabbath and its adherence by the “children of Israel” (Exodus 31:12-18) is the sign of sanctification to which the prophet exhorts both Jews and Gentiles (“sons of the stranger” – Isaiah 56:3, 6) to observe.

[Note – It is not my objective to get into a discussion of the observance or mode of observing the Sabbath.  The “children of Israel” are commanded to observe the Sabbath as a sign (Exodus 31:13, 17) of their covenant relationship with the LORD.   At the same time, Christians need to be mindful our observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and a day of worship commemorating the resurrection of Christ is not a “Sabbath” observance, as it was for the Jews under the Law.  Sadly, the church has been so infected by a secular culture that many believers never observe a day of rest or worship.  I fear Saturdays and Sundays are just another day for shopping and working and little thought is given to the Lord.]

Remembering Isaiah’s prophecies are the precursor of God’s judgment against Judah that will be marked by the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, the prophet reflects that the righteous who die before that dreadful, tragic day will “enter into peace” (57:2), escaping the sorrow of watching the heathen destroy the city and lead away people into captivity. Sadly, as the righteous die, many of them as martyrs, the people pay little notice (57:1).

On a personal note, I have lived long enough to understand a certain foreboding of what the future of the church and our nation will be in a generation.  The World War II generation, described by former NBC news anchor and author Tom Brokaw as “The Greatest Generation”, are rapidly passing from our midst and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, identified as “Millennials”, evidence little to no appreciation for the character or sacrifices of those who precede them.

God’s warning of judgment and the sins and wickedness of God’s people is the subject of Isaiah 57-59. In spite of the people’s idolatry (57:3-12), the LORD offers forgiveness to those who will turn from their sins and come to Him with a “contrite and humble spirit” (57:15). The hypocrisy of the people is the subject of Isaiah 58. Isaiah 59 is a terrible indictment against the sins of God’s people. Murder, lies, all manner of mischief, and violence had taken hold on the hearts of the people (59:3-15).

In spite of their sins, God promised “the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob” (59:16-20).

Isaiah 60 is a prophetic portrait of the Second Coming of Christ and His Millennial Kingdom upon the earth. In the hour of darkness (60:2a) the LORD will come and all the earth, Jew and Gentile, shall see Him coming in the brightness of His heavenly glory (60:2b-3). The Jews, the sons and daughters of Israel, will return to their land (60:4-5a) and the Gentiles will gather to worship the LORD (60:5b-6). There will reign a season of peace like the world has not known since before the fall. It is during the Millennial Kingdom that we read, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock” (65:25).

Today’s devotional commentary ends with Isaiah 61 and a prophecy that includes both the first and second coming of Christ. The first coming of Christ is described in verse 1 where we read, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1; note – Luke 4:16-21). The second coming of Christ begins with Isaiah 61:3 and its description of rebuilding, prosperity and the righteous reign of the LORD have yet to be fulfilled (61:3-11).

On a personal note: I do not mean to overwhelm my readers with extended commentary; however, I long to help you “make sense” out of extended passages that might prove overwhelming to some who have never read through the Bible. I pray my feeble attempt might be a blessing and not an additional burden.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith