Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

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

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