Category Archives: Theology

What is Man? (Job 40; Job 41)

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(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 40-41

A note from the shepherd: Today’s devotional is the second to the last in our study of the Book of Job. I congratulate you for completing a difficult journey. Indeed, one of the great disciplines of a chronological reading schedule is it disciplines us to consider subjects that are not appealing. Certainly, a study of troubles, trials, sickness, sorrows, and death is unattractive, but necessary. I trust a study of Job’s life has challenged each of us to accept life in this sin-cursed world will be characterized by times of sorrow, as well as fleeting times of joy.

Job 40

Today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41) is a continuance of the Lord’s discourse with Job. Perhaps God’s question to Job is one He has brought to you and me.  Ultimately, it is the question of authority. The Lord asked Job: Shall he that contendeth [strives with] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it (40:2).

Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job saw himself for what he was as a man, and replied: Behold, I am vile [cursed]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Humbled by the presence of God, Job yielded to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

Then, the LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute] my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e., appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare to question the ways of the LORD (40:6-14)? Will you challenge My majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God proved His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature (Job 40:15-24)

The identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is he was either a hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am, however, of the opinion the behemoth may be an extinct beast. Perhaps a great dinosaur that roamed the earth following the flood.

Physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24)

The behemoth was a vegetarian, for we read, “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The movement of his tail, described “like a cedar” (40:17a), was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continued in Job 40:18-24. His bones were like brass and iron (40:18). He had a voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and when he quenched his thirst it was as though he “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was described as “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” and yet the Creator had power over him and could “make his sword to approach unto him” (40:19).

Before we consider the question, “What did all this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?”, let us ponder another great beast…the Leviathan.

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The LORD invited Job to consider a second great beast, the “leviathan” (41:1). Once again, the identity of this great beast is uncertain; however, scholars suggest it might have been a giant saltwater crocodile, one that is probably extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy between the “behemoth” (Job 40) and leviathan was meant to draw Job to conclude he was foolish to question his Creator. After all, man paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan God created (41:1-9).

Job was asked to ponder if a man could tame a leviathan? Of course, the implication was absolutely not; therefore, what right did Job have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  We read how the leviathan “beholdeth all high things [for no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [and retreats from none](41:34).

Closing thoughts – Having considered the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, and the great creatures over whom He reigns supreme, we must ask, “What is man?” 

Job 7:17What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:14What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Man is an eternal soul, and was created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). Because of sin, we are physically feeble, sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and bearing the weight and curse of sin (Romans 6:23). Yet, in spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God is our Creator. He is majestic in His glory, and sovereign of His creation. The LORD is omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving. Yet, He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Is He your Savior? If so, have you given Him authority over your life?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Dare You Question God? (Job 38; Job 39)

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Scripture reading – Job 38; Job 39

Elihu, the fourth, youngest, and last of Job’s friends to contend with him, urged him to consider God’s majesty as Creator. He proclaimed the nature and sovereignty of the LORD was revealed in thunderstorms (Job 37:1-5), snow and ice (37:6-10), and the winds, clouds, and rain (37:11-18). He challenged Job, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14), and disputed his audacity to question God’s providence in his life (37:15-22). Having waxed eloquent in his comments concerning the sovereignty and nature of God as Creator, Elihu fell silent.

Job 38

When Elihu finished speaking, the LORD suddenly appeared, and His voice was heard “out of the whirlwind [great storm]” (38:1). He questioned Job, saying, Who is this that darkeneth [obscures] counsel by words without knowledge [discernment]? (38:2) In other words, “Job, dare you question my providences in your life? Stand up, speak up, and justify your right to question Me! (38:3)

A Divine Inquisition: Job Had No Grounds to Contend with God (Job 38:4-41)

Notice a series of questions fills the balance of Job 38. As you will see, the implication was that Job had no right to question or argue with God. The LORD  proposed questions meant to convince Job he was ignorant of God’s ways, and therefore had no right to query Him.

Then, the LORD asked Job, where were you when I created the earth? “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4-5). Do you know upon what the “foundations” of the earth are set? (38:6) Where were you when I set the boundaries of the sea? (38:8-11) Where were you when I created light, and divided the day and the night? (38:12)

Indeed, Job knew nothing of the depths, or the darkness of the sea (38:16). He did not know from where light originated, nor how far it had traveled (38:19-21). He could not explain the origin of snow or hail (38:22-23). He did not understand the currents of the wind (Job 38:24), or the clouds that carry water according to their courses (Job 38:25).

Because the Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book of the Scriptures, we should be amazed at the knowledge and insights recorded in this chapter regarding the stars and constellations. Four constellations of stars are mentioned (38:31-32), and Job was asked: “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” In effect, Job, can you command the course of the stars? (38:33) Can you command the rain to fall (38:34), or control the lightnings? (38:35) Job, can you feed the lions, or provide food for the ravens? (38:36-41).

Of course, all the questions put to Job were intended to give him a proper perspective of God as Creator, and himself.

Job 39 – Mortal Man Cannot Understand the Course of Nature or the Providences of God Apart from His Revelation.

The LORD began a series of questions to Job in chapter 39, as He paralleled proposals concerning His sovereign care of the animals of His creation.

Goats and Deer (39:1-4)

The LORD first probed an area unknown to Job, inquiring, “Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth [give birth]? Or canst thou mark when the hinds [deer] do calve [give birth]?” (39:1) The implication was, though Job was ignorant of those matters, God knows the exact moment wild goats give birth, and deer go into labor (39:1). He knows when the months of their gestation are fulfilled (39:2), and when their offspring are old enough to “go forth, and return not” unto their parents (39:4).

Donkeys and Unicorns (39:5-12)

The LORD asked Job, “Who hath sent out the wild ass [donkey] free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” (39:5) Imagine this: God takes care of wild donkeys, providing them a home in the wilderness, and pasture in the mountains (39:6-8).

Job was then asked regarding the unicorn (39:9-12). Down through the centuries, there has been much debate on the identity of the unicorn. While I can assure you it was not the mythical creature of man’s imagination, it was nevertheless a beast known to men of Job’s day. Rather than a one-horned beast, there are scholars who identify the unicorn as a two-horned animal, perhaps a wild ox or an antelope. Some suggest the unicorn was a rhinoceros, others the one-horned oryx. Regardless, they were wild beasts, that could not be tamed, nor serve as domesticated beasts of burden.

Peacocks and Ostrich (39:13-17)

The LORD then questioned Job, had he given the peacock or ostrich beautiful feathers (39:13). The description of the ostrich was notable, for that bird was accurately described as ignorant, and one that buries her eggs in the earth (39:14). The ostrich is said to bury her eggs, only to forget where she buried them. Thus, she “forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them” (39:15). Then, God declared He “deprived her [the ostrich] of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding” (39:17).

Horse, Hawk, and Eagle (39:19-30)

The horse, known for its beauty and courage, was proposed to Job, and the LORD asked, “19Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” (39:19-25) Concluding His line of questioning, the Lord offered an additional request for Job to consider, asking, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, And stretch her wings toward the south? 27Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, And make her nest on high?” (39:26-27)  No doubt, Job had to stop and consider the vast diversity between himself (man) and his Creator (God).

Closing thoughts – What was the summation and purpose of the LORD interrogating Job?

Among many answers that could be given, one was the LORD wanted to demonstrate that man has no right to complain when he feels he has been treated unfairly, or strive against God. The LORD is God, and is sovereign of not only His creation, but He is man’s absolute authority. Therefore, man has no right to question the ways of God, for His ways are past finding out.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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The God of the Scriptures is Just, Merciful, Gracious, and Good (Job 35; Job 36)

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Scripture reading – Job 35; Job 36

Elihu, the fourth and youngest of Job’s friends, began lecturing him in chapter 32, and his denunciation continued to chapter 37. Our devotional continues with today’s Scripture reading, Job 35 and 36.

Job 35 – Elihu’s charged Job with three libelous accusations.

The first, that Job misrepresented spiritual piety as unprofitable (35:1-8). In fact, Elihu suggested he had implied his “righteousness [was] more than God’s” (35:2). Of course, Job had not expressed such an outrageous claim. Elihu’s judgment was flawed, for he supposed Job’s statement of innocence was a declaration of sinlessness (35:3-8).

A second inflammatory, judgmental statement was Elihu’s suggestion Job was motivated to pray, not out of a desire to draw nigh to God, but because he sought relief from his sorrows and afflictions (35:9-13).

Now, Job had complained he did not understand the cause of his plight, and had confessed he despaired of ever again enjoying God’s favor (35:14). Elihu, however, condemned Job, saying he was guilty of opening “his mouth in vain…[and multiplying his] words without knowledge” (35:15-16). Stated simply, in Elihu’s opinion, Job said a lot, but failed to humble himself before God.

Job 36 – Elihu’s Proposal to “Speak on God’s Behalf”

Continuing to evidence youthful zeal without wisdom, Elihu proposed to “speak on God’s behalf” (36:2), and impart uncommon “knowledge” (36:3). He confessed God “is perfect in knowledge,” and promised his words would be true (36:4a). He assured his small audience, he would say only what the LORD would have him speak (36:4b).

Elihu then returned to a rationale that was espoused by Job’s friends. He declared God was just, and always rewards men according to their works (36:5-15). He testified, “God is mighty… in strength and wisdom” (36:5), and declared He “preserveth [prolongs] not the life of the wicked: But giveth right [justice] to the poor” (36:6). In that statement, Elihu failed to make allowance for God’s grace and mercies.

He did not acknowledge the LORD is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In fact, the LORD not only prolongs the life of the wicked, He graciously provides them opportunity to repent of their sins. (Another misrepresentation of Elihu was a suggestion the poor always receive the justice they are due in this earthly life (Job 36:6b).

Elihu proposed “hypocrites in heart heap up wrath…They die in their youth” (36:13-14a). In a perfect, sinless world, less God’s grace, that statement would stand as just, for there are many instances when wicked men die young. Nevertheless, it is also true the LORD is patient, and His grace is freely-offered to the worst of sinners.

Elihu also suggested Job’s sorrows had come upon him owing to his pride. He implored Job to humble himself and repent, assuring God would give him a “table…full of fatness [rich foods]” (36:16). Should Job refuse to repent, Elihu warned, the “judgment of the wicked” had befallen him (36:17), and no amount of riches would deliver him (36:18-19).

Job 36 concluded with Elihu attempting to inspire Job to concede the sovereignty and omnipotence of God (36:22-33); and that the LORD is supreme, and “exalteth” (sets up) whom He pleases (36:22a). He is omniscient, and no man can teach Him (36:22b). He is perfect, and none dare accuse Him of “iniquity” or wrong doing (36:23b). Then, Elihu invited Job to consider the greatness of the LORD displayed in creation (36:24-25; Psalm 19:1).

Closing thoughts – God is eternal, and “the number of His years [cannot] be searched out” (36:26b). His power and wisdom sustain His creation, and He even determines where the clouds drop their moisture (36:27-28). The clouds that a canopy, and shelter man from the sun (36:29-30), bring judgment on the earth in the flood, and bear life-giving water which “giveth meat [food] in abundance” (36:31). Contrary to Elihu’s assertions, God is not only just, He is gracious, merciful, and kind, for He “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

In light of Elihu’s youthful, hypocritical zeal, I close with a quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, the 26thpresident of the United States:

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care!”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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The Procurement of Wisdom Requires Hard Work and Sacrifice (Job 27; Job 28)

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Scripture reading – Job 27; Job 28

Bildad had concluded his final discourse with Job (Job 25), and reminded him no man can be justified in the sight of God (25:4). Job’s response initiated his lengthiest speech in the book, beginning with Job 26:1 and concluding with Job 31:40. Our examination of Job’s response continues with today’s Scripture reading, Job 27-28.

Job 27 – Job’s Parable

Verse 1 described Job’s response to Bildad as a “parable,” or a wise saying. Appealing to God as Creator, Job complained the LORD had denied him justice and “vexed” or embittered his soul (27:1-2). Interestingly, though the Book of Genesis was not yet penned by Moses, he understood the uniqueness of man’s creation, and confessed, the “spirit of God is in my nostrils” (27:3; Genesis 2:7).

Job friends had argued his troubles were a consequence of sins, yet, he declared his innocence, and said, “My lips shall not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit [lies]. 5God forbid that I should justify you [agree with their false accusations]: Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (27:4-5). This ancient of men refused to compromise his integrity to pacify the men who assailed him. He accepted the disdain of his “friends,” rather than the weight of a guilty conscience (27:6).

The Family of the Wicked Often Pay for Their Transgressions. (27:11-23)

Job acknowledged the wicked are not always punished according to their sins, but he was confident God’s judgment was inevitable (27:11-23). They may enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but their children often bear the consequences of their transgressions. In Job’s reflections, the children of the wicked are destined “for the sword” (often die early deaths), and never “satisfied with bread” (never happy or content, 27:14). Even the wives of the wicked become embittered by their pernicious ways, as the Scripture says they “shall not weep” for their husbands when they die (27:15).

The wicked enrich themselves at the sacrifice of others, but when they die their possessions are sometimes divided among the just and innocent (27:16-17). Their households are unstable, and as fragile as the cocoon of a moth (27:18). Regardless their boasting, the wicked go to the grave, and the honors heaped upon them perish with them (27:19). When the terror of death, and the wrath of God comes upon them (27:20), they will not find mercy (27:22).

Job 28 – The Search for Wisdom

Drawing an analogy where men mine for silver and refine gold (28:1), Job described the great lengths men must go to find wisdom.

The intense labor of a miner (Job 28:3-11)

The miner digs a shaft into the earth, and brings light into the darkness in search of ore (“stones of darkness,” 28:3). As he excavates the earth brings forth “sapphires…[and] dust of gold” (28:6). The miner lays his hand to the rocks, and overturns mountains seeking rich ore (28:9). He cuts channels in the rock (“rivers among the rocks”), and prevents waters from flowing into the mine shaft (28:10-11).

“Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?” (28:12-22)

Unlike “book learning,” wisdom is not something that can be acquired in a classroom. True wisdom, the wisdom only God can impart to a man, is priceless (28:13a). Wisdom cannot be mined out of the earth, nor found by exploring the depths of the sea (28:14). Wisdom cannot be purchased with gold or silver (28:15), and the purest gold is not to be compared with it (28:16-19). Then, if wisdom is so valuable, and rare, “Whence then cometh wisdom?” (28:20). Wisdom is “hid from the eyes” of man and “the fowls of the air” (28:21). One cannot find wisdom, though it is sought among the dead who have passed from this life (28:22).

God Alone is the Source of Wisdom (28:23-28)

Man can only know wisdom by God’s revelation: He is omniscient, and “understandeth the way thereof, And He knoweth the place thereof” (28:23). He is omnipresent, and sees and knows all things, “For he looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven” (28:24). Because He is Creator and Sustainer of the earth, the LORD even knows the weight of the winds and the water, and regulates the rain and the “way for the lightning” (28:25-26).

Closing thoughts (28:27-28) – Where might a man acquire wisdom? Job answered:

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (28:28). The “fear of the LORD” is more than an emotional response; it is a practical response that obeys the Law of the LORD, and forsakes the way of sin (“to depart from evil is understanding” – 28:28b).  Moses commanded Israel to keep the statutes and judgments of God, “for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).  Hebrew fathers and mothers instructed their sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God, that they might “learn to fear” the LORD (Deuteronomy 4:10).

Tragically, the 21st century has given rise to a generation of pastors, teachers, and preachers who purport “Grace” and “Liberty,” and have neglected to teach and instruct our sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God. The result is a culture of pride and carnality that is a cancer in our homes and churches.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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“In the Beginning God” (Genesis 1)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 1

An Introduction to The First Book of Moses Called Genesis

The Bible is the most influential book in history, and Genesis is its foundation. The Book of Genesis explains the origin of all things, and is the basis of our understanding of the universe, the earth, its atmosphere, and life itself. For example, Genesis 1:27 presents us with the complexity and uniqueness of man, who was created in the “image of God.” In Genesis 2:24-25, God established marriage and family as the foundation of human society.

The origin of sin and its consequences are revealed in Genesis 3. Genesis 3 also unveiled the commencement of God’s answer to man’s wickedness: A son who would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:16), of the lineage of Abraham, and through whom all nations and people of the earth might be blessed (Genesis 12).  The basis of language, culture, and the existence of the nations are all stated in Genesis. (Genesis 11:1-9).

Warning: Reject the Genesis account of Creation, and you must reject the Scriptures entirely!

The New Testament quotes from, or alludes to one hundred sixty-five passages recorded in Genesis. In fact, more than one hundred direct quotes or references to Genesis 1-11 are found the New Testament.

Genesis 1 – “In the Beginning God Created”

Creation declares the person and existence of the God of Creation (Romans 1:20-27), and what you believe regarding the existence, and origin of life shapes your philosophy of life and worldview. Accepting or rejecting the Genesis account of Creation will influence the value you place on human life. If you believe, “God created man in His own image,” meaning in His spiritual likeness (1:26-27), you must conclude that human life is sacred. Reject creation, and you will inevitably come to the conclusion human life is not sacred, and some lives are expendable (for instance, the life of the unborn, elderly, or physically dependent).

To believe God is Creator, and the Genesis account of Creation is true (Genesis 1), you must accept God is Sovereign of all things. He has authority to declare right and wrong. God alone has the right to establish that which is moral and define what is immoral (1:29-31).

When you read the Genesis account of Creation, you must come to the conclusion there is only one of two explanations for the origin of life. Either God is Creator and He has revealed Himself to man in His Word and in His creation, or life and the universe are the result of chance. It behooves us all to ask the question: “Who can be trusted in the matter of the origin of life? Is evolution an unproven theory, or a scientific fact? Can we trust the Bible when it states simply, “In the beginning God created” (1:1)? Can the Scriptures and evolution (chance) co-exist?

The Biblical account of Creation affords no compromise with evolution, and evolution offers no worthy answer to the Biblical account of creation.

If interpreted literally and without prejudice, Genesis 1 gives us an explanation for the world around us, as well as, God’s purpose for our life and existence (1:31-2:2). As Creator, God is Sovereign, and He is providentiallyinvolved in His creation, preserving and sustaining the universe. The Book of Job, believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible states of God: “He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven” (Job 28:24). “His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings” (Job 34:21). Solomon warned, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

If you believe God is your Creator, you must accept He has authority to oversee every facet of your life. He has the right to reward, or punish as He deems just. In the words of the psalmist, “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Reject God as Creator, and a man, society, and nation will be overcome by all manner of wickedness and sorrows (Romans 1:28-32).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
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Heaven: The End is Only the Beginning! (Revelation 21; Revelation 22)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 21; Revelation 22

Review (Revelation 20)

The Devil was bound a thousand years in “the bottomless pit: (20:2-3), and those who survived the Great Tribulation enjoyed a season of peace, for Christ reigned upon the earth (Millennial Kingdom, 20:4-6). When the 1,000 years had ended, Satan “was loosed out of his prison” and went forth to deceive the nations of the earth (20:7-8). He gathered their armies to war against the saints of God, and “the beloved city” (Jerusalem) where Christ reigned (20:8-9). Suddenly, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them” (reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, 20:9b; Genesis 19).

The Devil, the Antichrist (beast) and the false prophet were “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone….and [continue to be] tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Tragically, the judgment of the Great White Throne followed, and all whose names were not in “the book of life… were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (20:12-13).

Revelation 21

A New Heaven and A New Earth (21:1-3)

The judgment of unbelievers having ended, John beheld an incredible sight–“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 “new heaven” and the “new earth” were and are literal places the Lord prepared for His people (John 14:1-3), as the old world, scarred by sin, was no more. Interestingly, while our earth is three-fourths water, the new earth will have no sea (21:1b).

John described what he saw, writing, “I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). The new Jerusalem was untainted by the sin and wickedness of man. She was a “holy city,” like the bride for whom the groom comes, without flaw or blemish.

Then, John “heard 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). The identity of the one who heralded the news was not given, but God’s presence in the midst of His people was a wonderful sight. Because of His grace, and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption through the sacrifice of Christ, God was no longer a great way off, but was in the midst of His people.

All Will Be Perfect (21:4)

Revelation 21:4 records a promise suffering saints have cleaved to for two millennium. We read, “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). Continue reading

The Call to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19; Revelation 20)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 19; Revelation 20

John recorded three events in Revelation 19. The first, the gathering of the saints of God for “The Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (19:1-10). The second event was the “Second Coming of Christ the King” (19:11-16), culminating in the third event—”The Battle of Armageddon” (19:17-21).

Revelation 20 recorded the “Binding of Satan for a Thousand years” (20:1-3), and “The Millennial Reign of Christ” (20:4-6). At the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign, the devil will be loosed to deceive the nations, leading to the destruction of their armies, and Satan being condemned and “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (20:7-10). Revelation 20 concluded with the final judgment of unbelievers at “The Great White Throne” (20:11-15). Today’s devotional will be taken from Revelation 19.

Revelation 19

The understated majesty of the Scriptures often stuns me in my personal study in God’s Word. For instance, Revelation 19 records three of the great pinnacle moments in human history, yet the chapter begins simply, “And after these things” (19:1). What things? The fall and destruction of Babylon, the spiritual harlot that embodied the kingdom of the antichrist with its false religions, idolatry, and moral depravity (Revelation 18). After God took vengeance on the nations who shed the blood of the prophets and believers (18:24), John wrote:

“I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and  honour, and power, unto the Lord our God” (19:1). Who were these “people in heaven?” They were worshippers of God, most likely the angels, and other hosts of heaven, including the redeemed who had died and were forever with the Lord. John heard their voices praising God and saying, “Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power,” thus implying those things belong to the Lord and Him alone (19:1).

Exulting over the demise of Babylon, the people said, “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (19:2). With the shout, “Alleluia,” they rejoiced in the destruction of Babylon (19:3). At the same time, the 24 elders and the four beasts (Revelation 4:4, 6, 7), “fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia” (19:4). Then, John heard a voice coming “out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great” (19:5). The voice was not identified, but perhaps it was that of an angel.

The Summons to the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:6-8)

Suddenly, John heard “the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings” (19:6a). How loud, and powerful were the voices of the throng? It exceeded the deafening roar of the mightiest waterfalls, and the boisterous rumbles of the most frightening thunderstorms. What were the voices shouting? They were praising God for His strength and power, saying, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (19:7).

The Lamb was the focus of the rejoicing, for He was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins, and the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:6; 7:10, 17; 17:14). The wife of the Lamb was described as a bride “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8). The white speaks of the purity of the saints of God, and “the fine linen” symbolized their works of righteousness.

Even so, this is how God would have the members of His church, which is His body, to present themselves before Him. Being redeemed, and justified, His people should be sanctified [set apart] (Romans 3:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:8-9), to the end of presenting ourselves to Christ: “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

Closing thoughts (19:11-21) – Time and space do not afford more than a brief summary of the closing verses of Revelation 19. As John looked on, he witnessed heaven open, and the glorious emergence of Jesus Christ, riding on a white horse, and He was called, “Faithful and True” (19:11). It was the Second Coming of Christ, and He was going forth to “judge and make war” as He promised (10:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Titus 1:2). His coming was a picture of vengeance and justice (19:12-13), and “the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (the same attire as was worn at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, 19:8, 14).

With His Word as His weapon (Revelation 1:16; 19:15), the LORD executed God’s wrath upon the nations (19:15). John noticed, “on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16). A description of the battle at Armageddon closes our devotion, even as the antichrist (“the beast”) was defeated, and he and “the false prophet…were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20)

Revelation 19:20 is the first mention of the “lake of fire” in the Scriptures; however, it is not the last. Revelation 20 warns, “14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (20:14-15).

The “lake of fire” is the eternal destiny of all who reject Christ as Savior. Only by repenting of your sin, and trusting Christ as Savior, will your name be inscribed with the redeemed who will live forever with the Lord.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Armageddon and the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (Revelation 16; Revelation 17)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 16; Revelation 17

Review – The Seventh Trumpet and Its Judgments (Revelation 11-15)

The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe poured out on the earth and its inhabitants. Rather than repent of their wickedness, and turn to God, the nations of the world were stirred to anger and their sins demanded God’s judgments (11:18). The devil was revealed as the “great red dragon” (12:3, 9), and the antichrist, empowered by him, was promoted to rule over a great coalition of nations (13:1-2).

Another man of great wickedness, the false prophet, was empowered by the devil, and deceived the nations of the earth. He commanded all men and nations should worship the antichrist as god (13:11-15). Men who refused “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” were denied an opportunity to “buy or sell” (13:17).

John beheld the Lamb, Jesus Christ, standing on mount Zion, and with him the 144,000 preachers of the tribulation (14:1). The apostle, then, saw three angelic messengers sent from the throne of God (14:6-8). The message of the third angel was a warning, that any who received the mark of the beast (antichrist) would be tormented forever (14:11).

Two judgments followed the third angel, and the first was portrayed as a harvest of grain (14:14-15), and the second a harvest of grapes (14:17-20).  Then, John “looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened” (15:5). “[S]even angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles [or belts worn round the waist]” (15:6). To each of the seven angels was given a “golden vial” or bowl filled with “the wrath of God” (15:7).

Revelation 16 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

The Five of the Seven Bowls (16:1-11)

The seven angels were sent, and commanded to pour God’s wrath out of their bowls upon those who worshipped the antichrist (beast), and had accepted his mark in their hand or forehead (16:1). Each bowl or vial represented a judgment of God. The first angel poured out a judgment that caused “a noisome and grievous sore” (or ulcer, 16:2). The plagued poured out by the second angel turned the sea to blood, and so contaminated the waters that “every living soul [creature] died in the sea” (16:3).

The third angel, bearing the third bowl, turned the fresh waters of the earth to blood (16:4). Destroying the fresh water of the earth would be catastrophic for all humanity. Lest any complain and protest God’s judgment, the angel declared spoiling the fresh waters with blood was a fitting judgment for mankind, for “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (16:6). Then, the altar itself said, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

The judgment borne by the fourth angel followed, and was poured out “upon the sun” (16:8). The consequence was an increase in the sun’s heat and radiation that “men were scorched with great heat” (16:8). Rather than repent, and call out to God for mercy, men “blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (16:9).

Then, “the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat [throne] of the beast [antichrist]; and his kingdom was full of darkness” (16:10). The darkness shrouded the lands and people ruled by the antichrist (16:10), and the terror was so excruciating that men “gnawed their tongues for pain” (16:10b). Still, they did not repent, but “blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores” (16:11).

The Sixth Bowl – The Euphrates River Dried Up (16:12-14)

The judgment brought by the sixth angel was directed against “the great river Euphrates” (16:12), which is the longest and most important river in the Middle East. The region depends upon the Euphrates for navigation (ships can sail up the river some 1200 miles), and irrigation of farms and orchards. Although a 2000-year-old prophecy, the unthinkable is happening today…the Euphrates River is drying up! With the salt water and freshwaters polluted by blood, and the Euphrates dried up, John saw what he described as “three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (16:13). Frogs are deemed unclean (Leviticus 11:10, 41), and their vileness was symbolic of the demons that had influenced the antichrist and false prophet (16:13). So, was revealed the means by which those evil men had influenced the earth (16:14).

It was “the spirits of devils” that compelled “the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14). While the nations of the earth gathered “into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (16:16), the Lord comforted those believers who had survived the judgments of the tribulation, and promised, “Behold, I come as a thief” (16:14).

The Seventh Bowl (16:17-21)

The seventh and final angel came forth with the wrath of God filling his bowl, and God lifted up His voice, and said with a loud voice, “It is done” (16:17).  Thundering’s, lightnings, and an earthquake greater than any that had preceded it followed the pronouncement (16:18). The city of Jerusalem was “divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” (16:19). The earth will be so devastated by the earthquake that islands and mountains will disappear (16:20). Hail will fall from heaven, and the weight of each hail stone will be “about the weight of a talent” (100 pounds or more, 16:21).

Closing thoughts – I hope to address the balance of our Scripture reading (Revelation 17) at another time, and in another year. I conclude for now with the observation that men will refuse to repent of their sins, even though all mankind will have suffered before the Second Coming of Christ. Instead of crying to God for mercy, the wicked who refuse the Lord will blaspheme the name of God (16:21). I close today with the invitation by the writer of Hebrews:

Hebrews 3:15 – “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Faithful Witnesses: The 144,000 (Revelation 14; Revelation 15)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 14; Revelation 15

Author’s note – If you have been a follower of Heart of A Shepherd the past two years, you should share my sense of accomplishment as December 31, 2022 marks the conclusion of a two-year daily devotional journey through the Scriptures. What began as a devotional challenge to my church family, is now followed in over 200 nations and territories.

January 1, 2023 will mark a new beginning as Heart of A Shepherd returns to Genesis, and begins anew, a two-year chronological journey through God’s Word. It continues to be my goal to fulfill Paul’s challenge to Timothy when he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Heart of A Shepherd will have a new website design as we begin a new year. If all goes as planned, current subscribers should have a seamless transition to the new website. Please email me at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com if you find you are not receiving daily devotional posts.

Today’s Devotion and Scripture Reading

As we come to Revelation 14 and 15, we are prophetically in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. Christ opened the seventh and final seal of the scroll (Revelation 8:1), and seven angels with trumpets awaited their time to sound the judgment of God that followed (8:2, 6). Revelation 8:7 through Revelation 11:14 recorded the first six blasts of the trumpets. The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe to befall the earth and its inhabitants during the tribulation.

Revelation 12 identified the devil as the “great red dragon” (12:3-4). In Revelation 13, two men portrayed as beasts (13:1, 11), rose to power. They will be empowered by the devil, possessed by demons, and do great things. The first man, the antichrist, will beguile the nations of the earth, and establish a 7-year peace treaty. The world will believe the antichrist can insure peace and prosperity for all people. Yet, when 3.5 years are past, the antichrist will unleash his fury against God and His people, and demand he be worshipped as god (13:5-10).

A second leader, identified as “another beast” (13:11-18), will be the devil’s false prophet. He will demand all men worship the antichrist (13:12), and take his mark “in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (13:16). Those who refuse the mark, will be unable to buy, sell, or trade in the economy of the tribulation (13:17). The number of the beast (antichrist) was given as 666 (13:18). (Today’s devotion will be taken from Revelation 14).

Revelation 14

As John looked toward the future tribulation, he beheld “a Lamb” (15:1). Who was the Lamb? He was the same Lamb who unsealed the scroll with seven seals…Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Revelation 5:1-2, 5-6). John saw Christ, the Lamb, standing on mount Zion (the site of the Temple in Jerusalem), and with him were 144,000 evangelists (whom we met in Revelation 7, 7:4-8). They had preached the Gospel during the tribulation, and witnessed “a great multitude” from every nation call upon God for salvation (7:9-10). John heard what I believe was the voice of God, sounding like “many waters…a great thunder” and accompanied by harps (14:2).

The 144,000 and the Song of the Redeemed (14:3-5)

John listened as the 144,000 preachers began to sing a “new song before the throne” of God (14:3a). It was the song of the redeemed (14:3b). While it seemed all the world followed the antichrist, the 144,000 refused to defile themselves. They rejected the mark of the beast, and were counted by the Lord as “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (14:4). The 144,000 were not only the first of many who remained faithful to God and the Lamb (14:4), they were also sincere in their witness, for “in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (14:5).

Three Angelic Messengers (14:6-11)

As John looked on, he observed three angels sent from the throne of God as messengers. Though the 144,000 evangelists had faithfully preached and called men to repent during the tribulation, God was merciful and also sent an angel to preach “the everlasting gospel” to all the world (14:6). The voice of that angel was loud, and he admonished sinners to turn to their Creator (14:7).

A second angel followed, and his message was one of judgment. He warned, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (14:8). In the Scriptures, Babylon was a type of the world, and represents here the world government and authority of the antichrist (14:8).

A third angel followed, and warned, if any worshipped the beast (antichrist), and accepted his mark in their forehand or hand, they would be condemned to God’s wrath. Their doomed was to be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Jesus Christ)” (14:10). Those sinners who received the mark of the beast were warned, they would be condemned to everlasting torment (14:11).

Closing thoughts (14:12-20) – Revelation 14 concluded with a prophecy of two judgments yet to come in the Tribulation. The first judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grain and described as seven bowls of judgments that would be poured out on the earth (14:14-16; 16:1-21). The second judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grapes, and is a picture of the battle of Armageddon (14:17-20; 19:11-21). The horror of that final battle, when the antichrist and his forces will be defeated, was revealed…for the blood of men who died in the battle will reach the “horse bridles,” and stretch for 200 miles.

Revelation 14:12-13 described those who will be saved, and martyred during the Great Tribulation. In spite of sorrows and persecution, there will be saints who persevere, keeping “the commandments of God” and keeping “the faith of Jesus” (14:12). Though many will die, the Lord declared them “Blessed,” for they will have rest, and their works will be commended by Him (14:13).

What do your works say about you and your faith?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Mark of the Beast is 666 (Revelation 13)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 13

Our Scripture reading places us prophetically in the latter times described in the Bible as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14). A scroll with seven seals was opened by Christ, and each seal announced a great judgment that would follow (Revelation 6). Breaking the first four of the seven seals, four horsemen of the Apocalypse went forth from the Lord leaving in their way paths of judgment, destruction and death (Revelation 6:1-8). Then, the fifth and sixth seals were opened, and each heralded a new season of suffering and sorrow (Revelation 6:9-17).

The seventh and final seal was opened in Revelation 8, and the judgments that followed were announced by seven trumpets. The troubles and trials of the first four trumpets were described in Revelation 8:7-12. Before the fifth trumpet was sounded, John observed “and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth” (8:13). Then, the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets sounded, and announced a season of “woe” that would afflict the earth and its inhabitants during the great tribulation (Revelation 9:1-11:19).

Revelation 12 introduced the presence of the devil who was portrayed as a “great red dragon,” and described the war he has waged against God since his fall (12:3-4, 7-9). Revelation 13 introduced two other characters and the role they will have when they join forces under the devil, and wage war against the Lord and mankind.

The Antichrist: The Beast of Revelation (13:1-10)

To put the introduction of the Antichrist in context, consider the preceding verse where his master, “the dragon,” was described as making war against Israel (portrayed as “the woman,” 12:1-2, 13-17), and “the remnant” of believers who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” during the tribulation (12:17).

Briefly, Revelation 13:1-10 gives a spiritual portrait of the Antichrist (the “beast”) and the power imparted to him by the dragon (the devil, 13:1-2). With the exception of a few who refused to take the mark of the beast, the world will worship the antichrist, even while he wages war against those who will be saved during the tribulation (13:3-11).

The False Prophet of the Tribulation (13:11-14)

John observed another who arose after the Antichrist (the first beast, 13:1-3), and described him as “another beast coming up out of the earth” (13:11a). Though portrayed as beasts, we must remember these are real men, given over to serve Satan and empowered by demon spirits. While the Antichrist was determined to be the supreme ruler of the nations of the earth (13:1-2, 8), the second man, portrayed as a beast, sought to persuade men to worship the Antichrist (13:12). He manifested demonic power like the Antichrist (13:12), performed miracles (calling fire down from heaven, 13:13), and persuaded men to worship the image of the antichrist (13:14).

The Mark of the Beast and His Reign of Terror (13:15-18)

Revelation 13 closed with verses that should resonate with some living in a society that is becoming more oppressive and restrictive. Recent advancements in “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), and robotics has made what we read in verse 15 not only convincing, but plausible. For instance, John observed the second beast (13:11), whom scholars identify as the “false prophet,” and it was said to have “power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (13:15).

The sign of those who worshipped the beast was a “mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (13:16). Again, modern technology has instituted small devices that can be implanted in the body, and serve as digital conduits of every detail of a man’s life, private information, and movements. There are politicians and maniacal authoritarians who would have government control every aspect of our lives, finances, and freedoms. The ground work and means for this phase of the tribulation is already present, for the ”false teacher” will control the economy, and “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (13:17).

Closing thoughts (13:18) – The closing verse stated, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (13:18). The meaning of that statement is uncertain, but we can deduce some meaning in this: the number seven is the number associated with God, and His perfection (for He created six days, and on the seventh rested); the number six is the number of man (for man was created on the sixth day, and by sin is imperfect). So, we read, “the number of the beast…is Six hundred threescore and six (666)” (13:18).

What does it mean? I don’t know, but I know this…the days of the Antichrist are numbered, and his judgment is determined. John observes in Revelation 19:20 – “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

By the way, do you know your days are also numbered? David exhorted believers, “12So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.