Category Archives: Trust

The Wicked Know No Shame (Zephaniah 1-3)

Scripture reading – Zephaniah 1-3

Our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to Zephaniah, a minor prophet who ministered in Judah during the reign of King Josiah (1:1).

Zephaniah 1 – A prophecy of imminent judgment.

Zephaniah was tasked with pronouncing God’s judgment on His people in frightening and graphic details. He warned Judah, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD” (1:2). Nothing would be spared the wrath of the LORD: “I will consume man and beast… fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea…Judah…all the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (1:3-4).

“The Day of the Lord” is an oft repeated phrase in Zephaniah 1 and was a warning of the day of God’s vengeance (1:7, 8, 14, 18).

Remember the prophecies often have an immediate and future application. In the immediate, the “day of the LORD” was the day of God’s judgment against Judah when Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. In the prophetic application, the “day of the LORD” is still future and will be fulfilled in the Second Coming of Christ when He comes in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:10 mentions “the noise of a cry from the fish gate…and a great crashing from the hills.” The fish gate was the gate that led to the fish market, but you may wonder why is this important. The answer is a historical fact: King Nebuchadnezzar passed through the fish gate when Babylon conquered Jerusalem! The destruction of the city and the captivity of the people would be so thorough that it was likened to searching out every crevice of the city with candles (1:12a).

The people lived in denial saying, “The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil” (1:12b). Even the strongest men of Judah would cry out on the day of God’s judgment (1:13). How terrible is the day of God’s final judgment?

Zephaniah 1:15 – “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Zephaniah 2 – An Exhortation to Repent

Remembering the LORD is longsuffering, we are not surprised to read that the prophet Zephaniah called upon Judah to repent and, “seek…the LORD, all ye meek of the earth…seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger” (2:3).

Because of their wickedness, Zephaniah prophesied the judgment of God against four major Philistine cities, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron” (2:4). The Moabites and Ammonites would fall to Babylon as divine punishment for their abuses of Israel (2:8-11). The Ethiopians (of the lineage of Cush whose land was southeast of Egypt on the continent of Africa) would be slain (2:12). Assyria and its great capital city, Nineveh, would be utterly destroyed by Babylon. The destruction of Nineveh so complete it would be uninhabitable, a wasteland and a haven for wild beasts (2:13-15).

Zephaniah 3 – The Necessity of Divine Judgment Against Jerusalem

Zephaniah laid out the case regarding the wickedness of Jerusalem that demanded God’s judgment (3:1-4). That city had become “filthy and polluted,” and was a violent city (3:1). Her civil leaders (princes and judges) were like “roaring lions…wolves” that gnaw the bones of the poor and helpless (3:1). Her spiritual leaders (prophets and priests) were “treacherous” and violent (3:4).

Zephaniah assured the people of Judah, the LORD was just and He would not “do iniquity…He brings His judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame” (3:5).

What an appalling statement! Innocence was lost. Moral purity disdained. The politicians and religious leaders were so given to sin and wickedness that they felt no shame! Though their wickedness was widely known, they felt no sense of humiliation. In spite of God’s judgment of other nations’ sins, Judah had failed to be moved to repent of her sins (3:6-7).

Zephaniah’s ministry closed with not only a warning of the day when God would gather the nations of the earth to be judged (3:8), but also when He will gather the remnant of Israel from all nations who will call upon and serve Him (3:9).

In that day, the day of the LORD, sin, shame, and pride will be removed (3:11-14), God’s people will rejoice for the LORD is King (3:14-17), and the people will be restored to the LORD who will dwell in the midst (3:18-20).

What a glorious day that will be!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A God Who Hears and Answers Prayer (2 Chronicles 32-33)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 32-33

Today’s Scripture reading is an abridged version of the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah that has been considered in several earlier passages (2 Kings 18:17-36; 19:35-37; 20:1-21; Isaiah 16:1-22; 17:21-38; 38:1-8; 39:1-8). Today’s devotional commentary will focus solely on 2 Chronicles 32.

2 Chronicles 32 – An Enemy at the Gate

Assyria’s defeat of Israel to the north opened the way for Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, to invade Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem (32:1).

King Hezekiah consulted with his leaders and determined to enforce the city walls and deprive Assyria’s army of water by stopping the streams, and pooling the water in the city (32:2-5). Displaying his faith and confidence in the LORD, Hezekiah challenged the people:

2 Chronicles 32:7-8 – “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more [lit. greater] with us than with him8  With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.”

Sending messengers and writing letters to the citizens of Jerusalem, Sennacherib spoke against Hezekiah and questioned their confidence in the king. The king of Assyria also spoke against the God of Israel, asserting their God was no greater than the gods of other nations whom he had defeated (32:9-14). Finally, Sennacherib declared that Hezekiah had deceived the people of Jerusalem, leading them to believe their God was greater than the gods of Assyria (32:15-20).

How did Hezekiah respond to the attacks on his character and the offense Sennacherib had raised against the God of Israel?

2 Chronicles 32:20 – “Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.”

Isaiah describes this moment observing that “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the [Assyrian] messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD” (Isaiah 37:14-17).

Hezekiah’s focus was not on the threats of his enemy or his own strengths. The king’s faith and hope were in the LORD who heard the king’s prayer and “saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (32:20).

Responding as spiritual men, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah “prayed and cried to heaven, 21  And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria…22  Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem…” (32:21-22).

2 Chronicles 32 closes with a stunning account of Hezekiah becoming ill because he failed to render to the LORD the glory God alone was due (32:25).  The king was “sick to the death” (32:24); however, when the king “humbled himself” (32:26), God restored his health.

Permit me to close with an observation and application. 

King Solomon taught his son, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).

I have observed that precept validated many times in my lifetime. A leader’s character does matter!  Whether it is the leadership of a nation, state, city, church or school, a leader’s character leaves an indelible impression on people.

Leaders who choose righteousness and justice are a source of joy; however, wicked leaders will inevitably bring a people to sorrow and ruin. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Set Thine House In Order; For Thou Shalt Die” (2 Kings 20-21)

Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 20-21

Our study of the times of the Kings of Israel and Judah will soon end. By the date of today’s text, Israel, represented by the northern ten tribes, has fallen to the Assyrians. Samaria, the capital city of Israel, has been destroyed and the citizens of Israel taken away captive. Assyria had begun resettling the land of Israel with strangers from other nations who in time would intermarry with the remnant of Israelites. The descendants of the intermarriage of those people with Israel would be known as Samaritans in Christ’s day.

2 Kings 20 (note also 2 Chronicles 32:24-26; Isaiah 38:1-8)

The narrative found in 2 Kings 20 is familiar for it is a rehearsal of events we have studied in both Isaiah 38:1-8and 2 Chronicles 32:24-26

Hezekiah was the king of Judah and Judah had been blessed because its ruler loved the LORD.  Hezekiah had led the people in a time of spiritual revival by both example and edict. He restored the teachings of the Law and Commandments, Temple worship and sacrifices, and destroyed the places of idol worship throughout the land.

Israel had fallen to Sennacherib, king of Assyria; however, God had answered Hezekiah’s prayer and spared Judah. The “Angel of the LORD” destroyed the army of Assyria, slaying 185,000 soldiers (Isaiah 37:36).

Soon after Judah’s victory over Assyria, another crisis befell Judah: King Hezekiah became “sick unto death” (20:1a). God tasked Isaiah with the responsibility of bringing the news of impending death to the King. Isaiah said to the king, “Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live” (20:1).

How would you respond if your doctor gave you a terminal diagnosis? Hezekiah modeled what should be the response of all believing saints.

The king “turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD” (20:2). In other words, Hezekiah blocked out everything and everyone, and then he cried out to the LORD. He then began to rehearse his walk with the LORD and how he had kept God’s covenant. The king prayed,

2 Kings 20:3 – “I beseech [pray] thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked [behaved] before thee in truth [honor; integrity; faithfully] and with a perfect [complete; undivided; whole] heart, and have done that which is good [better; pleasing] in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore [lit. wept violently].”

Hezekiah claimed God’s covenant promise and clung to the hope God would heal him. Having delivered the news of the king’s death, Isaiah rejoiced when the LORD commanded him to turn back and tell Hezekiah that God heard and would answer his prayer (20:5). Isaiah assured the king that the LORD would heal him (20:5) and “add unto thy days fifteen years” (20:6).

2 Kings 20 concludes with Hezekiah dying fifteen years later and his son Manasseh ascending to his father’s throne (20:21).

2 Kings 21

Tragically, unlike his father Hezekiah, King Manasseh set a course of wickedness in Judah that exceeded even the Canaanites, the original occupants of the land (21:2). Idolatry (21:3), desecrating the Temple (21:4), and human sacrifice were the practice of the king and Judah (21:6).

The LORD sent prophets to confront the sins of the king and Judah, but they would not hearken to their voices (21:10). The prophets warned that Jerusalem and Judah would be leveled to the ground (21:12-13) and the people would “become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies” (21:14). Refusing to hear the Word of the LORD and repent, “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much [the blood of the prophets and the righteous ones], till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (21:16).

I close observing the swift departure of Judah from the righteous reign of Hezekiah into a depth of depravity that would have defied the imagination of the previous generation. From spiritual awakening and the overflowing of God’s blessings, to gross wickedness that demanded God’s judgment…one generation.

A nation is one generation from a steep descent into sin that will demand God’s judgment. Are we that generation?

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“We are the Clay, and Thou Our Potter” (Isaiah 64-66)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 64-66

Today’s Scripture reading is Isaiah 64-66; however, today’s devotional commentary will focus on the closing verses of Isaiah 63 and Isaiah 64.

Isaiah 63

To put Isaiah 64 in context, I invite you to look back to Isaiah 63, the chapter preceding today’s devotion, and consider a series of cries Isaiah made to the LORD for Israel and Judah (63:15-19).

Isaiah petitioned the LORD that He would show mercy and compassion to His people (63:15b). He reminded God that He alone was the Father and Redeemer of Israel. (63:16).  The prophet prayed for the LORD to return and help His people (63:17b), and reminded Him that He had chosen Israel to be a holy people, but their enemies had destroyed the Temple (63:18, a future event).  Though alienated from God by their sins, the people reminded the LORD, “We are thine” (63:19).

Isaiah 64 – Three Cries to the LORD

We consider three cries to the LORD that are recorded in Isaiah 64. The first was a cry for the LORD to save His people from their adversaries (64:1-4). In the immediate, the enemy who would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple would be Babylon. However, this is also a far-reaching prophecy that is still future. The description of “when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil” (64:2) is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ at the climax of the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 21:11-19).

Isaiah prayed for the LORD to come and execute judgment (64:3) and prove He alone is God, and He helps those who wait on His coming (64:4).

The second cry was one of confession (64:5b-8). Isaiah confessed the universality of man’s sin.

Without exception, we are all sinners by birth (64:5) and the problem of sin is universal. Isaiah confessed, “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses [our best attempt at keeping the law and commandments falls short] are as filthy rags [bloody, soiled rags]” (64:6).

Isaiah observed that the hearts of the people were so hardened by sin that there was “none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee” (64:7a). The LORD Who is Holy and will not look upon sin, had turned his face (his blessings and mercies) from the people and they were consumed and enslaved by their wickedness (64:7b).

Realizing the helpless, hopeless state of the nation, Isaiah confessed, “O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (64:8).

Like clay in a potter’s hands who shapes, and fashions it into a vessel that reflects his will and purpose, believers should acknowledge God is sovereign and it is His desire to fashion us as the work of His hand (64:8b).

We close with Isaiah’s cry for forgiveness on behalf of Israel and Judah (64:9-12).

Isaiah reminded the LORD, “we are all thy people” (64:9b). Recollecting that we are considering events that had not yet happened, but would when Nebuchadnezzar’s army lay siege to Jerusalem, Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, “our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee” destroyed by fire (64:10-11).

No doubt a prayer that the people would pray in Babylon during their captivity, Isaiah prayed, “Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?” (Isaiah 64:12)

Isaiah 65-66 is God’s answer to Isaiah’s questions. We are blessed to look back on history and know God did hear the prayers of His people, and Israel did return to her land as a nation.

Truth – God is never slack concerning His promises!

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

There was No Man, No Intercessor (Isaiah 59-63)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 59-63

We continue our chronological reading of the Scriptures with Isaiah 59-63 serving as today’s Bible reading assignment. My devotional commentary will be limited to Isaiah 59.

Isaiah 59 is a message to the wicked and serves as a terrible indictment against the sins of the nation. Consider several principal points we can take from this chapter.

The first, God longed to save Israel from judgment, but the people were unwilling to repent of their sins (59:1-2).

God was able and willing to save the people, if they cried out to Him (59:1). However, the sins of the people had alienated them from the LORD (59:2), and He refused to hear their impenitent prayers (Psalm 66:18).

The sins of Israel, like the sins of our nation, demanded God’s judgment (59:3-8).

As a whole, the society of Isaiah’s day was cruel and perverse. The hands of the people were “defiled with blood.” They were liars (59:3). There was no justice in the land and none who desired truth (59:4a). The people had put their faith in liars and conspiracies (“mischief”) that they might continue in their sin (59:4b).

They were like “cockatrice’ eggs” (i.e. newly hatched poisonous vipers), ruining and killing (59:5-6). They raced to commit evil and gave little thought to the blood they would shed or the wake of destruction they had caused (59:7). They knew nothing of peace, cared nothing for justice, and mislead any who followed them (59:8).

Isaiah 59:9-11 lists the effects of a nation’s wickedness upon society:

Lawlessness and spiritual darkness (59:9); despair and hopelessness (“grope for the wall like the blind” – 59:10); hostility (“roar all like bears” – 59:11) and mourning (“mourn sore like doves” – 59:11); injustices (“we look for judgment, but there is none” – 59:11), and despair (“salvation…is far off” – 59:11).

There was hope for Israel, but only if that nation confessed and repented of their sins (59:12), hypocrisy (59:13), injustices (59:14), abuse and persecution of the righteous (59:15).

The LORD looked upon Israel and mourned “that there was no intercessor” (Isaiah 59:16). Seeing “no man” to intercede, the LORD was moved to bring “salvation…and His righteousness” (59:16). That salvation would be offered through the suffering Messiah who would be rejected (53:3), sacrificed “as a lamb to the slaughter” (53:7), and “bare the sin of many, and (would make) intercession” (53:12).

The Second Coming of Christ, His Millennial Kingdom on earth, and His judgment of the wicked is prophesied (59:17-21).

Christ will judge the wicked on the basis of His righteousness (59:17a) and will exercise vengeance on those who rejected Him (59:17b-18). Christ will return to reign as “Redeemer…to Zion” (in Jerusalem) and He will rule those who have repented of their sins (59:19-20).

Christ’s return as a Righteous King and Judge is sealed as a perpetual covenant: “My spirit…my words…shall not depart…from henceforth and for ever” (59:21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Seek Ye the LORD While He May Be Found” (Isaiah 54-58)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 54-58

Today’s devotional commentary will be limited to Isaiah 54-55.

Isaiah 54Who is Our God?

Following the prophetic portrait of a suffering, dying Savior in chapter 53, Isaiah 54 opens with a call for the people of Israel to “break forth into singing” (54:1) in a prophetic picture of Israel’s return from captivity.

Using the familiar marriage portrait of a husband and wife (54:5), the LORD is pictured in this passage as the husband and Israel as a barren wife (54:1). When her years of tears and sorrows in captivity are fulfilled, Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be invited to turn to the LORD.

Looking to the Millennial Kingdom, Israel was promised when that nation is restored to the land that her presence and shadow will be greatly enlarged, “on the right hand and on the left.” We who are Gentiles by birth are children of God by faith and no longer Gentiles, but spiritual heirs (54:2-3).

Who is the God of the Scriptures? Isaiah 54:5 reveals He is “thy Maker” (Creator), “thine husband” (Master), the “LORD of hosts” (God of war), “Redeemer” (Savior), the “Holy One of Israel” (Holy God), “The God of the whole earth” (Sovereign God). What a great God we serve!

Isaiah 55 – A glorious invitation from the LORD to the Gentile nations.

The “servant” of God Who suffered and died in Isaiah 53 is revealed in Isaiah 55 to have offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Israel had been invited to break forth into singing in Isaiah 54, but in Isaiah 55 the invitation is given to “every one that thirsteth” (55:1), Israel and other nations (55:5).

Isaiah 55:6-13 is one of the great invitations in all Scripture. Seek the LORD”, turn to Him confessing your sin before it is too late (55:6).  Repent, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD” (55:7).

Warning: Only fools presuppose their thoughts and ways are right apart from God’s revelation (55:8-9).

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I close with an observation concerning the emphasis and preeminence the Word of God is given in Isaiah 55:11.

Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word [truth; revelation] be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void [ineffectual; empty; i.e. having no effect], but it shall accomplish [do; make] that which I please [take pleasure or delight in], and it shall prosper [succeed] in the thing whereto I sent it.

“My Word…shall not return unto me void!” (Isaiah 55:11)

What a great promise for those who teach God’s Word! Indeed, to all who share God’s Word, the LORD promises His Word, will accomplish what He pleases and “it shall prosper.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Have I no power to deliver?” (Isaiah 49-53)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 49-53

The focus of today’s devotional commentary will be Isaiah 49; however, permit me a moment to highlight the other chapters in today’s Scripture reading.

Isaiah 50 promises the LORD will not abandon His people. Isaiah 51 is an exhortation for God’s people in Babylonian captivity to remember God’s covenant promises made by the LORD (51:1-2). Although the Jews were captives in Babylon and the city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, God had not forgotten His people or His promises (51:3-23)!

The prophetic setting for Isaiah 52:1-12 is the Babylonian captivity. Isaiah prophesies how the LORD will stir the hearts of His people to return to their homeland. Isaiah 52:13-14 gives us a prophetic portrait of the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Isaiah 53 continues the portrait of God’s suffering “servant” that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s sorrows (53:1-3), suffering (53:4-9), and sacrificial death on the cross (53:10-12).

Isaiah 49 – God’s Love for His People

I believe the prophetic setting of Isaiah 49 is the Millennial Kingdom after Christ’s Second Coming and it is He who speaks to the “isles” (a metaphor for the Gentile nations – 49:1).

What are some things we learn about Christ in Isaiah 49?

Before the Messiah would be born, His mission was determined by the LORD Who called Him by name when He was yet in His mother’s womb (49:1b). The LORD would put the Word of God in His mouth that would be like a “sharp sword” (49:2; Revelation 1:16). He would be the LORD’S servant to Israel for the purpose that God might “be glorified” in Him (49:3).

The Messiah would come first to the Jews (49:5; Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; Acts 3:25-26). Christ would then turn to the Gentiles (49:6b; Acts 13:46-47; Romans 1:16).

The coming Messiah would be despised and rejected (49:7a); however, when He comes a second time, He will be honored as one that “Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee” (49:7b).

God will not forget His chosen people and the heavens will rejoice and the people will be comforted (49:13). Many will despair during the Babylonian captivity and will say, “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (49:14).

Isaiah describes God’s enduring love for Israel in three portraits (49:15-15:1).

The first portrait of God’s love is a mother’s love for her nursing son (49:15-23). Like a loving mother who will surely not forget her infant son, the LORD promised, “they [a nursing mother] may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (49:15). The LORD assures Israel, I will not forget you for “I have graven thee [lit. engraved you] upon the palms of my hands” (49:16a).

Isaiah 49:17-21 describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people. Many will die in the overthrow of Judah and the captivity; however, the Jews will remain a distinct people in Babylon. When the time comes for the people to return from captivity to their homeland, the number who return will be so great they will need more land (49:19-21).

Isaiah 49:22-23 is a prophetic picture of the latter days before Christ’s Second Coming. The twentieth century witnessed the beginning of this prophecy when Israel was reconstituted as a nation (1948), and the Gentile nations of the world were stirred to transport the Jews to their homeland (49:22).

Isaiah 49:22 – “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring [carry] thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried [borne; taken] upon their shoulders.”

The second portrait of God’s love for Israel is that of a mighty, courageous warrior (49:24-26).The LORD will save His people (49:24), cause their enemies to turn on one another (49:25), and will be their LORD, Savior, and Redeemer (49:26).

A loving, forgiving husband is the third portrait of God’s love for Israel (50:1-3). Under the law, a husband was permitted to divorce an adulterous wife (50:1). Israel and Judah; however, had broken their covenant with the LORD, and it was they, not the LORD, who sold themselves as slaves of sin (50:1b). God had not divorced or put away His people.

In spite of their sins, the LORD promised He had not forsaken them and He had the power to redeem them (50:2-3).

Lesson – The same God who had the power to “dry up the sea” (i.e. Red Sea – Exodus 14:1-13) and “clothe the heavens with blackness” (50:3; Exodus 20:21) asks: “Have I no power to deliver?” (50:3).

There are times we feel as though the LORD has forgotten or abandoned us. We begin to feel unloved, downcast, discouraged, and alone. Be assured, the LORD has not forgotten or forsaken you! He asks, “Have I no power to deliver?” (50:3). He is waiting for you to turn your thoughts to Him.

Isaiah 43:1b – “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“God is Our Refuge and Strength” (2 Kings 19; Psalms 46, 80, 135)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 19; Psalms 46, 80, 135

Our Scripture reading returns today to 2 Kings 19, but you will notice that it takes us to a familiar time and place that is recorded in 2 Chronicles and the Book of Isaiah.

We have already noted that Hezekiah, king of Judah, was a great king who humbled himself before the LORD (2 Chronicles 31:10), organized the priesthood, restored worship and offering sacrifices in the Temple, and decreed that the people obey the Law and Commandments (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).

As we have noted in our study of 2 Chronicles 36, the Assyrian King Sennacherib had invaded Israel, overthrown Samaria, that nation’s capital city, and then began his campaign against Judah. Sennacherib sent an emissary named Rabshakeh who demanded Hezekiah pay tribute to Assyria. Rather than turn to the LORD, Hezekiah foolishly sought an alliance with Egypt that failed.

2 Kings 19

Facing the threat of a formidable foe, Hezekiah went to the Temple and cried out to the LORD (19:1). The king then sent messengers to Isaiah, seeking his counsel and a word from the LORD (19:2-5).

Isaiah sent an assurance from the LORD that He would send a “rumour” that would so trouble the king of Assyria, and that he would withdraw from Judah and return to his homeland where he would “fall by the sword” (19:6-7).

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was incensed by Hezekiah’s refusal and scoffed His faith in the LORD (19:10). Boasting of all the nations he had conquered and the gods of those nation’s failure to help them, Sennacherib threatened he would do the same to Judah (19:11-13). Hezekiah then cried out to the LORD and Isaiah sent a messenger to the king who assured him that God would utterly defeat Assyria (19:20-34).

The LORD kept His promise and we read, “it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they [Judah] arose early in the morning, behold, they [Assyrians soldiers] were all dead corpses” (19:35).

As Isaiah had prophesied, Sennacherib return defeated to his homeland where he was killed by his sons (19:36-37).

I close with a blessed assurance of God’s sovereignty (Psalm 46:1-3, 9-11).

Psalm 46:1-3 – “1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Psalm 46:9-11 – “9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD is Creator and Sovereign of the Universe (Isaiah 44-48)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 44-48

Dear reader, As you will notice, today’s Scripture reading is lengthy. I will limit my commentary to a few brief thoughts.

We have read Isaiah’s prophetic warnings, that because of the people’s sin and rebellion, Judah would be conquered and the city of Jerusalem destroyed. Assyria was still the great power of the world; however, the armies of Babylon were being strengthened and under Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Jerusalem would be razed, the Temple destroyed, and the people taken captive.

Isaiah had prophesied that God would bring a great king from the east (41:1-4) who would conquer nations, and eventually defeat Babylon. The great king would set God’s people free to return to their homeland. Who was this king?

Isaiah identified him as “Cyrus…my shepherd,” more than a hundred years before his birth (Isaiah 44:28)!

Notice throughout today’s Scripture reading (Isaiah 44-48) the emphasis Isaiah placed on identifying the God of Israel as the Creator, Sustainer, Sovereign, and Eternal God.

Isaiah 45:18 is one of the great verses of the Bible that eliminates any possibility of evolution or the co-existence of both a Creator and an evolutionary process.  This verse declares unequivocally, that the God of the Bible is Creator, LORD, Jehovah, Eternal, Self-existent God!

Isaiah 45:18 – “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [lit. without form; confusion], he formed [made and shaped it like a potter shapes a clay vessel] it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”

Proponents of evolution would have us believe the earth was a lifeless mass without form and that somehow, over billions of years, a process of evolution caused the earth to become an inhabitable place that would eventually support microscopic life forms and become our world. In my opinion, evolution takes a whole lot of blind faith in a “science” that cannot be tested or proved!

What does Isaiah 45:18 tell us about creation? 

“The LORD created the heavens,” the sun, stars, moons, and planets (45:18a).  The LORD “formed the earth and made it,” and fashioned and shaped it as a potter with a plan and design (45:18b).  The LORD “established” the earth; in other words, He made it perfect according to His purpose (45:18c).

The LORD “created it not in vain;” unlike evolutionist who postulate the universe came into existence out of confusion, Isaiah declares exactly the opposite. God shaped and formed the world so that it was inhabitable from the beginning (45:18d).

To cap off the fact that creation reflects the glory of its Creator, God declares: “I am the LORD; and there is none else.”

Who is the LORD?  Look at His creation and you will see a display of His greatness and glory.

Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Alone is God and There is No Other! (Isaiah 40-43)

Scripture reading: Isaiah 40-43

The breadth of today’s Scripture reading is so great that I am limiting my devotional commentary to Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40

The destruction of Jerusalem and God’s judgment against Judah for her wickedness appears imminent in Isaiah 40. Knowing the grace and longsuffering of the LORD, we are not surprised that nearly a century passed before Babylon attacked the capital city, destroyed the Temple, and took the people captive.

Let’s take a few minutes and glean from Isaiah 40 some insight into the character of God.

The God of Israel is portrayed as longsuffering, forgiving and comforting (40:1-2).   Seven hundred years before he was born, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah was foretold here (40:3-5; Matthew 3:3).

Observing the temporal nature of this earthly life and knowing that our lives are like grass that withers and flowers that fade, Isaiah declares, “the Word of our God shall stand forever” (40:6-8). What comfort we should take from our confidence in the immutable nature of God! Times change and men change; however, God changes not and His Word is established forever!

Who is my God? 

He is the Creator and the depths of the waters in the oceans are like “the hollow of his hand” (40:12a).  He knows the span of the heavens, the stars, moons, and planets.  He has calculated the dust of the earth and knows the weight of the mountains and hills (40:12b).

My God is so great that all the nations and their armies of the earth are as nothing to Him (40:15-17). 

There is nothing and no one greater than my God!  The beauty of earth’s sphere reflects the glory of His throne and men are like grasshoppers in his presence (40:22-23).  He is omniscient, and calls the stars of heaven by name (40:26).  He is Everlasting God, Creator and Sustainer of all things (40:28).  He is my Savior and my Strength (40:30-31).

Isaiah 40:30-31 – “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

From whence did my God come?

He was God before there was time and creation.  I confess my poor finite mind cannot explain this doctrine, but His person and handiwork, are they not evidenced in all He has created? (Psalm 90:1-2)

Isaiah 43:10b-11, 13a – “… I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour…13  Yea, before the day was I am he…”

Before the first day…there was God!  He alone is God!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith