Category Archives: United Nations

The Judgment of the Nations (Joel 3)

Scripture reading – Joel 3

Today’s Scripture reading marks the end of the Book of Joel (only three chapters long), and an introduction to the prophetic Book of Daniel. This devotional will conclude our study of Joel. A second devotional will follow, and serve as the introduction to the Book of Daniel.

I believe this final section of our study actually began with the closing verses of Joel 2. In its immediate context, the prophecies of Joel were given as the Assyrian army laid siege to Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah recorded how the LORD intervened for the city, and sent His angel who smote 185,000 soldiers (Isaiah 37:36). King Sennacherib had been forced to retreat to his homeland, where he was later assassinated by his sons (Isaiah 37:33-38).

The Day of the LORD is the prophetic day of God’s judgment, when He will take vengeance on those nations that abused Israel and Judah. With the assurance of His perpetual presence “in the midst,” Israel would know Him as “the LORD your God,” and the day would come when Israel would “never be ashamed” (2:27).

In my opinion, the “last days” began with Christ’s earthly ministry, and the prophecy of the outpouring of His Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (2:28-30; Acts 2:16-20). Nevertheless, the events recorded in the closing verses of Joel 2 and Joel 3, will not be fulfilled until the close of the Tribulation, and will mark the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.

Joel 3 – The Judgment of the Gentile Nations

A Day of Reckoning for the Nations (3:1-2)

Joel 3:1 was partly fulfilled when the LORD moved on the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, to grant the Jews liberty to return to their homeland where they would rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3). Yet, the final fulfillment of Joel 3 will not come to pass until the close of the Tribulation. The LORD promised He will one day gather His people from the nations (3:1), and exercise judgment on the Gentile nations for their sins against Him and His people (3:2).

Enumeration of the Sins of the Gentiles (3:3-6)

The nations of the earth have forever been at war with God and His people, yet, the sins of some nation have been so egregious, they are specifically named for judgment: Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine (3:4), Egypt, and Sodom (3:19).

The sins committed against God’s people are an offense to God, and He judged the Gentile nations guilty. Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine, Egypt, and Sodom had scattered His chosen people with their persecutions, and parted the land He gave as an inheritance to Israel (3:2c). Those nations had enslaved the Jews (3:3a, 6), trafficked boys and girls as sexual slaves, and placed no more value on their lives than wine (3:3). Spoiling the gold and silver of the land, they had taken away that which was the LORD’s (3:4-6).

Justice and Judgment (3:4, 7-8)

The sins of the Gentile nations will be punished, and they will receive the recompence (be repaid) in kind for the sins they committed against the LORD and His people (3:4). The LORD determined to gather His people and restore them to their land (3:7), and the nations that enslaved them would themselves become slaves (3:8a). Their sons and daughters will be sold “to the Sabeans” (a caravan people of the southern Arabian Peninsula), and trafficked to far away lands (3:8b).

Warfare of the Nations (3:9-16)

Through His prophet, the LORD summoned the nations to gather and prepare for war (3:9). Contrary to the Millennial kingdom and its peace (when the weapons of war will be fashioned into plows, Micah 4:3), the LORD commanded the nations to “beat [their] plowshares into swords, and [their] pruninghooks into spears” (3:10). The nations of the world will assemble for battle (3:11), for the LORD was prepared to judge them “in the valley of Jehoshaphat” (its geographic al location cannot be ascertained, 3:12).

Drawing a picture of Himself as a farmer readied to harvest, the nations of the world were portrayed as ripe for judgment. The LORD’s judgment is likened to a farmer coming with his sickle sharpened, and ready to tread nations underfoot like grapes in a vine press (3:13). A multitude will gather against God’s people (3:14), but it is the LORD whose judgment will darken the sun, moon, and stars (3:15). Suddenly, He will “roar out of Zion, And utter his voice from Jerusalem; And the heavens and the earth shall shake: But the Lord will be the hope of his people, And the strength of the children of Israel” (3:16).

The Promise of the LORD’s Perpetual Presence (3:17-21)

Through the LORD’s judgment of the nations, the children of Israel and Judah will come to know Him as “the LORD [their] God” who dwells in Zion (3:17a). The city of Jerusalem would be holy, and no “strangers” (unbelievers) will “pass through her any more” (3:17b). The land will be fertile, the waters will flow, and the River of Life will flow from “the house of the LORD” (3:18). The LORD will avenge the wickedness of Egypt and Edom, for they were guilty of violence and shedding the “innocent blood” of Judah (3:19).

Closing thoughts (3:20-21) – Joel’s prophecies end with the LORD promising Judah the nation will “dwell forever” in the land, “and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (3:20). He will purge the people of their sins, and will forever dwell among them “in Zion” (3:21). Our study of Joel began with a judgment of locusts (Assyria’s army) descending upon Judah and Jerusalem (1:4), and ends with the triumph of God’s people restored to their land and the LORD reigning forever in Jerusalem (3:20-21).

The day of judgment is coming, not only for the nations, but for all men and women. Are you prepared for God’s day of judgment? When the books are opened, and “every man [and woman] will be judged “according to their works?” (Revelation 20:13), will your name be “found written in the book of life?” (Revelation 20:15)

Revelation 20:1515And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

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 Character of a Dying Culture (Lamentations 4) – part 1 of 2 devotionals.

Scripture reading – Lamentations 4; Lamentations 5

Our study of “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” will conclude with today’s Scripture reading. My devotional study will be presented in two parts. This is the first, with the focus upon Lamentations 4.

Lamentations 4 – The Consequences of Judah’s Sins and God’s Judgment

Stretched before Jeremiah were the ruins of Jerusalem, with its streets strewn with rubble, and in the midst the bodies of the dead. Jeremiah had spent his life calling upon the people to repent of their sins and turn to the Lord. Yet, as he surveyed the scene before him, he saw everywhere the reminders of God’s wrath.

Jerusalem’s Faded Glory (4:1-5)

Jeremiah recorded in graphic detail the afflictions suffered by his people because of their sins. As you read this passage, understand we are studying a description of a rebellious, dying culture. It was the sin and wickedness of the people that brought Jerusalem to this sad state. Once a city that shone bright as gold, she was tarnished by sin, and her sons, once the pride of the nation, were no better than “earthen [clay] pitchers” (1:1-2).

Adding to the moral decline of the city was the wantonness of the women. The virtue of womanhood, and the nurturing nature of mothers is always the last vestige of civility in a culture. Yet, the women of Jerusalem had become worse than brute beasts. Whereas it is in the nature of beasts to “give suck to their young ones,” the daughters of Jerusalem were become cruel (4:3). Caring only for themselves, the women neglected their children, and left them athirst and starving (4:4).

The wealthy and powerful, once consumers of delicacies, were now found roaming the streets of the city, homeless and destitute (4:5).

Jerusalem’s Sins Demanded a Judgment that Exceeded Sodom (4:6-11)

The judgment of Jerusalem surpassed the judgment of Sodom (Genesis 19). What sin was committed in Zion, the city of David, that demanded a greater judgment than ancient Sodom which was known for its moral depravity?

Because Jerusalem was chosen by the LORD to be the home of His sanctuary, it was that privilege that incited the wrath of God. The people had broken covenant with the LORD, and defiled His Temple. For that wickedness, the wrath of God lingered. Sodom was mercifully destroyed “in a moment” (4:6), but the sufferings in Jerusalem appeared to have no end.

The “Nazarites” (believed to be the nobility of Jerusalem) had enjoyed a favored life of ease (4:7). Unlike the general population who labored under the sun, these were the privileged few whose skin was described as “whiter than milk,” but now were reduced to starvation, and their skin blackened by the sun (4:8). Jeremiah observed, those who died by the sword were “better than” those dying of hunger (4:9). The horror of want and depravity was surmised in this, for the women who once nurtured their children, were cannibalizing them (4:10).  All this was a testament to the wrath of God (4:11).

The Leaders Had Failed the People (4:12-22)

The prophets had warned the judgment of the LORD was imminent, but the kings of other nations and the people of Judah believed the great walled city was unassailable (4:12).

Who was to blame for the fall of Jerusalem? The answer may surprise you. Though the kings of Judah had committed great wickedness, it was “the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, That [had] shed the blood of the just in the midst of her” (4:12). Lying prophets and sinful priests of Jerusalem had failed the nation (4:13). Judah’s spiritual leaders despised the righteous, and persecuted them (4:14). Their guilt was so great, they were become like a spiritually leprous people (4:15). They had despised faithful priests, and rejected the elders (among them was Zechariah and Jeremiah, 4:16).

Rather than heed the warnings of judgment, the nation looked to men and allies to save them (4:17). When king Zedekiah and his family fled the city, the soldiers of Babylon hunted them down (4:18; 2 Chronicles 36:5-6; 2 Kings 25:1-7), and pursued them like eagles through the mountains and into the wilderness (4:19-20). Yet, the LORD did not forget those who persecuted His people, and the Edomites were warned they too would drink from the cup of God’s judgment (4:21). The sins of Edom would not be forgotten (4:22).

Closing thoughts – Have you considered the sins committed by Judah, and the sinful character of her people tragically resemble the world of our day?

My own nation, once the envy of the world, is like tarnished gold (4:1). The American dollar, once the currency of the world, is fallen into disgrace. Politicians continue to transform our military into a showcase of social depravity (4:2), rather than strength and honor. Motherhood is despised by brazen women demanding the liberty to quench the lives of the unborn. Our leaders have betrayed us, and preachers and churches have become hollow shells of sin and depravity. The righteous are despised, and the faithful calling for repentance are scorned.

Like Jeremiah of old, do we not find ourselves praying, “God save America”?

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, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Warning: No Nation is Too Big to Fail! (Jeremiah 49; Jeremiah 50)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 49; Jeremiah 50

Today’s Scripture reading continues the record of God’s vengeance against the Gentile nations that were adversaries of Israel and Judah. While there are many lessons we might take from God’s judgment of the nations, I suggest the overriding one is this:

God is Sovereign Over all men, and LORD of the nations of the world.

Jeremiah 49 – The Vengeance of the LORD

Like the other nations against whom Jeremiah brought a warning judgment (Egypt, the Philistines, and Moab, Jeremiah 46-48), the Ammonites (descendants of Lot’s incest with his daughters, Genesis 19:32-38), were also warned they would be judged and destroyed by Babylon’s army.

Through His prophet, the LORD challenged the Ammonites settlement in Israel, asking, “Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? Why then doth their king inherit Gad, And his people dwell in his cities?” (49:1) With Israel exiled from her lands, the Ammonites had settled onto land that was once home to the Tribe of Gad (49:1). Probably assuming Israel would be assimilated into Assyrian society and become nothing more than a footnote in history, the Ammonites took possession of the land that was Israel’s inheritance from the LORD.

Because they had been Israel’s adversaries, the LORD warned the Ammonites they would be judged because of their greed and covetousness (49:4-5). Yet, in a wonderful evidence of God’s grace, Jeremiah prophesied “the children of Ammon” would be numbered among believers when Christ’s comes to reign on the earth (49:6).

Other Gentile nations to be judged for their sins were the Edomites (49:7-22), descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, whose destruction was compared to that of “Sodom and Gomorrah” (49:13-18). Nebuchadnezzar was described as coming upon Edom like a roaring lion (49:19), and the army of Babylon sweeping over the land like an eagle (49:22).  Syria, represented by its capital Damascus, would also be destroyed in God’s judgment (49:23-27).

The judgment of three nomadic Arabian tribes was foretold: Kedar (49:28-29), Hazor (49:30-33) and Elam (49:34-37). Once again, reminding us of God’s grace, Jeremiah 49:38-39 foretold at the end of time (“in the latter days”), some of Elam will be part of Christ’s kingdom.

Jeremiah 50 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Babylon

Jeremiah 50 is an incredible passage foretelling the destruction of Babylon. What a striking prophecy this must have been to Jeremiah, for Babylon was the lone super power of his day, and would have seemed invincible to the prophet.

The LORD declared the idols of Babylon, Bel and Merodach, would be “broken in pieces” rendering no help for that city (50:2). Though Nebuchadnezzar was defeating all nations at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, nevertheless, the LORD foretold a coalition of nations “out of the north” (50:3, 9, 41-42) would come against the great city bringing desolation. We know from the Scriptures and history that collation of nations would be the Medes and Persians under the leadership of King Cyrus. In one night, devastation struck the city to such a degree it rendered the great Babylon unfit for man and beast (50:3).

Jeremiah prophesied how the “children of Israel” would be liberated by the “nations out of the north,” and the people would return to their land (50:4-7).“Going and weeping: they shall go, And seek the Lord their God. 5They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord In a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten (50:4-5).

God warned the captives of Babylon to flee the city for her destruction was sealed (50:9-16). That wicked nation had scattered God’s people like sheep (50:17), and the LORD promised vengeance, saying, “Babylon [would]become a desolation among the nations” (50:23). No nation, great or small, can stand against the “Lord God of hosts” when He has declared, “I am against thee” (50:31). Babylon had defied God and now He would take vengeance on that nation (50:24-32). The fall of Babylon was prophesied to be so great, “the earth is moved” by her fall (50:46).

Closing thought – Though Israel and Judah were scattered among the nations, God would not forget His people. He warned the nations, Israel’s “Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name” (50:34).

I have heard 21st century leaders employ the adage, “Too Big to Fail!” Oh, foolish men, no nation or people is so great they can stand when God has set Himself against them!

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, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Judgment Day (Isaiah 23; Isaiah 24)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 23; Isaiah 24

The prophet Isaiah’s messages of judgment continue in today’s Scripture reading. The subject of Isaiah 23 was “the burden [judgment] of Tyre” (23:1), while Isaiah 24 is a statement of God’s final judgment of the earth (24:1).

Isaiah 23 – The Pronouncement of Judgment Against Trye

Several ancient seaport cities are named in the opening verses of Isaiah 23.  Isaiah observed that Tyre had been inhabited for centuries, and was an important seaport for trade.  Describing the desolation of Tyre, the prophet foretold it would be “laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering” (i.e., no inhabitants in what had been a bustling harbor city, 23:1).

Because Tyre was a center for trade and commerce, its fall impacted the entire region (23:2-3). The “ships of Tarshish” (modern Spain) would howl, or wail for Tyre. The news of Tyre’s fall would reach “the land of Chittim” (believed to be Cyprus, (23:1). Zidon (or Sidon, an ancient Phoenician seaport, located north of ancient Tyre, 23:2), and “Sihor” (today’s Egypt, 23:3-4) would be diminished. Egypt, the “bread basket” to the nations of the ancient world, was “sorely pained at the report of Tyre” (23:5). Pursued by the army of Babylon, refugees of Tyre fled to Tarshish (Spain, 23:6).

Why and Who Conquered Tyre? (23:7-14).

Why was Tyre appointed for judgment?

The answer is found in Isaiah 23:7, where we read: “Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? Her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn” (23:7). Tyre’s wealth had turned the population into a wealthy, “joyous” (frivolous, narcissistic) city, and her sins and wickedness provoked the wrath of God.

Who devastated Tyre?

Though Tyre was destroyed by Babylon, we are left no doubt that it was the work of the LORD. We read, “The LORD of hosts hath purposed it…He stretched out his hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms” (23:9, 11).

The effect of Tyre’s annihilation as a city and people affected other cities and stronghold on the Mediterranean (23:11-12). The demise of Assyria had given rise to Babylon, but Isaiah prophesied the Chaldeans (the nation, of which Babylon the capital city), would also be judged by the LORD (23:13). The sailors from Tarshish would wail and howl for the devastating, economic loss they would experience (23:14).

Seventy Years Later, Tyre Was Rebuilt (23:15-17)

Though all seemed lost for Tyre, Isaiah made an amazing prophecy (23:15). Seventy years would pass, and at the end of the 70 years, Tyre would “sing as an harlot” (23:15). How could that be? The Bible reveals, and history affirms, in 70 years the Chaldean nation ceased to exist when Babylon, its capital city, fell to the Medes and Persian armies (23:15; Daniel 5). Tyre, that wicked city, would be revived, only to return to her sinful ways. Once again, “the kingdoms of the world” would be enticed to her alluring, wicked ways (23:16-17).

Closing thoughts – The pronouncement of God’s judgment of Tyre ends with a prophecy that will not be fulfilled until the Millennial Kingdom when Christ is King (23:18). In that day, the trade of Tyre will be dedicated to the LORD (23:18a), and rather than hoard their merchandise, her goods will be a blessing to “them that dwell before the LORD” (23:18).

Isaiah 24 – God’s Judgment of the Earth

Isaiah 24 continues the theme of the LORD’s judgment, but in this chapter describes how the earth will experience God’s universal judgment (24:1). God’s judgment will be impartial, and no people, man, or woman will escape His justice (24:2).

The physical nature of the earth will bear the wrath of God’s judgment, and will dry up and whither as it is also prophesied in Revelation 6-9, 15-16. People, animals, and the plant life of the earth will not escape God’s judgment (24:3-4).

Five Provocations of God’s Judgment (24:5-6)

Isaiah identified five causes for God’s wrath: 1) Sin had defiled the earth (24:5a); 2) Man had disobeyed God’s law (24:5b); Mankind had instituted their own laws (24:5c); 4) God’s people had broken their covenant with Him (24:5d); and 5) The holiness and justice of God’s nature demanded He judge the earth and its inhabitants (24:6).

Evidences of God’s Final Judgment (24:7-13)

Jesus Christ foretold the state of the world when He comes again. We read, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

Isaiah prophesied of that day, how only a remnant would survive God’s judgment, and there will be none to tend the vineyards (24:7). Cities will fall empty and silent (for there will be no one to sing, play musical instruments, or be merry, 24:8-9). The cities will be wasted, the houses empty, and commerce and trade will fail (24:10-13). Men will be unable to flee God’s judgment (24:17; Revelation 6:15-17), and the earth will be rocked with natural disasters (i.e., earthquakes, 24:18-19a).

Closing thoughts – In that day, the world system of government and its economy will fail (24:20), and God will then cast the fallen angels, and leaders of the earth into the pit to be punished, and later suffer the final judgment of the LORD (24:21-22; Ephesians 6:11; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7-9; 20:1-3, 7-10).

When the Tribulation is ended, and Christ sits victoriously upon His throne, the brightness of His glory will be so great it will out shine the moon and the sun (24:23).

How do you see the signs in our day?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Birth and Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Micah 5)

Scripture reading – Micah 5

In an earlier devotional I observed there are many well-known Messianic prophecies concerning the coming of the LORD, but few believers in my experience are aware of their context in the Scriptures (examples, Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6-7). Today’s study in Micah 5 presents us with another example of a wonderful Messianic prophecy (Micah 5:2), that is often quoted, but seldom studied in its historical context. I invite you to open your Bible and consider with me Micah 5.

Micah 5

Micah 5:1, in my opinion, should be identified with the prior chapter (Micah 4), and its summary of the Assyrian invasion of Israel. We read, “1Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: He hath laid siege against us: They shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek” (5:1). The reference of “troops” [a band of men or raiders] is identified in various ways by Bible students. I am of the opinion it is referring to the soldiers of Babylon, and the siege of Jerusalem.

The “judge of Israel” is most likely a reference to a king, of whom two kings of Judah were taken into captivity (Zedekiah, whose eyes were put out, 2 Kings 25:7; and Jehoicin, who was taken away to Babylon, and was of Davidic lineage of Christ, 2 Kings 24:15).

In spite of the Babylonian captivity, Micah prophesied the Davidic line would return to Judah (5:2).

Micah 5:2 – The Birthplace of the Messiah

Micah 5:2 is a treasured prophecy of all believers, for here we are given not only the birthplace of the Messiah, “Bethlehem Ephratah,” but also His identity as divine: “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (5:2).

The future ruler of Israel would be born in Bethlehem, and a man who existed before His birth, for He is Eternal God, the Ancient of Days, “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (5:2).

Micah 5:4-6 – The Second Coming of Christ

When Christ comes the second time in all of His heavenly glory, He will be the Shepherd of Israel, and “shall stand [His authority] and feed [His provision] in the strength [His power] of the Lord, In the majesty [His glory]of the name of the Lord his God; And they [the children of Israel] shall abide: For now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth” (5:4). The LORD will rule the nations of the earth and “shall be the peace” [for He is the Prince of Peace, 5:5; Isaiah 9:6].

The mention of Assyria (5:5, 6) and “the land of Nimrod” [the founder of ancient Babylon, and identified in Genesis 10:8-12 as Babel] may in fact be representative of the nations of the earth at the end of the ages when Christ returns.

Micah 5:7-10 – The Remnant of Jacob

Though Israel would soon be captive, and Judah would follow after being assailed by Babylon, Micah prophesied the “the remnant of Jacob” would return to the land (5:8). The description of Israel’s victorious return, and the defeat of the nations of the world aligned against God’s people is still future (5:9-10).

Micah 5:9-15 – The Triumph of Israel

Micah promised the enemies of Israel would “be cut off” (5:9), and the nation would enjoy peace. There will be no need for the weapons of war (“horses…chariots”), or strongholds (5:10-11). Trusting the LORD alone, idols would be “cut off,” the groves of idolatry would be plucked up, and the cities with their altars and idolatry would be destroyed (5:14).

In that day, when Christ returns to save His people, the LORD “will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen [Gentile nations], such as they have not heard,” nor the nations ever seen (5:15).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Armageddon: The Final Siege (Micah 3-4)

Scripture reading – Micah 3; Micah 4

We continue our study of the prophecies of Micah, with today’s Scripture readings.

Micah 3 – Gathering Clouds of Judgment

In Micah 3, the prophet summoned the leaders and judges of Israel, and asked, “Is it not for you to know judgment [justice]?” Literally, how is it you are the “heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel” (3:1), and your rulings violate the law and commandments of the LORD?

The Character of Israel’s Leaders (3:2-4)

The leaders of Israel had rejected God’s laws, and had become morally corrupt. They were guilty of hating good, and loving evil (3:2a). They had used their positions to take from the people, figuratively “skinning” the people of everything they had (3:2-3), and leaving them with nothing.

Micah prophesied the day would come when the leaders of Israel would cry to the LORD, but it would be too late (3:4). They had behaved wickedly, and the LORD would turn his face and mercies from them (3:4).

Judgment Pronounced Against False Prophets (3:5-7)

Having addressed the failed leadership of Israel, Micah turned the focus of his prophetic message to “the prophets that make my people err…and cry, Peace” (3:5). Who were the false prophets? Micah did not identify them by name, but such men have plagued believers down through the centuries. These were purveyors of false doctrine, who lied, assuring the people crying, “Peace” (3:5), safety, and prosperity.

Micah’s Confident Testimony (3:8-12)

With confidence he was God’s anointed, Micah declared, “truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, And of judgment” (3:8). With courage, he called out the leaders of Israel, and declared they had failed the LORD, and perverted justice (3:9). They had exploited the people (3:10), and accepted bribes, perverting justice (3:11).

Closing thoughts – A nation’s leaders generally reflect the character of its people (especially in a democratic society). It can be said, as go the leaders, so goes the nation. The people had rejected God’s prophets, and believed the lies of evil leaders who said, “none evil can come upon us” (3:11).

Micah warned: The mount of Zion would be “plowed as a field,” and Jerusalem would become a pile of rubble (3:12).

Micah 4 – The Millennial Reign of Christ

The Future Glory of Jerusalem (4:1-2)

The focus of Micah became a prophecy of “the last days,” and the time of the Great Tribulation followed by the Second Coming of Christ (4:1-8). Though Micah had prophesied God’s judgment, the LORD did not leave His people without hope. Micah foretold a day when the LORD would reign upon mount Zion (4:1). The people and nations of the world would say in that day, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, And to the house of the God of Jacob; And he [the LORD] will teach us of his ways” (4:2a).

A Time of Universal Peace (4:3-7)

Christ’s reign will usher in a time a peace, such as the world has not seen since the Fall. In that day, the nations and people of the earth will “beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruninghooks: Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more” (4:3).

The world will experience a season of peace (4:4). Men will depart from their gods, and will “walk in the name of the LORD” (4:5). In that day, the LORD will restore Israel to Himself (4:6-7).

Israel’s Afflictions and Captivity (4:8-10)

Micah 4:8 marked a dramatic shift from the far-reaching prophecies of the last days (4:1-7), to a more immediate prophetic threat. Micah warned, “the strong hold of the daughter of Zion [mount Zion upon which the palace and Temple were built], Unto thee shall it [army of Babylon] come, even the first dominion; The kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem” (4:8).

Micah 4:9-10 foretold in graphic terms the afflictions and sorrows that would befall Jerusalem and Judah. The city would “cry out aloud,” and there would be “no king” (fulfilled when king Jehocin was taken prisoner, 4:9). The suffering of the city would be as a woman experiencing the pangs of giving birth (4:9b-10). The Babylonian captivity was foretold (4:10b), yet the LORD promised He would redeem a remnant and restore His people to their land (4:10c).

Armageddon: The Final Siege of Jerusalem and a Promise of Victory (4:11-13)

I believe Micah 4:11 describes a battle that has not yet occurred. Instead of Babylon besieging Jerusalem, we read “many nations” will be gathered against Jerusalem (4:11). The hatred of God’s people, and the determination to destroy Israel is also described in other prophecies that are not yet fulfilled (Ezekiel 38-39; Joel 3:1-3; Zechariah 14:1-5; Revelation 16:12-21).

Closing thoughts – When the nations of the world align themselves against Israel, the leaders will not comprehend their plans and schemes are after the counsel of the LORD (4:11-12). The world will be gathered against Jerusalem fulfilling God’s sovereign plan and purpose (4:12).

In that day, the LORD will empower Israel, and “beat in pieces many people” (4:13). Christ will come again, and set up His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem [Mount of Zion], and there He will subdue the nations of the earth and reign a 1,000 years (4:2-4).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Rise of a King and Universal Peace (Isaiah 11; Isaiah 12)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 11; Isaiah 12

Isaiah had prophesied the virgin birth of a future King (Isaiah 7:14), and stated His titles and divine attributes (Isaiah 9:6-7). Yet, that prophet had also prophesied how Israel would be devastated by an Assyrian invasion, and the people would be taken into captivity (Isaiah 10).

When all seemed lost, Isaiah foretold the fall of Assyria (10:10-19), and the return of a remnant of Israel to the land (10:20-23). Having prophesied the sorrows and afflictions Israel and Judah would soon face, he encouraged them to look for the coming of the Messiah King who would rule the earth, and whose reign would usher in universal peace (11:6-9).

Isaiah 11 – The King is Coming

The Lineage of the Messiah King (11:1)

The future King would be born of David’s lineage, and was described as “a rod [shoot or sprout] out of the stem of Jesse [father of king David], and a Branch [living sprout] shall grow out of His roots” (11:1; 53:2). He would be a royal son and rightful heir to the throne of Israel (Isaiah 11:1).

Attributes of the Messiah King (11:2-5)

The coming King will be divine in nature, for “the spirit of the LORD [would] rest upon Him” (11:2a). With “the spirit of wisdom and understanding” (11:2b), he will be a discerning, wise counselor. He will be mighty (11:2c), and will know the plans and purpose of the LORD, for he will have “the spirit of knowledge,” (11:2d). His desire will be to fear the LORD, and please Him (11:2e; Luke 22:42).

Notice also that the coming King will be omniscient, and “shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears” (11:3). He will be an impartial, “righteous” judge (11:4), giving no favor to the poor or the rich.

He will be a righteous ruler, addressing the sins that have corrupted the earth since the fall of man, and condemning the wicked (11:4). He will be a righteous, faithful judge (11:5).

The Reign of the Messiah King: He will bring universal peace. (11:6-9)

Many kings and rulers have vowed their reign would usher in an utopia and promised universal peace. Religions have proposed theirs was the way to lasting peace, and religious and political leaders have promised their efforts would prepare the way for universal peace.

There will indeed be a day of universal peace, but only when the Prince of Peace rules the world from the throne of David. The sin of man caused the earth to be cursed (Romans 8:18-23), and only the King Himself can usher in a new kingdom and promised peace. Isaiah prophesied, when the LORD reigns on the earth, old animosities will be banished (11:6-9).

Isaiah 11:6–96The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, And the leopard shall lie down with the kid; And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. 7And the cow and the bear shall feed; Their young ones shall lie down together: And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, And the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.

Israel Gathered Out of the Midst of the Nations (11:10-16)

As promised, when the “root of Jesse” [Jesus Christ] reigns, the children of Israel will be gathered to their land out of the midst of the nations of the world (10:10-11). The LORD will be the “ensign of the people” (11:10, and “for the nations” (11:12), and the “outcasts of Israel” (exiles), and the “dispersed of Judah” will be gathered “from the four corners of the earth” (11:12).

Israel and Judah will set aside their animosities (11:13). As the LORD delivered Israel out of Egypt (11:15), the faithful of Israel will be gathered from all over the world (11:16).

Isaiah 12 – A Song of Salvation

Isaiah 12 begins with the phrase, “And in that day,” thus continuing Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah (12:1). The six verses of Isaiah 12 are a celebratory song of Israel’s salvation (12:1-6).

With Israel’s heart turned to the LORD, His anger will be turned away” (12:1), and the people will sing, “God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: For the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation” (12:2).

Closing thoughts – When Jesus Christ reigns, the people will worship Him, and Israel will declare to the nations the LORD’S grace and mercies. All the earth will know the LORD “hath done excellent things” (12:5), and Jerusalem will ring with shouts of joy, saying, Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee” (12:6).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

No King (or President) is too Big for God (Isaiah 10)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 10

The first four verses of Isaiah 10 are in fact a summary of the preceding chapter’s warning to Judah for the injustices that nation’s leaders had committed against the poor and needy (10:1-2). Because God’s people had rejected Him, His Law and Commandments, they would be subject to the harsh laws, and leadership of wicked rulers.

An Admonition to Those Who Abuse Justice (10:1-4)

Knowing God is immutable and just, no nation or people should be blind to the justice He expects of those in authority. As we consider our world today, we can see that the injustices committed by the leaders of Judah are the same injustices prevalent today: The needy and poor are denied justice (10::2a), widows are preyed upon by unscrupulous men, and orphans are tragically trafficked and abused. What becomes of a people who ignores injustices? Such a nation will ultimately fall into such degradation that it will lose its identity and fall to the hand of enemy (10:4).

A Warning of Judgment Against Assyria (10:5-19)

Why was Assyria the focus of God’s wrath in this passage?

That great empire had been the tool, the vessel God used to punish Israel for that nation’s rebellion against the LORD (10:5-6). The king of Assyria was blind to the truth, “1The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

The Assyrian king’s ambition to conquer other nations was planted in his heart by the God of heaven (10:7). He boasted his “princes” (leaders he had ordained to rule over the people he had conquered) were as powerful as kings in their own right (10:8-9). Blinded by ambition, the Assyrian king was unaware when he had “performed his whole work” (all God had ordained to punish Jerusalem, 10:12), He would be punished (10:16). The king boasted he had gathered the riches of other nations, like a farmer gathers eggs (10:14). He believed all he had accomplished was “by the strength” of his own hand (10:13-15).

God promised He would send against Assyria an enemy (Babylon) that would take away that nation’s wealth, and destroy its strength with fire (10:16-19).

God Remembered Israel (10:20-33)

Assyria would destroy Israel (the northern ten tribes), and afflict Judah, but the LORD promised He would not forget “the remnant of Israel” (10:20). Though God’s people would suffer great afflictions for their sins, He promised “the remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (10:21). God had promised Abraham his seed would “be as the sand of the sea” (Genesis 22:17; 32:12), but the sins of the people had reduced their number to a “remnant” whom the LORD promised would one day return to their land (10:22-23).

Assured by God’s promises, the prophet encouraged the people that “dwellest in Zion” (Jerusalem), “Be not afraid of the Assyrian: He shall smite thee with a rod…25For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, And mine anger in their destruction” (10:24-25).

Closing thoughts – Judah would be afflicted by Assyria, but it would not be overcome (10:26-27). The Assyrian army would march south, and the cities north of Jerusalem would fall in succession (10:28-32). The citizens of Jerusalem would be shaken, but the LORD promised to intervene, and figuratively “lop the bough [the head of the king] with terror” (10:33).

Assyria appeared unstoppable. Nation after nation, and city after city had fallen to that nation’s army. Israel was destroyed, and the people had been taken captive. The cities north of Jerusalem were conquered, and the king and the people believed they would succumb to the terror of that enemy.

Had the nation heeded Isaiah’s prophecy, they would have known there was no cause to fear Assyria, for the LORD had planned the demise of that nation (10:34).

A word of encouragement – Do you wonder who is behind world events? Do you lack confidence in your nation’s leaders? Do you fear the effects of wicked leaders? Take heart, and be encouraged:

Proverbs 8:15–1615By me [the LORD] kings reign, And princes decree justice. 16By me princes rule, And nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Remember: The same God who “lopped off” the head of Assyria, is still Sovereign God.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Tower of Babel and One Big Unhappy Family (Genesis 10-11)

Scripture reading – Genesis 10-11

The conflicts among the races and nations of the world have their origin in today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 10-11). Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons and concludes by introducing us to Terah, the father of Abraham, the patriarch. We find in Genesis 10-11 the common kinship of all humanity, traced back to Noah’s three sons.

Genesis 10 is where God begins to deal with the Hebrew people through the lineage of Shem. Though the Old Testament focuses upon the history of Israel, and God’s dealing with His chosen people, nonetheless, the LORD never forsook humanity.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 records the names of sixteen sons who were born to Noah’s three sons (and perhaps as many daughters). Genesis 10 registers seventy individual nations that emerged from Noah’s sons: fourteen associated with Japheth (10:2-5), thirty linked to Ham (10:25-27), and twenty-six from Shem (10:21-31).

Japheth, Noah’s oldest son, was the father of many Gentile nations (9:27; 10:2-5), among them the ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the European people (namely, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, Spanish, and the English).

Ham, Noah’s youngest son who was identified as “Canaan” in Genesis 9:25, was father to some of the great empires of the ancient world, among them the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and some scholars would suggest Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, and African tribes (10:6-20).

Although cursed to be a “servant of servants” (9:25-27), the accomplishments of Ham’s progeny were so vast that it appears they set their minds to cast off the curse of being a “servant of servants.” Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the son of Cush, was the first ruler following the flood (10:8-10). He was a “mighty hunter” (10:9), and founded what would become ancient “Babel…in the land of Shinar” (10:10).

Shem, Noah’s second born son, was “the father of all the children of Eber” (10:21-31). Scholars believe the name “Eber,” is an ancient word from which the word “Hebrew” was derived (10:21). “Eber” was the father of the Hebrews (Abraham is described as “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, and the nomadic Arab tribes and nations.

Shem’s lineage is the ancestral line through which God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer Savior. Genesis 10 concludes leaving no doubt that all nations and people in our world today are descended from Noah’s three sons:

Genesis 10:32 – “32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”

Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel

Resisting God’s command to “replenish the earth” (9:1), Noah’s sons and their families continued as “one language, and of one speech” (11:1), and congregated in “a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there” (11:2).

Arising from their desire to continue as they were (being “of one language, and of one speech,” 11:1), mankind resolved to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (11:4). Man’s sinful pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion was summed up in this: Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4).

Once again, we are made privy to a heavenly conversation when the LORD determined to intervene, lest the wickedness and rebellion of man be carried so far that there would be no hope of salvation, and “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (11:6).

Confounding their one language into multiple languages, the LORD caused the work on the tower and the city to cease, and men were forced to scatter abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (11:7-8).

Genesis 11 concludes with the lineage of Shem, and leading our Bible study to a great crossroads in the history of mankind: God calling Abraham (11:31-12:1).

Friend, never forget that the story of history is “HIS-STORY;” a testimony of God’s invisible, providential hand and His “Amazing Grace.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Word of Welcome to the Heart of a Shepherd’s Daily Devotional Commentary of the New Testament Scriptures

Our chronological Bible reading schedule has taken us from the beginning, and the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis, through the Old Testament Scriptures.

Today’s Scripture reading introduces us to the four Gospels of the New Testament. The reading schedule in the Old Testament followed a nearly consistent pattern of beginning and finishing one book of the Old Testament before continuing to the next book. The same will not be true of our study of the New Testament.

For instance, the individual Gospels are sometimes not chronological in their record of events in the life of Christ. Adding to the challenge of grasping a chronology of events in the life and ministry of Christ is the fact that the record of events will not be the same (not a contradiction, but a reflection of different human authors).

You may also feel it is a challenge to jump back and forth between the four Gospels in your daily readings. I assure you it is a task we will face together. I pray my labor and your faithfulness will both enlighten and encourage your study of God’s Word.

If you have not already, I invite you to subscribe to www.HeartofAShepherd.com, and join my global family. What began as this pastor’s attempt to minister to his church family, has grown into an annual readership represented in 190 countries around the world (the United Nations recognizes 193-member countries).

I close by encouraging you to print out and follow the chronological Scripture reading plan that I follow for my daily devotional commentaries.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

www.HeartofAShepherd.comwww.HillsdaleBaptist.org

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith