Category Archives: United Nations

Warning: God is Jealous for His People!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 25-30

The historical context of today’s reading finds both Israel and Judah in captivity after God’s people rebelled and turned away from His law and commandments.   Having rejected the warnings of His prophets, the LORD judged those nations as He promised; however, He never forsook them.  Ezekiel 25 reminds us God is jealous for His people.

After destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, Nebuchadnezzar’s army took the people of Judah captive to Babylon.   Witnessing the calamity of God’s people, the heathen nations rejoiced in their sorrows and sufferings.  The LORD, however, took no pleasure in judging Judah and despised the heathen’s joy in the sorrows of His people.

Through His prophet Ezekiel, God warned the Ammonites (25:1-7), Moabites (25:8-11), Edomites (25:12-14) and Philistines that His judgment of Judah should serve notice of His wrath against the nations that found pleasure in the sufferings and sorrows of Israel and Judah (25:15-17).

Ezekiel 26-30 continues the prophet’s warning to the nations that their pleasure in the sufferings and sorrows of Israel would be rewarded with their own judgment.  Tyrus, the sea capital of Phoenicia would fall to Babylon (26:1-21; 27:1-36; 28:1-19).  Zidon, a city north of Tyrus, would also suffer the calamity and destruction that was the fate of Tyrus and neighboring nations who reveled in the destruction of Jerusalem (28:20-24).   Ezekiel 28 ends with the blessed promise God would gather His people from Babylonian exile and restore them to their land (28:25-26; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1).

Egypt too would be judged for her sins against Israel and her treasures would be the reward of Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 29:1-16) as Babylon served God’s purpose for bringing judgment against that nation (29:17-21) and her neighbors (30:1-26).

There is a lesson in today’s reading that nations of the 21st century would be wise to heed:

There are grave consequences for those people and nations that take joy in the sorrows and sufferings of the Jews and Christians.

The atrocities committed against the Jews in the Second World War and the virtual annihilation of those nations that perpetrated them (Nazi Germany and fascist Italy) stands as a testimony that God loves His own, even when His people turn from Him.

Many reading this brief devotional are unaware those nations and people occupied by the Soviet Union and overwhelmed by Communist oppression in the years that followed World War II were guilty of crimes against the Jews on a scale that is unfathomable.   Eastern European nations that fell into the Soviet bloc of nations and suffered under communism were themselves guilty of murderous acts against the Jews and suffered their own sorrows until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

I close with illustrative verses of God’s love for Israel and a warning for all who harm His people.

Zechariah 1:14 – “…Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.”

Zechariah 2:8 – “…he that toucheth you [Israel] toucheth the apple [pupil] of His eye[meaning the eye of the LORD].

Zechariah 8:2 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.”

Warning: Mistreat God’s people and take pleasure in their sorrows and you will inevitably suffer the same, for God is a jealous God.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: America is Not Too Big to Fail!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Jeremiah 47-52

Today’s scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of the prophecies of Jeremiah in this book that bears his name.  These final chapters, Jeremiah 47-52, predict the devastating invasion of Babylon’s army (“waters rise up out of the north” – Jeremiah 47:2) and the forthcoming destruction of the nations that were Israel’s ancient adversaries.

The annihilation of the Philistines (Jeremiah 47), the Moabites (Jeremiah 48), the Ammonites and Edomites (Jeremiah 49); even the destruction of Babylon (Jeremiah 50-51) is all predicted.   We can take many lessons from the judgment and destruction suffered by those proud nations that resisted the God of Israel and made themselves enemies of His people.   The Sovereignty of God over nations and the eradication of Israel’s ancient foes is the great lesson we take from Jeremiah’s prophetic revelations.

Jeremiah 52 records the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah.   The sins and rebellion of the people had exhausted God’s longsuffering and He determined to deliver Judah for judgment.   Jeremiah’s record of the suffering of God’s people includes famine, the captivity of king Zedekiah, the slaying of his sons, his eyes “put out” and his imprisonment until he died.   Jeremiah’s book concludes with the king’s palace and the Temple being plundered  (52:12-23) and the people of Judah led away captive to Babylon (52:24-30).

Some closing thoughts on the nations of the world and the sovereignty of God: Politicians and societal experts of the 19th century aspired to “Utopia”, a world of peace and justice where humanity lived in perfect harmony and every man pursued the common good. Unfortunately for those idealists, their ideology of atheism and the good in man was proven false by the atrocities of war and oppression of humanity in the 20th century. From the holocaust and atrocities committed by the Armies of the Axis (Germany, Italy and Japan) to the crimes against humanity committed by Communist regimes (particularly the old Soviet Union, Vietnam and China), modern nations prove they are no more humane than their ancient counterparts.

One would think any aspirations for “Utopia” that survived the 20th century have surely been extinguished by the barbarity committed by the followers of militant Islam (ISIS, Taliban and Hamas) in the dawning of the 21st century; however, such is not the case.  Crucifixion, stoning, beheading, drowning, fiery deaths, poisonings and mass killings in the name of religion and the perversity and wickedness of modern man are on full display in the Middle East and around the world.

Babylon’s mighty army dominated the ancient world and her city walls appeared impenetrable; however, God declared war and against that nation (Jeremiah 50-51) and Babylon  faltered under the weight of her sin and fell.

Citizens of the United States would do well to remember the LORD bears the sword of judgment (Jeremiah 47:6-7) and no people or nation is beyond His justice or too big to fail.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Are the Hordes of ISIS the Sons of Esau?

isisMonday, March 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 36-39

I am afraid Genesis 36 holds little to get excited about for the average believer.  This chapter is the birth record of the sons born of Esau’s lineage, the son of Isaac and brother of Jacob.  The names of Esau’s sons and their titles, “Duke”, meaning chief, reveal much about Esau and why God chose Jacob over him.

Although the sons of Esau shared a physical lineage with the Hebrew people, tracing their ancestry to Isaac and Abraham, they, like their father Esau, did not value their spiritual heritage nor have a share in God’s covenant promises with the descendants of Abraham.  The sons of Esau became the fathers of kingdoms we recognize in the Scriptures as the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert. Their descendants became enemies of Israel and the basis of a bitter strife that continues in the Middle East to our day.edom

Esau had become a wealthy and powerful man (36:6-8) who, following their father Isaac’s death (35:29), chose to keep peace with his brother Jacob and remained in Seir (32:3).  Seir, located in Edom, was the land on Israel’s southern border stretching from the salt marshes of the Dead Sea eastward to the desert (36:6-8).

We read an important statement in Genesis 36:8, “Esau is Edom”, meaning he was the father of a people who would become known as the Edomites.  Two of the three wives of Esau were Canaanite in origin and a grief to Isaac and Rebekah because they worshipped idols (Genesis 27:46).  Esau’s third wife was an Ishmaelite, a descendant of Ishmael, a son of Abraham born to the Egyptian handmaid Hagar (Genesis 28:8-9).

The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, hold important significance in our study of Israel in the Old Testament.  When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow them to pass through their land (Numbers 20:18-21).  The Edomites were adversaries of King Saul and King David (1 Kings 11:14-16).  When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, the Edomites became allies with Babylon and participated in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.jacob-and-esau

The birth of Amalek (36:12), the father of the Amalekites and the grandson of Esau, marks the birth of another people who would become enemies of Israel.   It was the Amalekites who, during Israel’s years in the wilderness, fought against Joshua and Israel while Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses during the battle (Exodus 17:8-16).  We read in 1 Samuel 15 that King Saul warred against the Amalekites.

Why did God have the names of Esau’s lineage recorded in Genesis 36 and why is it important to 21st century believers?

I believe the roots of the conflict and strife we are witnessing in the Middle East is traced to a people whose ancestry is that of Esau in origin.  We identify the enemies of modern Israel as Palestinians, Muslims, proponents of Islam, and the followers of the prophet Mohammed.   In the most basic sense, they are all sons of Esau.

I invite you to take some time and read the judgments of God prophesied against Edom in the Book of Obadiah, in particular Obadiah 1:1-4, 6-7, 10-16.

Obadiah 1:1-4 – “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour [tidings; report] from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her [Edom] in battle.petra

2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock [Petra, capital city of Edom], whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?

4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

Obadiah 1:6-7 – “How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! 7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.”

israelObadiah 1:10-15 – “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob [Jews; descendants of Jacob] shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side [side of the enemies], in the day that the strangers [foreigners; Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans] carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them [Esau’s descendants were numbered among Israel’s enemies].

12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother [descendants of Jacob] in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

obadiah15 For the day of the LORD [prophetically, often refers to the Tribulation] is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Prophetic Portrait of World War III

ww-iiiWednesday, January 4, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 1-2

Psalm 1 is a contrast of two lives: the “blessed” man (Psalm 1:1-3) who walks in the way of God’s Law and prospers and the “ungodly” who defy God, oppose His Law, and “shall perish” (Psalm 1:4-6).

Psalm 2 is known as a “Messianic Psalm” and is a prophetic utterance regarding the person and Second Coming of the Messiah Lord Jesus Christ.  Notice the opening verses of Psalm 2 are a prophetic portrait of a World War that is yet to come (Psalm 2:1-3).

Psalm 2:1-3 – “Why do the heathen [the nations of the earth] rage, and the people imagine [ponder; speak; declare] a vain thing [empty; worthless]?
2  The kings of the earth set
[stand; withstand] themselves, and the rulers take counsel [consult] together, against the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God], and against his anointed [Messiah], saying,
3  Let us break
[break down; pluck off; tear away] their bands [bonds; chains; shackles] asunder [break down; tear away], and cast away [cast down; fling] their cords [ropes; chains] from us.”

armageddonUnlike World War I and World War II that pitted the nations of the earth against one another, the war described in these verses gather the armies of the nations of the earth against God’s people (“His anointed”) and the King of Heaven (“the LORD”). (Psalm 2:2)

What is God’s response to man’s universal rebellion?

Psalm 2:4 – “4  He that sitteth [dwells; inhabits; abides] in the heavens shall laugh [scorn; mock; hold in derision]: the Lord [God] shall have them in derision [mock; scoff; sneer; deride].”

What folly that man would dare think he is able to assail the throne of the King of Heaven! The psalmist declares the Son of God, the only “begotten” of God the Father, will reign in Jerusalem [“my holy hill of Zion”] (Psalm 2:6-7).

Psalm 2 concludes with an invitation to sinners and a promise to saints:

Psalm 2:10-12 – “Be wise [understand; prudent; act wisely] now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed [disciplined; corrected; taught; warned], ye judges of the earth. 11  Serve [do; work; worship] the LORD with fear [dread; reverence], and rejoice [be glad; delight] with trembling [fear]. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry [displeasure; enraged], and ye perish [die; fall] from the way [journey; path], when his wrath is kindled [burns; consumed by fire] but a little. Blessed [Happy; i.e. prosperous] are all they that put their trust [confidence; hope; i.e. find refuge] in him.”

psalm-2-12My friend, the world is raging and the rulers of the kingdoms of the earth give little regard to the God of Heaven; however, God in His grace is extending an invitation to lost sinners to humble themselves, hear His Word, and turn to Him.

The saints of God rest in this promise, “…Blessed [Happy; i.e. prosperous] are all they that put their trust [confidence; hope; i.e. find refuge] in him” (Psalm 2:12).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Israel’s Right to Her Own Land

unTuesday, January 3, 2017

Daily Bible reading assignment: Joshua 1-5

Recent national and international events have stoked the fires of animosity for Israel as a nation and the Jews as a people. A recent vote of the United Nations Security Council condemned Israel for settlements on lands deemed by the UN as illegally occupied territories, lands captured by Israel when Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan attacked her in 1967 during a conflict known as the “Six Day War”.   Although the United States had the power to veto the resolution condemning Israel, the Obama administration abstained from the vote and in effect gave tacit support of the condemnation.israels-enemies

The intrigue of the debate is fascinating and tragic when one realizes that historically there is not and has never been a nation of Palestine or a Palestinian people.  The Muslim population in today’s Israel is for the most part Syrian and Lebanese.  The irony is some claiming a land of Palestine deny the historical claim of the Jews who occupied the land as their own for millenniums.

In today’s devotional (Joshua 1-5), God set the boundaries of the land of Israel for the Hebrew people. We read:

Joshua 1:1-41  Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
2  Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3  Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4  From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast [boundaries].

tribes-of-israelGod defined Israel’s boundaries as the mass of land between Lebanon in the north and the “wilderness” or desert of Arabia in the south; from the river of Euphrates in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.  Defined as the “land of the Hittites”, an ancient people known elsewhere as the Canaanites, Israel was to drive the Hittites out of the land, a people who would eventually be assimilated into the tribes of Arabia.

 

While all the ancient tribes and nations are a footnote in history, a testimony of God’s person and sovereignty over the nations of the earth is the existence of an ancient, distinct people we know today as Jews.  Israel’s existence and prosperity, however, was dependent upon the people obeying God’s Law.

Joshua 1:88  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Sadly, the testimony of history is that the nation of Israel failed to keep God’s Law.  Israel’s existence in the 21st century is a testimony of God’s longsuffering and, in spite of Israel’s rebellion, His promise to keep His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:7; 17:1-8).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith