Tag Archives: Devotional

Egypt Wails; Israel Prevails (Exodus 10-12)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 10-12

By the end of the seventh plague, Egypt has suffered enough loss that hunger and famine have become the lot of the people.  Refusing to heed the LORD’s command to free Israel from bondage, Pharaoh and Egypt continued to harden their hearts (10:1).

Do you ever ponder why the LORD allows trials and troubles? Ever wonder what good can come from disappointments and suffering?

Many in Israel struggled with the increasing hardships placed on them by their Egyptian taskmasters.  To believe Moses’ assurances, that the LORD would deliver them from bondage in the midst of trials, challenged their faltering faith.  Exodus 10:2 apprises us that the LORD had a greater goal than simply delivering one generation from slavery.

Exodus 10:2 – “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”

The LORD wanted His people to remember through successive generations all that He had done in Egypt.  His dealings with Pharaoh and the plagues that befell the nation were to serve as a lasting testimony that the God of Israel is Creator and Sovereign of nature.

The eight plague that came upon Egypt was locusts and they devoured what was left of the nation’s vegetation (10:3-20).  The ninth plague shrouded Pharaoh and Egypt in a frightening cloak of oppressive darkness (10:21-29) while Israel enjoyed the comfort of light in their dwellings.

Before the tenth and final plague, the LORD instructed Moses to bid the Hebrews to request from the Egyptians jewelry and vessels of gold and silver (11:1-3).  A strange request it seems; however, the jewelry, gold and silver will eventually be used to decorate the tabernacle and fabricate vessels to be used in sacrifices and worship.

Moses warned Pharaoh the tenth plague would mean the death of the firstborn, both man and beast (11:5).  Again, Pharaoh hardened his heart (11:10) and the LORD “smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” as He promised (12:29-30).

Now the LORD had instructed Moses and Aaron to tell the people to sacrifice a lamb; not just any lamb, but a lamb “without blemish, a male of the first year” (12:15).   The blood of the lamb was to be put on the side posts and lintel of the doorposts of the houses (12:7) with the promise the LORD would “pass over” the homes where the blood of a lamb was seen (12:12-13).

The Passover was to become a perpetual memorial and testimony of the night the LORD spared the firstborn of Israel.  The Passover lamb was to be served with “unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs” (12:8-11, 14-19).

“Leaven”, the equivalent of yeast in our day, was not to be used in bread during the Passover season (12:15, 17-20).  The permeating nature of a little leaven is a symbol of the nature of sin in the scriptures.  In other words, sin is among God’s people what leaven is in bread dough and, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

To spare Israel the death of the firstborn, the LORD required the blood of the lamb; a type, a picture, of God’s punishment of sin that would be fulfilled in the sacrifice of God the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Knowing the LORD is Just, Holy, and the universal penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23a); we conclude Jesus Christ, the Perfect, sinless Son is God’s sacrificial Lamb.  The author of Hebrews writes, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).

Declaring the substitutionary doctrine of salvation, the apostle Paul wrote, “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Is Jesus Christ your Lamb, Redeemer and Savior?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Silver-haired” Saints and “Silver-tongued” Youth (Exodus 7-9)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 7-9

Of Pharaoh we read, But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and stubborn and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said” (Exodus 7:13).

The stage is set for ten judgments identified as ten plagues sent by the Lord, the God of Israel, to gradually move the heart of Pharaoh to bow his stubborn will to the will of the LORD (7:14-12:36).

Today’s scripture reading identifies seven of the ten plagues that befell Pharaoh and Egypt in quick succession. The first three of the ten plagues envelopes the whole land of Egypt, affecting even the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived (7:19-8:19).  Starting with the fourth plague, the LORD “severs” the land of Goshen and spares His people from its sorrows.

Avoiding a long discourse, allow me to simply list the seven plagues that Pharaoh and Egypt suffered, remembering with each the king failed to humble his heart and set the Hebrews free.

1) Nile – water turned to blood; fish die (7:19-25)

2) Frogs and the stench of their dead carcasses (8:1-15)

3) Lice – most likely gnats or other biting insects (8:16-19)

4) Flies – Egypt is said to have biting “dog flies”; Israel is spared. (8:20-32)

5) A pestilence taking the lives of the Egyptian’s livestock (9:1-7)

6) Boils and blisters on man and beast in Egypt (9:8-12)

7) Hail and lightning destroying flax and barley crops in the fields (9:13-35)

Rather than closing today’s text with our focus on the hardened heart of Pharaoh; allow me to invite you to consider the character of Moses and his brother Aaron who stood in the LORD’s place before the king and delivered warnings of the plagues that would follow.  We read concerning Moses and Aaron:

Exodus 7:6-76 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old [80 years old], and Aaron fourscore and three years old [83 years old], when they spake unto Pharaoh.

Eighty years old and serving the LORD!  What an inspiration these men are; not because they were octogenarians (in their eighties), but because they were still doing everything “as the LORD commanded them” (7:6-7)!

Is there a lesson we should take from this?

Absolutely! The sum of a spiritual leader is not his academic credentials, but whether or not he has a heart for the LORD, is skilled in His Word, humble enough for God to use, and bold enough to unapologetically declare the Word of the LORD.

I fear many churches dismiss “silver-haired” saints in favor of “silver-tongued” youth.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Cares for You (Exodus 1-3)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 1-3

A period of change, especially in leadership, is a perilous time. Inexperienced leadership and a lack of appreciation for legacy and history invariably leads to decisions and course changes that are ill advised if not detrimental.

Such is the case in Exodus 1 when we read, Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation…Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:6, 8).

Joseph, a man gifted and blessed by God, providentially rose to become second to Pharaoh in Egypt (Genesis 41:40-43) and the tribes of Israel continued to prosper long after his death (Exodus 1:7-8).

The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph or regard the service he had rendered to Egypt; however, he recognized the population growth of the Israelites in the midst posed a threat to the nation (1:9-10).  Taking extreme measures to limit the growth and influence of the Hebrews, the king commanded a series of heinous steps to limit their population (1:11-22).

Exodus 2 introduces us to a remarkable event: A Hebrew infant adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:10). Reminded God is sovereign, infant Moses found favor in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and she, having compassion on him, employed Jochebed, the mother of Moses, to be his nurse (2:5-10).

The first 40 years of Moses’ life was that of an Egyptian prince who was favored with the finest education and training in his day (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22).  In spite of his privileges as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, the heart of Moses was knit with his Hebrew brethren. One day, incensed by an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses struck and killed the man (2:11-13).

Learning Pharaoh knew his crime (2:14-15), Moses fled Egypt into the wilderness where he spent the next 40 years of his life (2:16-22; Hebrews 11:24-27).  Humbling himself, Moses, the prince of Egypt accepted the humiliation of a hireling shepherd to a Midianite man named Reul (also named Jethro) whose daughter, Zipporah, he married and to whom two sons were born (Gershom – 2:22 and Eliezer– 18:4).

While Moses continued in the wilderness, his Hebrew brethren endured the sorrows and hardships of slavery.  When all hope seemed lost, we read, “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died” (Exodus 2:23) and “God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).

I wonder if Moses was content to live the rest of his life in the anonymity and solitude the wilderness afforded him.  I do not know the answer; however, I do know the LORD had not forgotten Moses or His people.  When the time was come, God called to him and Moses answered, “Here am I” (Exodus 3:4).

As the LORD gave Moses His plan for delivering His people out of Egypt, Moses said, “Who am I?”(Exodus 3:11).

Here is an important truth: It was not important who Moses was. What was important is Who was calling him to serve!

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14).

What a wonderful spiritual truth! After forty years of solitude in the wilderness, Moses was content to be a nobody; however, the LORD had a plan and a promise. The man who asked, “Who am I?” would realize his full potential as he put his faith in the LORD who called him!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Lived Like a Sinner, But He Died a Prince (Genesis 46-47)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 46-47

Today’s scripture reading follows the amazing news that Joseph is alive and rules in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh (Genesis 45:25-28).  Accepting Pharaoh’s gracious offer to provide refuge from the famine for his family (45:16-19), Joseph instructed his brothers to bring his father and their families to Egypt.

Setting his heart to journey to Egypt and be reunited with Joseph; Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) last stop before entering the Arabian Peninsula, the gateway to Egypt, was Beersheba (Genesis 46:1).  There he worshipped “the God of his father Isaac” and was assured the Lord’s covenant promises would follow his family into Egypt and they would one day be restored to their land (46:2-4).

One hundred and thirty years old, the sinful deceiving ways of his youth are past and the demeanor of the old man reflects the name he now bears, “Israel…Prince with God.” Jacob’s family roster, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, is recorded in Genesis 46:8-27.

Twenty-two years has passed since Jacob last embraced Joseph and their emotional reunion is described: “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while” (46:29). Preparing his father and brothers for their audience with Pharaoh, Joseph instructed them on their decorum in the great ruler’s court (46:31-34).

 

Genesis 47 records Pharaoh’s interview with Joseph, his father Israel (aka Jacob), and five of his brothers (47:1-10). 

Remembering Joseph was seventeen years old when his brethren sold him into slavery, God blessed him with his father’s presence another seventeen years after they were reunited in Egypt (47:28).  Knowing the end of his earthly sojourn was at hand, Israel summoned Joseph to his bedside (47:29-31) and humbly expressed one dying wish:

Genesis 47:29b-30 – “29 … If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30  But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace…”

Knowing Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) son was the second most powerful ruler in Egypt, he might have requested a stately funeral; instead, his final request reflected where his heart was…in the land the LORD promised would be the perpetual inheritance of his people (Genesis 12:1).

You and I have an appointment with death and we would do well to ponder where our heart and affections lie.  Egypt was the epicenter of pleasure and wealth in Jacob’s day, but the old man remembered he was a sojourner, a foreigner and his citizenship was in another place.  The same is true for every believer; Jesus promised His followers:

John 14:2-32  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Trust God, His Way is Perfect (Genesis 43-45)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 43-45

The famine continued in Canaan and Israel (aka Jacob) was forced to permit his sons, including his youngest son Benjamin, to return to Egypt to purchase more grain for their households (43:1-14).

Joseph, his identity still unknown to his brothers, was overjoyed to see his brother Benjamin (43:15-16) and invited his brothers to his home to dine (43:16-34). Ordering the head servant of his house to prepare lunch, he commanded his brothers be his guests (43:16-17).

Fearing the worse, Joseph’s brothers cowered at the thought of entering the home of the second most powerful ruler in Egypt, especially when they remembered the money for their previous purchase of grain had found its way into their sacks (43:18).  Unable to contain their fear, the brothers began confessing to Joseph’s servant their anxieties and were surprised to learn he had placed the money in their bags (43:19-23a).  To their amazement, Simeon who had been left behind in Egypt, was restored to his brothers (43:23b).

Speaking through his interpreter, Joseph greeted his guests and began to question them regarding their father’s welfare (43:26-27).  Fulfilling a vision God gave him in his youth, Joseph’s brothers bowed before him (43:28; 37:9-10).  Joseph, overcome with emotion,  fled to the privacy of his room where he wept for joy (43:30-31).

Continuing to hide his identity, Joseph sat apart from his brothers during the meal (43:32) as a ruler of Egypt was want to do.  Joseph’s brothers were amazed that he seated them according to their birth order and gave Benjamin, the youngest, a portion five times greater than his brothers (43:33-34).

Genesis 44

Having enjoyed the company of his brothers, Joseph ordered his steward to make ready their departure; this time, not only hiding their money in the grain sacks, but also his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack (44:1-3).

Sending his brothers away, Joseph soon ordered his servants to pursue, overtake, and accuse them of theft (44:4-12).  When Joseph’s silver cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, the brothers realized the seriousness of the discovery and were overcome with grief (43:13).  Falling on the ground in an act of humiliation, Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, confessed his conviction that the trials that had befallen him and his brothers was a recompense of God’s judgment for their sins (43:14-17).  Pleading for Benjamin to be spared lest his loss be a sorrow unto death for their father (44:18-32),  Judah requested that he, not Benjamin, would become Joseph’s slave (44:33-34).

Genesis 45

Joseph, unable to conceal his identity any longer, ordered his servants out of his presence and with tears of joy declared, “I am Joseph, whom ye sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:1-4).

Imagine the flood of emotions that passed over Joseph’s brothers!  Twenty-two years has passed, but the guilt and shame of their sin against their brother had not faded.  Stricken with guilt, fear, and disbelief; they wondered how this ruler of Egypt could be their brother?

Sensing their trepidation, Joseph assured his brothers their sin was sovereignly used by God to “send me before you to preserve life” (45:5-7).  Embracing his brothers with tears of joy, Joseph commanded them to return to Canaan and bring his father and their households to Egypt (45:8-15). When word reached Pharaoh’s palace (45:16), the king affirmed Joseph’s desire for his father and family to join him in Egypt (45:16-18).

Imagine old Israel’s (aka, Jacob’s) thoughts at the sight of a caravan coming out of Egypt.  Ponder the emotions that welled up in the patriarch when he was told, “Joseph is alive and rules second only to Pharaoh in Egypt!” (45:19-28)

Joseph’s life took a path he had not chosen; however, his faithfulness and faith in the LORD has carried him from the humiliation of a household slave and prisoner to the pinnacle of power and earthly success.  The LORD was with Joseph…and he is with you, if your walk is faith-based and Christ-centered.

Psalm 18:3030  As for God, His way [path] is perfect [complete; sound]: the word of the LORD is tried [tested; refined by fire]: he is a buckler [shield] to all those that trust [confide; take refuge] in him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Do You Call A Divine Appointment? – “Providence” (Genesis 38-40)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 38-40

The life of Joseph is a fascinating reading and a reminder that, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us!  Following the life of Joseph is akin to a spiritual rollercoaster…wonderful highs followed by events that would threaten to plunge most men into a slough of despair.

Joseph being sold into Slavery by His Brothers

Joseph was left without the nurturing love and care of his mother when she died giving birth to Benjamin, his youngest brother and the twelfth son of Jacob (Genesis 35:16-19).  Favored by his father (Genesis 37:3), Joseph’s brothers despised him and plotted his murder (37:19-24); eventually selling him to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair of life, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and he rose from a common slave to steward over his master’s household (37:36).   When his master’s wife falsely accused him of an indiscretion (39:1-18) and he was sentenced to prison (39:19-23), Joseph did not entertain an embittered spirit.

What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes when a man faces trials!

In prison, the Lord did not forget or forsake Joseph. We read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).

I do not know what trial or opportunities you and I will face today; however, I do know Christ’s departing promise to His followers: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Lord is Faithful (Genesis 30-31)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 30-31

Twelve sons of Jacob will be borne by his wives, Leah and Rachel, and their servants, Zilpah and Bilhah.  Twelve sons who are destined to be the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Knowing Leah was Jacob’s least favored wife, God blessed her and we read, the LORD “opened her womb” (29:31). Leah was confident the LORD had blessed her because of the “affliction” (29:32) and rejection she suffered (29:33).  She became the mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (29:31-35).

Rachel, provoked by envy (30:1), demanded Jacob give her a son by her servant Bilhah to whom was born Dan (30:1-6) and Naphtali (30:7-8).

To Zilpah, the maid servant of Leah, was born Gad and Asher (30:9-13).  God once again blessed Leah with two sons, Issachar and Zebulun (30:17-20) and a daughter she named Dinah (30:21).

Ten sons of Jacob were born in his household before the LORD answered Rachel’s prayers for a son.  Bearing the cultural shame of a barren wife, God opened Rachel’s womb and she conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s eleventh son whom she named Joseph (30:22-24). Later in our study of Jacob’s life, his beloved Rachel will die giving birth to his twelfth son whom he will name Benjamin (35:16-19).

With two wives, two handmaids, and eleven sons, a longing for home revived in Jacob’s heart and he stated his desire to return to his father’s household (30:25-26).  When Laban denied his request, Jacob struck a deal and evidencing a knowledge of husbandry, became a wealthy man with large flocks and herds (30:37-43).

The LORD commanded Jacob to depart for the land He had promised him for an inheritance (31:1-3). Unfortunately, rather than trust the LORD and announce his plans to leave, Jacob plotted and schemed to take flight without Laban’s knowledge (31:4-20).

Learning Jacob had departed, Laban pursued and overtook him (31:1-23).  Having been warned by God to not harm Jacob (31:24), Laban departs (31:25-55) as Jacob prepares to enter his homeland where he will soon face his brother Esau (32:1-3).

Jacob returns to Canaan; not a perfect man, but a man whose faith in the LORD has been magnified. The God of Abraham is his LORD.  As a young, faithless, self-willed, man he fled his father’s household with nothing; now he returns home a man of wealth whom God had blessed and prospered.  Not a promise of the LORD had failed.

I close with a prayer for you:

1 Peter 5:1010  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith