Tag Archives: dying nation

Israel, Behold Your King Cometh!

September 22, 2017

Scripture Reading – Amos 5-9

Remembering the distinction between Israel, the northern kingdom made up of ten tribes, and Judah, the southern kingdom consisting of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, Amos takes up the prophecy of the LORD against Israel in Amos 5.

God’s condemnation and exposure of Israel’s hypocrisy gives way to His lamentation over the judgment and sorrows that will soon come upon the people (5:1-3).   Though the heart of the nation was to do evil, nevertheless the LORD appealed to Israel to hear, heed and repent (5:4, 6, 8, 14-15)!

Amos names the sins of the nation…unjust and rejecting righteousness (5:7), hating bearers of truth (5:10), abusing the poor (5:11), afflicting the righteous and taking bribes (5:12).   Pronouncements of “Woe!” bring the chapter to a close (5:18-27).  The people had continued to make a pretense of outward conformity (5:21-22), but God knew their hearts and the prophet condemns their hypocrisy [note verse 23 – Even their songs had the character of noise].

Amos 6 continues the prophet’s declarations of “woes”, against Israel, identified as Samaria, and Judah, identified as Zion (6:1).  Identifying Philistine and Syrian cities that had fallen to the Assyrian army, Amos questioned if Israel and Judah were foolish enough to believe the same would not soon befall them? (5:2)

In spite of the clouds of doom on the horizon, the people continued to indulge themselves, resting on “beds of ivory”, eating “the lambs out of the flock”; entertaining themselves with music, drunkenness and reveling in pleasures till they were carried into captivity bearing the chains of slavery (6:4-7).

In Amos 7-8, the prophet states six prophetic visions; five of judgment and the 6th of the day God will establish His heavenly kingdom. 

The first judgment is of grasshoppers (Amos 7:1-3) – God planned to bring locusts to devour the people’s second harvest; however, God heard Amos’ plea for the people and the “LORD repented” [that does not mean God planned to do evil or changed His attitude toward the evil of His people; it means He is longsuffering and changed His mind after hearing the plea of His servant].

The second judgment is one of fire (Amos 7:4-6) – Fire drying up water is a picture of the drought God planned to bring against His people.  Once again, God heard the intercession of His prophet and “repented” (7:6).

The third judgment is the plumb line (Amos 7:7-9) – The plumb line is a tool used by a builder to make sure a wall is straight.  God’s plumb line of judgment is His Law.  Seeing the plumb line of God’s Law and Commandments and the failure of the people measured by the Law of God, Amos did not intercede for the nation.

Amos 7 reminds us faithful preachers who declare the Word of God often find themselves in conflict with government and religious authorities.

Jeroboam, the wicked king of Israel (the northern 10 tribes), appointed Amaziah to serve as “the priest of Bethel” and to offer sacrifices.  Hearing the words of Amos and his bold declaration of the prophecies of the LORD against Israel and the king, Amaziah counseled there was no place for Amos in Israel (7:10-11).   Rather than hearing and heeding the message God had given His prophet, both Amaziah and the king wanted the prophet silenced (7:12-13).   Rehearsing God’s call upon his life, Amos set his heart he would not be silent and boldly declared God’s judgment (7:14-17).

The fourth judgment is a picture of fruit harvested at the end of summer, expressing the imminent judgment of God (8:1-14).

The fifth and final judgment prophesied by Amos is a vision of a temple destroyed (most likely not the one in Jerusalem, but the idolatrous one established in Samaria) and worshippers slain in the destruction (Amos 9:1-10).

The words of Amos would come to pass.  Israel, the northern kingdom consisting of ten tribes, was the first taken captive, scattered “among all nations” and never to return to Canaan (9:9).   Judah, the southern kingdom consisting of Judah and Benjamin, is promised, “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob” (9:8).  Seventy years after Judah was taken captive, the people were allowed to return to their land, rebuild the temple and Jerusalem (9:11-15).

Amos 9 concludes with God’s promise to one day restore God’s people to their land and place upon the throne of David a legitimate heir. 

An observation as I close: A legitimate heir of David has not sat upon the throne of Israel since the time of the captivity to our day.  The Jews have returned to their homeland, but no king reigns in Israel.  When a legitimate heir of Israel sits on the throne of David He will be none other than Jesus Christ, Son of David, the Only begotten Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Woe to the Nation That Celebrates Perversity and Attacks Morality!

September 15, 2017

Scripture Reading – Amos 1-4

Borrowing the modern vernacular of politics, the prophet Amos was an outsider when God called him to deliver a word of prophecy against Judah and Israel (Amos 1:1).  He lived and worked in obscurity as a common herdsman with no political ties or religious lineage.   When God called him to prophecy, Israel and Judah were enjoying a season of peace and prosperity and the thought of God’s displeasure and judgment was far from them.

“Uzziah king of Judah” (1:1) presided over the southern kingdom and the nation maintained an outward form of worshipping the LORD (5:21-22); however, the hearts of the king and people were far from Him.  “Jeroboam the son of Joash” was king of Israel (1:1), the northern kingdom; making no pretense of worshipping the LORD, that nation built an altar in Bethel and offered sacrifices to a golden calf.

Amos, a layperson “who was among the herdmen of Tekoa” (1:1), was a courageous prophet.  With the word of the LORD upon his lips, he delivered a series of prophecies against six Gentile nations: Syria, identified as Damascus (1:3-5)… Philistia, identified by its principal cities, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (1:6-8)… Tyre (1:9-10)… Edom (1:11-12)… Ammon (1:13-15)… and Moab (2:1-3) all were warned the judgment of God was imminent.

Turning his focus from the six Gentile nations, Amos warned Judah the nation would be judged “because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments” (2:4).

Amos then declared the sins and wickedness of the kingdom of Israel and warned the nation would suffer God’s judgment (2:6-16).  Lest any doubt the grace and longsuffering of God, the prophet reminded the nation how the LORD had brought them out of Egypt (2:9) and given them the land of the Amorites (2:9-10).  God sent prophets, but the people said, “Prophesy not” (2:12).

In chapter 3 Amos prophesied reminding the people the LORD had chosen the “children of Israel” (meaning both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah) as His people and made Himself known to them (3:1-2).  Israel, however, rejected the LORD and He set Himself against them saying, “I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:1).

Adding to the Israel’s humiliation, God commanded Amos to summon two Gentile nations, Ashdod, a Philistine city, and Egypt to witness God’s judgment against Israel (whose capital was Samaria).  A sad commentary on the deception of sin is the condemnation: For they know not to do right, saith the LORD” (3:10).

How did the nation to whom the LORD had revealed Himself, His Law and Commandments come to this?  How could they be so blind they lost sense and discernment of right and wrong?

Warning: Here is the beguiling way of sin and wickedness.  When a people make light of God’s Truth, trivialize and rationalize sin, eventually their hearts becomes desensitized to wickedness, they no longer know how to do right.  Perhaps an oversimplification, but I believe an accurate one:  Israel had strayed so far from God’s law the people no longer had “common sense”—they had no sense of right (3:10).

My friend, the same condemnation is true of our beloved United States!

The lunacy of atheism coupled with the perversity of humanism is so entrenched in government, education, religion and media it has crippled our judgment as a society.   Having rejected God and His Laws, our moral judgment as a nation is twisted and perverted and we “know not to do right” (3:10).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Please Pray: God sometimes calls a nation to repent through natural cataclysmic events.

September 8, 2017

Scripture Reading – Joel 1-3

I found today’s scripture reading especially graphic in light of the devastating blow suffered by Houston from Hurricane Harvey and the path of destruction Hurricane Irma is leaving as she makes her way across the Caribbean and towards South Florida today.  Adding to the calamity in our region of the world is the news of a major earthquake in southern Mexico this morning.

A novice reader of the Bible recognizes the prophet Joel is writing about a national disaster in terms that are symbolic, nevertheless powerful.  Joel is describing the “Day of the LORD” (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14) and the impending judgment of God against Judah.

The Book of Joel describes three catastrophic invasions.  The enemy in Joel 1 is a natural enemy…a plague of locusts that destroys the crops leaving both men and beasts starving (1:7, 10-12, 16-20).

The enemy in Joel 2 is the impending invasion by the armies of Assyria (2:1-27) described in verse 20 as “the northern army” (or the army to the north).   Joel was to sound the alarm, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion” (2:1)… warn Judah an enemy was coming.  Describing the swath of destruction, Joel warns, “the day of the LORD cometh…A day of darkness and of gloominess…a fire devoureth before them…before their face the people shall be much pained” (2:1-6).

Why? Why was the LORD bringing this upon Judah?  That the people might turn…to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (2:12-13).  Reminding the nation the LORD is “gracious and merciful” (2:13), Joel called upon Judah to repent of her sins and turn to the LORD.

Joel prayed for a national revival:  “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children…17  Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (2:16-17).

Knowing the LORD is gracious and merciful, Joel promised if the people repented, God would restore the nation, bless the land and “restore to you the years that the locust have eaten…26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (2:18-26).

Joel 3 is a future event…the regathering of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem (3:1) and the Gentile nations gathering against Israel (3:2) in what I believe is the final battle…Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).   Remembering the ill-treatment suffered by the Jews down through the centuries (3:3-8),  the LORD promises to make war against the Gentiles (3:9-17).   Two Gentile nations are specifically named for destruction… “Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah” (3:19).   Egypt representing that great nation south of Israel and Edom the Arab nations to the north and east of Israel.

I close today’s devotional commentary with a personal observation as one who lives in the path of a hurricane the mayor of Miami describes as “epic”.   In a few days, after the storms have passed and the toll on life and property is assessed, there will be a national debate bordering on hysteria about the cause of these massive storms.   Some of the discussion will be sensible and scientific; however, media bias and liberal politicians will beat their drums and bewail “Climate Change” and reproach humanity as the cause.

A mere handful might dare broach the Biblical and historical reality God often calls a people to repent of their sin through natural cataclysmic events.

I am not suggesting the devastation suffered by Houston, the Caribbean and the potential of suffering in Florida from Hurricane Irma is the judgment of God.   However, I will confess the United States has turned from God, His Laws and precepts.

America is guilty of gross sins…the negligence of justice; the celebration of gross immorality; and the deaths of 60 million infants.  Of such a people we read, “for blood it defileth [corrupts; pollutes] the land [earth; country]: and the land cannot be cleansed [purged; atoned; forgiven] of the blood that is shed therein” (Numbers 35:33).

Pray for Texas, Florida and our nation to turn back to the LORD.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Millennials and their “Temper Tantrums” Are Threatening to Destroy the United States!

I once again have the privilege of preaching and teaching God’s Word in Hillsdale’s 10:30 AM and 6:00 PM services this Sunday.   I am continuing my series in Genesis titled “Lessons on Faith from the Life of Abraham” in the evening service.

I am in the midst of a Sunday morning series titled “The Commandments of the LORD” and my focus this Sunday is on the 5th Command:

“Honour [glorify; boast] thy father and thy mother: that thy days [time; years] may be long [lengthened; prolonged; draw out; endure] upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

Never one to shy away from difficult and controversial subjects, I plan to make some relevant observations regarding this Millennial generations’ penchant for throwing what one dear saint observed is nothing more than “Temper Tantrums”.

For nearly 50 years, America has made idols of her children and we are beginning to reap the consequences.  Parents of my generation failed to teach their children to “Honor thy father and thy mother” and now they are creating chaos and threatening anarchy!

This is the generation that was kicking and screaming in WalMart’s toy aisle, except now they are screaming in the public square.

This is the generation that was not taught to respect authority, to be quiet and listen…now they are shouting down every voice they don’t want to hear and willing to shed blood and destroy the lives of any who get in their way.

I have a prophetic warning for this nation and our politicians: 

Continue to capitulate to the demands and temper tantrums of this generation and they will not stop with demanding the removal of monuments they dislike… They will eventually silence and eliminate the voices and people who stand in the way of their demands.

I invite you to join me at Hillsdale this Sunday as I exhort parents to teach their children and challenge children to “Honor thy father and thy mother”.

For those who follow this years’ scripture reading schedule and my daily devotional commentary, the following are readings scheduled for today and Sunday:

Saturday – Scripture Reading – Gospel of John 7-9

Sunday – Scripture Reading – 2 Timothy 1-2

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2-17 – Travis D. Smith

Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Hosea 1-7

Today’s scripture reading is the first seven chapters of the Book of Hosea, written by Hosea, the first of the “minor prophets”.  There is general agreement among scholars that Hosea’s public ministry spanned 58 years beginning in 748 B.C. and continuing to 690 B.C., concluding just prior to Assyria conquering Israel and leading the people away into captivity.

As God’s prophet, Hosea was tasked with the responsibility of preaching to the northern ten tribes known as Israel.  Having rejected God’s commandments, the rebellious nation had turned to worshipping and sacrificing to idols.  The Book of Hosea records the ministry of one faithful man who courageously warned his nation of God’s imminent judgment should they continue in their wickedness and rebellion.

Hosea 1 opens with a disconcerting command; comparing the spiritual condition of Israel to whoredom, the LORD illustrated His unfailing love for Israel and commanded Hosea to take a prostitute named Gomer as his wife (Hosea 1:2).  Gomer would bear three children of Hosea; a son named Jezreel (meaning “God scatters” – 1:4), a daughter named Loruhamah (meaning “love withdrawn” – 1:6), and another son named Loammi (meaning “not my people” – 1:9).  The names of Hosea’s children conveyed the spiritual condition of the nation and their estranged relationship with the LORD.

Hosea 3 uses the prophet’s scandalous marriage to Gomer, a prostitute, as a parallel portrait of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.  In spite of Hosea’s tender love for his wife, she left him and returned to prostitution (Hosea 3:1), in the same manner Israel left the LORD and committed spiritual whoredom with the gods of her pagan neighbors.

Illustrating the LORD’s longsuffering and compassion for Israel in spite of her spiritual harlotry, the LORD commanded Hosea to take Gomer back as his wife (Hosea 3:2 states he purchased her out of prostitution for “fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley” (3:2).  Taking back his adulterous wife and promising to restore their marriage covenant (3:3), Hosea demonstrated God’s unconditional love and compassion for wayward Israel.

Hosea 4 paints a picture of a nation that is in the midst of a precipitous moral decline.  Preaching the “word of the LORD”, Hosea declared “there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood” (4:1-2).

Hosea confronted priests who had failed the people as spiritual leaders warning, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).

God turned the nation’s “glory into shame” and warned, “I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (4:9);  “they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD” (4:10).

What a tragic time!  In the hour the nation was desperate for a clarion call to repent and turn back to God, the spiritual leaders were themselves engrossed in wickedness (4:6-11).  They had failed the people and doomed the nation!

Hosea warned Israel the opportunity to repent and turn back to the LORD was fleeting and the nation would soon fall victim to an enemy described as a “thief” (7:1).  “Strangers have devoured his strength…yet he knoweth not” (Hosea 7:9) describes the decline of the nation.  As the clouds of judgment approached, rather than return to the LORD, the nation appealed to Egypt to save her from Assyria (7:11-16).

On a practical and personal note, the annual readership of this devotional blog is read by citizens of some 170 nations, many of who are following the spiritual and moral decline of America in the news and from their own vantage point.  President Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” resonated with the populist of America when he was elected November 2016; however, I know of no politician who has addressed the core issue of this nation’s decline…SIN!

The spiritual harlotry of Israel and the failure of her spiritual leaders to confess and confront the sins of the nation should serve as a warning to America’s spiritual leaders.  Sadly, a generation of preachers fill the pulpits of America’s churches and Christian schools who are failing to, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).   Fulfilling the apostle Paul’s dire warning, the 21st century church has become a people who “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

The founding fathers of these United States were well aware the greatest danger to America’s future as a nation would be her own internal struggles.  Sounding more like a prophet than a politician, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, warned:  “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Justice Falters When The Ungodly Sit In Judgment”

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 19

Today’s devotional commentary is from Proverbs 19 and focuses on one proverb from the chapter, Proverbs 19:28.

Proverbs 19:28  “An ungodly witness [i.e. false witness given in court] scorneth [mocks] judgment [justice; due process]: and the mouth [speech] of the wicked [ungodly; morally wrong; guilty] devoureth [swallows up; destroys] iniquity [sin; wickedness; trouble].

Once the envy of the world, America’s judicial system is compromised by lawmakers who have no moral compass, law enforcement who sometimes show a lack of restraint, lawyers who distort matters of law, judges who have no interest in justice and a citizenry that encumbered with a seared conscience and openly scorns moral absolutes!

Lies, deceit and distortions have become the modus operandi of American politics and the distinct lines of right and wrong erased by a nation that tolerates injustice and is intolerant of God’s Laws.   The innocent suffer when a judicial system tolerates lies, encourages compromise, exacts injustice and rewards criminal behavior.

Are you wondering what is happening to America?  Why is our nation decaying spiritually, morally and financially?  Why corruption and violence are tearing the fabric of our society?

You need look only at who is in authority:

Proverbs 29:2  “When the righteous [just; lawful] are in authority [lit. grow great; are many; increase], the people [nation] rejoice [joyful; cheers; happy]: but when the wicked [immoral; ungodly; lawbreakers] beareth rule [have dominion; govern; reign], the people mourn [sighs; groans; sorrows].”

 There is little hope for America until “We the people” elect leaders who are good, honest and upright. 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Daniel: A Model of Godly Character, Integrity and Courage”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Daniel 1-6

Today’s scripture reading challenges me to an impossible task—to write a brief devotional commentary for one of the great prophetic books in the Bible and cover in one reading a passage of scripture (Daniel 1-6) that consumed me for 14 weeks when I preached through the Book of Daniel in 2014.

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic panorama of human history, beginning with the days of Nebuchadnezzar and ancient Babylon and encompassing a prophetic vision of world empires that would follow…Medo-Persians, Greece and Rome.  Daniel’s writing include prophecies that are for the 21st century reader a footnote in history past and a foretelling of future events that conclude with the Second Coming of Christ.

Daniel 1 opens with a straightforward, historical fact…the children of Judah are in bondage in Babylon and the beloved city of Jerusalem and the temple will soon be laid waste.  The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah’s kings if the people did not repent of their sin and turn to the LORD, His wrath would rise “against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).  Jeremiah prophesied the captivity in Babylon would last for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:12) and when those years were “accomplished at Babylon [God] will visit you… causing you to return to this place [the promise land] (Jeremiah 29:10).

The prophet Daniel has been a favorite of children for millenniums.  Only a youth, perhaps no more than 13-14 years old when chosen, taken from his home and family and transported to Babylon with its strange language and idolatrous culture, Daniel proved he was a child of faith from the beginning of his training in Babylon.   Numbered with three other Jewish youth who proved they were children of conviction, we read of Daniel:

Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed [pledged; determined; made a decree] in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

“Daniel purposed”, he pledged his heart and resolved in his character, “he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).   What courage!   What conviction!   What passion!  God blessed Daniel and providentially gave him “favour and tender love with the prince [chief] of the eunuchs [the servants of the king]” (Daniel 1:9).   As you will see in your reading of Daniel 1-6, the testing of Daniel’s faith in his youth prepared his heart for the opportunities, challenges and trials he would face in his service to the kings of Babylon and Persia.

Daniel 5 gives us a historical record of Babylon’s fall in 536 B.C. to Darius, king of the Medo-Persian Empire (5:30-31).   Daniel 6 gives us insight into the civil government of ancient Persia (6:1-3).   Once again God honored Daniel and, though in his 80’s, king Darius made him second only to himself in power and position (6:2-3).

I close with an observation of three qualities found in Daniel’s life that every Christian should emulate.   The first, Daniel had “an excellent spirit” (Daniel 6:3). Rather than a grumpy old man, his spirit and character was exemplary.

The second, Daniel was a “faithful”, trustworthy servant (6:4).  When his enemies plotted to destroy him, the only accusation they could bring against him was his devotion to God (6:5-9).    Finally, Daniel’s love and devotion for God was so great he was willing to die rather than sacrifice his times of prayer with the LORD (6:10).

Dare To Be A Daniel (by Philip P. Bliss)

Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith