Tag Archives: Evil

God’s Call to Holiness

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

After addressing the issue of leprosy (Leviticus 13-14), the opening verse of Leviticus 16 reminds us of a tragedy that occurred in the priesthood when two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1) and were slain for their sin against the LORD (Leviticus 10:2).

Reminding us the office of high priest was a holy office and Aaron’s ministry before the LORD on behalf of the people was a sacred duty; the LORD instructs Moses the high priest was only to enter the holy place, the “holy of holies”, once a year (16:2) on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).   The Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” and the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar and was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for nation’s sins against God.

The pattern of blood sacrifices was necessary to remind all sinners the penalty of sin is death and there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shedding of blood, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Once a year and every year, the high priest offered sacrifices for the sins of the people.  Under the new covenant, this annual ritual is no longer needed following Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for sin, His burial and resurrection from the dead. We read in the Book of Hebrews,

Hebrews 9:24-28 – “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25  Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Leviticus 17 continues the LORD’s instructions to Moses concerning sacrifices the priests were to offer for the people before the door of the tabernacle.   Thirteen times in chapter 17 the centrality of blood sacrifices for sin is mentioned and explicit instructions are given regarding the offerings to the LORD, including the prohibition regarding the consumption of blood (17:10-14).   For those curious regarding the meaning of “Kosher” meats; they are meats derived from animals slaughtered and the blood drained according to Biblical guidelines.

Morality and the sanctity of marriage is the subject of Leviticus 18:1-30 and one that should be a subject of teaching in the 21st century church.   Several moral issues are addressed including the prohibition of incest (18:6-19), adultery (18:20; Exodus 20:14), homosexuality (18:22), and bestiality (18:23).

The wicked immoral practices the people might remember from Egypt and the immorality that might observe in the new land were prohibited.  In other words, the world was not to be the standard of God’s people in conduct and lifestyle.  Israel was to not follow in the ways of Egypt and Canaan (Leviticus 18:3; 24-29).  The LORD commanded His people, “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God” (18:4).  Excommunication from fellowship and living among the people was the judgment against any who chose to walk contrary to the law and commandments (18:29).

Friend, there was a time the church and God’s people set the moral standard for these United States and defined a godly lifestyle according God’s Word, law and commandments.   It troubles me to observe the average Christian home in America has an appetite for the world and looks to society, politicians, judges, and liberal media for their moral judgments.  Our homes, churches and schools will not be blessed until we allow our consciences to be disciplined by God’s Word, law and commandments (18:30).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Workshop”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 10

The following study is taken in part from my devotional commentary post on the Book of Proverbs dated December 10, 2014.

Today’s study in proverbs features what I will call three “stand alone proverbs” – three proverbial statements of “Uncommon Common Sense” communicating three distinct observations.

Proverbs 10:15  “The rich man’s wealth [property; possessions; savings] is his strong city [a fortified city]: the destruction [ruin; dismay; terror] of the poor [needy; helpless] is their poverty.”

“You didn’t build that!”, was an adage employed by liberal politicians in the 2012 election cycle in the United States.   Hoping to stir up class envy, the statement taunted the successful while dismissing the sacrifices and risks taken by employers and business owners.  I accept the statement if the intent is to acknowledge divine providence; however, an ideology that taunts hardworking entrepreneurs, spawns an expansive welfare state, inevitably makes citizens debtors and slaves of big government.   How tragic!   While excoriating the successful, the poor are left weak, dependent and one crisis from destitution!

Proverbs 10:15 is a statement of fact—a rich man finds comfort and security in his wealth.   In the same way citizens of a medieval city found refuge behind the walls of a city, a rich man finds security in riches providentially provided to him by God.   By contrast, the working poor are often a crisis away from desperation (an incentive to be a “saver” and not a “spender” or “debtor”).

Proverbs 10:16 – “The labour  [wages; reward] of the righteous [just; law-abiding] tendeth to life [strength; satisfaction]: the fruit [result; reaping] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] to sin [punishment; i.e. leads to greater sin].”

Though the curse of sin left man laboring for food by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19),  the reward of an honest day’s labor brings its own satisfaction.   I am not sure who to credit with the quote, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”; however, there is a lot of truth in that statement.   The prevalence of depression in our society is, I believe, directly related to the gross amount of leisure time we enjoy as a society.  Too few of us come to the end of a day and enjoy the reward of having accomplished anything that is lasting!

Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth [heeds] instruction: but he that refuseth reproof [refuses to hear and heed correction] erreth.”

Solomon continues a common theme in verse 17—God blesses a man who heeds correction and rebuke; however, a rebel will inevitably follow a path to his own destruction.

As Solomon challenged his son to take the path of righteousness, it is the duty and responsibility of parents and spiritual leaders to challenge men and women with the same enduring truths from God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2)!

Two questions to ponder: What path are you taking?  Is your heart open to correction? 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“The Path And Ways Of A Floozy”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 5-6

Our scripture reading for today is Proverbs 5-6; however, my focus for this devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 5:3-6.  As a reminder, my www.heartofashepherd.com site is host to my devotional commentary on the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 5 addresses a salacious subject—the strange woman (5:3-6) and is an appropriate subject in a day when some of the leading voices of women boast they are “dirty women”.

 The raunchy nature of our society has not only made women the objects of vulgarity, but has diminished their role as the purveyors of grace and innocence.  As wife and mother, womanhood has served humanity as the bulwark of human civility.   However, the 21st century woman embodied in the likes of Madonna, Ashley Judd and Miley Cyrus, are racing for the extremity of debauchery.   Abdicating the God-given roles that were her strengths, she has diminished her influential virtues—this in the name of liberation!

Ponder Solomon’s warning to his son concerning the “strange woman”.

Proverbs 5:3-5 – “For the lips [conversation] of a strange woman  [adulterous]  drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil [full of flattery]But her end [the end of the adulterous woman] is bitter as wormwood [cursed], sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet [path] go down to death; her steps take hold on hell [the path to hell].”

 Proverbs 5:6 – “Lest thou shouldest ponder [consider] the path of life, her ways [adulterous woman] are moveable [uncertain; wander], that thou canst not know [understand; discern] them.”

Solomon warns his son, the path of an adulterous floozy is aimless and her ways mesmerizing.  She flatters and her words are sweet as a honeycomb (Proverbs 7:13-20), but they are poison to the fool who believes them.

Fools believe they are the exception to the consequences of sin.  I assure you that breaking God’s commandments regarding the sin of adultery (Exodus 20:14, 17) will lead you down a path of self-destruction.  Indeed, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) and adultery is no exception—death of a marriage, family, career, reputation and friendship.

What?  You say the pornographic nature of your sin is on your computer in the privacy of your home and no one will get hurt?

Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

 Heed Paul’s exhortation and “Flee also youthful lusts…” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Having a midlife crisis?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 10-13

With the Temple built and his palace and homes finished, Solomon became an international sensation in 1 Kings 10 when we read, “the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions” (10:1).  Solomon’s wisdom, the wealth and splendor of his kingdom, and God’s blessings became known far and wide.

There are many fables and legends that surround the visit of the Queen of Sheba; however, this is a devotional commentary and we will consider the only reputable source we have…the Word of God (1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1; Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).

The kingdom of Sheba is believed to have been in the southern end of the Arabian peninsula known today as Yemen.  The Queen had received news of the remarkable wisdom of Solomon and the wonders of his kingdom and set upon a journey from her kingdom in the south to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel in the north.  Rather than travel via ship on the Red Sea, the scriptures indicate she came with a “very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (10:2a).

The purpose of the queen’s visit is summed up in this, “she communed with him of all that was in her heart” (10:2b).  Whatever questions she proposed to Solomon, he was able to answer (10:3).  She was amazed at the beauty of all he had built (10:4), the splendor of the meals served in his palace, his boundless wisdom, the rich raiment worn by his servants (10:5) and their privilege to serve a king of such wisdom (10:6-8).   1 Kings 10:10-13 records the wealth the queen bestowed on Solomon as well as the gifts he bequeathed to her out of his royal treasury.

The lavish wealth of the king’s palace, the tributes paid to him by other nations, his shields of gold, his throne made of ivory and overlaid with gold (10:18-20), gold vessels and exotic animals, chariots and champion horses are all detailed (10:21-29).

The grandeur of Solomon’s kingdom is tarnished when we read in 1 Kings 11, “Solomon loved many strange women” (11:1).  Disregarding the LORD’s admonition concerning the danger of wives who worship “after their gods” (11:2), Solomon’s “wives turned away his heart” (11:3).

The king’s sins provoked God’s wrath (11:9) and his family and nation suffered for his apostasy (11:10-13).  Israel became a troubled nation with enemies without (i.e. Pharaoh and Egypt – 11:14-25) and enemies within (i.e. Jeroboam, a “mighty man of valour” who Solomon recognized too late as a threat to his kingdom – 11:26-40).   Jeroboam fled Israel into Egypt where he stayed until Solomon died and “Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead” (11:40-43).

Learning that Solomon was dead (12:1-2), Jeroboam returned to Israel and petitioned king Rehoboam on behalf of the tribes of Israel that the heavy burden of taxation and servitude placed upon the people by Solomon’s ambitious construction projects be lightened (12:3-4).  Rehoboam, though having the advantage of his father Solomon’s wise men as his counselors (12:6-7), foolishly dismissed them and heeded the advice of his peers who stoked his pride and ambition (12:8-11) setting in motion a rebellion that divided the kingdom (12:12-33).

1 Kings 13 gives the history of a divided Israel, the ten tribes of the north rebelling against Rehoboam and ceding from his reign as king.  The rebellious tribes followed Jeroboam into idolatry and all manner of sin and wickedness (13:1-34).

I invite you to consider in closing the great and tragic end of Solomon’s reign.  The wisest man who ever lived, when he was old, disobeyed the LORD.   “His heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4) and he “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (11:6).  Notice the statement concerning Solomon in 1 Kings 11:4, “it came to pass, when Solomon was old.

Old enough to know better!  Old enough to not play a fool!  Old enough to understand the consequences of sin, wicked choices on himself and his family.

Sadly, there is a great possibility someone reading this devotional commentary is doing the same.  Some might call it a “mid-life crisis”.  Call it what you will; however, if you fail to abide in God’s Word, saturate your heart with spiritual principles, and sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word; it may one day be said of you, “when he was old…his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“A Reason To Be Wary Of Liberties Some Leaders Champion”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 2-3

Today’s scripture reading is Proverbs 2-3; however, the focus for this devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 2:12-13.

In today’s devotional, Solomon advises his son that godly wisdom will induce him to be wary of two enemies of youthWicked men and their influence (Proverbs 2:12-15) and the Adulterous woman and her ways (Proverbs 2:16-19).  For the sake of brevity, I will focus on two of the four proverbs that serve as warnings concerning wicked men.

Proverbs 2:12-13 – “To deliver [rescue; save] thee from the way [path; course of life] of the evil man [wicked], from the man that speaketh [tell; say] froward things [lies and perverseness]; 13 Who leave [forsake; abandon; depart from; loosen] the paths [way; manner; race; troop] of uprightness, to walk in the ways [path; course of life] of darkness [i.e. ignorance; sorrow];”

Preparing his son who will one day serve the nation as king, Solomon exhorts him to embrace godly wisdom and allow righteous discernment to set the course of his life.  Godly wisdom, the wisdom God alone imparts from His Word, directs youth to not only recognize the character of the ungodly, but turn from their counsel [i.e. “froward things”].

Wicked counsel often comes from those who, to borrow an old expression, “should know better”.  Solomon exhorts his son, be cautious of those who once knew and appeared to follow the “paths of uprightness” but have departed (2:13).  The Apostle Paul challenged Timothy with a similar admonition when he wrote that the last days would be “perilous” because there would be some who have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).

A personal observation: Our churches, Bible colleges and seminaries are heavily influenced by a host of men and women who hurl the “legalist” label at those who choose to take what I define as the “higher road”.

This generation of Christian leaders has focused on “Liberty” to indulge “grey areas” previous generations of Christians steered from out of concern for passions they might induce and the influence they carried.  In their pursuit of the more “enlightened life”, many Christian leaders have become advocates of driving near the cliff edge as opposed to steering far from danger.  They have become what Solomon cautioned—those who have forsaken the paths of the upright only to “walk in the way of darkness” (2:13).

Be careful my friend; the tantalizing “Liberties” you trifle with today can enslave and traumatize your children tomorrow.

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

“Chickens Invariably Come Home to Roost!”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 15-19

2 Samuel 14 concluded with David being induced to bring his wayward son Absalom back to Jerusalem (14:1-14).   Discerning Joab, his trusted advisor, had contrived a woman’s fictional tale (14:15-20), the king accepted his counselor’s flawed inducement to bring Absalom home (14:21-23).  Regardless of his good-intentions, the king’s decision set in motion an unfolding of events that proved tragic for David and the nation when he refused to receive Absalom upon his return to Jerusalem (14:24).

Absalom soon became the favorite of the people (14:25-27); however, his banishment from his father’s household inflamed his angry, rebellious spirit (14:28-33).  Absalom soon used his celebrity in Jerusalem to garner the affection of the people, setting in motion events that encouraged a rebellious uprising and David’s flight out of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:1-30).  David soon realized the breadth of the conspiracy against him when he learned one of his trusted advisors, Ahithophel, was one of Absalom’s counselors (15:31-34).

David received news from Ziba, a servant of Mephibosheth, the surviving son of Jonathon and grandson of Saul whom David had honored and enriched when he became king (2 Samuel 9:6), that his master (Mephibosheth) hoped to seize upon Absalom’s rebellion as an opportunity for him to ascend to the throne (2 Samuel 16:1-3).

Heaping shame upon shame, Shimei, a relative of Saul, the former king, cursed David and cast stones at David as he fled Jerusalem (2 Samuel 16:5-14).

Ahithopel revealed the depth of bitterness in his heart toward David when he counseled Absalom to disgrace his father by going into David’s harem and lying with his concubines (16:15-22).  For a time, as it often seems with the enemies of God’s people, it seemed Ahitophel’s counsel would stand unchallenged (16:23).

Hushai, a trusted friend of David and a spy in Absalom’s household (2 Samuel 15:23-37), worked to undermine Ahitophel’s counsel and turn it against him (2 Samuel 17:1-14).   Ahitophel recognized Absalom’s decision to heed Hushai’s advise and pursue David and his men would prove disastrous, went to his home and hanged himself (17:22-23) rather than suffer the shame of falling into the hands of David and his men.

David mustered his men to go to battle against Absalom and those who were confederate with him in 2 Samuel 18.  In spite of the great harm Absalom had committed against his father and Israel, David interceded that his generals would, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom” (18:5).

Setting the armies in array against one another, the veteran generals and soldiers with David were victorious, slaying 20,000 men (18:6-8) and giving cause for Absalom to flee the battle where he was slain by Joab (18:9-17) contrary to the king’s orders.  When news of the victory came to David (18:18-28), rather than ask concerning the welfare of his generals, David requested news of Absalom’s welfare (18:29-32). Learning Absalom had died, David wept over his son saying, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33).

Receiving news that David’s response to the victory was overwhelming sorrow for Absalom, Joab rebuked the king and reminded him of the shame and sorrow his son had wrought against him and Israel (19:1-6).  Heeding Joab’s counsel (19:7-8), David gave the people an opportunity to come together and bring him back to Jerusalem as their king (19:9-15).

Evidencing he was a man after God’s “own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), David extended grace and amnesty to the men who joined Absalom in the uprising.  When Shimei humbled himself before the king, David even spared him, the man who had cursed him when he fled the city,  (19:16-23).

Mephibosheth, knowing his servant Ziba, had slandered him and given David an impression he was disloyal to the king during the uprising, sought an audience with the king to declare his loyalty (19:24-30).

David also honored the men who had come to his aid in the midst of the uprising (19:31-40). The closing verses of 2 Samuel 19 (verses 41-43) give insight into the reality that, although David was returning to reign as king, all was not well in Israel.  Strife rose between Judah and the other tribes in Israel, even as they accompanied David to Jerusalem.

We have begun to see the fulfilling of Nathan’s prophesies that David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah would have far-reaching consequences (2 Samuel 12:9-12).  Sadly, the fulfillment of those consequences will haunt David the rest of his life.

An old adage states, “Chickens Invariably Come Home to Roost”; such is the same with sin…its consequences are unavoidable.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith