Tag Archives: Evil

Innocence Lost (Genesis 34)

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 33-34, Psalm 13, and Matthew 13.  Our devotional is from Genesis 34.

One wonders if Shakespeare, the great English playwright, did not take his inspiration for “Romeo and Juliet” from today’s love tragedy found in Genesis 34.

The desire for popularity and acceptance is universal among youth.  No matter the culture, the teen years breed a mix of excitement and danger.  Independence, new life experiences, physical growth, raging hormones…and temptations before one’s values are grounded shadow the teen years.

Genesis 34 is a story of opposites attracting and the all-too-often tragic ending.  It is the stuff of love novels…lust, sex, bitterness, revenge, and murder.

Now Jacob was the father of eleven sons (the twelfth son, Benjamin, not yet born) and at least one daughter named Dinah, the central figure in Genesis 34.  The sons of Jacob were chronologically in their late teens to early 20’s in this chapter.

Perpetual strife and jealousies filled Jacob’s home brought on by his having sons of four different wives and concubines.  Growing up in the midst was Dinah, Jacob’s daughter born to Leah, his less favored wife (Gen. 30:21; 34:1).  Dinah’s wandering ways and her involvement with Shechem, a Canaanite prince, introduced into Jacob’s home the first great sorrow upon his return to Canaan.

A wealthy and powerful man (Genesis 33), Jacob made the fateful decision to live in the land among the heathen, a choice that had far-reaching consequences for his household.  Dinah, perhaps no more than 13-15 years old, decided to “spread her wings” and “went out [from her father’s household] to see the daughters of the land” (Genesis 34:1).  Young, beautiful, innocent and naive, Dinah was taken by “Shechem the son of Hamor” and “defiled” (34:2).

Hearing the news, Jacob waited until his sons came from the fields to tell them how Dinah had fallen prey to Shechem’s lust (34:5-7).  Pretending to save face and make peace, the decision was made for Dinah to become Shechem’s wife and the sons and daughters of Jacob’s and Hamor’s households to become one on the condition that Hamor’s men accepted circumcision (34:8-16).

Hamor accepted the stipulation and convinced the men of his household to accept the rite of circumcision, reasoning they would inevitably be enriched by Jacob’s possessions (34:20-23).

The circumcision of Harmor’s household was a ruse by Jacob’s sons who were bent on revenge (34:25-29).  Knowing the men would be incapacitated, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s full brothers, attacked Hamor’s household, killing the men (34:25-26).  Their brothers, Jacob’s other sons, joined them claiming the wives and possessions of the city for spoil.

Genesis 34 ends with Jacob rebuking Simeon and Levi (34:30).  The brothers; however, defended their lies, murder, and pillaging for spoils as honorable acts in light of their sister’s shame (34:31).  On his death-bed, Jacob would remember their sins against them (Genesis 49:5-7).

Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Believer, Wonder Why the Wicked Are in Authority? Look in the Mirror! (Psalm 12)

Psalm 12:8 – The wicked [immoral; criminal] walk on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless]men are exalted [raised up; high].”

The historical context of Psalm 12 is uncertain; however, it was a desperate time for the nation of Israel. This author is of the opinion the psalm was written when Saul was king and David was witnessing the decline and decay of the nation.

Of course, we need only put this psalm in an immediate context to ponder the same dilemma for our nation and world.  How do vile men and women of immoral passions come to occupy positions of power and influence in the world?  Why are the wicked of our day so embolden in their sin?  How long will the LORD abide the sins of the wicked?

The answer to those questions is found in the first verse of Psalm 12 where David prays,

Psalm 12:1– “Help [deliver; save; avenge], LORD; for the godly man [saint] ceaseth  [come to an end]; for the faithful [true; people of faith; believers]fail [disperse; disappear]from among the children of men.”

Why were the ungodly emboldened in their sin and promoted?  (Psalm 12:8)

Because godly men were either silent or had themselves ceased from following the LORD and walking in righteousness (12:1). The righteous had failed and their retreat and absence in public discourse permitted the promotion of the ungodly (12:1b, 8).

Notice the character of the ungodly in verses 2 and 4.

Psalm 12:2 – “They [the ungodly] speak [say; declare] vanity [deceit; evil]every one with his neighbor [friend; companion]: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

Psalm 12:4 –  4  Who[the wicked] have said [declared; tell], With our tongue will we prevail [act insolently]; our lips are our own: who islord [master; sovereign; owner]over us?

The ungodly have no shame. They lie, flatter, beguile, and boast great things (12:2).  Unchecked in their ways, they dare make their boast against the God of Heaven (12:4).

Why do the ungodly go unpunished?  How dare the wicked boast against the LORD of Heaven?

David took comfort knowing the LORD would avenge Himself and take vengeance against those who railed against Him. (12:3)

Psalm 12:3 3  The LORD shall cut off all flattering [smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify] things:

We know the LORD is patient, longsuffering, and merciful (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15; 2 Peter 3:9); however, be reminded He is just and will have vengeance against the wicked.  The LORD will pour out His wrath on those who speak proud things, “puffeth”, and scoff (12:5)!

Psalm 12:5 – For the oppression [spoil; destruction] of the poor [afflicted], for the sighing [groaning; cries] of the needy [beggar; destitute], now will I arise [stand up], saith the LORD; I will set [array; appoint] him in safety [salvation; safety; liberty; prosper] from him that puffeth [scoffs; kindles as a fire] at him.

Unlike the wicked whose lips are full of lies and deceit, the LORD’s words are pure like refined silver that has passed through the furnace seven times (12:6).

Psalm 12:6 6  The words [speech; commands]of the LORD are pure [clean; fair]words: as silver tried [refined]in a furnace of earth, purified [purged; refined] seven times. 

The Word of the LORD is sure, faithful and true from generation to generation (12:7).

Psalm 12:7 7  Thou shalt keep [preserve; guard; protect]them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve [guard; protect]them from this generation [age]for ever.

Why do the “wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted”?  (Psalm 12:8)

Sadly, we need only look in the mirror and the church!  When the godly cease and the righteous fail the wicked are “on every side”. (Psalm 12:1)

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Lot: The Tragic Consequences of One’s Father’s Sinful Choices

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 19-20, Psalm 10, and Matthew 10. Our devotional is taken from Genesis 19-20.

We read in Genesis 18 that the LORD and two angels appeared to Abraham and Sarah as men.  That elderly couple soon realized the three visitors were not mere mortals, for the LORD revealed He knew Sarah’s private thoughts and how she scoffed and laughed within herself when she heard the promise she would bear a son in her old age (Genesis 18:11-15).

We are made privy to the LORD’s love for Abraham and His desire to not keep from the man the great judgment that would soon befall the cities of the plain, specifically Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-17, 20-21).

Abraham pled for Sodom, proposing if ten righteous souls be found there the city might be spared God’s judgment (Genesis 18:23-33).  The LORD heeded Abraham’s petition and promise to spare the city from destruction should ten righteous souls be dwelling among its citizens (Genesis 18:32).

After “the LORD went His way” (Genesis 18:33), the angels made their journey into the valley, arriving at Sodom that even (Genesis 19).   Entering the city, the angels found Lot sitting “in the gate” (Genesis 19:1) where city leaders transacted business and settled disputes.  Lot recognized the visitors were not like the wicked of Sodom and urged them to find refuge in his home for the night (19:2-3).

As darkness fell on the city, the wicked men of Sodom encircled Lot’s home demanding he turn his visitors out into the street to be sodomized (19:4-6).  Unable to prevail against them (19:7), Lot foolishly offered his daughters to satisfy their depraved lusts (19:8-9).  Refusing Lot’s offer, the citizens of Sodom pressed upon the man threatening to break down the door of his home.  Lot was saved when the angels drew him into the house and striking the sodomites with blindness (19:10-11).

Exhibiting grace, the angels urged Lot to gather his family and flee the city before God destroyed it (19:12-13).  A desperate Lot went out of the house into the night hoping to persuade his sons, daughters, and sons-in-laws to flee the city; however, they dismissed the man as “one that mocked” (19:14).

As the sun began to pierce the eastern horizon, the angels forced Lot, his wife and daughters out of the city, warning them to no look back upon its destruction (19:15-23).  Adding sorrow upon sorrow, Lot’s wife looked back and “became a pillar of salt” as God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah (19:24-29).

One would hope the deaths of loved ones and the judgment that befell the cities might transform Lot and his daughters; however, such was not the case. Lot’s daughters enticed their father with strong drink and committed incest with him (19:30-36).  The eldest daughter conceiving a son she named Moab, the father of the Moabites (19:37).  The youngest daughter conceiving a son she named Ammon, the father of the Ammonites.

The tragic consequences of Lot’s sinful choices has shadowed God’s people as the lineages of Lot’s sons, the Moabites and Ammonites, became adversaries and a perpetual trouble for Israel to this day.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

God is Faithful, His Promises Are Sure (Genesis 12-14)

* Today’s Bible Reading assignment is Genesis 13-14.  Today’s devotional addresses events in Genesis 12-14.  Though longer than most, this devotional will give a representation of Abram’s faith and failures and God’s grace and faithfulness.

Genesis 12 is one of the great pivotal crossroads in the Scriptures’ narrative of God’s plan of redemption.  Genesis 11 closed with Abram (Abraham) departing from “Ur of the Chaldees” with his father Terah (Genesis 11:32).  [The site of Ancient Ur was in today’s Iraq, some 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf, in the vicinity of what became ancient Babylon].

God came to Abram in Genesis 12 and commanded him to separate from his country, his relatives, and his extended family (12:1).  If Abram obeyed, God promised to covenant with him and bless him (Genesis 12:2-3).  God promised Abram he would bless him with a son, make him great, his name famous, and he would be a blessing to all people through his lineage (a promise ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ).  Abram obeyed God and traveled to Canaan, the land God promised He would give him as an inheritance.  When he arrived at Bethel, Abram built an altar and worshipped the Lord (12:7-8).

Realize God had purposed to fulfill His promises to Abram, including giving he and his wife Sarai a son in their old age; however, Abram’s faith in the LORD was soon tested when we read, “there was a famine in the land” (12:10).  Rather than trust the LORD, Abram abandoned his faith in God’s promises, left Canaan and journeyed to Egypt, putting in jeopardy God’s covenant promises (12:10-13).

Sarai, Abram’s wife, was beautiful and, fearing for his life, he asked her to tell others she was his sister and not his wife (12:11-13).  Pharaoh noticed Sarai’s beauty and took her into his harem to become one of his wives, putting at risk God’s covenant promise of a son and heir to Abram.  In spite of Abram’s faithlessness, God spared Sarai, sending a plague of judgment on Pharaoh’s household and revealing to the king that Abram had deceived him (12:17-20).

Genesis 13 reminds us Abram was a mere mortal, though a man of faith and an object of God’s grace, he faced the consequences of his failure to leave all of his father’s household (12:1).  Contrary to God’s command, Abram had journeyed from Ur with Lot, his brother’s son.  Both men were wealthy, owning great flocks and servants to tend them, there arose a strife between the servants of Abram and his nephew Lot (13:1-7).  To avoid conflict, Abram suggested they divide their households, servants, and flocks, graciously offering his nephew the first choice of the land (13:8-9).

Failing to defer to his elder, Lot betrayed his covetousness and chose the best of the land for himself; land that included the cities in the plain, among them the wicked city of Sodom (13:10-13).  Lot departed and God again renewed His covenant promises with Abram (13:14-18).

Genesis 14 gives us a history of the nations that inhabited ancient Israel in Abram’s day (around 4,000 BC).  A conflict arose among those nations and we read, “the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled…And they took Lot…and his goods” (14:10-12).  Suggesting how rich and powerful Abram had become, we read he led three hundred and eighteen armed servants of his household (14:14) in a successful attack on the kings who had taken the citizens and material possessions of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (14:15-24).

Abram returns victorious and a king identified as “Melchizedek king of Salem” [Salem perhaps the ancient name of Jerusalem] greets him (14:18).  Melchizedek, described as “the priest of the most high God” (14:18), pronounced a benediction upon Abram and rewarded him with a tithe, a tenth of the spoils (14:19-20).

The king of Sodom, likewise, offered Abram the riches he had recovered in battle (14:21); however, Abram refused the wealth of Sodom.  Jealous of the name and testimony of “the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:22), Abram confessed he would take none of Sodom’s riches less the king of Sodom boast he had “made Abram rich” (14:22-24).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The Tragedy of Sin and Its Consequences (Genesis 3-4)

We read in the Genesis account that God provided a “garden eastward in Eden” for Adam; an orchard not only beautiful to behold, but its trees provided fruit “good for food” (Genesis 2:8-9).  In the midst of the garden God planted two trees described as the “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).

God charged Adam to act as the steward (Genesis 1:28) and servant (laborer) of His creation (Genesis 2:15); and commanded him, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

“Why did God put a tree in the midst of Eden and forbid Adam to eat its fruit?”

Adam and Eve were not robots and the forbidden fruit was a test of man’s love for God. Tragically, Adam and Eve disobeyed the LORD, ate of the forbidden fruit, “and the eyes of them both were opened” (Genesis 3:1-8).  In an act of grace, the LORD covered their nakedness with animal skins (Genesis 3:9-21).

The curse and tragic nature of sin was soon evident in the conflict between Cain, Eve’s firstborn son, and his brother Abel (Genesis 4).  Obedient to God’s model of atonement for sin, Abel brought a sacrificial offering to the LORD (Genesis 4:4); however, God refused Cain’s bloodless sacrifice (Genesis 4:3, 5).  Rejected, Cain burned in anger toward the LORD and his “countenance” betrayed his rebellion (Genesis 4:5).  Ever merciful, the LORD questioned Cain,

Genesis 4:6-76  And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall behis desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Rather than repent and do right, Cain’s wrath escalated and he slew his brother (Genesis 4:8).  Consider the dialogue between the LORD and Cain after he killed his brother.

Genesis 4:9– “And the LORD [Jehovah] said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: AmI my brother’s keeper [watchman; guard; keeper]?”

Presented with an opportunity to confess his sin, Cain turned insolent and defied the LORD asking, Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

Why did Cain refuse to humble himself and repent of his sin?  The answer: “[Cain’s] own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12). Cain murdered Abel for he hated his brother’s righteousness.  When the LORD confronted Cain, he shirked responsibility for his sin and refused to repent (Genesis 4:9-12).  Characteristic of  hardened sinners, Cain’s focus was not on the evil he had done, but on the punishment, the consequences of his sin (Genesis 4:13-16).

“To grieve over sin is one thing; to repent is another.”– Anonymous

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Is Love Really All You Need?

In July 1967 the iconic English rock band known as the Beatles released a single titled “All You Need is Love”.  The “hippy” movement embraced the song and it became the defining song of a summer that became known as the “Summer of Love”.  Abandoning the moral values of their parents and voicing an open rebellion to authority and government, a whole generation of youth embarked on a journey defined by the use of psychedelic drugs, “free love” and sex.

It is that generation, the late “baby boomers” now in their 60’s and early 70’s, that has shaped American society by their cavalier disdain of moral values, religion, and law.  They have invaded every stratum of government, education, commerce, and media.  From governing in the Oval Office of the Presidency of the United States to inculcating minds of 5-year-old kindergarteners, the influence of the “All You Need is Love” generation is pervasive.  Is it any wonder they have spawned a generation of selfish, narcissistic youth embracing a socialistic ideology that threatens our society and nation with anarchy?

The “All You Need is Love” generation has so skewed the definition of “LOVE” it has become an excuse for all manner of sin, wickedness and depravity.  Liberals in the media, government, and education would have you believe, regardless of what you do and who it hurts, all that matters is LOVE.  The measure of right and wrong is no longer immutable truth and undeniable facts, but whether or not one’s intentions were loving.

Love becomes an excuse for all manner of sin. Teens, college students, and adults defend fornication and open adultery with the excuse, “I am in love.”  Society accepts homosexuality reasoning, “they love each other.”  The LGTBQ crowd demands society accept their sin because that is the loving thing to do.  Women are counseled to abort unwanted infants because that is a loving choice.

Some quote Romans 13:8, “…love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law”; however, they fail to read Romans 13:9-10 which identifies the restraints and standards on God’s definition of LOVE.

Romans 13:9-10 – “9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there beany other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

My generation, the “baby boomers”, believed “love is all you need” and are finding too late the heartache and emptiness of a philosophy of life devoid of absolute truth and genuine LOVE.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2018 by Travis D. Smith

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” (part 1)

I am afraid America is no longer that nation.  We have become a people who put politics before patriotism.  We have defied a Holy God with our sins and are divided by racism, prejudice, partisan politics, corruption and gross depravity. Our liberties are under assault and justice has faltered.

It is with sorrow I confess the Church has failed God and our nation.  We are commanded to be the “Salt of the Earth”, but we have become “good for nothing…”(Mt. 5:13).  We are to be the “light of the world” (Mt. 5:14), but we have abdicated the moral high ground for sinful pleasures.

While the political left assaults Biblical convictions and moral values, our pulpits retreat refusing to engage an enemy greater than flesh and blood politics.  The apostle Paul warned the Church, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  Peter describes the enemy “as your adversary…a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Nothing has brought to the forefront the division we suffer as a nation more than the vitriol directed at a President who aspires to “Make America Great Again”. The unrelenting attacks of the media and the vicious assaults of the Left serve as a revelation that many of our leaders are enemies of the founding principles that made America great.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), the great French statesman of the 19thcentury and author of Democracy in America, traveled these United States in search of the qualities that defined America’s greatness as a democracy. Tocqueville wrote:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” [emphasis added]  From Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 1, Copyright 1945 and renewed 1973 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., a division of Random House Inc.

It is that last statement I find prophetic.  Christian friend, if we have any hope of seeing “America Great Again”, we must take up our role as the “Salt of the Earth” and “Light of the World”!

In his first epistle to the church, Peter challenged Christians with four mandates that define Christian citizenship: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
 (1 Peter 2:17)

Let us focus only on the first mandate: “Honour all men(1 Peter 2:17a).

What a striking contrast this mandate of Christian citizenship is with 21stcentury American society.   A lack of civility, rudeness and crassness has become the way of our nation.  The President is cursed by a Congressional intern who receives a mere slap on the wrist and a brief suspension.  FBI agents write texts referencing the President in boorish terms while protestors march in the streets expressing all manner of vulgarities.  Civility, respect for authority, and humility are lost.

And yet, the church is commanded, “Honour all men…” (1 Peter 2:17a).  To honor is to ascribe worth to an individual by one’s words and actions. It is to treat another with dignity; to prize, value, regard, and respect.

Notice the command to “Honor all” is universal in scope.  There is no room for prejudices, knowing men and women are created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:27).  “Honor” is blind to race and ethnicity. Honor does not discriminate based on skin color or physical characteristics.

“Honor” however, is not without discretion. For instance, though we are persuaded to “honor all”, we are not to lack discretion and honor the wicked in their sins.  Solomon urged his son, “…so honour is not seemly [fitting] for a fool [an immoral, insolent man]” (Proverbs 26:1). We have learned all too well, promoting the wicked to places and positions of influence will invariably “corrupt good manners (morals)” of a nation (1 Corinthians 15:33).

We also understand some are more deserving of honor than others. There are some who are like “vessels of gold and silver”; there are others like vessels “of wood and of earth (clay)” (2 Timothy 2:20).  In other words, we are for the most part common, ordinary men and women.  While “all men are created equal”, some are more talented, gifted, and honorable than others.

Finally, the nature of virtue calls for honor.  We might say of some, “He is a good man” or “She is a good woman.”  The implication is an individual possesses character qualities that are treasured and therefore honorable. Of such a one Paul writes, “Render therefore…honour to whom honour”is due (Romans 13:7).

My next post will invite you to consider: While all men are to be honored, some are to be purposely and specifically honored.

With a shepherd’s heart,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith