Tag Archives: Flesh

The Day of the LORD (Joel 1-3)

Scripture reading – Joel 1-3

The Book of Joel is another of the minor prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures (not minor in the sense that his ministry was unimportant, but in the brevity of the book that bears his name and fills only three chapters in the Bible).

We know little of Joel except that his ministry was to Judah, the Southern Kingdom ,and he was the “son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1). Even the dates that Joel ministered are unknown, although scholars suggest he might have prophesied during the reign of King Joash (835-796 B.C.).

The Book of Joel described three catastrophic invasions that would befall Judah and serve as symbols of the great and dreadful judgment that would come upon the world in the “Day of the LORD.”

Joel 1 – A Plague of Locusts

From antiquity to our modern day, locusts have been the haunt of mankind, often devasting a nation’s crops and producing a famine that leaves both man and beast starving.

Joel called upon all the people of Judah to acknowledge the plague of locusts was unlike any the nation had faced (1:2-3). Coming in four waves (1:4), the locusts had entered Judah like an invading army, and there was nothing left to feed or sustain the population (1:4-7). Fruit vines, trees, and crops were in ruin, and the “field is wasted…corn is wasted” (1:10). There were no offerings to the LORD, because there was no harvest (1:9).

Why would the LORD allow this frightening hoard of locusts to descend upon His people and leave them starving? Because the LORD in His mercy will use natural disasters to cause a nation to reflect on its sin, repent, and turn to Him.

Joel called upon the “ministers of God, the priests, to stand between the altar and the porch of the Temple. Dressed in “sackcloth,” there were to “howl” all night and sorrow that there were no offerings, because there was no harvest (1:13). If the people did not repent of their sins and turn to God, Joel warned “the day of the LORD [was] at hand, as a destruction from the Almighty” (1:15).

After describing the devastation left in the wake of God’s judgment (1:16-18), Joel cried out to the LORD for the nation,

Joel 1:19-2019  O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. 20  The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.”

Joel 2 – The Invasion of a Heathen Horde

The second invasion that comes as God’s judgment on Judah was that of a great army, so vast in number, they were like the locusts that had darkened the sky in Joel 1. Once again, the warning of an invading army gave cause for the people to repent of their sins and call upon the LORD (2:1).

We read, “the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand” (2:1). A day described as, “a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (2:2). The enemy will be “a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it” (2:2b).

The enemy of God’s people would spread across the land like a “fire devoureth” (2:3) and the sound will be “like the noise of a flame of fire [that] devoured” (2:5). The judgment of God on “the day of the LORD” will affect the universe, for “the earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (2:10).

Having stated the “day of the LORD is great and very terrible” (2:11), Joel declared the invitation of the LORD saying,

“Turn ye even 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).

Joel prayed for a national revival and called out to God,  “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?” (2:17b).

Knowing God is gracious and merciful, Joel encouraged the people if they would repent, the LORD 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 – Armageddon

Joel prophesied the regathering of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem (3:1), and the Gentile nations gathering against Israel (3:2) in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (3:2, 12). The sins of the nations against Israel are listed (3:3) and God promised he will reward those nations for the evil they have done to His people (3:4). Knowing the oppression and ill treatment Israel and Judah had suffered (3:3-8), the LORD promised to make war against the nations of the earth (3:9-17).

I close observing there are two Gentile nations that are specifically named for destruction in the Day of the LORD: Egypt and Edom (3:19).

From time immemorial, Egypt and Edom (represented among the Arab tribes and nations of our day), have been perpetual enemies of Israel and Judah. Of those nations we read,

“Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah” (3:19).

All of this will surely be done in that day, “for the LORD dwelleth in Zion” (3:21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hell: The Destiny of Nations That Reject the LORD (Ezekiel 31-33)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 31-33

Ezekiel’s prophetic warnings of God’s judgment continues in today’s Scripture reading (Ezekiel 31-33). Though Israel and Judah’s rebellion had provoked God’s judgment; it was the heathen nation’s oppression of His people that provoked His wrath. The year is believed to be 587 B.C. (31:1), and Nebuchadnezzar’s army is in the midst of its final siege of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 31 – The Fall of Assyria Serves as a Warning to Egypt

Ezekiel 31 portrays the king of Assyria as a “cedar in Lebanon” whose height, breadth, and beauty illustrated the vast wealth and power of that nation among the nations (31:3-17).  The “Assyrian” had been felled by the army of Babylon and its defeat caused all the nations to tremble (31:16-17).

Assyria had been without equal at the height of its power. Its land was well-watered, like the Nile River served Egypt (31:4). The leaders of Assyria had believed they were unconquerable in their day (31:7-9) and they were the envy of the ancient world.

As with all nations, Assyria’s fate and final defeat were brought about because of the weight of her wickedness (31:10-11). Ezekiel pronounced God’s judgment, declaring that “strangers” (i.e. Babylon) would “cut him off” and the nation would be abandoned by her allies (31:12). God declared He would dry up the waters of the land (31:14-15) and Assyria would be cast into hell and “descend into the pit” (31:16).

Ezekiel 31:18 sums up the judgment of Assyria, declaring the fall of that wicked nation should serve as a warning to Egypt who face the same judgment and go “unto the nether parts of the earth” (meaning Sheol or hell) where the “uncircumcised,” the unbelievers, the wicked will be punished in everlasting fire.

Ezekiel 32 – Ezekiel’s Prophecy of Judgment Against Egypt

The calamity of God’s judgment that would come upon Egypt would serve as a warning to other nations (32:1-10).   Leaving no room for ambiguity, the “king of Babylon” was declared to be God’s agent of judgment and the defeat and desolation of Egypt was ascertained (32:11-15).

Picturing Hell for what it is, a place of death and torment for lost souls who have rejected the LORD (32:17-32), Egypt was warned the nation would fall, its lands left desolate and destitute (32:15). The other nations would witness in horror the defeat of Egypt and be reminded that the God of Israel is the LORD (32:15-16).

Like all the nations that had gone before Egypt and made their graves in hell, Ezekiel warned that Pharaoh and Egypt would be sentenced with the dead in hell and the terror of the LORD would rest upon the remaining nations (32:31-32).

Ezekiel 32:31-3231  Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD. 32  For I have caused my terror in the land of the living: and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain with the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Rise and Fall of Lucifer (Ezekiel 28-30)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 28-30

Continuing our chronological reading of the Scriptures, today’s assignment is Ezekiel 28-30. Our devotional commentary is taken from Ezekiel 28.

Ezekiel’s Prophecies of God’s Coming Judgment of the Nations

Beginning with Ezekiel 25 and continuing through Ezekiel 32, we have the record of Ezekiel’s prophecies against those nations that had oppressed Israel and Judah.

Ezekiel 26-27 introduced us to the great city of Tyrus and the judgment that Ezekiel prophesied would befall its citizens. Located off the western coastline of Phoenicia, on the Mediterranean Sea, Tyrus was a beautiful and well-fortified city. It was a wealthy city and the commercial crossroads for trade in the ancient Middle East.

Ezekiel 28

The subject of God’s judgment against Tyrus continues with the focus on two powerful political figures: The prince of Tyrus (28:1-10) and the King of Tyrus (28:11-19).

Reflecting the pride of his city, the “prince of Tyrus” was a proud, foolish man who dared assert he was a god. The LORD condemned the prince of Tyrus and commanded Ezekiel to say, “Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas [referring to his throne in his island fortress]; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God” (28:2).

There was no hope for the “prince of Tyrus,” because he was too proud to see that he was no more than a mere mortal. He was proud: Proud of his power (28:2), his intellect (28:3), his wealth (28:4), and his self-sufficiency (28:5). It was his pride that moved the LORD to declare His judgment against the prince. The LORD warned that He would bring “strangers” against Tyrus (fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city) who would bloody their swords and defile the beauty of the city (28:7). Ezekiel prophesied the prince would be slain in the street and his body left unburied (28:8-10).

The Humiliation of the King of Tyrus (28:11-19)

The description of the King of Tyrus leaves no doubt that this king was not a man. Though titled “the king of Tyrus” (28:12), the description is of one who was created a perfect being (28:12), and an “anointed cherub” (28:12, 14). He was more than an evil king; he was the wicked one, the Devil, Lucifer, Satan, whose destiny is the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

Ezekiel 28 gives us a fascinating revelation of this cherub and his great fall. Before Lucifer was given to pride and his heart lifted up against God, he was a model of perfection and “sealest up the sum” (28:12). He was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (28:12). He was in the Garden of Eden (28:13) and was attired in precious stones, like those worn on the breastplate of the high priest (28:13). He was musical (28:13). As the “anointed cherub,” he was stationed at the throne of heaven and walked in the presence of God (28:14). Indeed, he was perfect, until his heart was lifted up with pride (28:15).

God is holy and He will not abide sin in His sight! When pride, sin, and violence were discovered in Satan, the LORD cast him out of His presence declaring, “I will destroy thee…I will cast thee to the ground…[and] bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee” (28:16-18).

The history of man, and the rise and fall of nations, is a testimony of the devil’s presence and influence in the affairs of mankind. While it seems that evil triumphs, remember the LORD is the Alpha and Omega, and He has declared that the end of Satan will be terrifying, and he will “never…be any more” (28:19).

Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“For Whom the LORD Loveth He Chasteneth” (Ezekiel 23-24)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 23-24

Our Scripture reading brings us to the final crisis that Ezekiel has long warned would come: The final siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the beloved capital city of Judah and all Israel. Today’s devotional commentary will focus on Ezekiel 23.

Ezekiel 23 – A Tale of Two Sisters, Aholah and Aholibah

The account of the final days before the fall of Jerusalem and the eradication of both Israel and Judah as nations, is vivid and graphic (23:1-2). In Ezekiel 23 we have the description of Israel and Judah symbolically represented as two sisters who had committed spiritual “whoredoms in Egypt…in their youth” (23:3).

Aholah, identified as the elder sister, was a symbolical name for the nation of Israel (identified in this passage as Samaria, the capital city of the ten northern tribes). Aholibah was the younger of the sisters and was a symbolical name for Judah, the southern kingdom whose capital was Jerusalem (23:4).

Aholah (Israel) and Aholibah (Judah) are portrayed as sisters who had rebelled, broken covenant with the LORD, and turned to other lovers (i.e. alliances with other nations). Aholah (Israel), awed by the strength and power of Assyria had made an alliance with that nation and turned from the LORD (23:5-10; 2 Kings 15:19-20; 17:1-4). Aholibah (Judah), Aholah’s sister, had sought alliance with Assyria  and also courted the favor of Chaldea (Babylon). King Hezekiah had foolishly displayed to Nebuchadnezzar’s ambassadors the wealth and treasuries of his palace and the Temple (23:11-21; Isaiah 39:1-8).

When Aholibah (Judah) realized the evil intent of Chaldea (Babylon), she appealed to Egypt for aid, but to no avail (23:21; 2 Kings 23:26-30, 31-24:2). Thus, the “lovers,” Assyria and Chaldea, had ravaged both Israel and Judah with their “chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people,” and stripped those nations bare of their wealth and people (23:22-29). God’s judgment against His people and the devastation of Israel and Judah would be an astonishment to the nations who would scorn and disparage them (23:32).

What sins had Aholah (Israel) and Aholibah (Judah) committed against the LORD that would justify so great a judgment? (23:37-49)

The judgment of Israel and Judah was just because those nations had broken their covenant with God and committed spiritual adultery (23:37). The people had defiled the Temple with idols, forsaken their Sabbaths (23:38), and committed the ultimate act of wickedness and depravity: They had sacrificed their children to Moloch, and on the same day entered the Temple to worship (23:39; note Ezekiel 16:21).

The destruction of Israel and Judah was set and the horror of the people’s sufferings had been determined (23:47). The final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s army had begun and the days were numbered.

Ezekiel 24:2 – Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.

Why did God chasten and punish His people? Not only because He loved them, but so they would know He is “the LORD GOD” (23:49).

Hebrews 12:6 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wicked Will Not Be Spared God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 9-12)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 9-12

Our study of the visions and prophecies of Ezekiel continues with our Scripture reading from Ezekiel 9-12. Remember the prophet is in Babylon and he was ministering to the people of Judah whom King Nebuchadnezzar had taken captive. Ezekiel warned that God’s great judgment would soon fall on Jerusalem and that city would be utterly destroyed.

Ezekiel found himself contending with false prophets who gave the people a false security by declaring the prophecies of God’s judgment against Jerusalem were still a great way off. God’s prophet, however, would not be silenced and with boldness Ezekiel declared the final desolation of Judah and the imminent destruction of Jerusalem

Ezekiel 9 – A Tragic Vision in the Temple Courtyard

In a vision, the LORD had brought Ezekiel into the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem where the prophet witnessed the great wickedness of the people. Lest the prophet doubt the justice of God, the LORD asked, “Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here?” (Ezekiel 8:17-18)

The vision in chapter 9 continues in the courtyard of the Temple where God commanded “six men” (probably angelic beings) to take their “destroying weapon” and go up to the Temple (9:1-2). The six guards were accompanied by “one man among them [Who] was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar” (9:2). Although not identified, I believe the man “clothed with linen” was Jesus Christ in a preincarnate appearance.

The man “clothed in linen” was commanded to place a mark on the foreheads of those “men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations” that the people had committed in Jerusalem (9:4). The men who received the mark were the few who sorrowed over the sins of the people.

With the righteous identified by the mark on their forehead, the six guards were commanded to go through the city, killing the wicked and sparing none, beginning in the Temple (9:5-6) and leaving the bodies of the slain where they fell (9:7).

The sight of the slaughter and the bodies of the dead so overwhelmed Ezekiel that he cried out, “Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?” (9:8)

I close this devotional reminding you of the spiritual lesson God taught Ezekiel. Israel and Judah had sinned greatly against God and had foolishly reassured one another saying, “the LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not” (9:9). God, however, answered their prideful boasts declaring, “mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head” (9:10).

Like the mark on the forehead of the righteous (9:4), the cross is the believer’s testimony that his sins have been atoned by the shedding of Christ’s blood on the Cross, His death and bodily resurrection.

Lesson – The LORD is longsuffering and willing to forgive (2 Peter 3:9); however, He is holy and just, and the wicked will not be spared His judgment.

Revelation 20:12-15 – “12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Good Things, and Why You Should Embrace Them (Lamentations 3-5)

Scripture reading – Lamentations 3-5

Jeremiah’s lamentations take on a very personal tone in Lamentations 3, the longest chapter in this small prophetic book. While today’s Scripture reading is Laminations 3-5, today’s devotional commentary will be limited to chapter 3.

Lamentations 3

Jeremiah has lived to see all that he prophesied against Judah come to pass. Left behind with the poorest people after Babylon conquered and destroyed Jerusalem, the prophet gazes out upon a scene of devastation. The Temple has been destroyed, the palaces and homes of the city laid waste, and the walls of Jerusalem have fallen.

Lamentations 3:1-21 is a testimony of the prophet’s afflictions.

Alienated from God, the heavy burden of discipline upon him, Jeremiah felt as though the LORD had turned against him (3:2-5). He prayed in his distress, but felt as though God did not hear his prayers (3:6-8). In his sorrows, the prophet felt trapped, abandoned, wounded in heart (3:9-13). Mocked by his own people (3:14) and nearly overcome with feelings of helplessness (3:15-18), Jeremiah was despairing of life (3:19) until he turned his focus from his circumstances to the LORD (3:20-21).

Lamentations 3:21-66 – Hope of Salvation in the Midst of Afflictions

In the midst of his sorrows, Jeremiah expressed his faith in words that are the inspiration of the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Jeremiah writes:

Lamentations 3:22-23It is of the LORD’S [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] mercies [loving-kindness; grace]that we are not consumed, because His compassions [mercies; tender love] fail not [never ends or ceases].
23  They are [mercy and tender compassions] new every morning: great [sufficient; plenty] is thy faithfulness[steadfastness].”

Jeremiah continues, “The LORD is good [Lit. – pleasant; pleasing; best; joyful] unto them that wait [tarry; patiently wait; hope] for Him [the LORD], to the soul that seeketh [follows; searches; asks] Him” (3:25).

It comes as no surprise that the “LORD is good;” however, notice there is a twofold condition for experiencing the goodness of God.

1) First, we must learn to “wait [hope] for Him” (3:25a).

It is easy to counsel others to be patient and wait on the LORD; however, to practice the same is an exercise of faith, hope and trust.

Are you willing to wait on the LORD when you have been hurt?  To wait when you are ill?  Do you wait on the LORD when you have been mistreated or misunderstood?  Are you willing to wait on the LORD when a loved one makes choices that grieve your heart?  “Patience is a virtue,” is an old English adage and from my vantage point is in short supply. Jeremiah’s counsel in the midst of deep distress is “wait” and hope in the LORD (Psalm 27:14; 37:14; Proverbs 20:22).

2) Second, we must truly “seek Him” (3:25b).

What does it mean to seek the LORD? Be diligent to search Him out by reading, inquiring, and meditating in His Word. To seek the LORD one must obey His Law and Commandments, and follow His will (3:40; Jeremiah 29:13)

I close inviting you to consider the things that are said to be “good[pleasant; beautiful; right; pleasing] in Lamentations 3:26-27.

Lamentations 3:26 – “It is good that a man should both hope [expectant waiting] and quietly wait [wait and keep silent] for the salvation [help; deliverance] of the LORD.”

It is good for a believer to “hope” (3:26a). This “hope” is more than an emotional or mental aspiration; it is the practice of a disciplined heart and soul.  It is hope that awaits with anticipation God’s answer to prayer. It is hope that springs from faith that is predicated on the knowledge that God hears and answers prayer. We hope in the LORD because He is faithful to His Word and promises.

It is also good to “quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (3:26b).  Wait without complaining. Wait in silence. Wait for the LORD to answer prayer and move in His timing.  (I fear the pews of churches are filled with many who are neither patient or quiet!)

Thirdly, it is good when a son bears the yoke and burden of manhood (3:27). 

Lamentations 3:27 – “It is good for a man [lit. a man child; son] that he bear the yoke [disciplines; burdens] in his youth.”

In the midst of his own afflictions, Jeremiah acknowledged that it is a good thing when young men bear the yoke of manhood with its challenges, trials, and disappointments.

Many parents coddle their youth and insulate them from a harsh reality: Life can be difficult, even harsh, but a satisfying, rewarding life requires discipline and endurance. 

Lesson – Parents rob children of a “good” thing when they fail to make them bear the burdens, blessings, and consequences of their choices.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Jerusalem is Become a Widow; Judah is Gone Into Captivity” (Lamentations 1-2)

Scripture reading – Lamentations 1-2

Introduction to Lamentations – The Aftermath of Jerusalem’s Fall

The Book of Lamentations, though only five chapters in length, is powerful, poetic, and a devastating portrait of the consequences of sin. The book is as its name suggest, a book of laments. We find in its pages five laments, penned and enunciated by the prophet Jeremiah, as he gazes upon the rubble that was once the beautiful city of David. Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations records the old prophet’s cries of grief, his groanings over Jerusalem and Judah.

Jeremiah had faithfully served as God’s prophet through the reigns of five successive kings of Judah. He had warned God’s people that judgment was inevitable if the nation did not repent, turn from her sins, and turn to God.  The kings persecuted the prophet and the people rejected the Word of the LORD. With the city destroyed and the majority of the people taken away to Babylon, Jeremiah and a few poor citizens remained in Judah to work the land and serve Babylon.

The focus of today’s devotional commentary will be limited to Lamentations 1.

Lamentations 1 – Jeremiah’s Lament: Jerusalem’s Humiliation

Remembering the Temple is a pile of smoldering rubble and the palaces, homes, and walls of Jerusalem lie in ruin, we can understand Jeremiah’s lament over Jerusalem, the city he describes “as a widow” (1:1) and whose people are “tributary,” serving as forced labor in Babylon (1:1).

Jeremiah pictures Jerusalem as a bereaved widow whose sorrows cannot be appeased, and who finds no comfort for “her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies” (1:2). The cause for the suffering and sorrows of the city is summed up in this: “Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed” (1:8a).

Jeremiah described Jerusalem’s plight and all the people had suffered because of their sins: Famine, humiliation, distress, the consuming fire of God’s wrath, the burden of sin, the loss of her army, sorrow, rejection and scorn had become Jerusalem’s plight (1:9-17).

The LORD was Waiting for His People to Confess Their Sins and Turn to Him (1:18-22).

In a prayer of intercession, Jeremiah confessed the sins of His nation (1:18-19). Declaring the righteousness of the LORD, the prophet confessed for Jerusalem: “I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity” (1:18).

Following his confession to the LORD, Jeremiah made four pleas for Jerusalem and her displaced people (1:20-22).

The first plea was that the LORD would see Jerusalem’s suffering (1:20a). The second, that the LORD would hear the confession of His people (1:20b). Thirdly, Jeremiah prayed for the LORD to show compassion upon His people who were dying (1:20c).

Finally, the prophet closed with an imprecatory plea: That the LORD would remember the wickedness of Babylon and that nation would suffer the afflictions she had assailed on Jerusalem (1:22).

* A closing note for those who might want to “dig a little deeper;” notice that Lamentations chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 are each twenty-two verses long.  There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet and each of the verses in chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 begin with a word using the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (in other words, like our A-Z in English).  Lamentations 4 is sixty-six verses long and the Hebrew alphabet in that chapter begins couplets that are three verses each.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Prophecy: Babylon the Great is Fallen; however, God has not Forgotten Israel (Jeremiah 51-52)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 51-52

We continue our chronological schedule through the Word of God, concluding our journey in the book of Jeremiah with today’s Scripture reading, Jeremiah 51-52. We have followed the ministry of Jeremiah as he preached to Judah, a nation on the brink of God’s judgment. Israel is no more. Judah has fallen; the Temple is destroyed, and the city of Jerusalem has been left desolate. God, however, had not forgotten or forsaken His people. Babylon’s invasion of Judah had left a path of suffering and destruction, but Jeremiah prophesied that the LORD would have His revenge against Babylon for its abuses of His people.

Jeremiah 51 – The Vengeance of God: Babylon the Great is Fallen

Jeremiah began his prophecy against Babylon in chapter 50, and continues foretelling that nation’s precipitous fall in chapter 51.

Jeremiah had prophesied a coalition of nations that would come against Babylon, “an assembly of great nations from the north country” (50:9). Babylon would “be a spoil” (50:10), “a desolation among the nations” (50:23). God had not forgotten how Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed His Temple in Jerusalem, and the LORD declared “the vengeance of His Temple” (50:28).

God’s people would be made to dwell in Babylon for seventy years of captivity; however, Jeremiah prophesied, “Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel” (51:5).

Jeremiah identified the enemy that would come against Babylon, prophesying, “the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple” (51:11).

Who is the LORD that moved the nations of the earth to do His bidding? He is the Creator, who “made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding” (51:15).

Though the most powerful nation in its day, the fall of Babylon would be swift and severe and no man, woman, or child would be spared (51:20-24). The cruelties Babylon afflicted on Jerusalem, her own citizens would experience (51:25). The “king of the Medes” (Cyrus who led a coalition of the Medes and Persians) was foretold to fulfill the LORD’S purpose, and “make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant” (51:29). What Babylon had sown, she would reap (51:34-35).

Jeremiah 51:45-64 – Jeremiah’s prophecy warned God’s people to flee Babylon before its fall.

Jeremiah wrote his prophecies in a scroll (a book) and sent them by a scribe who was commanded to read the prophecies against Babylon in the streets of that great city (51:59-62). When Seraiah, the scribe, had read all the prophecies against Babylon, he was told to tie a stone around the book and “cast it into the midst of Euphrates” (51:63) saying: “Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her” (51:64).

Jeremiah 52 – When All Seemed Lost, A Glimmer of Hope

Jeremiah 52 returns us to the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his rebellion not only against Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jeremiah 37:1-10), but also against the LORD. Jeremiah had urged Zedekiah to accept Babylon’s reign over Judah, warning to rebel would mean Jerusalem would be destroyed and the people led away captive (Jeremiah 38).

When Zedekiah’s attempt to seek an alliance with Egypt failed, the king of Judah realized all was lost. Fleeing Jerusalem with a small entourage of soldiers (52:7), Zedekiah was overtaken by Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers near Jericho (52:8). The king of Judah and his sons were taken to Nebuchadnezzar who ordered Zedekiah’s sons slain, the king’s eyes put out (52:9-10), and him to Babylon in chains (52:11).

Jeremiah’s prophecies conclude noting that Nebuchadnezzar had led three sieges against Jerusalem and a total of four thousand six hundred citizens of Judah had been taken captive to Babylon (52:28-30).

Reminding God’s people that all was not lost, thirty-seven years after Jerusalem was destroyed, Jehoiachin, the king of Judah who was held captive in Babylon, found favor in the eyes of Evilmerodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and was raised up from prison to dine at the king’s table the rest of his days (52:31-34).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Israel’s Redeemer is Strong; the LORD of Hosts is His Name” (Jeremiah 49-50)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 49-50

Today’s Scripture reading continues the record of God’s vengeance against those nations that had been the adversaries of Israel and Judah. In our previous passage of Scripture (Jeremiah 46-48), we considered the LORD’s vengeance against Egypt (Jeremiah 46), Philistia (Jeremiah 47), and Moab (Jeremiah 48). Jeremiah 49-50continues the same prophetic warnings against those nations who had abused God’s people. We can take many lessons from God’s judgment of the nations; however, I suggest the overriding truth is this: God is sovereign over humanity and the LORD of the world’s nations.

Jeremiah 49 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam

Like the Moabites (Jeremiah 48), the Ammonites were also descendants of Lot’s incest with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:32-38). Jeremiah prophesied that the lands occupied by Ammon would one day be returned to Israel (49:2). The sins of the Ammonites were not only their adversarial relationship with Israel, but also their greed and covetousness (49:4-5). In a wonderful evidence of God’s grace, Jeremiah prophesied when Christ’s comes to reign on the earth, numbered among the believers would be “the children of Ammon” (49:6).

The Edomites (49:7-22), descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, were to be destroyed like “Sodom and Gomorrah” (49:13-18). Nebuchadnezzar would come upon Edom like a roaring lion (49:19) and the army of Babylon would sweep over the land like an eagle (49:22).

The nation of Syria, represented by its capital Damascus would be destroyed in God’s judgment (49:23-27).

Three nomadic Arabian tribes including Kedar (49:28-29), Hazor (49:30-33) and Elam (49:34-37) were condemned for judgment. Jeremiah 49:38-39 foretold the extent of Christ’s kingdom will also include the land of Elam.

Jeremiah 50 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Babylon

Jeremiah 50 is an incredible passage of Scripture that foretells the destruction of Babylon, a nation that in Jeremiah’s day was not only the most powerful the world had ever witnessed, but which seemed invincible in its day.

Though Babylon was conquering all nations at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, nevertheless, the LORD foretold a coalition of nations “out of the north” (50:3, 9, 41-42) would so destroy and devastate Babylon that the city would not be fit for man nor beast (50:3). We know from the Scriptures and history the collation of nations out of the north would be the Medes and Persians under the leadership of King Cyrus.

Jeremiah prophesied the “children of Israel” would be liberated by the nation that conquered Babylon and the people would return to their land (50:4-7).

God warned the captives of Babylon to flee the city for her destruction was sealed (50:9-16). Babylon had scattered God’s people like sheep (50:17) and God promised in revenge, “Babylon [would] become a desolation among the nations” (50:23). Babylon had defied God, therefore, He was going to take vengeance on that nation (50:24-32). The fall of Babylon in that time was so great it was prophesied that “the earth is moved” by her fall (50:46).

I close by inviting you to consider God’s promise to His people. Though Israel and Judah were to be scattered among the nations, God would not forget His people and warned the nations, Israel’s “Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: He shall thoroughly plead [the cause of His people] and in that day the “inhabitants of Babylon” will be terrified (50:34).

Our God is the LION of Judah!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Gathering Storm Clouds of God’s Vengeance (Jeremiah 46-48)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 46-48

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the beginning of a series of prophecies against the Gentile nations that had abused Israel and Judah. These final chapters, Jeremiah 46-52, predict the devastating invasion of Babylon’s army (“waters rise up out of the north” – Jeremiah 47:2) and the forthcoming destruction of those nations that were Israel’s adversaries.

Jeremiah 46 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Egypt

Knowing the LORD declared King Nebuchadnezzar as, “My servant,” we begin to understand the manner in which God would use the rise of Babylon to humble those nations that had afflicted His people.

Babylon’s overwhelming defeat of Egypt was predicted (46:1-2), even as that nation’s Pharaoh rallied his army (46:3-8) and hired mercenaries to go to war with Egypt’s army (46:9). In spite of Egypt’s greatness and her vast wealth, God warned, “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon [would] come and smite the land of Egypt” (46:13).

Reminding us of God’s sovereignty over the nations, the question was asked, “Why are thy valiant men swept away?” The answer, “because the LORD did drive them” (46:15).

Egypt had passed the time of repenting of her sins (46:17) and Jeremiah warned, her “destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north” (46:20). And who was that enemy that would come out of the north (46:24)?

Jeremiah 46:26 – And I will deliver them [the people of Egypt] into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants: and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 47 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Philistia

Have you ever wondered what became of the Philistines, Moabites, and Ammonites? The answer is found in the closing chapters of Jeremiah’s prophecies. Those ancient people and their nations were defeated by the armies of Babylon, removed from their lands, and ultimately assimilated into other nations and people.

Jeremiah prophesied against Philistine cities and their inhabitants: Gaza, Tyrus, Zidon, Ashkelon would all be destroyed by “water [that would] rise up out of the north [i.e. Babylon], and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men [of Philistia]shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl” (47:2).

Jeremiah 48 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Moab

Jeremiah prophecy of doom continues with a warning to the cities of Moab, Israel’s ancient enemy (48:1-3). We read, “Moab is destroyed; her little ones [the children of Moab] have caused a cry to be heard” (48:4). The destruction and suffering brought upon Moab by Babylon would be complete, her “cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein” (48:9).

No village, town, or city would be spared God’s judgment. The LORD warned Nebuchadnezzar, addressing the king as His servant, His agent of judgment, that he would be judged should he “[keep] back his sword from blood” (48:10). Jeremiah 48:11-25 gives us a graphic portrait of the defeat and suffering of Moab.

Why such suffering? Why obliterate the Moabites as a people? Because a spirit of pride had moved Moab as a nation to “[magnify] himself against the LORD” (48:42).

Is there any good news for God’s people in today’s Scripture reading? Absolutely; there was a message of hope and comfort found in the closing verses of Jeremiah 46.

Jeremiah 46:27-28 – “27  But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid. 28  Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.”

Unlike the heathen whose nations are lost to history, God promised He would not forget His people identified as “my servant Jacob” and represented in Israel and Judah (46:27).

The LORD promised to one day gather them together from the nations of the world and restore them to their land (Isaiah 19:16-25) and “The LORD Our Righteousness” will reign (Jeremiah 23:5-8).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith