Tag Archives: Flesh

Keep Hope Alive: God Knows You! (Job 22; Job 23)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.
(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 22; Job 23

Continuing our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the midst of the Book of Job. What a powerful book and reminder that no one is spared the troubles and trials of this earthly life. Job served as a memorable example of a spiritual man who faced not only the hardships of catastrophic losses, but the erroneous, harsh judgments of some who purported to be his friends.

Yet, we should remember Job was not aware his afflictions were a consequence, not of God’s judgment, but His confidence there was “none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:8). The LORD gave Satan liberty to assail Job, and spared only the man’s life, from that evil one’s assault. In spite of his sorrows, Job’s faith did not falter, even as the evil insinuations of his friends increased.

After listening to Job maintain his innocence, and refute the allegations that he had committed some sin that warranted God’s judgment (Job 21), Eliphaz, obviously offended, spoke up.

Job 22 – Eliphaz’s Rebuke of Job

Eliphaz the Temanite disputed Job for his third and final time (his first two challenges were recorded in Job 4-5, and Job 15). Though claiming to be Job’s friend, Eliphaz accused him of supposing he was righteous, and God was obligated to him (22:1-4).

Impatient with Job’s pleas of innocence, Eliphaz unleashed a torrent of accusations against the man whom God said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (1:8). He alleged Job had exploited the poor (22:6), refused water to the thirsty, and denied bread to the hungry (22:7). He suggested he had taken advantage of the most vulnerable, sent widows away wanting (22:9a), and crushed orphans (22:9b). Eliphaz dared suggest Job thought God must be blind to his wicked ways, and warned all the troubles that had befallen Job was God’s punishment (22:12-14).

Eliphaz’s diatribe (22:15-30) against Job’s character continued through the balance of Job 22, as he recapped for Job concerning the wicked, and God’s judgment (22:15). Understanding the Book of Job is believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible, we are not surprised to find the worldwide flood still fresh in the minds of the men of Job’s day (22:16). Eliphaz reminded Job how the wicked were destroyed in the flood, for they had rejected the LORD (22:17). Yet, men in Noah’s day, as in our day, enjoyed God’s common grace, and their houses were “filled…with good things” (22:18).

Then, Eliphaz proved the callous, heartless man he was and boasted the righteous rejoice when the wicked are afflicted (22:19), and the righteous are “not cut down” (22:20). Once again, the implication was only the wicked suffer in the manner Job was afflicted, and called upon Job to repent and “return to the Almighty” (22:21-23). Perhaps the first to preach a “prosperity gospel,” Eliphaz promised God would prosper Job (22:26), and answer his prayers if he confessed his sin and repented (22:27-30).

Job 23 – Job’s Appeal for God to Hear His Plea

Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s harsh inferences was recorded in Job 23 and Job 24; however, today’s devotional will conclude focusing solely on Job 23.

Once again, Job employed the scene of a heavenly courtroom, and God being his judge and he the victim advocating for compassion and understanding (23:1-2). Job complained it seemed God was distant, and were he to find Him, he would come to His throne and petition the LORD to hear his appeal (23:3-4). Knowing the LORD to be just, Job confessed, “I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say unto me” (23:5). He believed God would not only hear his cause, but would favor him in His judgment (23:6-7). Job complained, he searched everywhere for the LORD, but felt he was abandoned by Him (if only he had known, God was ever watching and attentive to him (23:8-9).

Closing thoughts (23:10-17) – Our devotion concludes with Job giving us a wonderful truth regarding God’s omniscience, mercy, and providences. Job 23:10 presents us with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences: “He knoweth the way that I take: When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).

Though his friends misjudged him, Job was comforted knowing the LORD knew his ways and motives (23:11-12). Though men are given to urges, Job knew the LORD was immutable, and not given to whims. Our God is of “one mind” and does as He pleases, and His plan will be accomplished in our lives (23:13-14).

Job was confident, regardless the accusations brought against him by others, he was sure God knew him to be a man of integrity. While friends slandered and misjudged him, he believed God’s judgment was righteous and perfect.

Take comfort and trust in God: The LORD is not given to whims, for “He is one mind…and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (23:13).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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A Tale of Two Lineages, and the Flood to Come (Genesis 5; Genesis 6)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Genesis 5; Genesis 6

Genesis 4 concluded with Cain being driven from the presence of Adam’s household (4:12-16), and him taking a wife, and establishing an ungodly lineage (4:17). Several sons and daughters were born of Adam and Eve’s union (5:4); however, it was a son whom Eve named Seth, that God chose as His godly lineage (4:25). Seth had a son whom he named Enos, and then we read, “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (4:26).

Genesis 5 – A Tale of Two Lineages

Before we identify the two lineages that proceeded from Adam and Eve, consider for a moment the incredibly long life spans of men from those first generations. For instance, Adam lived 930 years (5:4); his son Seth lived 912 years (5:8); and Enos lived 905 years (5:11). How might we explain the longevity of early human life?

Various scholars have tackled that question, and many have scoffed at the possibility of men living 900 years or more. There are generally two explanations that give some merit to the thought of men living long on the earth. One widely accepted belief concerns the earth’s atmosphere as an expanse of water “above the firmament” (1:7). Such an unpolluted atmosphere shielded man and the world from aging factors, such as, harmful UV radiation from the sun, and contaminates from space.

A second explanation for longevity, and one I believe may hold more weight, focuses on man’s DNA. It could be argued that the human race was genetically purer in the beginning (i.e., unadulterated, and stronger), with the exception of sin’s influence. Thus, there was less sickness and less propensity for disease as man had a greater ability to withstand the entrance of viruses, and cell mutation. Given the longevity of human life in those early centuries, the result was a boom in population growth that some have estimated could have reached billions of souls before the Flood!

The ungodly lineage of Cain was chronicled in Genesis 4:16-24, but we should note only a few of his descendants were named. Those who were recorded are named only because of their role in the Biblical narrative. The godly lineage of Adam, through his son Seth is given in Genesis 5 and takes us through to the birth of Noah, and his three sons, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (5:32).

Genesis 6 – Judgment and Destruction: The Worldwide Flood

The World Before the Flood (6:1-7)

The Antediluvian period (i.e., pre-flood) witnessed not only a population explosion (6:1), but an eruption in gross wickedness (6:1-3). That time was characterized by an unholy union, for we read, “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (6:2). The hearts of men were so consumed with wickedness, that even the godly lineage of Seth (“the sons of God”), intermingled with the “daughters of men” (6:2) [Some believe the “sons of God” is a reference to fallen angels or demons, taking possession of men’s bodies, and procreating a race of giants, described as “mighty men which were of old, men of renown,” 6:4].

Whichever interpretation you choose to follow, the compromise was so grave, God moved to intervene, and used the waters of a worldwide flood to cleanse the earth. Seeing the proliferation of sin, the LORD vowed, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3).

To fulfill His promise of a Redeemer who would be the seed of a woman and crush Satan’s seed (3:15), the LORD set the date of His judgment: My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3). God observed “every imagination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5). Grieved by man’s wickedness, the LORD declared universal judgment, saying, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (6:7).

The Heart of God (6:3, 6-8)

Yet, the Lord was loving and longsuffering, and gave mankind 120 years before His judgment (6:3). Grieved by man’s sin (6:6), God’s holy nature demanded He “destroy man…from the face of the earth” (6:7). Nevertheless, we read: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). (Note, this is the first mention of God’s grace, but not the first evidence of grace. For example, it was an act of God’s grace when He sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness with skins, 3:21.)

Noah’s Response to God’s Grace (6:9-18)

In all the earth, one man was chosen as the object of God’s favor. Concerning that man, we read, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (6:9). He believed God, and determined to raise a godly seed in a world “filled with violence: and corruption (6:11-12). God foretold His judgment, saying, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (6:13). Then, in an act of grace, the LORD commanded Noah, “Make thee an ark”(6:14).

How did Noah respond to God’s commandment, and covenant promise to save his sons, wife, and their wives? (6:18)

Closing thoughts – Noah responded in the same way all sinners must to be saved…Faith. He believed God! The author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things [and events] not seen as yet, moved with fear [took heed of God’s warning], prepared an ark to the saving [deliverance] of his house; by the which [faith] he condemned the world [of unbelief], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s obedience was an expression of His faith in God, and he did “according to all that God had commanded him, so did he” (6:22).

I close with James’ exhortation: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17–18).

What do your works say about your faith, and trust in God?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.
Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611
You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Murderer and His Punishment (Genesis 4)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 4

Review – Genesis 3

Adam’s sin and fall from God’s favor had immediate consequences for him, his wife, and the newly created world. Satan was cursed, and his fate sealed with the revelation he would be at enmity (an enemy) with “the woman, and between [his] seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:14-15). The sanctity of marriage and family were affected, as the woman’s curse was the pain of childbirth, and a desire to please her husband, who would “rule” (headship or authority) over her (3:16).

As the federal head of the human race, Adam’s responsibility was that of king and priest of the Garden, as well as, the caretaker of God’s creation (3:17b-19). When Adam sinned, he set in motion a downfall that would not be redeemed for four thousand years. Though bearing the curse of man’s sin, the earth was young and fruitful; yet, the decay caused by sin was soon evident in nature (3:18-19).

While the consequences of sin were grave, there was hope in God’s revelation of His mercy and grace: 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (3:21). Rather than risk man eating of the fruit of “the tree of life” (2:9; 3:22) and living forever in his fallen state, Adam and Eve were shamefully, but mercifully driven from the Garden. At the east entrance to Eden, God placed “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (3:24). Today’s Scripture reading will reveal the curse of sin and death passed from father to son.

Genesis 4

Genesis 4 introduced the second generation of humanity, as Eve gave Adam two sons, Cain, the elder (4:1), and his brother Abel (4:2). Tragically, the curse of sin could not be remedied with Adam, for Adam himself, was a man of sin.

Coming of Age (4:3-4)

The beauty and simplicity of the Genesis narrative is revealed again, as Cain and Abel brought their offerings to the LORD. The two sons of Adam had come of age, and at the appointed time came before the LORD (4:3). After observing their parents’ manner of worship and sacrifice, the sons knew well what God required (for He had made “coats of skins and clothed” Adam and Eve, 3:21). Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the LORD (4:3-4), and He accepted Abel’s offering of “the firstlings [firstborn] of his flock and of the fat thereof” (4:4). However, God rejected Cain’s offering of “the fruit of the ground” (4:5). Both men knew the only acceptable sacrifice was one brought with humility, and nothing less than a blood sacrifice would suffice as a covering for sin (Hebrews 11:4; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Cain, rather than accept the LORD’s rejection with self-abasement, became angry, and his countenance revealed his wayward heart (4:5b). Nevertheless, God mercifully confronted Cain, and reasoned with him, asking, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” (4:6). Stubborn and proud, Cain refused God’s invitation to “Do Right” (i.e. “doest well,” 4:7a). He did not heed the LORD’s admonition, “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (4:7b).

Cain’s Defiance, and Abel’s Murder (4:8-9)

In a sudden, unprovoked act of jealousy, Cain murdered his brother (4:8-9). Luke 11:50-51 identified Abel as a prophet, and implied he reasoned with his brother to obey God (4:8a). Tragically, Cain’s heart moved from pride and jealousy, to defiance and hatred. Provoked by the righteous deeds of his brother (1 John 3:12), Cain “rose up against Abel…and slew him” (4:8b).

Closing thoughts (Genesis 4:7-15) – God warned Cain, “sin lieth at the door” (4:7).

That is the nature of sin. Sin stalks a man like wild animals stalk prey. Even though He knew Abel’s blood had stained the soil of the earth, the LORD mercifully confronted Cain. Five times Cain was reminded that Abel was his brother (4:9-10); yet, he hardened his heart and became more defiant. Rather than repent, he was depressed by his guilt, and overwhelmed with its consequences (4:13). Like all who refuse to repent of their sin, Cain’s concern was his punishment, and not the sin he committed, or the innocent life he had taken. He realized he would become a stranger to God (“from thy face I shall be hid”), and exaggerated his suffering, declaring “every one that findeth me shall slay me” (4:14).

Why did God not kill Cain as punishment for his sin? In an act of underserved mercy, the LORD answered Cain’s fear with a promise of protection (4:15-16). Condemning any who might be tempted to exercise personal vengeance and slay Cain, the LORD declared, “whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (4:15). The Scriptures do not identify the mark the LORD placed on Cain; however, it served as a warning to any who presumed to take his life. Later, Scriptures will reveal only government, representing society, has the authority to take human life as an exercise of judgment (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12; Numbers 35:16-17; Romans 13:4).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.
Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611
You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Globalist Seduction: Babylon, the Antichrist, and “Big Pharma” (Revelation 18)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Revelation 18

Seven bowls of God’s wrath were poured out on the tribulation world (Revelation 16-17). Yet, Babylon seemed to prevail, even as the people and nations of the world were reeling under the consequences of God’s wrath. The flesh of men was afflicted with ulcers (16:2), and the seas and fresh waters turned to blood (16:3-7). The sun’s shift scorched men under its rays (16:8-9), even as the earth was plunged into terrifying darkness (16:10-11). The Euphrates River dried up, as God made a path for the armies of the world to gather at Armageddon (16:12-16).

When the seventh bowl of God’s wrath was poured out, His voice was heard and declared, “It is done” (16:17). The earth was then shaken by an earthquake greater than any before it, and the city of Jerusalem “was divided into three parts” (16:19), Islands fell into the sea, as the mountains were removed (16:20).

God’s judgment against Babylon began in Revelation 17, and continued through Revelation 18. As you read today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 18), remember Babylon was prophetically more than a great city. In the Book of Revelation, Babylon was a symbol of the power, authority, and government of the antichrist(identified as “the beast” in these latter chapters of Revelation).

Revelation 18 – The Fall of Babylon

The apostle John wrote, “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory” (18:1). Remembering the earth was in the throes of darkness from the fifth bowl (Revelation 16:10-11), the angel’s appearance illuminated the sky “with his glory” (18:1). The same angel cried with a loud voice, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” (18:2).

Reasons for Babylon’s Demise (18:2-3)

Like ancient Babylon, which was weighed in the balances of God’s justice and was “found wanting” (Daniel 5:27), the Babylon of Revelation was condemned (18:2-3). It had become a place for demonic spirits (18:2b), and every foul and unclean spirit (18:2c). Like vultures circling a rotting carcass, demonic spirits, like “every unclean and hateful bird,” waited for Babylon’s fall (18:2d).

Tragically, I find the sins of Revelation 18:3 indicative of the sins and wickedness of our current western nations: the United States being most prominent. Babylon was condemned for her sexual debauchery, and lust for wealth and riches (18:3). The world ruled by the antichrist will lead nations down a path of sexual perversity, and spiritual idolatry (18:3a). The kingdom of the antichrist will seduce the nations of the world with its wealth, riches, and pleasures (18:3b).

A Call for Separation and Judgment (18:4-7)

The voice of the angel (18:1) was suddenly interrupted when the Lord voiced from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, That ye be not partakers of her sins, And that ye receive not of her plagues” (18:4). The call for believers to separate from the world and its wickedness is found throughout the Scriptures. Although separation from the world is a Scriptural mandate, many 21st century believers and churches have failed to separate from the Babylon of our day. Surely, the command, “come out of her, my people,” should resonate in the heart of every believer who loves the Lord (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

Like the tower of ancient Babel (Genesis 11), the sins of Babylon were described as having piled up so high they “reached unto heaven” (18:5a). An angel called on God to punish Babylon, saying, 6Reward her even as she rewarded you, And double unto her double according to her works: In the cup which she hath filled fill to her double” (18:6). In essence, not only remember Babylon’s wickedness, but punish her doubly for the sins she has committed. The same angel described Babylon’s sins: Proud (for she had “glorified herself”), Sensual (“lived deliciously”), and Presumptuous (for the city boasted “I sit a queen, And am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (18:7).

Closing thoughts (18:8-24) – I conclude with a few observations. The nations of the earth were staggered by the wrath of God, but were especially shocked at the sudden demise and destruction of Babylon (18:8). The wealthy and powerful men of the earth were shocked and dismayed by the fall of the antichrist and his empire (18:9-10).
So much of the world economy was dependent on trade with Babylon, and the sudden failure of that nation sent economic shock waves across the world (18:11-14). The wealthy and powerful were terrified, and wailed, “Alas, alas, that great city…17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (18:16b-17a). Shipping and commerce were destroyed, as men who sailed the seas, cried, “For in one hour is she made desolate” (18:17-19).

The destruction of Babylon (representing the seat of the antichrist’s power and authority), gave cause for rejoicing in heaven (18:20). A “mighty angel” described the effect of Babylon’s annihilation: The sound of musical instruments fell silent  (18:22a), and the work of craftsmen and those preparing bread ceased (18:22b). Light was extinguished, along with the joys of the groom and the bride (18:23a).

Finally, given the world’s recent experience with “Covid-19” and vaccines, verse 23 should resonate with believers. We read, “For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (18:23b). The root word for sorceries in the Greek language is “pharmakeia,” from which we get our English word “pharmacy or pharmaceuticals.” In the tribulation, “all nations” will be deceived by “pharmakeia” (In the United States, the revenue of the pharmaceutical industry in 2021 was $576.9 billion).

When people ask, “what is wrong with our world?” You can answer, “We are on the threshold of the Tribulation!”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Four Principles that Make for Peace and Unity (Ephesians 4; Ephesians 5)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotional.

Scripture reading – Ephesians 4; Ephesians 5

Continuing our study of Paul’s epistle to the believers of the church in Ephesus, we come to chapters 4 and 5. In the first three chapters, the apostle reminded the believers of Ephesus, though they were of Gentile descent, by their faith in Christ they were redeemed. To what end or purpose had God saved them? To the end they might glorify God (1:4-7; 11-14).

Their salvation and hope of eternal life were not in their physical lineage (for they were, like all sinners, born into this world, “dead in trespasses and sins,” 2:1). The believers of Ephesus were saved by the same grace through which the Old Testament patriarchs came to God…Faith (Hebrews 11).

Paul declared, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). No sinner is saved by good works, church membership, baptism, or observing a rite or ordinance of the church. Sinners come to salvation and find forgiveness of sins the same way Abraham found favor in God’s sight…Faith. Paul wrote, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6). The apostle wrote the same to the Galatians: “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

By God’s grace, Jew and Gentile are baptized into the same body, and therefore “of the house of God” (2:19), the visible body of Christ (2:19-22; 3:6).

Ephesians 4 – The Believer’s Life in the Church

For a second time, Paul reminded believers he was not a prisoner of Rome, but “the prisoner of the Lord” (4:1; 3:1). Out of that reality, his imprisonment was fulfilling God’s purpose, even as Paul called believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (4:1). A believer’s conversion, and profession of faith in Christ, of necessity changes his walk, and day-to-day priorities. A child of God by faith has a vocation, a holy, heavenly calling (2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1).

The Basis of Unity (4:2-3)

It has been observed: Good relationships are not built upon an absence of problems and conflicts. How are the members of the church (the body of Christ), to find harmony and unity in the midst of our differences? Paul exhorted, if we are to enjoy the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3), we must choose “lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (4:2).

Conflicts are unavoidable; however, when believers respond in “lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering,” and bear our differences in a spirit of sacrificial love, the church will experience “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3).

Conflict only prevails in a vacuum of love, which is the foundation of all spiritual virtues.

The Means of Unity (4:4-24)

Sincere believers have a mutual affection, and spiritual kinship with one another. Paul identified seven traits of our oneness as believers: “4There is one body (the church), and one Spirit (God’s Spirit), even as ye are called in one hope (salvation) of your calling; 5One Lord (King; Sovereign), one faith (in Jesus Christ), one baptism (water baptism, and our identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection), 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (4:4-6).

Closing thoughts – While the world is known for its self-centeredness, and pursuit of sinful pleasures (4:14, 19, 22, 25-30), believers are commanded to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:23-24). Consider with me four principles that not only pave the way for peace and unity, but are fundamental to good communication (I credit the late Dr. Jay Adams with this simple outline).

Be Honest: “Speaking the truth in love… putting away lying, speak every man truth” (4:15, 25). Warning: Be prepared for rejection, for sinners hate to hear truth. Yet, when spoken in love, loving words may fall upon a tender heart.

Keep Current: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (4:26). There are circumstances when anger is justified; however, we should seek solutions to conflicts, and not allow for resentment or a vengeful sprit.

Attack Problems, Not People: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (4:29-30). Words have the power to hurt, and the power to heal. We should avoid words that are unwholesome, vicious, and vulgar. Our speech should encourage righteousness, and edify and strengthen others.

Act, Don’t React: This final principle identifies six negative, sinful reactions (4:31), followed by three loving actions (4:32). We read, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (4:31-32).

Spiritual TruthWhen your attitude is proud (4:2-3), and your words are unloving (4:22-32), trouble and heartache will plague your life.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Persevering in Trials, and Overcoming Temptations (James 1; James 2)

Scripture reading – James 1; James 2

Our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures continues with a brief departure from our readings in the Acts of the Apostles, and picks up in the book of James. Completing our prior study of Acts 14, we found Paul and Barnabas returning from their first missionary journey to towns and cities in Asia Minor (an area we know today as modern Turkey). Jews and Gentiles were professing faith in Christ, being baptized, and added to the church daily. That diversity, Jew and Gentile (many of them of Greek and Roman backgrounds), introduced differences that arose between the circumcised Jews and the uncircumcised Gentiles. (That will be a topic of study in Acts 15, when Paul and Barnabas journey to Jerusalem and account for their ministries to Gentiles.)

Why interrupt our study of the Book of Acts, and focus on the Epistle of James? That question is answered by identifying its author.

Introduction (1:1)

The “Epistle of James” is a letter that bears the name of its author. The writer introduced himself and his recipients in the opening verse: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes [the Tribes of Israel] which are scattered abroad [dispersed], greeting [rejoice; be glad]” (James 1:1).

With humility, James identified himself as “a servant,” a slave to “God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1). There are several men identified as James in the New Testament; however, this James did not feel the need to introduce himself, perhaps because he needed no introduction. By the time this epistle was penned, the apostle James, brother of John and the son of Zebedee was martyred (Acts 12:2), and thereby eliminating him as the author. Most scholars identify the writer as James, the half-brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19), being born of Joseph and Mary. We know James and his siblings were not followers of Jesus until after His crucifixion, death and resurrection (John 7:5). Acts 1:14, however, identified Jesus’ “brethren” among those who assembled in “an upper room” after He ascended to heaven.

This same James was recognized as a leader of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). In a future devotional, Paul and Barnabas will give account to the believers in Jerusalem, and it will be this James who addressed the assembly (Acts 15:13) of apostles and elders. James was also mentioned by name with leaders of the church in Acts 21:18. The letter was addressed “to the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad” (some of the captivity who never returned to Israel, and others recently scattered by persecution, 1:1b). You will find the Epistle of James is practical, insightful, and convicting.

A Righteous Attitude Toward Trials and Temptations (1:2-4)

James opened his letter with a bold exhortation for believers: “My brethren, count [regard; judge] it all joy [a cause for rejoicing] when ye fall [stand in the midst of] into divers [various] temptations [trials]; Knowing this, that the trying [testing] of your faith [what you believe] worketh [performs; works out; produces] patience [steadfastness; endurance]. But let patience [steadfastness; endurance] have her perfect [maturing; complete] work, that ye may be perfect [mature] and entire [complete], wanting nothing [i.e. lacking not one thing]” (James 1:2–4).

Means to Overcome Trials and Temptations (1:5-12)

What should you do when you face hardships and persecution? Ask God for wisdom (1:5), trust Him (never give in to doubts and fears, 1:6), and rejoice (1:9). Whether you are brought low by poverty, or tempted to be exalted and dependent on riches, remember wealth is temporal (like grass that withers, or flowers that fade, 1:10-11). Do not forget, the person who loves the LORD will be blessed, when he endures trials (1:12).

Origin of Trials and Temptations (1:13-18)

Among the great truths we might take from trials and troubles, is foremost the promise God will never tempt you to sin (1:13). In fact, when you are tempted to sin, remember temptations arise from within the heart: “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (1:14). Some might whine, “the devil tempted me;” however, the appeal to sin arises from lust seeded in the heart of sinners, and comes with a death sentence: “sin, when it is finished bringeth for death” (1:15).

The effect of lust and sin is death (Hebrews 9:27). Sin deals a death-blow to marriages, families, careers, hopes, and one’s health. Sin ends with physical, spiritual, and eternal death (Romans 6:23). Remember: God is the source of only good (1:16-18).

Closing thoughts (1:19-27) – How might believers prepare for trials and temptations? I find three major principles that answer that question in the closing verses of James 1.

1) Be Quick to Hear the Word of God, and Slow to Speak (1:19-21). In other words, obey God’s Word (1:19), restrain your anger (1:20), and renounce any sin that comes between you and God (1:21).

2) Be a Doer of the Word, not a Hearer Only (1:22-24). Hearing, but failing to obey God’s Word ends in self-deception (1:22). The Word of God is a perfect, flawless spiritual mirror of man’s soul, if he will remember what it reveals, and obey its truths.

3) Bridle Your Tongue (1:26). Some appear pious, and spiritually devout; however, if they do not bridle their tongues, they are self-deceived and their religion is vain and empty.

A devotional study of James 2 will need to wait for another year.; however, I conclude our study of James 1, by spotlighting the qualities of a sincere heart: Selfless and compassionate (caring for orphans and widows), and unstained by the sins of the world (1:27).

How’s your heart?

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

What is in Your Heart? (Matthew 15; Mark 7)

Scripture reading – Matthew 15; Mark 7

Our study of the Synoptic Gospels continues with Matthew and Mark recording the same events in the life and ministry of Christ. Though it is doubtful either author could have read the writing of the other (this was 14 centuries before the printing press, and there were few handwritten copies of the Scriptures), we once again marvel at the proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21). As you will see, Matthew and Mark complement one another in their unique perspective.

In earlier devotions we have considered the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-43; John 6:1-14). Today’s Scripture reading present a similar miracle known as the Feeding of the Four Thousand or TheMiracle of the Seven Loaves and Fish (Matthew 15:29-39; Mark 8:1-21). Because the miracles are so similar, I will focus instead upon the confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 15:1-20, and Mark 7:1-23).

The Accusers and Their Accusations (Matthew 15:1-2; Mark 7:1-5)

Matthew and Mark report the scribes [experts in the Law and traditions] and Pharisees came to Jesus, and accused the disciples of transgressing “the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (15:1-2). Those religious leaders were offended the disciples did not practice the ritualistic washing that was a tradition in Israel.

Jesus Condemned Hypocrisy (15:3-9)

These pious leaders were focusing on their own traditions as though they were commandments of God, while ignoring what the commandments actually said. Yet, those leaders were no different than religious leaders of our day who replace commandments with traditions. Jesus ignored the premise of their question, and asked, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (15:3)

What a powerful response! Rather than waste precious time debating their ill-founded criticisms, Jesus admonished them. They usurped the authority of the Scriptures, and Jesus charged they were guilty of breaking the fifth commandment which dealt with honoring father and mother (Exodus 20:12). The LORD warned, “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death” (15:4b; Exodus 21:17).

Lip Service vs. Heart Service (Matthew 15:7-9; Mark 7:9-13)

The scribes and Pharisees had not only failed to instruct the people, but encouraged them to dismiss their obligation to care for the physical needs of their fathers and mothers. By their traditions, they disavowed an adult child’s responsibility for his parents’ welfare. They taught, declare “Corban” (meaning, it’s a gift; Mark 7:11-12), and saying one could dedicate his wealth and possessions to the LORD and be under no obligation to father or mother (Mark 7:12).

Jesus condemned them as hypocrites (Matthew 15:7), and quoted the prophet Isaiah: “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, And with their lips do honour me, But have removed their heart far from me, And their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13). Because they masked their hypocritical hearts with external rituals, Jesus warned their worship was in vain (Matthew 15:8-9).

Watch Your Mouth, and Your Heart (Matthew 15:10-20)

Our devotional study will conclude with a brief examination of things that defile a man. After confronting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (15:7), Jesus called on the people to give Him their attention, and said, “Hear, and understand: 11Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (15:10-11). While the Pharisees put their emphasis on whether or not a man ate with clean or unclean hands, Jesus warned it was not what a man put into his mouth, but that which proceeded out of his mouth that defiled (in other words, deemed oneself sinful and unfit before God, 15:11).

The disciples came to Jesus, but rather than express concern for the false doctrine of the Pharisees, they voiced alarm He had offended the Pharisees (15:12). Jesus rebuked His disciples, and warned God would uproot that which He had not planted (meaning the false teachers and their doctrines, and traditions of men, 15:13). Leave the spiritually blind teaching the blind, for “both shall fall into the ditch” (15:14).

Peter, often the spokesman for the Twelve, asked, “Declare unto us this parable” (15:15). What parable? The one Christ taught when He said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (15:11).

The disciples were slow learners, and missed the point: Physical food goes in and out of a man, and does not defile (15:16-17). Yet, the things which come out of a man’s mouth reflects the spiritual condition of his heart (15:18). What is the heart? In the Scriptures the heart of man is the seat of his inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions. What sins lie in the heart of man? Matthew wrote, “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (15:19). Mark added, “covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (7:22).

Closing thoughts – The Pharisees focused on whether or not a man’s hands were ceremonially clean, and ignored the condition of a man’s heart (15:20). What is the condition of man’s heart? The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus confirmed the same, for evil arises within the heart of man and defiles him.

Don’t be beguiled by spiritual blindness or piety! The LORD knows your heart, and He alone can purge your heart from the filthiness that lies within.

1 John 1:7–97But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Hope for the Hopeless (Mark 5)

Scripture reading – Mark 5

We continue our study of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and our focus today is Mark 5. Once again, we have the story of Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee and arriving on the other side in an area identified as the Gadarenes (5:1). Matthew 8:28 recognized the same region as Gergesenes (Gadara was the name of a nearby city, while Gergesenes was the name of a lake on that side. There was also a city in that area named Gergesa). Another difference between Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels is the prior states there were “two possessed with devils” that met Jesus (Matthew 8:28), and the latter states the LORD encountered “a man with an unclean sprit” (5:2). The difference in the two accounts is not a contradiction, but only that Mark chose to record the event of one man, not two.

Let us consider, that harmony in content is one of the great testaments to the inspiration of the Gospels. While the Holy Spirit used different human authors, and employed each man’s unique perspective and language, nevertheless the accounts harmonize as a whole (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Together, the Synoptics give us a deeper dimension of the same events.

Today’s devotional will focus on Mark 5:1-20, and the terrible toll sin took upon one man’s life. Jesus and His disciples had crossed the Sea of Galilee by boat, and arrived on the eastern shore. There, they were met by a hopeless, tormented, demon possessed man described as having an “unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2).

The Condition of a Desperate Sinner (5:1-5)

Consider the physical appearance of the demon possessed man: The man was described as having “fetters” (ropes) and chains that hanged about his body, showing the desperate attempts family and friends had made to control him (5:3-4). His body was scarred with self-inflicted wounds for he had cut “himself with stones” (5:5).

He was a troubled man, socially isolated from his family, friends, and neighbors. He had made his abode among the caves and tombs of the hillsides in the area (5:5). Imagine the sorrow his condition had brought upon his loved ones, for he had been driven into the desert leaving behind his family to bear the sorrow and shame of his condition. His emotional condition was exhibited in his tormented screams that echoed off the hillsides “always” (5:5). “Night and day” the wild, tormented screams of his anguish were heard (5:5).

Salvation and Transformation (5:6-15)

He was “possessed with the devil, and had the legion” (a legion was a Roman name of a company of soliders that might number in the thousands, 5:9, 15).  We are not told how the man came to be possessed by demons; however, sin had overtaken every part of his affections and thoughts. The evil, unclean spirit had degraded and destroyed his life, family, and future (James 1:14-15).

In a fleeting moment of desperation, the man ran to Jesus and worshipped Him (5:6); however, the demons that ruled his soul wanted nothing to do with Jesus (5:7).  Jesus, evidencing His power and authority over evil spirits, cast the demons out of the man and permitted them to enter a herd of swine that could not abide the indwelling of such wickedness (5:10-13).

Rather than the protracted steps and methods of “reformation” that is the methodology of secular psychologists and psychiatrists, the demon-possessed man’s life was immediately changed by his spiritual encounter and faith in Jesus. His life gave evidence of his conversion and the radical transformation was undeniable (5:8, 15). The change was so transformative his family, friends, and neighbors observed him “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” (5:15). He was “sitting,” at peace, and no longer bound by sin or needing chains and ropes.  They found him “clothed,” no longer a violent man crying and cutting himself. He was “in his right mind,” repentant and rational (5:15), and longed to go with Jesus (5:18). God’s power not only overcame his rebellious, evil spirit, it transformed his thoughts, mind, and affections.

Closing thoughts – Tragically, and in spite of the undeniable transformation in the man’s life, the citizens of Gadara begged Jesus to “depart out of their coasts” (5:17). They would not embrace Him as LORD, nor would they welcome Him in their homes or country. Jesus, knowing the man of Gadara could go where He would not be welcome, commanded him to, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (5:19). The change in the demon-possessed man’s life was undeniable evidence of his salvation. Can that be said of you?

Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Two Adulteress, One Pot of Boiling Scum, and the Death of Ezekiel’s Wife (Ezekiel 23; Ezekiel 24)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 23; Ezekiel 24

Our Scripture reading, consisting of two chapters (Ezekiel 23 and 24), are introduced with Ezekiel recounting, 1The word of the Lord came…unto me, saying, Son of man” (23:1; 24:1-2). “Son of man” reminded Ezekiel, though he was a priest by lineage, and a prophet by calling, he was nevertheless a man with the weaknesses and failings of men. “Son of Man” was also a frequent title Christ used of Himself (Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 11:19; Mark 2:28; Luke 19:10), reminding His followers He was the “Son of God” by nature (John 1:14; 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5), and the “Son of Man” by birth (being conceived by the virgin Mary).

Ezekiel 23

Two Sisters Who Became Adulterers (23:1-21)

The LORD came to Ezekiel with a parable of two sisters, and a mother (23:2). The mother was symbolic of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (23:2), and the daughters represented the divided kingdoms. Samaria, identified as the elder sister “Aholah,” symbolized the ten northern tribes known as Israel (23:4). The city of Jerusalem was identified as “Aholibah,” and symbolized Judah, the southern kingdom (23:4)

The Sins and Wickedness of Samaria (23:4-10)

Samaria and Jerusalem were guilty of spiritual adultery, for they had turned from the LORD to the gods of other nations. Forsaking her covenant with the LORD, Samaria turned to Assyria, and embraced that nation’s idols with their wicked, immoral practices (23:5-10; 2 Kings 15:19-20; 17:1-4). A century had passed since the LORD gave Samaria over to Assyria, and that northern Israel was stripped of its wealth, and her sons and daughters taken into captivity (23:9-10)

The Sins and Wickedness of Jerusalem (23:11-21)

Jerusalem followed in the sins of Samaria, portrayed in Ezekiel 23 as that nation’s sister (23:11). Privileged to have the Temple representing the presence of the LORD in her midst, the sins and wickedness of Jerusalem exceeded those of Samaria. Ezekiel was to declare, Jerusalem “was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms” (23:11).

Like Samaria, Jerusalem turned from the LORD, sought the favor of Assyria (2 Kings 16:5-18; Isaiah 7:1-25), and defiled herself with the idols of that heathen nation (23:13). When Assyria fell to Babylon, Jerusalem turned to the idols of that nation, and lusted for the great men of the Chaldeans (23:14-16). Rejecting the LORD, the kings of Jerusalem had flirted with Babylon like an adulterous woman (23:15-16). Rather than favor, Babylon abused Jerusalem, shamed and humiliated the people (23:17-18). Failing to turn to the LORD, the king of Jerusalem turned to Egypt for help and failed (23:19-21; 2 Kings 23:26-24:2).

God Determined to Judge Jerusalem and Judah (23:22-35)

As with Samaria, so it was with Jerusalem, for the LORD determined that city would be judged for her wickedness and spiritual idolatry. Ezekiel prophesied the LORD would bring a great army against Jerusalem (23:22-23), and fulfill the judgment He had determined against the city (23:24). The soldiers of Babylon would show no mercy to the people, and would take their children captive (23:25-29). As the cup of God’s wrath would be poured out, Jerusalem would fall (23:30-35).

Consequences of Sin, and the Righteous End of God’s Judgment (23:36-49)

Lest any question God’s justice, Ezekiel declared the sins of Jerusalem (23:36-42), and God’s judgment (23:43-47). Why did the LORD bring upon His people all of this sorrow and suffering? It was to the end they might feel the weight of their sins, repent and know the God of Israel is “the Lord God” (23:48-49).

Ezekiel 24 – A Boiling Caldron

Briefly, Ezekiel 24 records the parable of a boiling pot, that represented God’s final judgment on Jerusalem. It was on the day the LORD came to Ezekiel with the parable (24:1), that Nebuchadnezzar began his final siege of Jerusalem (24:2). The parable was addressed to the rebels of Judah (24:3), and the boiling pot represented Jerusalem (“the blood city, 24:6a). The fire in the parable identified the wrath of God’s judgment, and the scum in the pot symbolized the sin and wickedness of Jerusalem (24:6-11). In their rebellion, the people of Jerusalem became a filthy, lewd people whose sins stipulated God’s judgment (24:12-13). Indeed, until His justice was satisfied, God’s judgment would not cease (23:14).

The Sign from the Death of Ezekiel’s Wife (24:15-27)

Our devotion concludes, not with a parable, but a sign. The LORD revealed to Ezekiel: “Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire [Ezekiel’s wife] of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down” (24:15-16). Ezekiel’s refusal to mourn the death of his wife in public, was to serve as a sign for the people to refrain from mourning the news of Jerusalem’s fall (24:17-23).

Closing thoughts (24:24-27) – Why were the people to abstain from mourning in public, after they received the news of Jerusalem’s fall?

They were not to mourn the destruction of the Temple and the city, but rather the sins and wickedness of the people that had necessitated its ruin it (24:24-25). To that end, it was the LORD’s desire that His people would, in the midst of their private sorrows, come to hear and know Him as LORD (24:27).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

God Sought for a Man, and Found None (Ezekiel 22)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 22

The sins and wickedness of Jerusalem is the subject of Ezekiel 22. How could one nation, given the favor of the LORD like none other, sink to the depths of sin and depravity we find in this chapter? It is both frightening and convicting, when you realize how Judah’s sins parallel the sins of the 21st century. I was moved to sadness as I studied Ezekiel 22. I found myself sorrowing not only for Israel in history past, but for my own day and nation.

Indictment of Jerusalem and Her Citizens (22:1-22)

Today’s Scripture begins with the LORD summoning His prophet to serve as His prosecutor, and asking him, son of man, wilt thou judge [denounce; pass judgment], wilt thou judge the bloody city? (22:2a). The LORD answered His question, and asserted, “yea, thou shalt shew her all her [Jerusalem’s] abominations” (22:2b).

As the prosecutor of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was to charge the people of that city with two crimes (22:3): Violence (for “the city sheddeth blood”), and Idolatry (for the people had rejected the LORD, and made idols). The consequences of Jerusalem’s sins were fourfold: The LORD declared the people to be guilty, defiled, worthy of death (“for her sins had “caused [her] days to draw near,” and “a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries” (22:4-5).

Twelve National Sins (22:6-12)

The egregious nature of Jerusalem’s sins were declared boldly by the LORD through His prophet. They had become a murderous, abusive people (22:6), whose sons and daughters dishonored their parents (22:7a). They oppressed the helpless (who were non-Hebrews in their midst, as well as orphans and widows, 22:7b), despised those things that were holy, and desecrated the Sabbath (22:8). They slandered, and were immoral (22:9). They committed incest with their fathers (22:10), and adultery with those who were not their wives (22:11). Their families were scandalously incestuous (22:11), and men bribed to kill, charged exorbitant interest, and blackmailed others for gain (22:12).

God’s Judgment (22:12c-22)

Jerusalem’s wickedness was summed up in this: They had forsaken and “forgotten” the LORD (22:12c), and their sins demanded His judgment. The LORD clapped His hands at the people in disgust, for they provoked Him to anger with their fraudulent gain (22:13). Once a powerful and valiant people, Judah had become a weak, cowardice people (22:14). The LORD had determined to scatter His people among the nations of the world (22:15a), and declared He would consume their wickedness in His wrath (22:15b). All this would be done, that the people might confess and acknowledge Him as “the LORD” (22:16). In the fire of His wrath, He would purify His people of their sins (22:18).

They had become as worthless dross, impure and unholy (22:18). In His wrath, the LORD drove His people to seek shelter in Jerusalem (22:19), and that city became a boiling caldron of fiery judgment (22:20-21; 2 Kings 25:9). To what end would this great judgment fall upon Jerusalem?

Ezekiel 22:2222As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you.

Indictment of Jerusalem’s Leaders (22:23-31)

Judah’s and Jerusalem’s leaders had failed the people, and already the LORD had withheld the rains that would lead to thirst and famine (22:23). King Zedekiah and his court had become ravenous lions, devouring the people, robbing them by corrupt means, whose violence and wars made many widows (22:25).

The priests, the spiritual leaders of Jerusalem, had violated the Laws and Commandments, and desecrated the Temple with idols and sacrifices (22:25). They failed to sanctify that which was holy, nor did they keep the sabbaths (22:26).

The “princes” (political leaders) of Jerusalem and Judah were like ravenous wolves, shedding the blood of the innocent to increase their “dishonest gain” (22:27).

There were false prophets in the midst of the people who “daubed” the sins of the people with “untempered morter” (thus whitewashing their sins). They lied, made empty promises, and deceived, claiming to speak the words of the LORD (22:28).

Finally, there was an indictment of the people themselves. Like their leaders, they were guilty of extortion, theft, oppressing the poor and needy, and treating unjustly the non-Jewish people in their midst (22:29).

Closing thoughts – Was there any hope for Jerusalem? Were there any whom God might use to condemn the sins of the nation, and call the people to repent? The answer to those questions is summed up in this:

Ezekiel 22:3030And I sought for [searched and attempted to find] a man among them, that should make up the hedge [a wall], and stand in the gap [in the breach] before me for the land, that I should not destroy it [to annihilate; desolate]: but I found none [no one].

One man might have made the difference for Jerusalem; but the king, the leaders, and the people had rejected and scorned Jeremiah. Tragically, all was lost and the wrath of God would not be appeased (22:31).

Are there any willing to answer God’s call in the 21st century, and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap?”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.