Tag Archives: God is Just

An Introduction to Isaiah – part 1 (Isaiah 1)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 1

Continuing our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures, we come to the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Before we dive into this wonderful book, I remind you the purpose of this shepherd’s heart is to present to my readers, not only a daily devotional challenge, but a deeper survey of both the Old and New Testaments.

I want you to see history as “His-Story,” and as a testament to God’s sovereignty and His providential dealings with all people. Before introducing you to the prophet Isaiah, take a moment and subscribe to www.HeartofAShepherd.com.

Isaiah: Prophet to Judah

Isaiah lived in Judah in the 8th century B.C. His ministry spanned the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1), and three Gentile empires (the decline of Egypt, the waning years of Assyria, and the infancy of the nation of Babylon). He was, in my opinion, the foremost of the Old Testament prophets.

Isaiah: A Fearless Prophet

Isaiah was courageous, and boldly confronted the sins of Judah. He called upon kings to repent of their sins, condemned priests for their corruption and hypocrisy, and warned the people of Judah they would suffer God’s judgment should they fail to repent of their sins. Isaiah predicted the overthrow of Judah, the desolation of the cities, and the Babylonian captivity.

Isaiah: Prophet of God

Isaiah’s preaching was powerful, his words soaring, and his prophecies vivid and specific. He is quoted over 400 times in the New Testament, and his prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s coming in exacting detail.

The Messiah’s Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14)
Isaiah 7:14 –  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. [lit. “God with us”]

The Messiah Person (Isaiah 9:6)
Isaiah 9:6 –  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

The Messiah’s Rejection (Isaiah 53)
Isaiah 53:3 –  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The Messiah’s Suffering (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Isaiah 53:4-5 –  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The Messiah’s Vicarious Death – Substitutionary atonement (Isaiah 53:6-9)
Isaiah 53:6-9-7 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

The Messiah’s Resurrection (Isaiah 53:10)
Isaiah 53:10 –  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Closing thoughts:

We will notice in Isaiah’s preaching, four distinct warnings of God’s judgment should the nation not repent of its sins and turn to God (Isaiah 5:20-23, 26-30). Those judgments are presented in four moving pronouncements of “Woe.” 1) Judah had rejected God’s Law and had no moral absolutes (Isaiah 5:20). 2) The people had become proud and unteachable (Isaiah 5:21). 3) Judah was a narcissistic people, and they loathed the righteous (Isaiah 5:22-23).
4) The fourth and final “woe,” Isaiah was shaken by a heavenly vision of God sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6:1-4), the prophet was so overwhelmed with a consciousness of his own sins, he confessed:

“Woe is me! for I am undone [dumb; silent; perish]; because I am a man of unclean [defiled; polluted] lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). When God asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answered the call, and said, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

A study of Isaiah 1 will follow as a second devotional reading.

Please Subscribe to www.HeartofAShepherd.comIf you follow the daily devotionals on your computer, you will notice to the right of this article a “Follow” button, and a place to enter your email address.

If you are following the daily devotionals on your smart phone or tablet, you need to scroll to the bottom of this post, and there you will see a box where you may enter your email address and subscribe. Please Subscribe to www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Cursed Be the Man Who Usurps God’s Authority (2 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 26)

Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 26

Continuing our chronological study of the Scriptures, we return to 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26, parallel passages of the same historical events. Though the names of kings might be confusing and their deeds soon forgotten, what is important is that we take from our study of the Scriptures an insight into the ways of the LORD, and His sovereign rule in the affairs of men and nations.

2 Kings 15 – Kings rise and fall, but the reign of the LORD endures forever.

His father having been assassinated in a conspiracy (2 Kings 14:19), Azariah (also known as Uzziah in 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26) became king of Judah.  He was only sixteen years old when he ascended to Judah’s throne, and would reign as king fifty-two years (15:1-2).

2 Kings 15:5 states with no explanation that Azariah (i.e. Uzziah), was smitten with leprosy by the LORD and was forced to live in a “several” [separate] house from the palace (2 Kings 15:5a). The king’s son, Jotham, handled the administrative matters of the palace, “judging the people of the land” (2 Kings 15:5b).

To understand the cause for the king’s leprosy (which in the Scriptures is a symbol of the dreadfulness of sin), we turn to 2 Chronicles 26.

2 Chronicles 26 – Stricken with Leprosy for Usurping the Priesthood

King Uzziah’s (i.e., Azariah in 2 Kings 15) remarkable achievements are recorded in 2 Chronicles 26, which also gives us the cause for his successes: “He sought God in the days of Zechariah [the high priest], who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he [Uzziah] sought the LORD, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5).

Uzziah had been a successful warrior (26:6-8), for “God helped him…and his name spread abroad” (26:7-8). He had reinforced the fortification of Jerusalem, and to secure the land he “built towers in the desert, and digged wells” (essential in the dry, arid wilderness, 26:10). I especially admire the mention of Uzziah’s heart for the agrarian way of life, for we read, “he loved husbandry” (i.e., he loved to farm, (26:10).

Yet, this king with a farmer’s heart, was also a gifted administrator, who numbered and ordered his army, providing for his soldiers the necessary implements for war (26:11-15). Perhaps he was also a gifted engineer, and strategist, for he is said to have “made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal” (26:15a). What those “engines” of war were, is a matter of speculation, but Uzziah achieved the admiration of his friends and foes (26:15b).

Tragically, when he was at the pinnacle of success in his 52-year reign over Judah, we read, “But when he [Uzziah; i.e. Azariah] was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (2 Chronicles 26:16).

Why did the LORD afflict King Uzziah (i.e., Azariah) with leprosy, a dreaded disease that would follow him to his grave?

Uzziah was afflicted with a malady more dreaded than leprosy– PRIDE (26:16). Forgetting his successes had come because of the LORD’s blessings, Uzziah’s “heart was lifted up to his destruction” (26:16), and he foolishly usurped the role of the priest and entered “the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (26:16; Numbers 16:40; 18:7).

Bloated with pride from his achievements, the king treaded upon ground God had reserved for the priesthood.

The chief priest Azariah and eighty priests with him, confronted Uzziah (26:17-18). Rather than humble himself and confess his sin, the king was enraged and the LORD immediately struck him with leprosy which evidenced on his forehead (26:19). The law regarding leprosy demanded a leper be put out from the living (Leviticus 13:45-46) to avoid the spread, and seeing the blight on the king’s face, the priests expelled Uzziah from the Temple, even as he sought to flee (26:20).

As a leper, Uzziah lived the rest of his life in a separate house from the palace. Because he was a leper, he was not buried in a royal tomb, but was instead buried in a field near the place where kings were buried.

Closing thoughts – What a tragedy! The legacy of the great king gave testimony of his skill as a warrior, builder, administrator, but sadly—tainted as a leper. Uzziah’s (i.e., Azariah) life, in spite of his achievements, read simply, “He [was] a leper” (26:23).

I wonder what counsel Uzziah might offer, if given an opportunity to counsel a 21st century believer? Perhaps he would warn:

Sinful pride, and one’s failure to honor the Lord and keep His Commandments, will not only risk your legacy, but your life.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Dilemma of a Backslidden Missionary (Jonah 2)

Scripture reading – Jonah 2

Returning to our study of the Book of Jonah, we find the prophet where his disobedience had taken him… facing death “in the belly of the fish” (1:17). Jonah had disobeyed the LORD because he feared He would spare Nineveh from judgment if the people repented of their sins (Jonah 4:1-2). Refusing to obey the LORD, he set sail on a ship going in the opposite direction of God’s will. Pursuing His disobedient prophet across the sea, the LORD sent a storm against Jonah’s ship, and when the sailors understood his presence was the cause of the storm, they cast him overboard, saving their lives and the ship (1:11-12). The LORD saved His unfaithful servant from drowning, by sending a great fish to swallow Jonah when he was cast into the deep (1:17).

Jonah’s Appeal (2:1-2)

Now, the heathen sailors had “cried every man unto his god” (1:5), but to no avail. Jonah, however, had not prayed to God until he found himself in the bowels of the great fish (2:1). We read, “Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God” (2:1), not out of sorrow for his sin, but because of his “affliction” (literally, his trouble, adversity, and sorrow, 2:2a). Without the LORD’S help, the prophet knew he was a dead man, for his circumstances were like “the belly of hell,” and the abode of the dead (2:2b). What a blessed hope we are given when we read when Jonah cried for help, the LORD heard his prayer (2:2c).

Jonah’s Agony (2:3-6a)

Humbled, and broken, Jonah acknowledged the LORD had chastened him for his disobedience, and all he had was because of his sin (2:3). He did not blame the sailors who cast him overboard, but accepted that God chastens His children like an earthly father chastens a disobedient child (2:3; Psalm 119:67; Hebrews 12:6). Jonah was troubled, for he realized his disobedience had resulted in his being “cast out of [the Lord’s] sight” (2:4a). He was a prisoner in a watery dungeon, and the belly of the fish had become his grave (2:5-6a).

Take a moment and consider what God revealed to Jonah concerning the ocean and its depths. We read, “I went down [descended] to the bottoms [base] of the mountains [mountain ranges underwater]” (2:6a). Thousands of years before the submarines of our time, God revealed to Jonah there were mountain ranges in the sea!

Jonah’s Affirmation (2:6b-10)

Reflecting on the LORD, and His faithfulness, Jonah declared, “they that observe [keep; guard; watch] lying [deceit]vanities [meaningless; purposeless] forsake [relinquish; refuse] their own mercy [lovingkindness; grace]” (2:8).  Jonah began his journey supposing he might flee from the LORD, but in the belly of the great fish he acknowledged he had forsaken God’s mercy and favor. He acknowledged that death awaits all who reject the LORD’S mercies.

Closing thoughts – From the belly of the great fish, the LORD heard Jonah’s promise to offer sacrifices as an expression of his gratitude, to give God His due, and faith that “salvation is of the LORD” (2:9). Then, “the Lordspake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (2:10).

If you are running from the LORD, and your sins have taken you far from Him, remember He is only one prayer away. God hears and answers the prayer of those who confess their sin, repent, and turn to him.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Pay Day Shall Surely Come Someday (2 Kings 13; 2 Chronicles 24)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 13; 2 Chronicles 24

Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues in 2 Chronicles 24, and you will notice a parallel of events we considered in our prior devotional from 2 Kings 12. Of course, 2 Kings was authored prior to the Babylonian captivity, while 2 Chronicles is believed to have been written by Ezra after the children of Israel returned from exile.

The Reign of Joash (24:1-27)

2 Chronicles 24 gives additional details to the years that Joash reigned as king of Judah. Once again, we are reminded that the king “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (24:2). There is also the record that Jehoiada the high priest had taken for Joash “two wives; and he begat sons and daughters” (24:3).

Repairing the Temple (24:6-14)

As we found in 2 Kings 12, Joash had commanded the Temple be repaired (24:4-6). Scripture gives us the cause for those repairs stating: “For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim” (24:7).  The identity of “the sons of Athaliah” is not given; however, they had stripped the Temple of the LORD, and furnished the heathen temple to Baal with its treasures.

The means of collecting monies to rebuild the Temple and pay its workers is recorded (24:8-12), and there was enough given by the people to not only “set the house of God” in order and finish it, but also to make new vessels of gold and silver for offering sacrifices (24:14).

The Death of Jehoiada, the High Priest (24:15-16)

Incredibly, Jehoiada the high priest lived to be 130 years old. What a wonderful, rich life this servant of the LORD had lived. His testimony in Israel was such that he was given a burial worthy of kings.

The Faith of the Saints is Never More Than One Generation from Extinction (24:17-22)

Soon after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah sought his permission to leave “the house [Temple] of the LordGod of their fathers” (24:17), and “the king hearkened unto them” (24:17). What follows is a great tragedy, and a warning to all who call upon the LORD. Jehoiada’s presence in Judah had been a powerful one, and his influence upon king Joash began when he was little more than an infant. The king had faithfully served the LORD under the shadow and guidance of the high priest, but his death revealed the weak spiritual state of the king and leaders of Judah.

With the king’s blessing, the leaders of Judah established groves for idol worship and prostitution (24:18), and provoked the LORD who poured out His wrath “upon Judah and Jerusalem for…their trespass” (24:18). Yet, the LORD sent prophets to call the nation to repent, “but they would not give ear” (24:19).

Then, “the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you” (24:20).

How did the leaders of Judah respond to the preaching of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada? “They conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord” (24:21). Even king Joash, who had enjoyed the love and mentoring of Zechariah’s father his whole life, “remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his [Zechariah’s] father had done to him, but slew his son” (24:22). As he was dying, Zechariah rebuked the king, “The Lord look upon it, and require it [avenge his murder] (24:22).

Sin Begats Sin, Murder Begats Murder (24:23-27)

At the end of that same year, a Syrian army lay siege to Jerusalem, killing all the leaders among the people, and taking the spoils of Jerusalem to “the king of Damascus” (24:23). Judah’s lust for sin, and the depravity of the people had left the nation so weakened that a mere “small company of men” was all that was necessary for Syria to conquer “a very great host,” for the people “had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers” (24:24).

Closing thoughts – The glorious reign of Joash came to an inglorious end, for he suffered “great diseases,” until “his own servants conspired against him for [shedding] the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed” (24:25). Unlike the honorable burial that had been given to Jehoiada the priest, Joash was not buried “in the sepulchers of the kings” (24:25).

Warning: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

A Dying Nation (2 Kings 10)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 10

Background of today’s Scripture reading: The LORD had commanded Jehu to annihilate the lineage of Ahab for his role in murdering the prophets of the LORD. Jehu, having been anointed king of Israel (9:1-3), had taken up his bow, and shot king Joram through the heart as he had fled in his chariot (9:23-24). With Joram dead, Jehu turned and went to the palace in Jezreel. Jezebel spied him from a window, and being a woman full of witchcraft and whoredoms, called to him with insolence. Jehu then ordered Jezebel cast out a window of a palace window falling to her death (9:32-33). As foretold, the dogs ate her flesh, fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah (1 Kings 21:23).

2 Kings 10

Jehu Secured Israel’s Throne (10:1-14)

To secure the throne of Israel, Jehu ordered the execution of all of Ahab’s lineage (10:1-7). We read, “Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children” (10:1). Numbered among the seventy were no doubt grandsons of Ahab.

Making a pretense to encourage the crowning of Ahab’s heir (10:3-4), Jehu in fact had plotted to execute any who might lay claim to the throne of Israel. The leaders of Samaria realized the ruse, and refused to be a party to crowning of a king after Jehu had made himself king of Israel. Jehu then ordered the beheadings of Ahab’s lineage (10:6), and the men “took the king’s sons…and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel” (10:7). As a warning to any who might challenge his reign, Jehu ordered the heads of Ahab’s sons be stacked “in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning” (10:8). Jehu lied to the people (10:10), and suggested he had nothing to do with the beheadings, but asserted, “the LORD hath done that which he spake by His servant Elijah” (10:10). Jehu then continued his eradication of any who might have been loyal to Ahab’s household (10:11). He also ordered the deaths of 42 men who came seeking Ahaziah, and claimed kinship to the deceased king of Judah whom Jehu had slain (9:27; 10:12-14).

The Elimination of All Who Worshipped and Served Baal (10:18-27).

Ahab and Jezebel had introduced the worship of Baal, and would have had many devoted followers among them. Jehu, therefore, determined to kill all who worshipped and sacrificed to Baal. He deceived the followers of Baal, and proposed he would be more devoted to Baal than Ahab and Jezebel (10:18-19). With 80 armed men stationed outside the pagan temple, Jehu gathered the worshippers of Baal (10:20-23), and at the time appointed, ordered all slain, and the images of Baal destroyed (10:24-28).

Jehu’s Failure (10:28-30)

Removing the worship of Baal from Israel was a great thing in the eyes of the LORD. God acknowledged Jehu had obeyed his command and exterminated the household of Ahab. For his obedience, Jehu was promised his lineage would succeed him on the throne of Israel for four generations (10:30; his son Jehoahaz, grandson Joash, great grandson Jeroboam, and great-great grandson Zechariah would reign as kings in Israel). Jehu, however, had failed to purge the nation of the golden calves Jeroboam had set up in Bethel and Dan (10:29).

The Decline of Israel (10:31-36)

Though Jehu reigned as king for 28 years, his failure to “walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart” (10:31), marked the beginning of the end for that nation. Hazael king of Syria, began to invade the borders of Israel (10:32), and its lands and territories were diminished (10:33). Jehu died, and was buried in Samaria, and true to God’s promise, his son Jehoahaz “reigned in his stead” (10:35).

Closing thoughts – We have witnessed the rise and fall of kings in Israel. Jehu’s bloody reign, and his failure to purge Israel of all idolatry, marked the beginning of the final phase of that nation’s precipitous, and final decline. Without the LORD’S blessing and protection, Israel will fall to her enemies, and the northern ten tribes will be taken by Assyria.

Will the same not be true of nations in our day?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Elisha is God’s Prophet (2 Kings 6; 2 Kings 7)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 6; 2 Kings 7

Our study of the life and times of the prophet Elisha, the successor to Elijah, continues with today’s study of 2 Kings 6 and 7. Though the miracles performed by Elisha were not as public as those of Elijah, his ministry in Israel was powerful, and God’s anointing on His servant was undeniable. This is the first of two devotionals for today.

2 Kings 6

A Floating Iron Axe Head (6:1-7)

Our study of 2 Kings 6 opens with a company of prophets who petitioned Elisha to move the “sons of the prophets” to a new location near the Jordan River. The prophet blessed the relocation, and the men began cutting down wood to construct a new dwelling (6:4). In the process of the work, an axe head that had been borrowed, came off its handle and fell into the water (6:5). Because iron was rare, and expensive in ancient times, the loss of the axe head was a regrettable loss (6:5). Elisha asked where the axe head had been lost, and then took a stick and tossed it onto the water, and “the iron did swim” (6:6). Following the prophet’s command, the servant “put out his hand, and took it” (6”7).

Elisha’s Revelation of Syria’s Plot to Conquer Israel (6:8-12)

The Syrian king became flustered, and was outraged when he realized someone was preempting his plans for an ambush, and warning the king of Israel. Outraged, the king of Syria suspected there was a traitor in the midst, until “one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber” (6:12).

Elisha Foils a Syrian Attempt to Kidnap Him (6:13-23)

The king of Syria sent a large number of soldiers on a mission to surround Dothan, and to abduct Elisha (6:13-14). When Elisha’s servant realized the city was surrounded, he asked, “Alas, my master! How shall we do?” (6:15).

Calling upon the LORD, Elisha answered the fears of his servant, and prayed “I pray thee, open his [his servant’s]eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (6:17). The servant realized an unseen heavenly host had surround Samaria, and were ready to come to the defense of the city of Samaria.

Rather than pray for the Syrians to be destroyed, Elisha prayed that the enemy would be struck with blindness (6:18). Blind and helpless, Elisha assured the Syrians saying, “follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek” (speaking of himself, 6:19). Blind and helpless, the prophet led the Syrian soldiers some twelve miles, and into “the midst of Samaria,” the capital city of Israel. Arriving in Samaria, Elisha prayed, and the LORD lifted the blindness of the Syrians (6:20). Imagine their terror when they realized they had been guided into the midst of their enemy (6:20b).

The king of Israel questioned Elisha excitedly, “My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?” (6:21); however, the prophet cautioned the king and suggested the Syrians were his prisoners, and he should provide them bread and water (6:22). When the king of Israel had nourished his enemies, he sent them away. Is it any wonder that “Syria came no more into the land of Israel?” (6:23)

Samaria: Plagued by a Siege, Famine, and Foolish King (6:24-33)

Some years passed when Ben-hadad (literally, “son of Hadad”) the Syrian king, laid siege to Samaria, Israel’s capital city (6:24). With the city cut off by the siege, the citizens of Samaria soon exhausted their food supplies, and were reduced to buying and selling “an ass’s head” (an unclean beast), and eating the dung or waste of doves (6:25).

In the midst of the famine, the king of Israel was one day seen walking upon the walls of the city, when a woman called to him saying, “This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. 29So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son” (6:28-29).

Hearing the desperation, the king in a public act of sorrow, “rent his clothes…and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh” (6:30). Yet, the words spoken by the king were not words of humility or contrition, but words of pride and defiance. Daring not to attack the God of Israel directly, the king threatened Elisha with beheading, saying, “God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day” (6:31).

The king of Israel sent a messenger to search for Elisha, who found him with the elders of the city (6:32). Elisha, sparing no words concerning the evil character of the king, assailed his messenger, saying, “See ye how this son of a murderer [for the king was the son of Ahab] hath sent to take away mine head?” (6:32). The servant of the king answered Elisha’s rebuke, threatening the prophet saying, “Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (6:33)

Closing thoughts – Rather than sincere humility and brokenness before the LORD, the king of Israel blamed that nation’s afflictions on God’s prophet, and wished to kill him. The king’s messengers, bearing the evil spirit of his king, despised the LORD, and scoffed at the suggestion He would provide for Samaria.

We will see in the next chapter, 2 Kings 7, that God will answers Israel’s cry, and drive the Syrians out of Israel. The famine will end, and the messenger who scorned the LORD will be punished, and die.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Healing of Naaman the Leper (2 Kings 5)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 5

The healing, and conversion of Naaman, the “captain of the host of the king of Syria” (5:1), is one of the most beloved stories of the Old Testament.

Who was Naaman? (5:1-7)

The opening verses of 2 Kings 5 introduce us to a man who served as one of the trusted servants of the king of Syria. He was described as “a great man with his master, and honourable” (5:1a). He was a great warrior, and a national hero of Syria (5:2). Yet, he was afflicted by leprosy, a frightening, infectious disease that was the dread of men in ancient times (5:1).

Providentially, in Naaman’s home was a young Hebrew girl that served his wife as a household slave (5:2). Though she was numbered among some taken as the spoils of war, her heart was tender toward her mistress and master. We are not told how, but the young servant had heard there was a prophet in Samaria, and she expressed to her mistress, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy” (5:3).

Receiving the words of the young girl, and her faith that the prophet of the LORD might heal him (5:4), the warrior went to the king of Syria who said, “Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment” (5:5).

With gifts in hand, Naaman traveled to Israel with an entourage, for he was the commander of the Syrian army. He came to the king of Israel with a letter from the king of Syria, “saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy” (5:6). Overcome with fear, for the demand that Naaman be healed of leprosy seemed an impossible request, and thus a provocation for conflict between Israel and Syria (5:7).

Elisha’s Intervention and Demand (5:8-13)

News of Naaman’s demand reached Elisha, and the prophet sent a messenger who asked, “Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (5:8). Naaman and his servants journeyed to the Elisha’s home, but the great warrior of Syria was not greeted by the prophet, but by a servant who delivered the message, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (5:10).

Naaman was furious, not only by the slight he had suffered, but the demand that was humiliating to the proud warrior (5:11). He had supposed Elisha should have received him, and would have called on “the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place [where the leprosy was present], and restore his skin (5:11). The thought of washing his skin in the waters of the Jordan River was an offense, and he “turned and went away in a rage” (5:12). As he departed, a brave servant approached Naaman, and reasoned with him, saying, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (5:13)

Naaman’s Humility, Obedience, and Faith (5:14-19)

The words of that servant quieted Naaman’s anger, and he did as Elisha’s servant had bid him (5:14). Coming out of the waters, his flesh was miraculously made whole as the youthful skin of a child. Naaman returned to Elisha and said to the prophet, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant” (5:15).

What a wonderful confession, and statement of faith! He believed the God of Israel was the One and True God! In gratitude, he urged Elisha to accept the gold, and silver, and garments he had brought as gifts. Elisha, however, refused the gifts, for he would not be named among those prophets who enrich themselves by accepting gifts for that which God alone should be praised (5:16).

Naaman, having acknowledged the God whom Elisha served was “God in all the earth,” made one request: That he might fulfill his duty to the king of Syria, and accompany him when he went to the temple of Rimmon (the Syrian equivalent of Baal, 5:18). Elisha gave his blessing, and Naaman departed (5:19).

The Sin and Covetous Spirit of Gehazi, Servant to Elisha (5:20-27)

The joy and triumph of Naaman’s healing, was soon overshadowed by Gehazi, a greedy, covetous man (5:20). Though the prophet had refused Naaman’s gifts, Gehazi decided to enrich himself, and lied to the Syrian to obtain his favor and gifts (5:21-23). Taking two bags of silver and garments from Naaman, Gehazi hid the gifts in the house (5:24). Elisha then questioned his servant, “Whence camest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither” (5:25).

Closing thoughts – This wonderful story of faith and healing serves as a reminder that the mercies and compassion of the God of heaven are available to all who come to Him in faith.  Tragically, the story ends with a reminder that God punishes sin.

Gehazi had enriched himself with possessions the prophet had refused. He had lied to Naaman and to Elisha, and the judgment for his sins was swift and severe. Elisha warned, Gehazi would bear Naaman’s leprosy, and the consequences would follow his household forever. Gehazi fled Elisha’s presence, and he became “a leper as white as snow” (5:27).

Leprosy became a lifelong reminder to Gehazi and his household that God hates covetousness, and lying lips. 

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Prophet Elisha, and the Spirit of Elijah (2 Kings 3; 2 Kings 4)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 3; 2 Kings 4

Our study of the second book of the Kings continues with the prophet Elisha taking a prominent place in Israel as the man of God. The death of King Ahab, and the ascension of his son Jehoram to the throne of Israel, gave opportunity for the king of Moab to challenge Israel’s demand for tribute (3:4-5).

2 Kings 3

Facing his first challenge as king of Israel, Jehoram numbered his soldiers, and solicited the help of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle?” (3:7a). Remembering the family ties the king of Judah had with the king of Israel (for Jehoshaphat had taken a daughter of Ahab to be the wife of his son), the kings agreed to go to war, saying, “I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses” (3:7).

Agreeing to attack Moab by going south to Edom, and then northward on the westside of the Dead Sea through Edom, the king of Edom joined the kings of Israel and Judah to war against his northern neighbor (3:8). Seven days into their journey, “there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them” (3:9). Three armies and no water was a crisis only God could resolve, and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah asked, “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?” (3:10)

A sad irony at this point, it appears none of the kings had sought the LORD’S blessing, and even the godly king of Judah had failed to call a prophet for counsel until the extremity of his need. A servant of Israel’s king answered the king of Judah, and said, “Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah” (3:11).

Elisha, though he had been known as Elijah’s servant, was providentially the counsel of not one king, but three kings who sought his wisdom: “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him” (3:12).

Evidencing the faith and spirit of Elijah, Elisha rebuked Jehoram, the king of Israel, saying, “What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother [i.e. false prophets of Baal]. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab” (3:13). Elisha asserted, he would give the word of the LORD, not for Jehoram, but because he had respect for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah (3:14).

Sending for a musician, the prophet apparently delivered the word from the LORD with a song, and instructed the kings, “Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches” (3:16). Though the kings would see no wind or sign of rain, they were to prepare reservoirs to contain the waters the LORD promised He would send for the men and their animals (3:17). Elisha promised their obedience and step of faith would be rewarded, and the LORD would deliver the Moabites into the hands of the kings (3:18-21).

When the Moabites heard the kings had come to war against them, they prepared for war and rose up early in the morning. Looking over the desert, “the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood” (3:22). Because the red of the waters looked like blood, the Moabites mistakenly believed the armies had turned on one another (3:23). When they came upon the encampment, the Israelites rose against the Moabites, and drove them back through their own cities (3:24-25).

When the king of Moab realized the battle was lost, he sought to break through a line of Edomite soldiers (3:26). In desperation, and apparently to appease his false gods, the king of Moab sacrificed his eldest son, and the heir to his throne, “and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall” (3:27). Such an act was abhorrent to God’s people, but stirred the Moabites to a “great indignation against Israel,” and the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom “returned to their own land” (3:27)

2 Kings 4

Briefly, notice in 2 Kings 4 that Elisha’s ministry as the prophet of God to Israel was validated by four miracles. The first was multiplying a widow’s oil to pay her debts and save her sons from becoming bond slaves (4:1-7).   The second miracle brought blessing to a childless woman and her elderly husband with a son as a reward for their household serving as Elisha’s benefactors (4:8-17).  A third miracle raised that same couples’ son from the dead (4:18-37).  Finally, Elisha turned a pot of poison pottage into one that nourished the “sons of the prophets” (4:38-44).

Closing thoughts – While the miracles performed by Elisha gained him standing in Israel and before the people, they nevertheless had no lasting effect on moving the nation to turn to the LORD.

Repentance and revival come through brokenness, humility, prayer, surrender, and obedience.

2 Chronicles 7:14 14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Final Clash: Elijah vs. Wicked King Ahaziah (2 Kings 1)

Scripture reading – Psalm 83, 2 Kings 1

This is the second of two devotionals for today’s Scripture reading, and is focused upon 2 Kings 1.

2 Kings 1 – The Death of King Ahaziah

Our chronological study of the Scriptures brings us to the Second Book of the Kings, a time when Israel is a divided nation. The ten tribes to the north, known as Israel, had been under the reign of a succession of wicked kings. With the death of Ahab, the son of Omri, the Moabites saw an occasion to rebel against Israel, and cast off the yoke of servitude they had borne since the days of David (1:1).

King Ahaziah’s Failing Health (1:1-2)

Ahaziah, the son of the wicked king Ahab and his wife Jezebel (who had sworn she would kill Elijah after he slew the prophets of Baal), had become king in Israel, but had fallen through a window of his palace in Samaria, the capital city of Israel (1:2). Stricken with failing health, Ahaziah wondered if he would recover from the fall, and sent messengers to consult with “Baalzebub the god of Ekron” (Ekron being a Philistine city, 1:2).

God’s Intervention Through His Prophet Elijah (1:3-8)

God sent an angel to Elijah, and directed the old prophet to intercept Ahaziah’s messengers, “and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron?” (1:3)

Ahaziah had offended the God of Israel, and Elijah was tasked with rebuking the king, and foretelling he would never “come down from that bed on which [he had] gone up, but [would] surely die” (1:4). Elijah obeyed, and the king’s envoy returned to the king with the prophet’s message (1:5). Because he had returned too soon, the king questioned the messenger, “Why are ye now turned back?” (1:5).

The messenger then conveyed to Ahaziah the fateful message of the his impending death, The king inquired saying, “What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?” (1:7) Though the messenger did not know the man, the physical description was known to Ahaziah who said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite” (1:8).

The King’s Summons to Elijah (1:9-15)

Three times Ahaziah sent a “captain of fifty” men to Elijah, and demanded the prophet come to him (1:9-14). The first summons was direct, “Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down” (1:9). Elijah answered, saying, “If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty” (1:11).

A second captain of fifty came to Elijah, and addressed the prophet saying, “O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly” (1:11) [come down now; come down without delay]. Elijah answered the second summons as he had the first, and fire came down from heaven.

Ahaziah summoned the prophet a third time, sending a “captain of fifty,” but he entreated the prophet with humility and begged, “O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight” (1:13). This time the “angel of the LORD,” assured Elijah, “Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king” (1:15).

Elijah Proved the God of Israel was God Alone (1:17-18)

Elijah obeyed, and with the boldness of a man whose life had been dedicated to serve the LORD, he confronted Ahaziah’s decision to consult with “Baal-zebub the god of Ekron,” and his rejection and betrayal of the LORD. Elijah declared, “thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die” (1:16), and “he died according to the word of the Lord” (1:17).

Our study of 2 Kings 1 concludes with Jehoram, the brother of Ahab ascending to the throne of Israel, meaning the end of the lineage of Ahab, who had no son. In that same year, another Jehoram, who was the son of Jehoshaphat, reigned in Judah (1:17).

Closing thoughts – In a day when the world, and religious leaders call for tolerance, and compromise, believers would be wise to remember the passion and conviction of Elijah! Here we find the character of the man who walks with God, and whom the LORD will in our next study, be taken up “by a whirlwind into heaven” (2:11).

Preachers of Truth will not tolerate error, nor will believers sacrifice spiritual principles for peace. How did Elijah come to be that man? He was a man of prayer, and a man who faithfully walked with God (James 5:17).

Is the same true of you?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

JEHOVAH is God. (Psalm 83)

Scripture reading – Psalm 83, 2 Kings 1

Our Scripture reading brings us today to Psalm 83, and 2 Kings 1. This is the first of two devotionals, and the focus is Psalm 83.

Psalm 83 is titled, “A Song or Psalm of Asaph.”

Psalm 83 is the last of the psalms attributed to Asaph, the Levite who was one of the principal musicians in David’s era. The exact date of Psalm 83 is not given; however, it is prophetic for a time when God’s people would face a confederation of nations committed to the destruction of Israel as a nation. Consider three principal points from the psalm.

Israel’s Desperate Cry to God (83:1-8)

Facing a coalition of nations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, the psalmist cried to the LORD to come to the aid of His people (83:1). The author reasoned with the LORD that Israel’s enemies were the enemies of God, and they hated Him, and had plotted against those referred to as, “thy hidden ones” (literally, those whom the LORD treasured as His Own, 83:3). The enemies had boasted, and encouraged one another saying, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (83:4). They were not content to merely overcome Israel, they desired to annihilate them as a people, that their names would be forgotten (83:4b-5).

Ten heathen nations comprised the confederation that plotted Israel’s destruction: The Edomites (the sons of Esau), Ishmaelites (son of Abraham by Hagar), Moabites (descended from Lot), Hagarenes (a tribe of Ishmaelites named after Hagar), Gebal (a Phoenician, Lebanese people), Ammonites (a son of Lot), Amaelikites, Philistines, citizens of Tyre, and the Assyrians (identified as Assur, 83:8-8).

The Imprecatory Prayer of the Psalmist (83:9-17)

Having identified the enemies of God and Israel, the psalmist prayed for the LORD to destroy them as He had come to Israel’s aid in ancient times (83:9-11). The enemies of Israel had boasted they would raid and plunder “the houses of God” (i.e. the Tabernacle, and its Ark of the Covenant, 83:12), and the psalmist prayed the LORD would utterly destroy them (83:13-17).

He prayed the LORD would crush the enemy, as a wheel grinds grain, and that the enemy would become nothing more than “stubble” carried away by the wind (83:13). He longed to see the LORD burn the enemy in His wrath, as a fire destroys a forest (83:14). He desired God would confound the enemies of Israel, and they would suffer shame till they all perished (83:15-17).

Why this prayer for troubles to be inflicted upon the enemies of the LORD? (83:18)

It was not only so that Israel would see the LORD’S deliverance, but that the heathen would know there is one God, JEHOVAH [Yahweh; the Eternal, Self-existent God of Israel], Who is “the most high over all the earth” (83:18).

Closing thoughts – The existence of Israel in our day, is an undeniable testimony of Jehovah, the God of Israel, and His covenant promises with the people of Abraham’s lineage and faith. While all other ancient civilizations have passed from the stage of history, one has been preserved—Israel.

The nation we know today as Israel is a secular one, and many who live there are far from being a people of faith who love the LORD, and keep His laws and commandments. Yet, there are Hebrew people who also live there, who look for the day the Messiah will return as He has promised–Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God, crucified, buried, raised from the dead, and coming again as He has promised!

Acts 1:11b – “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith