Tag Archives: Government

The LORD is Sovereign of the Nations (2 Kings 19)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 19

If today’s Scripture reading seems familiar, it is because it is a parallel account of historical events Isaiah recorded in chapter 37 of the book that bears his name. Rather than repeat the obvious, I encourage you to read 2 Kings 19, and I hope my brief outline of events will be a blessing.

Hezekiah’s Petition to the LORD (19:1-7)

With the Assyrian army encamped outside Jerusalem, king Hezekiah was shaken by the threats of Rabshakeh, the Assyrian general (18:28-35).  The king “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (19:1). Hezekiah also sent messengers to appeal to Isaiah, and implore God’s prophet to pray for Judah and Jerusalem (19:2-5).

Isaiah then comforted the king, and encouraged him, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me” (19:6). For all of king Sennacherib’s boastings, he was nothing compared to the LORD who promised to “send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour” (19:7), and send the king and his army fleeing to their homeland where he would “fall by the sword in his own land” (19:7).

Hezekiah’s Desperate Prayer (19:8-19)

Soon after Isaiah prophesied Sennacherib’s defeat, that king received news of a threat from Tirhakah king of Ethiopia. Realizing the coming danger against him, Sennacherib made one final threat against Jerusalem (19:9-13).

The Assyrian king mocked Hezekiah’s faith and declared, “Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria” (19:10). Naming all the kings who had fallen to Assyria (19:11-12), Sennacherib asserted the God of Israel and Judah would not deliver Jerusalem or Hezekiah from his assault.

When Hezekiah received Sennacherib’s letter, he made his way to the Temple, spread out the letter before the LORD, and prayed (19:14-19).

Consider with me some instructive elements we find in Hezekiah’s prayer that should serve as a model for believers. The king declared his faith in the God of heaven whose presence had been revealed in the Tabernacle and Temple, praying, “O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone” (19:15a). He acknowledged the sovereignty of the LORD over the “kingdoms of the earth” (19:15b), and declared His God was the Creator, for He “made heaven and earth” (19:15c).

After worshipping the LORD in prayer, Hezekiah appealed to Him to hear Sennacherib’s insults, and the reproaches he had cast upon “the living God” (19:16). He recounted the nations that had fallen to Assyria, and the gods of those nations that “were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them” (19:18). Hezekiah appealed to the LORD to save His people, asking “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only” (19:19).

Isaiah’s Assurance: Hezekiah’s Prayer Would Be Answered. (19:20-31)

Referring to Jerusalem as “the virgin daughter of Zion” (19:21), Isaiah declared Hezekiah’s prayer had been heard, and the LORD had heard the scorn and mocking of Sennacherib king of Assyria (19:20). Proud and foolish, the king of Assyria had reproached and blasphemed “the Holy One of Israel” (19:22-24).

Sennacherib refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the LORD, and did not understand God had strengthened him, and given him power over the nations (19:25-26). The king of Assyria, however, refused to accept that the God of heaven knew all about him, and his rage against the LORD (19:27). The LORD, therefore, had determined Sennacherib would be led away from Judah to his homeland, like a beast with a ring in its nose, and a bridle in its mouth (19:28).

What assurance would Hezekiah have that the LORD had performed all He had promised His people? The people would harvest volunteer crops for two years that they had not planted. The third year, there would be peace and the people would plant seed and reap a harvest (19:29). Furthermore, the remnant that escaped Assyria, would be blessed with a growing population (19:30-31).

Sennacherib and his Assyrian soldiers would never enter Jerusalem, although they were an overwhelming force (19:32-33). The LORD declared, “I will defend this city [Jerusalem], to save it, For mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (19:34). That very night, the LORD sent forth his angel and 185,000 Assyrians were slain (19:35). All that the LORD had promised came to pass, for Sennacherib returned to his homeland defeated, and years later “his sons smote him with the sword,” and a third son “reigned in his [father’s] stead” (19:37).

Closing thoughts – Our Scripture reading concluded today with a reminder for the ages: God is sovereign over men and nations. The LORD determines the boundaries of nations, and their success and destruction. Foolish man may not acknowledge Him, and some will scoff, but be forewarned: God determines the rise and fall of leaders and nations.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Signs of a Dying Nation (Isaiah 18; Isaiah 19)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 18; Isaiah 19

Isaiah’s prophecies of God’s judgment continue in today’s Scripture reading (Isaiah 18-19). We have so far considered the prophecies of God’s judgment against Assyria (10:24-34), Babylon (Isaiah 13-14), Moab (Isaiah 15-16), and Damascus of Syria (17:1-14).

Isaiah 18 describes God’s judgment against an unnamed nation (and it would be conjecture on my part to suggest a name).

Isaiah 18 – The Judgment of an Unnamed People

Beginning with the now familiar exclamation, “Woe,” we are told the nation that was to be judged was a “land shadowing with wings, Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (18:1).

Messengers, or ambassadors, were to be sent “by the sea” upon “vessels of bulrushes (18:2a). Those messengers were sent to a nation described in verse 2 as “scattered and peeled; To a people terrible from their beginning hitherto” (18:2b). Arguably, the recipient of that message of judgment could have been Assyria, because that nation’s soldiers were renowned for their cruelty.

Isaiah observes an “ensign” (banner) would be raised, and a trumpet would sound, calling the nations of the world to witness God’s judgment against Assyria (18:3). The LORD described Himself as patiently observing the plotting of Assyria (18:4), until He was ready to intervene. Employing a depiction of a farmer cutting back grapevines, the LORD announced His plan to cut away Assyria, and destroy its army (18:5). The bodies of slain soldiers would be left on the battlefield, and flesh-eating birds and wild beasts would feed upon them (18:6).

I believe Isaiah 18:7 is a prophetic picture of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ when the nations of the earth will be gathered to Jerusalem where the LORD reigns, “to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion” (18:7).

Isaiah 19 – God’s judgment of Egypt is the subject of Isaiah 19.

The LORD is described as coming swiftly upon Egypt (19:1). I suggest there are two prophecies concerning Egypt that are stated in this chapter. The first is an imminent judgment (19:2-15), and the second a far-reaching prophecy whose setting may be during Christ’s reign during His Millennial Kingdom (19:16-25).

Eightfold Signs of a Dying Nation (19:2-15)

The judgment against Egypt is instructive, as it is a lesson in what becomes of a nation that opposes the LORD. Consider the following eight characteristics of a nation under the shadow of God’s judgment:

1) Division and civil war (19:2a)
2) Societal unrest (19:2b)
3) Political instability; the spirit of the nation is troubled (19:3a)
4) Empty, vain religion (19:3b)
5) Servitude to cruel, oppressive leaders (19:4)
6) Natural disasters: There was drought, as the Nile River and its tributaries dried up (19:5-6).
7) Economic failure (19:7-10) – Agriculture failed (19:7); fisherman unable to ply their trade to feed themselves or others (19:8); industry failed (textile and construction ceased, 19:9-10)
8) Foolish, incompetent leaders (politicians, 19:11-15)

Notice the evil and ungodly character of Egypt’s Leaders

They were “brutish,” and their counsel was foolish (19:11). They were ignorant of the LORD, His ways, and purpose (19:12-13). The LORD confounded them with a troublesome, confused, and “perverse spirit” (19:14-15). Their counsel was incoherent and unstable, like a staggering, drunken man (19:14). Lastly, all their counsel would come to nothing (19:15).

A Far-reaching Prophecy Concerning Egypt (19:16-25)

The closing prophecy has not been fulfilled, but it will come to pass at Christ’s Second Coming. In that day, Egypt will fear the LORD (19:15-17), and five cities of that nation will worship Him (19:18-19). While the LORD will “smite” Egypt, His chastening will move some to turn to Him (19:20-22).

In that day, the world will be at peace (19:23), and Israel will be a great nation, for the LORD will reign in Jerusalem (19:24). Then the LORD will claim Egypt as His people, and “Assyria the work of [His] hands (19:25).

Closing thoughts –Ponder the eight signs of a dying nation found in Isaiah 19:2-15. Do you see those traits in your community, nation, and world?

Our world is filled with turmoil, and civil unrest. There is political instability, and we find ourselves led by politicians who are as foolish as they are evil. Adding to our troubles is the threat of economic failure, inflation, limited material resources, and unemployment.

There is HOPE: In spite of our troubles, the LORD is no less Sovereign, and men can do nothing that exceeds His reach and will. The purpose of the LORD is established, and it will be accomplished.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

No King (or President) is too Big for God (Isaiah 10)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 10

The first four verses of Isaiah 10 are in fact a summary of the preceding chapter’s warning to Judah for the injustices that nation’s leaders had committed against the poor and needy (10:1-2). Because God’s people had rejected Him, His Law and Commandments, they would be subject to the harsh laws, and leadership of wicked rulers.

An Admonition to Those Who Abuse Justice (10:1-4)

Knowing God is immutable and just, no nation or people should be blind to the justice He expects of those in authority. As we consider our world today, we can see that the injustices committed by the leaders of Judah are the same injustices prevalent today: The needy and poor are denied justice (10::2a), widows are preyed upon by unscrupulous men, and orphans are tragically trafficked and abused. What becomes of a people who ignores injustices? Such a nation will ultimately fall into such degradation that it will lose its identity and fall to the hand of enemy (10:4).

A Warning of Judgment Against Assyria (10:5-19)

Why was Assyria the focus of God’s wrath in this passage?

That great empire had been the tool, the vessel God used to punish Israel for that nation’s rebellion against the LORD (10:5-6). The king of Assyria was blind to the truth, “1The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

The Assyrian king’s ambition to conquer other nations was planted in his heart by the God of heaven (10:7). He boasted his “princes” (leaders he had ordained to rule over the people he had conquered) were as powerful as kings in their own right (10:8-9). Blinded by ambition, the Assyrian king was unaware when he had “performed his whole work” (all God had ordained to punish Jerusalem, 10:12), He would be punished (10:16). The king boasted he had gathered the riches of other nations, like a farmer gathers eggs (10:14). He believed all he had accomplished was “by the strength” of his own hand (10:13-15).

God promised He would send against Assyria an enemy (Babylon) that would take away that nation’s wealth, and destroy its strength with fire (10:16-19).

God Remembered Israel (10:20-33)

Assyria would destroy Israel (the northern ten tribes), and afflict Judah, but the LORD promised He would not forget “the remnant of Israel” (10:20). Though God’s people would suffer great afflictions for their sins, He promised “the remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (10:21). God had promised Abraham his seed would “be as the sand of the sea” (Genesis 22:17; 32:12), but the sins of the people had reduced their number to a “remnant” whom the LORD promised would one day return to their land (10:22-23).

Assured by God’s promises, the prophet encouraged the people that “dwellest in Zion” (Jerusalem), “Be not afraid of the Assyrian: He shall smite thee with a rod…25For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, And mine anger in their destruction” (10:24-25).

Closing thoughts – Judah would be afflicted by Assyria, but it would not be overcome (10:26-27). The Assyrian army would march south, and the cities north of Jerusalem would fall in succession (10:28-32). The citizens of Jerusalem would be shaken, but the LORD promised to intervene, and figuratively “lop the bough [the head of the king] with terror” (10:33).

Assyria appeared unstoppable. Nation after nation, and city after city had fallen to that nation’s army. Israel was destroyed, and the people had been taken captive. The cities north of Jerusalem were conquered, and the king and the people believed they would succumb to the terror of that enemy.

Had the nation heeded Isaiah’s prophecy, they would have known there was no cause to fear Assyria, for the LORD had planned the demise of that nation (10:34).

A word of encouragement – Do you wonder who is behind world events? Do you lack confidence in your nation’s leaders? Do you fear the effects of wicked leaders? Take heart, and be encouraged:

Proverbs 8:15–1615By me [the LORD] kings reign, And princes decree justice. 16By me princes rule, And nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Remember: The same God who “lopped off” the head of Assyria, is still Sovereign God.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Genealogy of King Saul (1 Chronicles 8)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 8

1 Chronicles 8 concludes our study of the genealogies of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and returns to the lineage of Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth born son. Benjamin was also the brother of Joseph, born to Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife.

I am uncertain why the historian returned to the tribe of Benjamin, whose lineage was partially recorded in 1 Chronicles 7:6-11. I suspect the purpose was to give a thorough record of the lineage of Saul, the first king of Israel (8:29-40). Saul and his sons are named in 1 Chronicles 8:33, and the lineage of his son Jonathan follows beginning in 1 Chronicles 8:34. (The son of Jonathan named Meribbaal (8:34), is believed to be Mephibosheth who was lame after his nurse dropped him when fleeing the palace, 2 Samuel 4:4).

The lineage of Benjamin concludes with an observation by the historian that the Benjaminites were known for their skill in war. They “were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty. All these are of the sons of Benjamin” (8:40; Judges 20:16).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

 

To All Who Secured Our Freedoms, and to Those Whose Loved Ones Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice, THANK YOU!

“The American Experiment,” as some have described the founding of our union, began with a unanimous Declaration by thirteen colonies, who identified themselves as, “the thirteen united states of America.”

Thomas Jefferson, and fifty-five other patriots who represented their home states, declared and affirmed a foundational principle of liberty for which they were willing to lay down their lives, and sacrifice their wealth:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson went on to write, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

I denoted the phrase, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” for we have become a nation whose government is managed by self-appointed oligarchs, and that assert powers for which we, the American people, have not consented!

I have not consented that federal, state, or municipal governments have the right to limit my freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion. I have not consented to politicians the authority to define the sanctity of human life, or the definition of male and female. I have not consented to the right of the state to enforce laws, guidelines, and policies that restrict my “Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.”

Ronald Reagan, the late 40th president of the United States, once said: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Unfortunately, the pandemic of 2020-2021 became a catalyst for politicians, judges, and bureaucrats to erode our freedoms, under the pretext that they are limiting our liberties in the interests of the citizenry.

Remember, whatever can be taken from you is effectively not yours. I fear we have lost many of the freedoms for which brave men and women have died in the service of our nation. I pray the membership of Hillsdale Baptist Church might remember our indebtedness to those who have lived, fought, and died, and in the words of Patrick Henry, declare: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
https://tv.gab.com/channel/HeartofAShepherd1
https://mewe.com/p/heartofashepherdinc

“A Prophetic Portrait of a Rebellious Nation”

June 16, 2020

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Readers,

I am not one given to self-promotion; however, there are subjects I address in the pulpit at Hillsdale that I wish were preached in every pulpit across America. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. I find few pastors willing to confront the sins of society and honestly address the spiritual issues of our day.

I fear the majority of churches in America will never hear anything more from their pastors than a spirit of compromise and appeasement when it comes to honestly confronting and addressing the social issues that are tearing at the soul and moral fiber of the United States.

I am writing to invite you to listen to this past Sunday’s introductory sermon in the Prophetic Book of Isaiah. https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=615201554572035

You can also watch a video of the same sermon on Facebook that begins at the about the 37:00 minute mark in the service. https://www.facebook.com/hillsdalebaptistchurch/videos/642918159899564/

I encourage you to have your Bible in hand and follow me as I go systematically through Isaiah 1:1-10. I will address the moral failings of the United States, using the backdrop of the cyclical nature of the rise and fall of nations that is illustrated in God’s warning of judgment to Judah that was delivered by His prophet Isaiah.

I promise to end the sermon on an encouraging note.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

The King is Dead (1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127)

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

In the fortieth year of his reign as king, David was conscious of the frailty of old age and the increasing shadow of his own death. In today’s Scripture reading we have record of David’s final preparations before his inevitable departure from this earthly life.

1 Chronicles 26 – The Gatekeepers

Continuing the organization of those who will minister in the Temple, the focus of 1 Chronicles 26are those men and their families who will be charged with guarding the entrances to the Temple. Altogether there will be twenty-four guard stations attended by porters or gatekeepers described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6) and “able men for strength for the service” (26:8), meaning able-body men.

Men of the tribe of Levi were also assigned to guard the Temples treasuries (26:20-28) that consisted not only of what was given by the people, but also “out of the spoils won in battles” (26:27).

1 Chronicles 27 – Israel’s Army and its Divisions

Having completed the affairs of the Temple and its organization, David’s focus then turned to the organization of Israel’s armies by twelve divisions, each division consisting of twenty-four thousand men (27:1-15).

The rulers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22), as well as those men who were charged with managing the king’s possessions (27:23-31).

The record of David’s trusted counsellors is also stated (27:32-34).

1 Chronicles 28 – David’s Final Preparations

Calling together all the leaders of his kingdom (28:1), David made certain there would be no ambiguity as to his desires and God’s plan for Israel when he died.

Seeming to indicate he had been lying on his bed until now, we read that “the king stood up upon his feet” and began to share the longing in his heart to build a Temple for God, as well as, the reason why he was denied that privilege: “But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood” (28:3).

David shared how God had chosen Solomon to be king (28:5) and had promised him a perpetual kingdom if he would keep the LORD’s “commandments” and judgments (28:7-8). In the audience of the leaders, David exhorted Solomon to know God and serve the LORD “with a perfect heart and with a willing mind” (28:9-10). David charged Solomon to take up architectural plans he had devised for the Temple and to “build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it” (28:9-10).

1 Chronicles 29 – David’s Final Acts as King

We come to the end of this first chronicle of Israel’s history having followed God’s providential hand in His creation from Adam, the first man (1 Chronicles 1:1), through Noah (1:4-17) and his son Shem (1:17). Of Shem’s lineage was born Abraham (1:27) with whom God established His redemptive covenant that was to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

David has reigned forty years as Israel’s king (29:27) and his final appeal to the leaders of the nation is recorded in 1 Chronicles 29. The king reminded all Israel that God had chosen Solomon to succeed him as king, but urged the people to remember he was “young and tender, and the work…great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God” (29:1).

Modeling the manner of giving that honors the LORD, David gave liberally and enthusiastically for the building of the Temple (29:2-5). The leaders of the nation followed the king’s example and “offered willingly” (29:6-9). Witnessing the spirit of their king and leaders, the people also “offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (29:9).

A beautiful benediction of praise and worship is recorded when David rehearsed God’s blessings on Israel (29:10-13) and his inferiority in the light of God’s grace (29:14-15). Remembering his humble beginnings, David prayed with a sense of awe:

1 Chronicles 29:14-1514  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort [remember, David was a son of a shepherd]? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. 15  For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow [shade; temporal; passing], and there is none abiding [no hope in this life].

David’s prayer turned to one of intercession as he contemplated the task of being king which Solomon was about to undertake (29:19). Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving followed and the ceremony concluded with Solomon being anointed as king a second time and then taking his place on the throne (29:20-24).

God did answered David’s prayer, for “the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (29:25).

The reign of David, Israel’s great king, comes to an end with a simple obituary:

“And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (29:28).

Notice the memorial to David’s character in that last sentence: David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour [glory; splendor]” (29:28).

All men and women will die, but I dare say, few will die having lived a full life that has been blessed, bequeathing honor as their life’s crowning trait.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Choices Always Have Consequences (Deuteronomy 24-27)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 24-27

Moses continues his final challenge to Israel in today’s scripture reading, and his speech covers nearly every aspect of life in the new land.

Deuteronomy 24

Marriage and divorce are the subject of the opening verses of Deuteronomy 24, and we are reminded that divorce was never God’s will. God’s plan from creation was that man would be the husband of one wife (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:8). The principles on divorce stated in this passage were given to stress the solemnness of marriage and the sobriety of divorce (24:1-5).

Various life principles follow (24:6-22)

1) Never take a pledge of indebtedness against a man’s “millstone,” meaning his means to grind wheat and provide bread for his family (24:6). Stated in a different manner: Don’t take from a man his livelihood and means to provide for his family.

2) Don’t engage in “man stealing” (the 21st century describes this as “human trafficking” and its victims are often children). The penalty of such is death (24:7).

3) Never oppress the poor by taking advantage of their impoverished state (24:10-15). In ancient times, the sole possession of a poor man might have been nothing more than the robes he wore. Explanation: While a poor man might offer his outer robe to secure a loan and the lender take possession of it during the day, the debtor was not to be denied the warmth and comfort of his robe at night.  That principle is timeless!  While people should not assume debts, they cannot pay; neither should lenders be harsh in charging usury, seeking justice, and restitution.

4) Employers are to pay employees their due (24:16).

5) Everyone was to bear the punishment for their own sin and not another in their stead (24:16).

6) Compassion for the poverty of the orphan, widow, and foreigner was a burden shared by Hebrew society (24:19-22).

Deuteronomy 25

Because justice is essential for the peace and well-being of a society, corporal punishment that fit the crime was to be administered, but within reason and without excessive harshness (Deut. 25:1-4).

Even the ox that labored in the field was to be an object of compassion and allowed the reward of eating some of the grain as it labored (25:4; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Hebrews were expected to be men of integrity in business, and weights and measurements used in commerce were to be “perfect and just” (Deut. 25:13-16).

Though commanded to have compassion on a foreigner in other passages, Israel was not to appear weak or trivialize offenses an enemy’s (25:17-19).

Deuteronomy 26

Because the LORD had chosen Israel and blessed the people, Moses reminded them they were to demonstrate their gratitude by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the sanctuary (26:1-15).

A special tithe was given every third year accompanying the tither’s confession he had honored the LORD’s commandments and obeyed them. The third-year tithe was used to meet immediate needs in one’s community and to support “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (26:12-15).

Reminded of their covenant with the LORD, Israel was to promise to “walk in his ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments” (26:16-17). In response, the LORD promised to promote Israel above all the nations of the earth (26:19).

Deuteronomy 27

Lest the people forget, a memorial pillar of stones was to be inscribed with the law and raised up on the west side of the Jordan River as a reminder of the LORD’s promises and commandments (Dt. 27:1-2).  An altar was to be built to sanctify the place and the LORD’s covenant with Israel (27:2-10).

Admonishing the people “Choices have Consequences”, the elders of the twelve tribes were charged to remind them obedience to the Law brought the LORD’s blessing, and disobedience His curse and judgments (27:14-26).

A series of twelve curses were pronounced, and the tribes affirmed they accepted the LORD’s covenant (Dt. 27:15-26).

1) Idolatry, a violation of the first and second commandments is cursed (27:15).

2) Dishonoring one’s parents is cursed (27:16), a violation of the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12).

3) Stealing the property and possessions of another is cursed, a violation of the eighth commandment (27:17; Ex. 20:15).

4) Taking advantage of the infirmed or disabled is cursed (27:18).

5) Unjust treatment of “the stranger, fatherless, and widow” is cursed (27:19; Ex. 22:21-24).

The sixth through ninth curses address sexual impurity, a violation of the seventh commandment (27:20-23; Ex. 20:14).

6) Incest with one’s stepmother is cursed (27:20; Lev. 18:8-9, 17; 20:11).

7) Bestiality is cursed (27:21; Lev. 18:23).

8) Incest between siblings and parents is cursed (27:22).

9) Incest with one’s mother-in-law is cursed (27:23).

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13), is the subject of the tenth and eleventh curses (Dt. 27:24-25).

10) Intentional murder of one’s neighbor is cursed (Dt. 27:24).

11) Hiring an assassin to kill another is cursed (Dt. 27:25).

The twelfth and final curse is addressed to any child of Israel who failed to affirm God’s Law and Commandments (Dt .27:26).

When the people were asked to affirm they accepted the LORD’s covenant, they answered, “Amen” (27:26).

In case you are tempted to believe the law and commandments have no application to you, I remind you:

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hype, Hysteria, and Hope (in the midst of uncertainty)

March 16, 2020

Dear Heart of A Shepherd readers,

I have been away from Tampa for only one week, however, the world and our nation have dramatically changed in that short span of time.

While I am not generally a conspiracy theorist, I believe there is a dark purpose behind what is happening in our nation. I think there are unseen, dark figures driving the present crisis and I wonder if this is a “dry run” for something diabolical and more malicious. Knowing the spiritual character of this generation is far different than the faith of our nation a century ago, I fear the potential of violent societal conflict.

The hype around the Coronavirus is a potential catalyst for an overreach of government that is, in my opinion, the perfect stage for a socialist agenda. The draconian measures that are being suggested and taken by federal and state governments (closing schools, churches, restaurants, and businesses; threatening curfews and outlawing gatherings of more than 50) threatens to ruin the economy and plunge our nation and world into an economic depression. Unless sanity prevails, businesses, ministries, and families will soon be forced into bankruptcy. (I do not write that sentence lightly).

No one could have foreseen the events of the past two weeks, nor can we predict the future ripple effect across our lives, families, and ministries. I have many concerns that I am sure are shared across our nation.

What impact will current events have on employers and employment?  What is the economic impact on businesses and families who survive paycheck to paycheck?  With hoarding on a scale never witnessed in my lifetime, how secure are our food supplies and staple goods?

In the immediate, I offer you counsel and encouragement:

Pray – Someone has said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

Mark 11:22-24 – “22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Plan – The distance between a panic attack and confidence is a plan.

Definition of “Plan” – “Since God knows exactly what would happen in every situation, He plans for the best thing to happen. God takes counsel, puts all things under advisement, and chooses the best way.” – Practical Word Studies in The New Testament.

Purpose – Put your trust in the LORD and hope in Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 – “3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4  Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

http://www.HillsdaleBaptist.org

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a shepherd’s heart,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith