Tag Archives: Political

“A Prophetic Portrait of a Rebellious Nation” – part 2 – (Isaiah 1)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 1

As we begin our study of Isaiah, I invite you to picture in your mind a setting that is a heavenly courtroom, with God sitting on His throne, and with the nation of Judah the defendant.

The Case: The Ingratitude of Judah vs. The Love and Grace of God (1:1-2)

Two witnesses were commanded to hear the charge against Judah: the “heavens” and the “earth” (1:2). The LORD charged Judah, saying, “I have nourished and brought up children [people of Judah], and they have rebelled against me(1:2).

How had the LORD nourished and brought up His people? He had chosen Abraham and established His Covenant with his lineage (Genesis 12). He had entrusted Israel with His Law and Commandments (Exodus 20). He had sent prophets who taught the people, and chastened the nation when it strayed. Yet, we read, “They have rebelled against me” (1:2c), rejected His Law, and His offer of love and grace.

Three Charges Against Judah (1:1-9)

The First Charge – Rebellious Ingratitude (1:3-4)

While a dumb ox knows its owner, and a donkey appreciates its master’s stall, Israel was a people that “doth not consider” (1:3). Consider what? The sins of the people had blinded them, and they gave no thought to the LORD’s care, love, and provision. The prophet Jeremiah would observe: “For my people [are] foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish [foolish; silly] children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 4:22).

They had become a sinful, wicked people, and were burdened with “iniquity” (the weight of their sin and guilt, 1:4). They had “forsaken the LORD” (1:4), despised His Law and Commandments, and had “provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger” (1:4).

The Interrogation and Infection (1:5-6)

The LORD questioned Judah, asking, “Why should ye be stricken [beaten; punished] any more? ye will revolt [rebel] more and more [again and again]: the whole head [whole body] is sick [diseased], and the whole heart faint [sick; feeble].” The stench of Judah’s sins had reached heaven, and the people were infected by wickedness (1:6).

The Consequences of Judah’s Sins (1:7-9)

The sins of nation had resulted in the land being destroyed (“your country is desolate”), “cities burned with fire,” and their riches plundered by foreigners (“strangers” – 1:7). So dreadful was the judgment, if the LORD had not shown the people mercy, Judah “should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah [utterly destroyed with no soul spared]” (1:9).

The Second Charge – Religious Insincerity (1:11-20)

God charged the people as being pious hypocrites (1:11-12), and He declared He was weary with their sacrifices and offerings (1:11). They trampled upon the courts of the Temple, and had given no thought to His presence and holiness in the Temple (1:12). The LORD declared:

“Bring no more vain [false; deceitful; empty] oblations [non-blood offerings – flour, fruit, oil]; incense [perfume; sweet incense] is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome] unto me…it is iniquity [wicked; vanity], even the solemn meeting [sacred assembly for worship]” (1:13-14).

Even their prayers had become an abomination: “When ye spread forth [lay open; stretch forth; display] your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers [supplications], I will not hear [hearken; listen]: your hands are full [overflowing] of blood. [shedding of blood]” (1:15).

In spite of Judah’s wickedness, the LORD extended a pardon if the people would repent of their sins (1:16-18). He called upon the nation, “Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins [faults; offences] be as scarlet [color of blood], they shall be as white [purified; without blemish] as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool [i.e. white]” (1:18).

Offering a conditional pardon, the LORD appealed to the people, “If ye be willing [consent] and obedient [hearken; obey], ye shall eat [consume] the good [beauty; blessings] of the land” (1:19); but warned, “if ye refuse [unwilling] and rebel[disobey; provoke], ye shall be devoured [eat up; consumed] with the sword [knife; dagger]: for the mouth [commandment; Word] of the LORD hath spoken it. [pronounced; declared]” (1:20).

The Third Charge – Three Reprehensible Injustices (1:21-23)

Understanding the leaders of a nation are a reflection of the character of the people, I conclude today’s study inviting you to consider three nauseous traits of those who govern a dying nation.

The leaders of Judah were vile, having rejected God’s Law, and were “companions of thieves,” enriching themselves by illicit gain (1:23). The leaders lacked integrity, and were guilty of loving gifts (bribery), and shameless self-promotion (“followeth after rewards” – 1:23; Exodus 23:8; Micah 3:11-12). Finally, the leaders had abused and exploited the weak (“the fatherless…the widow” – 1:23d; Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-21).

Closing thoughts – Take a moment and reflect on your nation, its leaders, and government. Are the failed character traits of Judah’s leaders the same as you see in your society–vile, lacking integrity, and abusing the weak?

Warning – The sinful traits of a nation’s leaders reflect its citizens, and demand God’s judgment (1:24-31).

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

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Political Corruption, and a Day of Judgment (2 Kings 8; 2 Kings 9)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 8; 2 Kings 9

We have observed the fierce faith and courage of the prophet Elisha in earlier devotionals, and in 2 Kings 8 we will observe his compassionate spirit.

2 Kings 8

Lands Restored to a Shunammite Mother and Son (8:1-6)

Knowing Israel would face years of famine, the prophet encouraged the mother, whose son he had raised from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35), to leave Israel and live “in the land of the Philistines seven years,” which she did (8:2). When the seven years past, she returned to Israel, only to find others had occupied her home and lands in her absence.

Providentially, her appeal to the king coincided with that ruler questioning “Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done” 8:4). As Gehazi told how Elisha had “restored a dead body to life,” the mother whose son had been raised from the dead, entered the king’s presence and appealed to him to restore her lands (8:5). The king asked if the story of her son’s resurrection was true, and she confirmed it was so. “So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now” (8:6).

Elisha Foretells the Ascension of Hazael to be King of Syria (8:7-15)

As the prophet of the LORD, Elisha’s prophetic ministry was not limited to Israel. Elisha journeyed to Damascus, and Benhadad, the king of Syria was sick, and feared he was near death (8:7). The king sent a servant named Hazael to inquire if he would recover from his disease (8:8). That servant came to Elisha, and the prophecy he received was that the king would die, and Hazael, his servant would be king (8:10). Having foretold Hazael’s future, Elisha began to weep, for the LORD had revealed how Israel would suffer under Hazael (8:11-12). Hazael was offended by the prophecy, nevertheless, Elisha assured him he would be king (8:13).

Hazael then returned to king Benhadad’s bedside, and he deceived the king and assured him he would recover from his illness (8:14). Yet, the next day, Hazael took matters into his hands, and smothered the king with a thick cloth which he had dipped in water. Benhadad was dead, and Hazael was king of Syria (8:15).

A Review of the Rise and Fall of Kings in Judah and Israel (8:16-29)

The events in 2 Kings 8:16-29, are a parallel of the same from an earlier study in 2 Chronicles 21-22. Now, Joram, king of Israel, was recovering from wounds he had suffered in battle with Syria (8:28). Ahaziah, who was king of Judah and the son of Ahab’s daughter Athaliah, went down to Ramothgilead to visit the king. (8:28-29). (Jezebel, the wicked Queen mother, and wife of Ahab was still alive at this time.)

2 Kings 9

Jehu Anointed King (9:1-10)

While king Joram was away, Elisha, sent a messenger to anoint Jehu to become Israel’s next king (9:2-6). To avenge the deaths of his prophets, Jehu was charged with annihilating the lineage of Ahab, and insure there would be no heir of that wicked king’s family (9:7-10). True to the prophecy of Elijah, Joram was told, “the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her” (9:10).

Jehu’s Insurrection, and the Assassination of Joram and Ahaziah (9:13-27)

With the anointing of the LORD to be king in Israel, Jehu journeyed to Jezreel, determined to slay Joram and claim Israel’s throne (9:13-15). Jehu and his company of soldiers came within sight of Jezreel, and king Joram twice sent messengers to ask him if he had come in peace (9:17-20). Rather than return to the king, the messengers joined Jehu. Then, Joram and Ahazaih ordered their chariots “made ready,” and went out of the city to meet Jehu (9:21). When Joram asked Jehu, “Is it peace?” (meaning, have you come in peace), Jehu replied, “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (9:22)

The king of Israel realized he had been betrayed, and warned Ahaziah to flee, as an arrow from Jehu’s bow pierced Joram’s heart (9:23-24). Remembering how Jezebel had murdered Naboth, and Ahab had claimed his vineyard, Jehu ordered Joram be buried in the field of Naboth (9:25-26). Jehu continued the pursuit of Ahaziah king of Judah, and he was also wounded, and died that day at Megiddo where he had fled (9:27).

The Inglorious Death of Jezebel (9:30-37)

Fulfilling the prophecies of Elijah and Elisha, Jehu came to Jezreel, and the wicked Jezebel adorned herself as a powerful queen (9:30). Looking out the window of the palace, she scorned Jehu, but he answered her asking others, “Who is on my side?… 33And he [Jehu] said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall” (9:33). Jehu’s horses and chariots then trampled Jezebel, and left her lifeless body at the city wall (9:33-34). When Jehu ordered Jezebel’s body be buried, he learned the prophecy of Elijah had been fulfilled, for the dogs had eaten her flesh (9:35-37).

Closing thoughts – We have followed the deaths of kings and queens, and the ascension of sons to be king. As it was then, so it is today. We see in our day the same political intrigue and corruption in nations of the world. Wicked men and women continue to aspire to wealth, power, and position and few give little thought to the day when “the dead, small and great, stand before God…[and will be] judged every man according to their works…and whosever [is] not found written in the book of life [will be] cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15).

Are you ready for the judgment day?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

But for the Providence of God (2 Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 22)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 22

Happy New Year, this 1st day of January 2022! Understanding every day is a gift of God’s grace, and more precious than silver and gold, I thank the LORD for allowing me an opportunity to live, and serve Him as I stand upon the threshold of a new beginning!

Entering upon a New Year, we would be wise to heed the proverb of Solomon, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). You cannot know what tomorrow will bring, but I encourage you to plan for the future, and make a list of things that will be a priority in your life. Place at the top of that list the daily study of God’s Word.

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study of 2 Chronicles, and a desperate time in the life of God’s people. In earlier devotionals, we have considered the godly reign of Jehoshaphat, who followed his father, and “and walked in [the LORD’S] commandments” (17:4). Jehoshaphat had enjoyed the LORD’S blessings, but in a foolish decision of political expediency, his eldest son, Jehoram married Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab (18:3; 22:3, 10) whose counsel and wickedness nearly ended the Davidic line.

2 Chronicles 21 – The Reign of Jehoram, Son of Jehoshaphat

As with many fathers, though he was a great man, Jehoshaphat was apparently blind to the ungodly character of his eldest son, Jehoram. Before he died, Jehoshaphat set his household in order, and blessed his sons with “great gifts,” but “the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn” (21:3). Putting birthright above character, Jehoshaphat’s decision to give his crown to Jehoram, plunged Judah into an era of spiritual darkness, and political turmoil.

After his father’s death, Jehoram “strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers [many] also of the princes [chief leaders] of Israel” (21:5). No longer bound by the opinions and influence of his brothers or godly leaders, Jehoram did not follow in his father’s spiritual steps, and instead followed in the wicked ways of the kings in Israel (21:6).

Why? Why did this king of a godly lineage, reject the LORD and do “that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD?” (21:6). The answer is found in this statement: “He had the daughter of Ahab to wife” (21:6). Only the intervention of the LORD, and His covenant promise to spare the Davidic lineage, preserved the royal line through which Christ Himself would ascend (21:7).

Rather than the peace and prosperity Judah had enjoyed during the reigns of Asa and Jehoshaphat, under Jehoram’s reign, Judah descended into an era of political turmoil as the Edomites rebelled (21:8-10), and other enemies of Judah soon followed (21:16-17). Rather than repent of his wickedness, Jehoram continued in his sins, and his influence “caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto” (21:11).

Even the prophet Elijah, though he was a prophet in Israel, sent a letter to Jehoram, stating that his actions would bring a fatal intestinal disease upon him. Elijah’s words still ring soberness to us today.  Notice the specific detail written against Jehoram: “thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out…an incurable disease” (21:15, 18). Unlike his father and grandfather who were beloved and honored by the nation, Jehoram died a miserable soul. Humiliated, impoverished, stripped of his possessions, his sons and wives abducted, and his health failing, Jehoram died. None in Judah mourned his death, nor was he buried “in the sepulchers of the kings” (21:19-20).

2 Chronicles 22

The Reign of Ahaziah (22:1-9)

Ahaziah, the youngest son of Jehoram, was chosen by “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” to be king (22:1). Like his father, he continued in the sins of the kings of Israel, and “his mother (the daughter of wicked Ahab) was his counsellor to do wickedly” (22:3). Though he reigned for only a year, Ahaziah was a wicked king, and his counsellors were of the house of Ahab (22:2, 4).

Ahaziah’s life was cut short when he was killed by a man named Jehu, whom God had appointed to cut off the lineage of Ahab (22:7). When Jehu learned Ahaziah was also in Israel, he determined to slay the king of Judah as well (22:9).

A Wicked Grandmother Slays the Royal Sons (22:10-11)

We read, “when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah [she was the wife of Jehoram, the daughter of Ahab] saw that her son [king Ahaziah] was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.” (22:10), and made herself queen of Judah (22:11).

Closing thoughts – It is hard to imagine a grandmother slaying her grandsons; however, the daughter of Ahab was wicked. What was for king Jehoshaphat a pragmatic decision to insure peace and a political alliance with Israel, nearly terminated the Davidic bloodline. Athaliah would have accomplished her wicked plans, except the LORD used “Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king,” to spirit away Joash, saving the life of the man who would one day be king of Judah, and thus preserving the line of David (22:12).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

But for the Providence of God (2 Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 22)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 22

Happy New Year, this 1st day of January 2022! Understanding every day is a gift of God’s grace, and more precious than silver and gold, I thank the LORD for allowing me an opportunity to live, and serve Him as I stand upon the threshold of a new beginning!

Entering upon a New Year, we would be wise to heed the proverb of Solomon, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). You cannot know what tomorrow will bring, but I encourage you to plan for the future, and make a list of things that will be a priority in your life. Place at the top of that list the daily study of God’s Word.

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study of 2 Chronicles, and a desperate time in the life of God’s people. In earlier devotionals, we have considered the godly reign of Jehoshaphat, who followed his father, and “and walked in [the LORD’S] commandments” (17:4). Jehoshaphat had enjoyed the LORD’S blessings, but in a foolish decision of political expediency, his eldest son, Jehoram married Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab (18:3; 22:3, 10) whose counsel and wickedness nearly ended the Davidic line.

2 Chronicles 21 – The Reign of Jehoram, Son of Jehoshaphat

As with many fathers, though he was a great man, Jehoshaphat was apparently blind to the ungodly character of his eldest son, Jehoram. Before he died, Jehoshaphat set his household in order, and blessed his sons with “great gifts,” but “the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn” (21:3). Putting birthright above character, Jehoshaphat’s decision to give his crown to Jehoram, plunged Judah into an era of spiritual darkness, and political turmoil.

After his father’s death, Jehoram “strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers [many] also of the princes [chief leaders] of Israel” (21:5). No longer bound by the opinions and influence of his brothers or godly leaders, Jehoram did not follow in his father’s spiritual steps, and instead followed in the wicked ways of the kings in Israel (21:6).

Why? Why did this king of a godly lineage, reject the LORD and do “that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD?” (21:6). The answer is found in this statement: “He had the daughter of Ahab to wife” (21:6). Only the intervention of the LORD, and His covenant promise to spare the Davidic lineage, preserved the royal line through which Christ Himself would ascend (21:7).

Rather than the peace and prosperity Judah had enjoyed during the reigns of Asa and Jehoshaphat, under Jehoram’s reign, Judah descended into an era of political turmoil as the Edomites rebelled (21:8-10), and other enemies of Judah soon followed (21:16-17). Rather than repent of his wickedness, Jehoram continued in his sins, and his influence “caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto” (21:11).

Even the prophet Elijah, though he was a prophet in Israel, sent a letter to Jehoram, stating that his actions would bring a fatal intestinal disease upon him. Elijah’s words still ring soberness to us today.  Notice the specific detail written against Jehoram: “thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out…an incurable disease” (21:15, 18). Unlike his father and grandfather who were beloved and honored by the nation, Jehoram died a miserable soul. Humiliated, impoverished, stripped of his possessions, his sons and wives abducted, and his health failing, Jehoram died. None in Judah mourned his death, nor was he buried “in the sepulchers of the kings” (21:19-20).

2 Chronicles 22

The Reign of Ahaziah (22:1-9)

Ahaziah, the youngest son of Jehoram, was chosen by “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” to be king (22:1). Like his father, he continued in the sins of the kings of Israel, and “his mother (the daughter of wicked Ahab) was his counsellor to do wickedly” (22:3). Though he reigned for only a year, Ahaziah was a wicked king, and his counsellors were of the house of Ahab (22:2, 4).

Ahaziah’s life was cut short when he was killed by a man named Jehu, whom God had appointed to cut off the lineage of Ahab (22:7). When Jehu learned Ahaziah was also in Israel, he determined to slay the king of Judah as well (22:9).

A Wicked Grandmother Slays the Royal Sons (22:10-11)

We read, “when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah [she was the wife of Jehoram, the daughter of Ahab] saw that her son [king Ahaziah] was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.” (22:10), and made herself queen of Judah (22:11).

Closing thoughts – It is hard to imagine a grandmother slaying her grandsons; however, the daughter of Ahab was wicked. What was for king Jehoshaphat a pragmatic decision to insure peace and a political alliance with Israel, nearly terminated the Davidic bloodline. Athaliah would have accomplished her wicked plans, except the LORD used “Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king,” to spirit away Joash, saving the life of the man who would one day be king of Judah, and thus preserving the line of David (22:12).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

God is Holy, Merciful and Forgiving (1 Kings 21) – Part 1 of 2 devotionals.

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 21; 1 Kings 22

Our study of the kings of Israel and Judah continues with today’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 21 and 22. This is the first of two devotionals, and will focus on 1 Kings 21.

Lifted up with pride, and failing to consult the LORD, Ahab had spared the life of Benhadad king of Syria, and provoked God’s wrath (20:31-34). The LORD then sent one “of the sons of the prophets” (20:35), and he prophesied the death of the Ahab, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people” (20:42). Heavy-hearted and dejected, Ahab returned to his palace in Samaria (20:43).

1 Kings 21

A Sulking Monarch (21:1-6)

Rather than repent of his failures, and seek the LORD, the king set his covetous heart upon a vineyard that was next door to his palace. Now, the vineyard belonged to a man of Jezreel named Naboth, but it was a vineyard which Ahab coveted, so he proposed that Naboth trade his land for “a better vineyard,” or sell it (21:1-2). While the proposition appeared fair, it was intolerable for Naboth for it had been his inheritance from his father, and no doubt, was passed down through his family for generations (21:3). Rejected, Ahab went to his palace sulking over Naboth’s refusal, and then laid upon his bed refusing to eat (21:4).

Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel, observed the king’s spirit and asked, “Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?” (21:5) Ahab then confided in his wife how Naboth had refused his offer, and would not sell him his vineyard (21:6).

A Scheming Queen (21:7-16)

With scorn, Jezebel rebuked the king, and asked, “Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?” (21:7) Are you king? Dare you allow a man of your kingdom to refuse you? Assuring Ahab, she would take care of the matter of Naboth’s vineyard, Jezebel encouraged the king saying, “arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (21:7).

Foolish Ahab did not question his wife, but allowed her to plot against Naboth. Plagiarizing the king’s name and seal on letters, she engaged “two men, sons of Belial,” wicked, worthless men, to bear false witness against Naboth, accusing him of blasphemy against God and the king (21:10). Proclaiming a fast, and placing Naboth in a position of privilege, the false witnesses arose against Naboth, and accused him of blasphemy. The men then “carried [Naboth] out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died” (21:13).

“When Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, [she] said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite…for Naboth is not alive, but dead” (21:15). Without a question, it seems Ahab did as his wife had said, and took possession of Naboth’s vineyard (21:16).

A Startling Prophecy (21:19-23)

Now, the murder of Naboth so stirred the wrath of the LORD, that He commanded Elijah to confront Ahab, and prophesy the king’s death, saying, “in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine” (21:19).

Elijah arose to obey the LORD as he had been commanded, and Ahab scoffed at the prophet saying, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” (21:20)

Bold in his faith, and courageous in his obedience, Elijah declared all the LORD had commanded him. The prophet foretold the king would die, and his lineage would be cut off from ever reigning in Israel (21:20-23). He then prophesied the king’s wife would be cast over the wall of Jezreel, and “the dogs shall eat Jezebel” (21:23).

Closing thoughts – Let us consider in closing not only Ahab’s failure as king, but also that of his wife Jezebel. The wickedness of Ahab had exceeded that of all the kings who had gone before him. Rather than a moral influence for good, Jezebel had “stirred up” the king to serve idols” (21:26).

Astonishingly, Ahab responded to the warning of God’s judgment with humility, and “rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly” (21:27). Even more astonishing was the LORD’S response to Ahab, for He restrained His judgment saying, “29Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house” (21:29).

* This concludes the first of today’s devotionals. Please remember to subscribe to Pastor Smith’s daily chronological devotionals, and have them sent to your email address.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“God is Sovereign, and The Battle is the Lord’s” (1 Kings 20) – A Bonus Devotional

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 20

Now, the LORD commanded the prophet Elijah to anoint three successors to be kings of Israel and Judah, and his own replacement (1 Kings 19:15-21). Hazael, he anointed to succeed Benhadad as king of Syria (19:15). Jehu was anointed to be king of Israel following Ahab (19:16). Finally, Elisha was chosen by the LORD to serve as Elijah’s disciple and his successor as prophet in Israel (19:16b, 19-21).

1 Kings 20 – The Failure of Ahab, and His Death Foretold

1 Kings 20 presents us with a record of how Benhadad, king of Syria, oppressed and impoverished Israel. With arrogance and impunity, he humiliated king Ahab (20:1-12) and demanded that king’s treasury of silver and gold. He abducted Ahab’s wives and took his children as hostages, along with the best of Israel’s population to serve as his slaves (1 Kings 20:2-3). When the king of Syria increased his demands, Ahab realized Benhadad’s demands were intolerable, and would never be appeased (1 Kings 20:5-6).

God in His grace, sent a prophet to encourage Ahab to be courageous and assured him the LORD was on his side (20:13). Promised victory in spite of the odds against him, Ahab withstood Benhadad in a series of three battles and God gave Israel a great victory (20:14-30).

Tragically, Ahab’s heart was lifted up with pride, and when Benhadad begged for his life to be spared, the king of Israel failed to consult the LORD. Ahab made a foolish, and fateful decision; not only did he spare Benhadad’s life, he honored him by setting him in his own chariot before the people (1 Kings 20:32-33). Sparing the enemy of Israel provoked the wrath of the LORD (20:31-34), and He sent a man to Ahab, one described as “of the sons of the prophets” (20:35). The young prophet confronted Ahab, and said:

1 Kings 20:42-43 – “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. 43And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.”

Closing thoughts – 1 Kings 20 was a spiritual crossroads for King Ahab, and true to his evil character, he made decisions independent of the LORD, and promoted his interests before that of the LORD’S.

Consider three spiritual lessons: The first, God is jealous of His glory and name (20:13). Ahab had surrendered to Benhadad’s demands and failed to seek the LORD, and in doing so, sacrificed God’s best for His people. God declared to Ahab, “thou shalt know that I am the LORD” (20:13).

We are also reminded that God is sovereign over all creation (20:23-28). The LORD is the God of the hills and the valleys. He is not the “god of many,” but the sovereign God of all, and turns the hearts of kings and rulers according to His will (Proverbs 21:1).

Lastly, God is just, and desires obedience (20:32-42). Ahab’s failure to kill his enemy invited the LORD’S judgment upon himself and Israel. Ahab will invite his own death, and Israel will suffer a humiliating defeat (1 Kings 21-22).

What about you? Do you seek the LORD and His will when making decisions? Do you put your faith in the wisdom of man, or in the LORD knowing He is sovereign, and He desires the best for His people?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Take Courage, and Hope in the LORD! – Part 2 (1 Kings 17)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 17; 1 Kings 17

We have met Ahab, the seventh king of northern Israel, and his queen Jezebel in an earlier devotion (1 Kings 16:29-33). They were a notoriously wicked couple who reigned over northern Israel for 22 years. Ahab followed and exceeded the wickedness of his father Omri and the kings that had gone before him (16:30). His wife Jezebel did not worship the God of Israel, for she “served Baal, and worshipped him” (16:31). Her influence on Ahab ushered in a time of great wickedness, and Ahab built an altar and temple to Baal in Samaria, the capital city of Israel (16:33).

Elijah the Tishbite, The Prophet of God

1 Kings 17 gives a brief introduction to the prophet Elijah, whose life and ministry we will follow for several days in the Scirptures. He was, in my opinion, not only one of the greatest prophets, but one of the greatest men to have ever lived. The Scriptures portray him as a man of passion and faith; one who might boldly confront evil, but then take flight for fear of losing his life.

A Season of Drought (17:1-7)

We are introduced to Elijah when he entered the palace of the wicked Ahab, and delivered a message of judgment: “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (17:1; Deuteronomy 11:17; 28:23).

To provide for His prophet during the three years of drought, God commanded Elijah to retreat to the desert, and there He would provide him with water at “the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan” (17:3). The LORD then sent ravens to bring his prophet bread and meat to eat (17:4). So, the LORD provided all Elijah needed for a season, until “the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (17:7).

The Widow Zarephath (17:8-16)

When there was no water, the LORD provided the next place to which his prophet would retreat during the drought that was troubling Israel. God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath of Zidon, and there he would meet and dwell in the household of a widow and her son (17:9). When he arrived in Zarephath, he met the poor widow as she gathered sticks to bake the last of her flour and oil. Elijah requested water, and she moved to “fetch it;” however, his request for bread was met by protest, for she said, “As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die” (17:12).

Confident in the LORD’s leading and provision, Elijah assured her the LORD would provide, and she would never lack for flour or oil, “until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth” (17:14). Exercising her faith in the LORD, and His prophet, she took the prophet into her home, and every day found the flour and oil replenished, as the prophet had promised (17:15-16).

The Death and Resurrection of the Widow’s Son (17:17-24)

At some time during Elijah’s stay in the widow’s household, her son became ill and died (17:17). In her sorrow, the widow cried out against Elijah as a “man of God,” and wondered if her sins were the cause of her son’s death (17:18).

Elijah was overcome with sorrow, and taking up the widow’s son to his bedchamber, he placed him upon his bed and cried to the LORD saying, “let this child’s soul come into him again” (17:21). The LORD heard and answered the prophet’s prayer, and “the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived” (17:22).

Closing thoughts – We know the trials Elijah faced in 1 Kings 17 were an opportunity for the prophet to become strong in his faith, and confident the God of Israel hears and answers the prayers of his people. Yes, Elijah felt the consequences of the drought in Israel, but he also experienced God’s care and miraculous provision, even when there was just enough flour and oil for a day. Elijah learned the power of prayer, that prepared him for the great contests he would soon face with Ahab and Jezebel.

Maybe you are reading this devotional and find yourself in the midst of trials, and disappointments. Perhaps you are wrestling with doubts, and wondering if the LORD will hear and answer your prayers. You might feel like the widow of Zarephath, and question if the sorrows you bear are because of your sin (17:18).

Be strong, take courage, and hope in the LORD! He still hears, and answers prayer (1 John 1:9).

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Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“If the foundations be destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Apprehension, anxiety, and discord are epidemic in our society. We are living in a chaotic, dangerous world that is torn by division and strife over a myriad of matters. There is a concerted and coordinated effort to excite aggression, and provoke division in our communities, churches, schools, and families. Government bureaucrats, politicians, media personalities, institutions, and corporate entities are diminishing our Constitutional liberties.

Unlawful mandates attack our individual right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and are eroding the most fundamental and sacred rights of man. What our nation’s founders declared to be self-evident truths, “endowed by [our] Creator,” are being battered by an unrelenting socialist ideology that attacks “individual soul liberty.”

A Bible Challenge for 2022

More than ever, we need to “think biblically,” and exercise godly wisdom and discernment. In a world that questions and challenges the most basic, fundamental facts, we need a sure foundation, and that foundation is the LORD, and His immutable Word!

Heart of A Shepherd 2-Year Scripture Reading Schedule After listing an inventory of sins and wickedness that would characterize “the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1-7), Paul challenged Timothy: “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of…16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

I challenge you to follow the Daily Bible Reading schedule for 2022, and subscribe to this pastor’s daily devotional posts at www.HeartofAShepehrd.com.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
https://dailytestify.com/index.php/pages/59/

Tragedy: Feeble, Fickle, Frightened Saints (2 Chronicles 13; 2 Chronicles 14)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 13; 2 Chronicles 14

Continuing our chronological Scripture reading and study of Bible history, we come to 2 Chronicles 13 and 14. This is a parallel of our reading in 1 Kings 15, but with some added detail and insight into the LORD’S dealings with both Judah and Israel.

There was a succession of kings of David’s bloodline in Judah, and two kings in particular are the subject of this devotional: Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, and Asa, the son of Abijah and therefore the great grandson of Solomon.

2 Chronicles 13 – The Brief Reign of Abijah

Though Abijah reigned for no more than three years over Judah, his rule marked a resurgence of the two Tribes in the South (Benjamin and Judah). King Jeroboam of Israel, no doubt believing the death of Rehoboam and the crowning of a new king afforded him a window of opportunity to wage war against Judah, mobilized an army of 800,000 soldiers. The men of Jeroboam’s army were described as “chosen men, being might men of valour” (13:3). Abijah, the king of Judah, mustered “an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men” (13:3), leaving the new king facing an adversary whose number was far greater than his own.

Nevertheless, Abijah was undeterred from facing Jeroboam. Before the battle commenced, the king of Judah “stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim” (13:4), and confronted Jeroboam and the men of Israel. He accused Israel of having failed to honor the LORD’S covenant with David and his lineage (13:5). Abijah did not shy from stating the insurrection led by Jeroboam was an act of rebellion (13:6).

Abijah upbraided the men that had followed Jeroboam as “vain men, the children of Belial,” meaning they were worthless, unprincipled men (13:7). He charged Jeroboam with having taken advantage of Rehoboam when he was a young, inexperienced king (13:7). They strengthened themselves against Rehoboam by coming against “the king of the LORD” with “golden calves, which Jeroboam made…for gods” (13:8). Jeroboam had also “cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites” (13:9), and raised up priests like the heathen, for there was no discretion in whom was appointed to serve as priests “of them that are no gods [golden calves]” (13:9).

With faith, and courage, Abijah admonished Israel, stating how the LORD was on his side, for Judah had not forsaken the LORD, and the priests had continued to “minister unto the LORD” and offered sacrifices as the law demanded (13:10-11). With his voice resonating across the valley, Abijah proclaimed, “behold, God himself is with us for our captain…fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper” (13:12).

As Abijah was speaking, Jeroboam had prepared an ambush of Judah’s army, and encircled them (13:13). Realizing they were ensnared, all Judah cried out to the LORD, “and the priests sounded with the trumpets” (13:14). With a shout, Judah’s soldiers charged Jeroboam and his army, and in response, the men of Israel fled the battlefield, leaving 500,000 men of the original 800,000 slain (13:15-17). Abijah and Judah had won the battle, “because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers” (13:18).

Jeroboam was defeated, and with his strength failing, “the Lord struck him, and he died” (13:20). Abijah, king of Judah, went to his grave a mighty man, with wives, sons, and daughters (13:21; 14:1).

2 Chronicles 14 – A Revival and the Reign of Asa

After Jeroboam was defeated, and Abijah died, Judah enjoyed peace for ten years when Asa ascended the throne of (14:1). Asa, the son of Abijah, had the testimony of a man who loved the LORD, and he “did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (14:2). Asa strengthened the defenses of Judah’s cities, and began purging idolatry and wickedness which had been allowed under Rehoboam and Abijah (14:3-6). Commanding the nation to “seek the LORD God…and do the law and the commandment” (14:4), the people of Judah enjoyed peace and prospered (14:5-7).

Asa’s army grew to 580,000 men (14:8), and the men of Judah were known for their shields and spears, while the men of Benjamin were skilled with their arrows and bows. They were all “mighty men of valour” (14:8).

When an army of Ethiopia invaded Judah, Asa led his soldiers to the battle, and “cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help…help us, O Lord our God…let not man prevail against thee” (14:11). With the LORD on their side, Asa and Judah prevailed, and pursued the Ethiopians “unto Gerar” (a city of the Philistines). Judah took spoils of their cities (most likely the Philistines had joined Ethiopia in waging war against King Asa’s army, 14:12-15).

Closing thoughts – It has been sad, “To the victor go the spoils,” but I believe king Asa would have been swift to give credit and honor, not to himself, nor to his army, but to the LORD. “The Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host…for the fear of the LORD came upon them” (14:13-14).

Surely, the world looks at the present day church and sees a generation of weak, fickle, intimidated people. The LORD wants His people to be men and women of faith and courage. When we face danger, or see an enemy, let us call upon the LORD and say, “O LORD our God, let not man prevail against thee” (14:11).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: You Write Your Own Obituary When You Leave Your Spiritual Base (2 Chronicles 11-12)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 11; 2 Chronicles 12

I remind you that 2 Chronicles was penned after the Babylonian captivity, and was a historical record of the time of the kings in Israel, whose history was recorded prior to the Babylonian captivity in the Book of 1 Kings.

2 Chronicles 11

The events recorded in today’s Scripture reading were the subject of an earlier devotional in 1 Kings 12, and follows the northern ten Tribes’ succession from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin who were loyal to the king. Rehoboam had raised up an army to put down the insurrection, however, God had forbidden him to go to war against his brethren (2 Chronicles 11:1-4; 1 Kings 12:21-24). Rehoboam then set out to improve the defenses of the cities in Judah, and built walls to fortify his strong holds (11:5-12).

Remaining loyal to Rehoboam, and rejecting the idolatry of northern Israel, the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts,” leaving their lands and houses (11:14a). Adding to his wickedness, Jeroboam not only established his golden calves as objects of worship in Israel, he also rejected the priests of the LORD, and “ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made” (11:15).

Jeroboam’s disobedience, and his rejection of God launched an exodus out of the northern tribes of those who had “set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel [and] came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers” (11:16). The departure of those faithful to the LORD left Israel weakened, for “they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.”

A record is given in the closing verses of 2 Chronicles 11 regarding king Rehoboam’s personal life (his wives, concubines, and children). Most notably are the names found in 2 Chronicles 11:20: “20And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.”

A point of explanation is necessary regarding Maachah (11:20). The Hebrew word for “daughter” described a female offspring, albeit daughter, granddaughter, or even a great granddaughter. Because we know Absalom [the rebel son of king David], had only one daughter and she was named Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27), we must conclude that Maachah was in fact an offspring of Absalom, but was most likely his granddaughter. So, we learn that Rehoboam’s favorite wife was Maachah, who was his second cousin, and the mother of Abijah who would suceed him as king (11:22; 12:16, 13:1).

2 Chronicles 12

2 Chronicles 12 is a review of the tragic events we have considered in an earlier study of 1 Kings 14. This final chapter in Rehoboam’s life serves as a reminder to all, and especially those who are leaders, of what becomes of a man, family, or organization when its leader(s) forsake the LORD, by forsaking His law and commandments. Strong, and confident in his early years as king, Rehoboam failed the most important step to success in spiritual leadership: “He did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (12:14).

Failing to follow in the spiritual footsteps of his father, “it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him” (12:1). The tragic consequences of his failure to humble himself before the LORD and obey His law, led Israel away from the LORD, and invited God’s judgment.

The tool of God’s judgment was Shishak, king of Egypt, who came against Jerusalem with a coalition of peoples: “Lubims (i.e., Libyans), the Sukkiims (possibly a tribe of Arabia), and the Ethiopians of Africa (12:2). With 1200 chariots, and 60,000 cavalrymen, Shishak “took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem” (12:4; 1 Kings 14:25-26).

Prophecy Against Rehoboam and Judah (12:5-12)

The LORD sent Shemaiah who prophesied to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah that it was their sins that had given cause for the LORD to bring Shishak against Jerusalem (12:5). However, because Rehoboam and his leaders humbled themselves before Him, the LORD was merciful, and spared Jerusalem from destruction (12:6-7). Yet, He did not spare Rehoboam and Judah the humiliation of becoming servants to the king of Egypt (12:8).

“Shishak king of Egypt…took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house…[and] he carried away also the shields of gold [used in pageantry] which Solomon had made” (12:9; 1 Kings 14:26). Masking his humiliation, Rehoboam commanded “shields of brass” be fashioned to replace his father’s golden shields (12:10-11).

Closing thoughts – Rehoboam reigned 17 years in Jerusalem, nevertheless, his reign was scarred by his failure to prepare “his heart to seek the LORD” (12:14). The peace Israel had enjoyed during the reign of his father Solomon was lost, and “there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually” (12:15). Rehoboam the son of Solomon died, and “Abijah his son reigned in his stead” (12:16) over a nation that was now divided, and no longer sheltered by the LORD’S blessing.

A leader, institution, and nation that rejects the LORD, His law and commandments will surely be judged.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith