Tag Archives: Political

Belshazzar’s Final Feast: The Party is Over (Daniel 5; Daniel 6)

Scripture reading – Daniel 5; Daniel 6

Our Scripture reading is Daniel 5 and 6, but the focus of today’s devotional will be solely Daniel 5.

I have made the observation how the History of the Nations is “His-Story,” the Story of God’s Sovereignty. The rise of nations, and their precipitous fall serve as a testimony of God’s hand. The ruins of failed nations dot the landscape of the world, and are buried under desert sands, or discovered under the relics of past civilizations. Though leaders of nations boast in their might, they would do well to remember, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Daniel 5 – The Fall of Babylon

Babylon’s rise from a city-state to a world empire comes to a sudden, and decisive end in Daniel 5. The Chaldean kingdom barely spanned a century. Her rise to power under Nebuchadnezzar, and sudden fall under Belshazzar fulfilled God’s prophecies of judgment against Israel and her restoration to the land after 70 years (Isaiah 13:17-22; 21:1-10; 47:1-5; Jeremiah 51:33-58).

The Actions of a Foolish King (5:1-12)

The Scriptures introduce us to Belshazzar without an introduction, whom we believe was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar (5:1). Though he knew the astonishing history of his grandfather and the humiliation he suffered when he scorned the LORD (5:21-22), the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar was a fool and dared to blaspheme the God of heaven. Hosting a banquet for a thousand nobles, the drunken king commanded the gold and silver vessels from the LORD’s Temple be brought to his tables. The king and his guests drank from the sacred vessels (5:2-3) and scorned the Creator of the Universe, toasting their “gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone” (5:4).

Suddenly, the king spied the “fingers of a man’s hand writing on the plaster of the wall, over by a candlestick” (5:5). Illuminated by the glow of the light, and the sight of a man’s fingers etching words into the plaster of the wall, the king was terrified and visibly shaken (5:6). The demeanor of the king silenced the banquet, as the king summoned the wise men of his realm to come, read, and interpret the words on the wall (5:7). The king offered the reward of a scarlet robe, a golden chain (probably a symbol of authority), and the role of “the third ruler in the kingdom” (his father is believed to have been his co-ruler, 5:7). Yet, none of the wise men could read, or tell the meaning of the words on the wall (5:8).

Though not a part of the drunken revelry, the queen mother of the realm (most likely the wife of the late king Nebuchadnezzar), received news the banquet was interrupted, and came to the hall to see her grandson (5:10). Offering comfort and counsel (5:10-11), the queen reminded Belshazzar there was yet a man of the Hebrews who served Nebuchadnezzar, and had the reputation of being a man of wisdom (5:11). The queen counseled her grandson to summon Daniel, for he had the reputation of being a man with “an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams” (5:12).

The Appeal of a Foolish King (5:13-17)

Belshazzar summoned Daniel, who was now an elderly man, and inquired if he had served Nebuchadnezzar as counselor (5:13-14). Relating to Daniel his own wise men failed him (5:15), the king appealed to the aged prophet to read the writing on the wall, and promised to reward him with a scarlet robe, a gold chain, and promote him to “the third ruler in the kingdom” (5:16). Indifferent to the promise of reward and promotion (for a man of God will not be bought or bribed), Daniel rejected the king’s proposal (5:16-17a). He did, however, assure the king he would read “and make known to him the interpretation” (5:17).

Daniel’s Analysis of the Inscription (5:18-23)

Before he interpreted the words on the wall, Daniel reminded Belshazzar his grandfather had been a great and powerful king, “but when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he [had been] deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him” (5:20; 4:23). The humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar lasted seven years, until he humbled himself and acknowledged “the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will” (5:21).

Daniel then rebuked the king, and said, “thou his son [grandson], O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this” (5:22). The king had mocked “the Lord of heaven” and taken the vessels that were for His Temple, and blasphemed God (5:23). He had praised idols “of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone” (5:23), though they cannot see, “nor hear, nor know” (5:23). Even though the God of heaven holds man’s breath in His hand, Belshazzar had “not glorified” Him (5:23).

Numbered, Numbered, Wanting, and Broken (5:25-28)

Fulfilling his obligation as prophet, and the king’s messenger, Daniel boldly declared and interpreted the writing on the wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (5:25).

Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, whom God gave opportunity to humble himself and repent, there would be no mercy for Belshazzar and his kingdom. He would not escape the judgment of God for his days were numbered and fulfilled; he had been weighed in God’s just scales; and the kingdom would be divided, “and given to the Medes and Persians” (5:27-28).

Closing thoughts (5:29-31) – There was no escape for Belshazzar, for he was guilty: Guilty of pride, Guilty of defying, blaspheming, and profaning God’s name; Guilty of idolatry, and Guilty of failing to honor and acknowledge God as Sovereign.

The foolish king’s final act was to honor the servant of God proclaiming him a ruler of a kingdom that was doomed. He dressed Daniel in a robe of purple, and hanging about his neck a chain of gold, yet, all was for naught (5:29). By diverting the waters of the Euphrates River, the Medes and Persians were already pouring into the city, and that night Babylon would fall and “Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans [was] slain” (5:30).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

The Judgment of the Nations (Joel 3)

Scripture reading – Joel 3

Today’s Scripture reading marks the end of the Book of Joel (only three chapters long), and an introduction to the prophetic Book of Daniel. This devotional will conclude our study of Joel. A second devotional will follow, and serve as the introduction to the Book of Daniel.

I believe this final section of our study actually began with the closing verses of Joel 2. In its immediate context, the prophecies of Joel were given as the Assyrian army laid siege to Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah recorded how the LORD intervened for the city, and sent His angel who smote 185,000 soldiers (Isaiah 37:36). King Sennacherib had been forced to retreat to his homeland, where he was later assassinated by his sons (Isaiah 37:33-38).

The Day of the LORD is the prophetic day of God’s judgment, when He will take vengeance on those nations that abused Israel and Judah. With the assurance of His perpetual presence “in the midst,” Israel would know Him as “the LORD your God,” and the day would come when Israel would “never be ashamed” (2:27).

In my opinion, the “last days” began with Christ’s earthly ministry, and the prophecy of the outpouring of His Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (2:28-30; Acts 2:16-20). Nevertheless, the events recorded in the closing verses of Joel 2 and Joel 3, will not be fulfilled until the close of the Tribulation, and will mark the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.

Joel 3 – The Judgment of the Gentile Nations

A Day of Reckoning for the Nations (3:1-2)

Joel 3:1 was partly fulfilled when the LORD moved on the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, to grant the Jews liberty to return to their homeland where they would rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3). Yet, the final fulfillment of Joel 3 will not come to pass until the close of the Tribulation. The LORD promised He will one day gather His people from the nations (3:1), and exercise judgment on the Gentile nations for their sins against Him and His people (3:2).

Enumeration of the Sins of the Gentiles (3:3-6)

The nations of the earth have forever been at war with God and His people, yet, the sins of some nation have been so egregious, they are specifically named for judgment: Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine (3:4), Egypt, and Sodom (3:19).

The sins committed against God’s people are an offense to God, and He judged the Gentile nations guilty. Tyre, Zidon, the nations of Palestine, Egypt, and Sodom had scattered His chosen people with their persecutions, and parted the land He gave as an inheritance to Israel (3:2c). Those nations had enslaved the Jews (3:3a, 6), trafficked boys and girls as sexual slaves, and placed no more value on their lives than wine (3:3). Spoiling the gold and silver of the land, they had taken away that which was the LORD’s (3:4-6).

Justice and Judgment (3:4, 7-8)

The sins of the Gentile nations will be punished, and they will receive the recompence (be repaid) in kind for the sins they committed against the LORD and His people (3:4). The LORD determined to gather His people and restore them to their land (3:7), and the nations that enslaved them would themselves become slaves (3:8a). Their sons and daughters will be sold “to the Sabeans” (a caravan people of the southern Arabian Peninsula), and trafficked to far away lands (3:8b).

Warfare of the Nations (3:9-16)

Through His prophet, the LORD summoned the nations to gather and prepare for war (3:9). Contrary to the Millennial kingdom and its peace (when the weapons of war will be fashioned into plows, Micah 4:3), the LORD commanded the nations to “beat [their] plowshares into swords, and [their] pruninghooks into spears” (3:10). The nations of the world will assemble for battle (3:11), for the LORD was prepared to judge them “in the valley of Jehoshaphat” (its geographic al location cannot be ascertained, 3:12).

Drawing a picture of Himself as a farmer readied to harvest, the nations of the world were portrayed as ripe for judgment. The LORD’s judgment is likened to a farmer coming with his sickle sharpened, and ready to tread nations underfoot like grapes in a vine press (3:13). A multitude will gather against God’s people (3:14), but it is the LORD whose judgment will darken the sun, moon, and stars (3:15). Suddenly, He will “roar out of Zion, And utter his voice from Jerusalem; And the heavens and the earth shall shake: But the Lord will be the hope of his people, And the strength of the children of Israel” (3:16).

The Promise of the LORD’s Perpetual Presence (3:17-21)

Through the LORD’s judgment of the nations, the children of Israel and Judah will come to know Him as “the LORD [their] God” who dwells in Zion (3:17a). The city of Jerusalem would be holy, and no “strangers” (unbelievers) will “pass through her any more” (3:17b). The land will be fertile, the waters will flow, and the River of Life will flow from “the house of the LORD” (3:18). The LORD will avenge the wickedness of Egypt and Edom, for they were guilty of violence and shedding the “innocent blood” of Judah (3:19).

Closing thoughts (3:20-21) – Joel’s prophecies end with the LORD promising Judah the nation will “dwell forever” in the land, “and Jerusalem from generation to generation” (3:20). He will purge the people of their sins, and will forever dwell among them “in Zion” (3:21). Our study of Joel began with a judgment of locusts (Assyria’s army) descending upon Judah and Jerusalem (1:4), and ends with the triumph of God’s people restored to their land and the LORD reigning forever in Jerusalem (3:20-21).

The day of judgment is coming, not only for the nations, but for all men and women. Are you prepared for God’s day of judgment? When the books are opened, and “every man [and woman] will be judged “according to their works?” (Revelation 20:13), will your name be “found written in the book of life?” (Revelation 20:15)

Revelation 20:1515And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

God’s Judgment of Egypt (Ezekiel 30; Ezekiel 31)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 30; Ezekiel 31

Continuing our study of “The Book of the Prophecies of Ezekiel,” we are in the midst of God’s declaration of judgment on the nations, with the subject being Egypt. The date of this prophesy is not given, and there is good reason to believe it would have followed soon after Ezekiel 29:1, which was in the tenth year, and the tenth month of Ezekiel’s exile in Babylon.

Ezekiel 30 – The Third Judgment

A Storm of God’s Judgment (30:1-9)

Following the pattern of earlier prophecies, Ezekiel was addressed as, “son of man,” and commanded to “prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Howl ye, Woe worth the day!” (which is to say, Oh no! The day of the Lord is near, a day of clouds, 30:2). With Jerusalem under siege, Ezekiel was to pronounce a storm of God’s judgment would soon pass upon all the nations, for “the day of the Lord is near, a cloudy day” (30:3). Doomed with Egypt, were her allies, including Ethiopia (Cush), Libya, Lydia, and Chub (30:5). Egypt’s pride in her strength would fail, and her lands and cities would be laid waste (30:6-7). The Egyptians would know it was the LORD, as her cities burned (30:8). When news of Egypt’s fall reached Ethiopia, her people would be terrified and say of their own demise, “lo, it cometh” (30:9).

Nebuchadnezzar, An Agent of God (30:10-19)

The king of Babylon was named as the servant, the agent of God’s wrath (30:10). Ezekiel was to declare, the “multitude of Egypt” would come to an end as the people were slain, and driven as captives out of the land (30:10-11). The rivers, streams, and irrigation canals flowing from the Nile would be destroyed, and the nation plundered (30:12). All of the great cities of Egypt would become desolate (30:13-18), that the people might know and confess “the LORD” as sovereign (30:19).

The Strength of Pharaoh Would Fail (30:20-26)

Ezekiel 30:20 introduced the fourth judgment of the LORD against the nations. It was in the eleventh year of Ezekiel’s exile when the LORD declared, “I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and, lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed” (30:21). Portrayed as a man with broken arms, the strength of Pharaoh would never be reset, nor would Egypt have the strength to war over other nations again (30:21-22). The LORD would scatter the Egyptians among the nations (30:23), and Pharaoh would “groan…with the groanings of a deadly wounded man” (30:24). Thus, Egypt would come to know and confess the God of Israel is “the LORD” (30:26).

Ezekiel 31 – The Fourth Judgment

Egypt’s Judgment Compared to the Fall of Assyria (31:3-9)

Ezekiel 31 continued God’s warning of judgment against Egypt, with the fall of ancient Assyria serving as a warning to “Pharaoh” (31:2). Assyria was portrayed as a great “cedar in Lebanon,” whose stature exceeded all the trees in the “forest” of the nations (31:3). In her zenith, Assyria towered as a giant among the nations of the world, even as Egypt at her peak oppressed weaker nations and people. As the Nile River nourished Egypt, so the rivers and streams of Assyria nourished her fields and forest (31:4-5).

Continuing the portrayal of Assyria as a great cedar, the nations of the world sought shelter in her “branches,” even as times of famine moved the people to retreat to Egypt (the great “bread basket” of ancient times, 31:6). Incomparably proud, the Assyrians boasted their nation excelled all others (portrayed as a great cedar boasting it exceeded “all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God,” 31:8-9).

Assyria’s Fate: A Warning to Egypt (31:10-17)

As the mighty Assyrian “cedar” fell, Egypt’s pride would suffer a crushing defeat as the LORD delivered Pharaoh into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar (31:10-11). Assyria, remembered as a ruthless nation, would suffer the same fate, and her allies would desert her (31:12-13).

Though Nebuchadnezzar was God’s agent, it was the LORD who determined all who lift up their proud hearts would “go down to the pit” (31:14). The LORD stopped up the waters of the rivers, as the crops failed, and the “trees of the field fainted” (31:15). When the news of Assyria’s downfall spread, the nations of the world were shaken (31:16). The LORD condemned Assyria to hell, and her allies with her (31:17).

Closing thoughts (31:18) – The fall of Assyria served as God’s warning to Egypt (31:18a). Ezekiel foretold, as it was with Assyria, so it would befall Egypt (31:18b).

Warning – People and nations who exalt themselves against the God of Heaven, will be sentenced “unto the nether parts of the earth” (31:18a).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

“I Sought for a Man” – A Memorial Day Weekend Perspective

The scene is as vivid in my mind today as it was that day. I watched a casket, draped with the flag of the United States of America, as it was transported through a sea of dark suits and black veiled hats. I was only 10 or 11 at the time, and Vietnam was a place far from my quiet existence in rural South Carolina. That day, the nightly news recounting American casualties, took on a new meaning that was real and personal. While the toll of combat would number 58,193 by war’s end, it was the sacrifice of one soldier that brought home to me the reality of war, and the price of freedom.

            How do you honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the liberty we enjoy as a nation? Is it enough to place a wreath at a tomb or mark the graves of America’s fallen with flags? I suggest the greater memorial is to incorporate into our lives and families those qualities that made America great.

The Preamble of our Constitution states its purpose was to bind our hearts as a people to “a more perfect Union,” and “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

The leaders of our nation have failed us. Instead of Justice, politicians promote political correctness. Rather than domestic Tranquility, we have corruption, violence, and partisan politics. Our common defense has been weakened by open borders. The general Welfare of our nation has been sacrificed for special interest groups. Tragically, the Blessings of Liberty are despised by those who would enslave us.

America needs believers who will dedicate themselves to the LORD, and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

You are invited to join me for, “The News, and Nothing but the News.”

Heart of a Shepherd followers,

It is my joy to invite you to consider becoming a part of www.DailyTestify.com, “an up and coming” social network site owned by Bible believers, and whose membership is almost entirely conservative Bible believers.

While “Heart of a Shepherd” is dedicated to daily devotionals, I also have a presence on Daily Testify (as opposed to Facebook). Daily Testify has just opened the door for a “Closed Group” to be formed on their network that is dedicated to covering National and International News, and Current Events from a Biblical worldview.  

As a follower and reader of “Heart A Shepherd,” I invite you to join me for the Daily News, and set up an account with Daily Testify. Then request to join the  “Closed Group” that will look at daily news and world events.

On a personal note, I survey several news outlets everyday, and never watch network news. I refuse to be brainwashed by “talking heads” who are opposed to everything I stand for as a believer. Yet, I enjoy imparting a Biblical perspective on news and world events without the political drama (which got me band from Facebook).

I plan to post daily news articles, and you are invited to join me and do the same. You will find my posts will typically have a brief comment, and in the words of the 1960’s Sgt. Friday, present you with “the news, and just the news.” 

Check it out at https://dailytestify.com/index.php/currentevents-news/

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith, Author of “Heart of A Shepherd.”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The End, of The End is Come (Ezekiel 7; Ezekiel 8)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 7; Ezekiel 8

Continuing our study of the book of Ezekiel, we remember he was a young priest (1:1-2) when the LORD called him to be His prophet. He was among the first removed from Jerusalem before the fall of that city, and was commissioned to prophesy to the Jews of the captivity in Babylon. In Ezekiel 7, the message to the children of Israel was a message of doom and judgment.

Fourfold Warning to Worshippers of Idols (7:1-4)

With the words, “An end, the end is come,” the fate of Israel and Judah was sealed (7:2). God’s judgment was imminent, the land of Israel would fall to Nebuchadnezzar’s army (7:2). God’s patience with the sins and abominations of His people was exhausted, for they had provoked Him to anger, and the LORD declared He would not show them pity (7:4). All of this, that the people might “know” and acknowledge Him as LORD (7:4).

God’s Purpose for Executing Judgment (7:5-9)

Declaring “an evil, an only evil, behold is come” (7:5), we read the emphatic announcement of judgment: “the end is come…the morning is come…the time is come, the day of trouble is near” (7:6-7). What was the basis of God’s judgment? It was to reward His people for their sinful ways and abominations (7:8-9).

The Description of God’s Judgment (7:10-27)

Though prophesied more than two and one-half millennia ago, there is much to be learned from the decay, death, and destruction of Judah as a nation. As you read this passage, remember Ezekiel is prophesying to the Jews living in captivity in Babylon, while Jeremiah was prophesying in the midst of Jerusalem and warning the people of that which was to come. Provoked to anger by the pride of His people (7:10), none living in Judah would be spared God’s judgment (7:11).

We find here several tragic traits of a rebellious people, and a dying nation. (7:12-27)

The first, a failed economy. The general trade of buying and selling failed (7:12), and the seller could not recover or be made whole (7:13). A dying nation refuses to hear and heed the warnings of prophets (portrayed here as the blowing of the trumpet, 7:14). There is a prevalence of death, as “the sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within” (7:15). Death became an ever-present reality, as the sword was symbolic of violence and war, pestilence is sickness and disease, and famine caused by failed crops and an inability to import food (caused by the siege).

Troubles and trials had brought with them a perpetual state of sorrow, for the moaning of the people sounded like the cooing of the “doves of the valleys” (7:16). Uncertainty and anxiety were portrayed as physical weakness, as fear, sorrows, and shame overtook the nation (7:16-18).

Ezekiel 7:19 returns to the failed economy of Judah and Jerusalem, for the people realized too late their wealth and possessions could not save them (7:19a). With food shortages and little provisions to “fill their bowels,” the people cast their gold and silver in the streets of the city (7:19b).  Their once beloved gold which had adorned their women and decorated their shrines, became spoils for the wicked (7:20-21). Even the LORD’s Temple was plundered and defiled (7:22).

Impoverished, and defeated, the LORD instructed Ezekiel to “make a chain” that served as a symbol of the captivity (7:23). Lest some accuse Him of injustice, the LORD declared, “I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD” (7:27).

Ezekiel 8

Ezekiel 8 gives us again a supernatural revelation of God’s glory. Ezekiel was in his house, and with him the “elders of Judah” (8:1), when “the hand of the Lord God fell there upon [him]” (8:1). As He had when He first appeared to Ezekiel (1:26-28), the LORD displayed the likeness of His heavenly glory (8:2). In the vision, the Spirit of the LORD lifted Ezekiel up, and he was taken to the Temple where he beheld an idol he described as “the image of jealousy” (8:3).

Ezekiel saw “the glory of the God of Israel” (8:4) like that he had seen before, but as he lifted up his eyes, he also saw the “image of jealousy” in the LORD’s sanctuary (8:5-6). In the next verses, the LORD revealed to Ezekiel the desperate wickedness that was practiced by the elder and religious leaders of Judah (8:6). The Spirit of the LORD commanded the prophet to look through a hole in the wall of the Temple, and enlarge it where he peered into, and passed through a door into a secret chamber (8:7-9).

In the chamber, which was a secret room in the Temple, Ezekiel spied on the walls drawings of creatures, beasts, and idols (8:10). Then he saw 70 religious’ leaders of Jerusalem worshipping idols and offering incense to them (8:11), who declared “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth” (8:12).

Yet, Ezekiel was to see an even greater wickedness in the Temple, for in one room there were women worshipping Tamuz, a fertility god whose worshippers were known to practice gross immorality. In another room of the Temple there were 25 men who worshipped the sun (8:16).

Closing thoughts – Though the LORD need not justify His ways and judgments to any man, yet, He asked Ezekiel, “Hast thou seen this, O son of man?” (8:17). Consider how far the nation had departed from the LORD, His Law and Commandments. They had defiled the Temple with idols (8:1-18), and their elders who were entrusted with teaching the Law and exercising righteous judgment, were guilty of idolatry in secret places. There was no hope for the nation, and in His anger, God declared He would not have pity on the people, and neither would He hear their cry. It was too late.

I cannot say if it is too late for you or your nation to repent. Nevertheless, do you see the signs of God’s judgment in your world? Violence, wars, natural disasters, disease and pandemics, gross immorality, and rumors of impending hunger…

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

The Character of a Dying Culture (Lamentations 4) – part 1 of 2 devotionals.

Scripture reading – Lamentations 4; Lamentations 5

Our study of “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” will conclude with today’s Scripture reading. My devotional study will be presented in two parts. This is the first, with the focus upon Lamentations 4.

Lamentations 4 – The Consequences of Judah’s Sins and God’s Judgment

Stretched before Jeremiah were the ruins of Jerusalem, with its streets strewn with rubble, and in the midst the bodies of the dead. Jeremiah had spent his life calling upon the people to repent of their sins and turn to the Lord. Yet, as he surveyed the scene before him, he saw everywhere the reminders of God’s wrath.

Jerusalem’s Faded Glory (4:1-5)

Jeremiah recorded in graphic detail the afflictions suffered by his people because of their sins. As you read this passage, understand we are studying a description of a rebellious, dying culture. It was the sin and wickedness of the people that brought Jerusalem to this sad state. Once a city that shone bright as gold, she was tarnished by sin, and her sons, once the pride of the nation, were no better than “earthen [clay] pitchers” (1:1-2).

Adding to the moral decline of the city was the wantonness of the women. The virtue of womanhood, and the nurturing nature of mothers is always the last vestige of civility in a culture. Yet, the women of Jerusalem had become worse than brute beasts. Whereas it is in the nature of beasts to “give suck to their young ones,” the daughters of Jerusalem were become cruel (4:3). Caring only for themselves, the women neglected their children, and left them athirst and starving (4:4).

The wealthy and powerful, once consumers of delicacies, were now found roaming the streets of the city, homeless and destitute (4:5).

Jerusalem’s Sins Demanded a Judgment that Exceeded Sodom (4:6-11)

The judgment of Jerusalem surpassed the judgment of Sodom (Genesis 19). What sin was committed in Zion, the city of David, that demanded a greater judgment than ancient Sodom which was known for its moral depravity?

Because Jerusalem was chosen by the LORD to be the home of His sanctuary, it was that privilege that incited the wrath of God. The people had broken covenant with the LORD, and defiled His Temple. For that wickedness, the wrath of God lingered. Sodom was mercifully destroyed “in a moment” (4:6), but the sufferings in Jerusalem appeared to have no end.

The “Nazarites” (believed to be the nobility of Jerusalem) had enjoyed a favored life of ease (4:7). Unlike the general population who labored under the sun, these were the privileged few whose skin was described as “whiter than milk,” but now were reduced to starvation, and their skin blackened by the sun (4:8). Jeremiah observed, those who died by the sword were “better than” those dying of hunger (4:9). The horror of want and depravity was surmised in this, for the women who once nurtured their children, were cannibalizing them (4:10).  All this was a testament to the wrath of God (4:11).

The Leaders Had Failed the People (4:12-22)

The prophets had warned the judgment of the LORD was imminent, but the kings of other nations and the people of Judah believed the great walled city was unassailable (4:12).

Who was to blame for the fall of Jerusalem? The answer may surprise you. Though the kings of Judah had committed great wickedness, it was “the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, That [had] shed the blood of the just in the midst of her” (4:12). Lying prophets and sinful priests of Jerusalem had failed the nation (4:13). Judah’s spiritual leaders despised the righteous, and persecuted them (4:14). Their guilt was so great, they were become like a spiritually leprous people (4:15). They had despised faithful priests, and rejected the elders (among them was Zechariah and Jeremiah, 4:16).

Rather than heed the warnings of judgment, the nation looked to men and allies to save them (4:17). When king Zedekiah and his family fled the city, the soldiers of Babylon hunted them down (4:18; 2 Chronicles 36:5-6; 2 Kings 25:1-7), and pursued them like eagles through the mountains and into the wilderness (4:19-20). Yet, the LORD did not forget those who persecuted His people, and the Edomites were warned they too would drink from the cup of God’s judgment (4:21). The sins of Edom would not be forgotten (4:22).

Closing thoughts – Have you considered the sins committed by Judah, and the sinful character of her people tragically resemble the world of our day?

My own nation, once the envy of the world, is like tarnished gold (4:1). The American dollar, once the currency of the world, is fallen into disgrace. Politicians continue to transform our military into a showcase of social depravity (4:2), rather than strength and honor. Motherhood is despised by brazen women demanding the liberty to quench the lives of the unborn. Our leaders have betrayed us, and preachers and churches have become hollow shells of sin and depravity. The righteous are despised, and the faithful calling for repentance are scorned.

Like Jeremiah of old, do we not find ourselves praying, “God save America”?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

The End: Babylon is Fallen! (Jeremiah 51; Jeremiah 52)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 51; Jeremiah 52

Today’s scripture reading concludes our study of Jeremiah’s prophecies in the book that bears his name (our next Scripture reading will consider the Book of Lamentations, and that prophet’s grief following the destruction of Jerusalem). I know the study and interpretation of prophecy can be a challenge, but I trust my daily devotionals have made the difficult simple.

What a joy we have to be living at such a time! We have the privilege of not only studying past prophecies, but the advantage of researching history. Modern archeology has only confirmed God’s Word. While there are many who cast doubt on the Word of God, understand the burden of proof rest with them, and not the believer. History is on our side, and we can declare with the apostle Paul, “ye, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

The focus of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry has moved from Judah, to declaring God’s judgment against the Gentile nations beginning with Egypt in chapter 46, and the Philistines in chapter 47. Employing Babylon as the tool of His judgment, other Gentile nations succumbed to the might of Nebuchadnezzar’s army in quick succession. The Moabites (Jeremiah 48), Ammonites and Edomites, and nomadic tribes of Arabia fell to the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 49).

Though Nebuchadnezzar reigned as leader of the world in his day, seventy years after he destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians under King Cyrus (50:3, 9, 41-42).

Jeremiah 51

Jeremiah’s prophecies against Babylon continued in Jeremiah 51. Leaving no doubt God is Sovereign of the nations, we read: “1Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, And against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, A destroying wind” (51:1). Yet, God had not forgotten His covenant with Israel, and the prophet declared, “5For Israel hath not been forsaken, Nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of hosts; Though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel” (51:5).

Jeremiah’s prophecies were recorded that the people in captivity would know Babylon was to be destroyed (51:6-9). The children of Israel and Judah were to be ready and looking for the day they would be set at liberty to return to their land (51:10). The LORD would stir the Medes to attack and destroy Babylon (51:11). Though seventy years would pass, the destruction and end of Babylon was prophesied as though it was imminent.

Who could bring that great empire to its knees, and leave its capital in ruins? The LORD of hosts! (51:13) He is Creator, and “hath made the earth by his power, He hath established the world by his wisdom, And hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding” (51:15). He is the Sustainer of nature, for “when he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; And he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: He maketh lightnings with rain, And bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures” (51:15).

When God sets Himself against a nation and its leaders, no man can save it. Though He had employed Nebuchadnezzar’s aspirations for wealth and power to punish the nations, God is just and Babylon would not go unpunished (51:24-41). Describing the scale of the Medes and Persians army, Jeremiah declared, “42The sea is come up upon Babylon: She is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof” (51:42). Babylon had spoiled other nations, now she would become spoil to her enemies (51:43-58).

To this day, Babylon has not been rebuilt, and the ruins of that city lie under the sands of the desert as a testimony of God’s judgment (51:59-64).

Jeremiah 52

The narrative in Jeremiah 52 will be familiar. We have already considered the last days of Jerusalem, and the humiliation of king Zedekiah and his family in 2 Kings 24:19-20 and 2 Kings 25.

God’s longsuffering with the sins and rebellion of His people was exhausted, and He determined to deliver Judah to judgment. There was famine in the city (52:6), and as the walls of Jerusalem were breached, the soldiers of Judah fled the city with the king and his family (52:5-7). The soldiers of Babylon pursued Zedekiah, capturing him near Jericho (52:8; 2 Kings 25:4-7). Taken to be judged by Nebuchadnezzar, that king ordered Zedekiah’s sons be slain, and then the king’s eyes were put out (52:9-11; 2 Kings 24:19-20; 25:1-3). Zedekiah was then taken to Babylon in chains where he died a prisoner (52:11).

Jeremiah’s prophecies concluded with Jerusalem destroyed, and the palaces and Temple plundered and burned (52:12-23).  The people of Judah were led away to Babylon where they lived seventy years (52:24-30). As in 2 Kings 25, the book concluded with a brief mention of king Jehoiachin becoming an object of grace for Evilmerodach king of Babylon (52:31-34; 2 Kings 25:27-30).

Closing thoughts – Ancient Babylon’s army seemed invincible, and the walls of that great city impenetrable. Nevertheless, when God declared His judgment against that nation, there was no one who could save it. Bearing the weight of its wickedness, Babylon was overcome in a night and reduced to ruins.

Every nation would do well to remember: when the LORD bears the sword of judgment, no people or nation can stand.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

Warning: No Nation is Too Big to Fail! (Jeremiah 49; Jeremiah 50)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 49; Jeremiah 50

Today’s Scripture reading continues the record of God’s vengeance against the Gentile nations that were adversaries of Israel and Judah. While there are many lessons we might take from God’s judgment of the nations, I suggest the overriding one is this:

God is Sovereign Over all men, and LORD of the nations of the world.

Jeremiah 49 – The Vengeance of the LORD

Like the other nations against whom Jeremiah brought a warning judgment (Egypt, the Philistines, and Moab, Jeremiah 46-48), the Ammonites (descendants of Lot’s incest with his daughters, Genesis 19:32-38), were also warned they would be judged and destroyed by Babylon’s army.

Through His prophet, the LORD challenged the Ammonites settlement in Israel, asking, “Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? Why then doth their king inherit Gad, And his people dwell in his cities?” (49:1) With Israel exiled from her lands, the Ammonites had settled onto land that was once home to the Tribe of Gad (49:1). Probably assuming Israel would be assimilated into Assyrian society and become nothing more than a footnote in history, the Ammonites took possession of the land that was Israel’s inheritance from the LORD.

Because they had been Israel’s adversaries, the LORD warned the Ammonites they would be judged because of their greed and covetousness (49:4-5). Yet, in a wonderful evidence of God’s grace, Jeremiah prophesied “the children of Ammon” would be numbered among believers when Christ’s comes to reign on the earth (49:6).

Other Gentile nations to be judged for their sins were the Edomites (49:7-22), descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, whose destruction was compared to that of “Sodom and Gomorrah” (49:13-18). Nebuchadnezzar was described as coming upon Edom like a roaring lion (49:19), and the army of Babylon sweeping over the land like an eagle (49:22).  Syria, represented by its capital Damascus, would also be destroyed in God’s judgment (49:23-27).

The judgment of three nomadic Arabian tribes was foretold: Kedar (49:28-29), Hazor (49:30-33) and Elam (49:34-37). Once again, reminding us of God’s grace, Jeremiah 49:38-39 foretold at the end of time (“in the latter days”), some of Elam will be part of Christ’s kingdom.

Jeremiah 50 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Babylon

Jeremiah 50 is an incredible passage foretelling the destruction of Babylon. What a striking prophecy this must have been to Jeremiah, for Babylon was the lone super power of his day, and would have seemed invincible to the prophet.

The LORD declared the idols of Babylon, Bel and Merodach, would be “broken in pieces” rendering no help for that city (50:2). Though Nebuchadnezzar was defeating all nations at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, nevertheless, the LORD foretold a coalition of nations “out of the north” (50:3, 9, 41-42) would come against the great city bringing desolation. We know from the Scriptures and history that collation of nations would be the Medes and Persians under the leadership of King Cyrus. In one night, devastation struck the city to such a degree it rendered the great Babylon unfit for man and beast (50:3).

Jeremiah prophesied how the “children of Israel” would be liberated by the “nations out of the north,” and the people would return to their land (50:4-7).“Going and weeping: they shall go, And seek the Lord their God. 5They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord In a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten (50:4-5).

God warned the captives of Babylon to flee the city for her destruction was sealed (50:9-16). That wicked nation had scattered God’s people like sheep (50:17), and the LORD promised vengeance, saying, “Babylon [would]become a desolation among the nations” (50:23). No nation, great or small, can stand against the “Lord God of hosts” when He has declared, “I am against thee” (50:31). Babylon had defied God and now He would take vengeance on that nation (50:24-32). The fall of Babylon was prophesied to be so great, “the earth is moved” by her fall (50:46).

Closing thought – Though Israel and Judah were scattered among the nations, God would not forget His people. He warned the nations, Israel’s “Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name” (50:34).

I have heard 21st century leaders employ the adage, “Too Big to Fail!” Oh, foolish men, no nation or people is so great they can stand when God has set Himself against them!

Copyright 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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

Prophecies of Judgment Against the Gentile Nations (Jeremiah 46; Jeremiah 47)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 46; Jeremiah 47

With today’s Scripture reading, the focus of Jeremiah’s prophecies shifts from the remnant of Judah to the Gentile nations, all of whom would fall before Nebuchadnezzar and his army. Under that king, Babylon became a world empire, defeating its neighboring nations in rapid succession.

In the closing chapters of Jeremiah, God revealed to His prophet the humiliating defeat Egypt would suffer (Jeremiah 46), and the demise of the Philistines (Jeremiah 47). The nation of Moab also fell to Babylon’s sword (Jeremiah 48), and was followed by the Ammonites (Jeremiah 49:1-6) and Edomites (Jeremiah 49:7-22). Syria became a vassal state of Babylon (Jeremiah 49:23), as did several tribes of the Arabian desert (Jeremiah 49:28-39). Lastly, Jeremiah’s prophecies concluded with revelations concerning Babylon’s future, its decline, and overthrow by the Medo-Persians (Jeremiah 50-52).

Jeremiah 46 – A Prophecy Concerning Egypt

Remembering how Egypt swore a treaty with Judah, Pharaoh led his army out of Egypt and came against Nebuchadnezzar’s army that was laid in siege against Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar heard the Egyptian force was come up against him, he ordered his army to withdraw from Jerusalem and attack the Egyptians.

Babylon’s army crushed the Egyptian soldiers, many of whom were hired mercenaries (46:5, 9). Though armed with shield and sword and skilled as archers, those soldiers learned no nation could stand before an enemy when the LORD sets “a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries” (46:10). The blood of God’s vengeance could not be satisfied, and no medicines could heal the wounds Egypt suffered (46:11). So great was the defeat, Egypt’s soldiers stumbled over each other in their flight (46:12, 16).

The LORD then commanded Jeremiah to declare in Egypt, that the LORD had determined “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt” (46:13). Several metaphors were given to warn Egypt of the humiliating defeat that nation would suffer: Egypt would be like a cow facing the butcher (46:20), and a snake scurrying for safety (46:22). Babylon would afflict Egypt like trees felled by an axe, a forest facing with locusts (46:23), or a daughter raped and disgraced (46:24);

Three Reasons for God’s Judgment (46:25-28)

Egypt would not be spared the wrath of the LORD for the people were guilty of idolatry, they had been led astray by her leaders, and they had placed their trust in evil men (46:25-26). Yet, though other nations would be decimated by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, Egypt would be spared annihilation and remained inhabited (46:26). Perhaps the explanation for Egypt’s reprieve was the presence of a remnant of Judah that dwelled in that land (46:26-28).

Closing thoughts (46:27-28) – The LORD had not forgotten His wayward people, nor set aside His covenant with Israel. The LORD commanded Jeremiah to declare to His people, “be not dismayed, O Israel…I will save thee from afar off28Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, Saith the Lord: for I am with thee; For I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: But I will not make a full end of thee, But correct [chasten] thee in measure; Yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished” (46:27-28).

Jeremiah 47 – A Prophecy Concerning the Philistines

Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the Gentiles continued in chapter 47, and the Philistines are the focus. We read, “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (47:1). Consider the last phrase, “before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (47:1b). Why Pharaoh attacked Gaza is not stated; however, perhaps that Philistine stronghold served as a defense for the Egyptian army as it retreated from Judah to its country.

The Rise of the Chaldean Army: Like Flood Waters (47:2-5)

Nebuchadnezzar’s army was pictured as rising flood waters from the north, that flowed over the land devastating everything and killing everyone in its path (47:2). The swiftness and devastation of the Babylonian army was described as “the noise of the stamping of the hoofs…At the rushing of his chariots” (47:3). Philistine’s fathers were said to be so overcome with fear, they failed to look back and wait upon their children (47:3). Philistine cities fell before Nebuchadnezzar, and the men shaved their heads as a sign of humiliation, defeat and mourning (47:5).

Closing thoughts (47:6-7) – Jeremiah’s prophecy against the Philistines concluded with the prophet asking, Lord, how long before your sword is satisfied, and you put it in the “scabbard, [to] rest, and be still” (47:6). Even as he asked the question, the prophet was reminded, God’s sword is a symbol of judgment, and it has purpose and work as long as the LORD has appointed it to do its work (47:7).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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