Tag Archives: Prophecy

God is With You in The Midst of Trials (Ezra 1-3)

Scripture reading – Ezra 1-3

Our chronological Scripture reading schedule brings us today to the Book of Ezra and the return of the Jews to their homeland. Jeremiah had prophesied the captivity of Judah would last seventy years (Jeremiah 25:9-11), and when it was finished, the Jews would return their homeland. True to His Word, God remembered the prophecies of Jeremiah and “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” (1:1).

Ezra 1 is a testimony that God is faithful to His promises.

Permit me a recap of historical events that led up to the miraculous return of God’s chosen people to their homeland. The following dates are approximate; however, they give us a timeline that serves as a reminder that“HIS-STORY” is a testimony of God’s sovereignty and providential dealings with His people.

Solomon’s Temple is believed to have been completed in 949 B.C. In 722 B.C. the Northern Kingdom known as Israel, fell to Assyria. Nebuchadnezzar first subdued Jerusalem and Judah in 606 B.C., taking Judah’s King Jehoiakim captive, along with several other Jewish youth, among them Daniel (Daniel 1:3-4). The 606 B.C. date was the commencement of the seventy years of captivity that Jeremiah had prophesied (Jeremiah 25:9-11). Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The Medo-Persian armies conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.

In 536 B.C., seventy years after the first Babylonian captivity, Cyrus of Persia became the sole regent of the Babylonian empire and issued an edict proclaiming, “the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (1:1-2).

Seventy years after the first captivity began, God moved on the heart of Cyrus to free the Jews to “go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem” (1:3).

Consider two extraordinary events found in the opening verses of Ezra. The first, that God moved on the heart of a heathen king to finance the rebuilding of His Temple in Jerusalem. The second, that Cyrus issued and edict freeing the Jews to return to their homeland.

The same LORD who moved the heart of a pagan king to do His will, is the same God who controls the heart of every authority in your life. King Solomon taught his son, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

After granting the Jews liberty to return to their homeland, only a small number, less than 50,000, shared the vision and heart for returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple (1:5). With the exception of some priests and Levites, only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were represented in the number who were sensitive to the Spirit of God and were willing to leave Babylon and begin the task of rebuilding the Temple and Jerusalem.

Why were the other tribes not moved to return to the land God had promised His people for an inheritance? I fear they had been in Babylon too long (taken captive by Assyria 136 years prior to Judah’s captivity). The Babylonian culture was part of them and they had no heart of longing for the land of their ancestry. Sadly, the majority of the Jews treasured Babylon, and their hearts were not in Jerusalem.

Where is your treasure?

 Matthew 6:19-2119 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Evil Hosts and Their Opposition to the Prayers of the Saints (Daniel 10-12)

Scripture reading – Daniel 10-12

Daniel 10-12 is the fourth and final vision of Daniel. Daniel 10 introduces the vision. Daniel 11:1-35 revealed the immediate future, while Daniel 11:36-12:4 was a revelation of the distant future and a time we know as the Tribulation: “the time of the end” (11:36) in which the antichrist will appear. Daniel’s final vision concludes with a revelation of the Great White Throne (12:4-13) and God’s final judgment.

Today’s devotional commentary will focus on Daniel 10 and the introduction of the final vision.

Daniel 10:1-9 – A Heavenly Messenger

Writing in the third person, Daniel employs his Chaldean name Belteshazzar (no doubt the name he employed in his official capacity as an officer of the king’s court), and revealed a transition of leadership in Babylon citing the time of his fourth and final vision as, “the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (10:1).

The date of the vision was about 536 B.C., about the time of Daniel’s experience in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6) and soon after King Cyrus had issued his edict, freeing the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1). Fifty thousand captives had returned to Israel, but soon after their arrival they faced opposition that not only hindered the work on the Temple, but finally succeeded in stopping it altogether.

Daniel, serving as an official in the Persian court, must have been privy to the opposition his brethren were facing in Israel and that may have been the cause for his “mourning three full weeks” (10:2). Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks, and about the time of the Passover, “in the four and twentieth day of the first month” (10:4), God sent a messenger to Daniel as he “was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel” (the Tigris River, 10:4).

The messenger, described as “a certain man” (10:5), was so brilliant in appearance (10:5-6) that Daniel and his companions were terrified, though only Daniel saw the vision (10:7). With a voice that sounded “like the voice of a multitude” (10:6) and was accompanied by a great earthquake, Daniel’s companions fled (10:7), leaving Daniel alone to see the “great vision” (10:8).

Though the man in Daniel’s vision was not identified, I am of the opinion he was a pre-incarnate appearance of the LORD Jesus Christ.  The prophet was so overwhelmed by the heavenly presence of the man, that he felt himself to be utterly corrupt and physically weak (10:8). Lying prostrate before the man and his face to the ground, the voice and words of Daniel’s visitor brought on a “deep sleep” (10:9).

Daniel 10:10-21 – Revelation of an Unseen Spiritual Battle: The Angels of the LORD vs. The Demons of Darkness

Daniel was suddenly awakened when a hand touched him, lifting him up on his knees and the palms of his hands (10:10). The hand of this second visitor is not identified; however, he was an angel and might have been the angel Gabriel who had appeared twice before in Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21. Comforting the prophet with his salutation, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent” (10:11a), Daniel stood to his feet still trembling (10:11b).

Daniel 10:12-21 gives us a great insight into an invisible spiritual conflict between the LORD and His angels, and Satan and his demons of darkness.  The angel informed Daniel that he had been sent by the LORD on the first day when he had prayed (10:2-3, 12); however, he had been hindered in his mission by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” who had resisted him twenty-one days until Michael the archangel had come to assist him (10:13).

The angel stated the purpose of his mission in coming to Daniel saying, “I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people [the believing Jews] in the latter days [the time of tribulation]: for yet the vision is for many days” (10:14). Hearing the news of what would become of God’s people at the end of the ages, Daniel once again fell to the ground, dumbstruck and deeply troubled by the vision (10:15-17). Strengthened by the touch and encouraging words of his angelic visitor (10:16, 18-19), Daniel was ready to receive the prophecy that would follow (Daniel 11-12).

I close inviting you to consider the revelation of an invisible, spiritual warfare that is being waged by the angels of heaven against the demonic angels (10:20). Two great and wicked fallen angels are identified as “the prince of Persia,” and one who will follow him, “the prince of Grecia” (10:20b).

The next time you pray and grow anxious waiting on the LORD to answer your prayer, remember: There is an evil host of angels that are actively opposing God’s work on earth. They influence and possess men and women in the great halls of government, wield power for evil in society, and are ever encouraging wicked men and women to oppose God and commit evil against His people.

Ephesians 6:11-1211  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Third World War (Daniel 7-9)

Scripture reading – Daniel 7-9

Reading chronologically through the Bible in one year is a wonderful challenge; however, I sometimes find myself doing little more than a “fly-over” when it comes to writing devotional commentaries on passages of Scripture that captivate my heart and move my spirit.  The prophetic scenes found in the Book of Daniel continue to astonish me as I reflect upon events that have come to pass, and consider those things which are yet future.  What a stunning testimony for the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21)!

You might have noticed the first six chapters of Daniel were narrative in style, and historical in content. We have followed the rise of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar’s consolidation of the nations of his day into the first world empire. Among the nations conquered was Judah, and the remnant of Israel after Assyria had taken the northern ten tribes captive a century earlier. Judah became subservient to Babylon in 605 BC, and to ensure that nation’s compliance, Nebuchadnezzar had taken in the first captivity the sons of Jewish nobility.

Among the captives was a young teen named Daniel. Though only a youth, Daniel was already dedicated to the LORD, His Law and Commandments. God blessed his faithfulness, gave him favor, and promoted him to the highest offices of both the Chaldean and Medo-Persian Empires. Daniel’s longevity in his service to heathen kings was a testimony of his character, talents and integrity. While other rulers of the Babylonian kingdom were purged from office during transitions of kings and kingdoms, Daniel’s character earned him the trust of both Chaldean and Persian kings.

Daniel 7 – A Panoramic, Prophetic View of History

Daniel 7 begins a panoramic, prophetic view of history that commences with the rule of “Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1) and continues through the reign of “Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (9:1). Daniel 7 chronologically precedes Daniel 5 [which recorded Babylon’s fall to the Medes and Persians].

Daniel 7 occurs during the first year of Belshazzar’s reign (7:1), whose rule marked the beginning of the end of the Chaldean Empire. Daniel 7 recorded the first of 4 visions, providing us with a prophetic landscape of Gentile Empires beginning with Babylon and ending with the Second Coming of Christ and His Millennium Kingdom.

Daniel’s dream in chapter 7 parallels the great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2. Notice that Daniel’s dream was a three-part vision that revealed six kingdoms (7:2-14).

The Sea (7:2-3) was symbolic of humanity and the four beasts represented four great world empires.

In the Scriptures, Sea and Water are figurative of humanity and the nations of the world (Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 17:1, 15). “The four winds of the heaven” (7:2) violently moving the Sea represent God’s judgment on the nations of the earth. Wind generally moves north, south, east or west; however, the four winds coming simultaneously from all directions reflect a violent judgment.

Four earthly kingdoms are represented by four beasts: A lion with wings like an eagle (7:4; most likely Babylon); a bear with three ribs in its mouth (7:5; most likely the Medes and Persian empires); a leopard with four wings on its back and four heads (7:6; most likely Greece); and a beast described as “dreadful and terrible” and having ten horns (7:7; most likely Rome).

A fifth kingdom, represented by an eleventh horn and described as a “little horn” emerges from the head of the fourth beast (7:8). The “little horn” is the Antichrist (7:8). The Scriptures reveal he will be a man far greater and more evil than the earthly kings who had gone before him. He is described as having human eyes [“eyes like the eyes of man,” indicating superior intelligence] (7:8), and a mouth that boasts “great things” (7:8)

The sixth kingdom announces the triumphant Second Coming of Christ who is described as the “Ancient of Days” and is seen sitting on the throne of Heaven (7:9). From His throne He will judge the nations of the earth (7:10) and will reign a thousand years (7:13-14). Daniel conveys the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ, writing,

Daniel 7:13-14 – “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of Man came with [sitting on] the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they [perhaps angel messengers] brought Him near before Him. 14  And there was given Him [Christ, the Messiah] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

I close with an invitation for you to consider some immutable truths we can take from our study. The first, God is sovereign of all nations (Romans 13:1-6). History, past, present, and future is HIS-STORY. The second, that God is omniscient; He knows the beginning and the end. He knows and directs the rise and fall of kings and kingdoms.

When Daniel grasped the magnitude of history and realized the last days when the antichrist appears in the Great Tribulation, he confessed, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me” (7:15).

What an advantage we have over Daniel. We can look back in history and realize that the visions of the rise and fall of nations Daniel observed in his dream have come to pass. Surely, we have cause to anticipate with confidence what God has promised He will fulfill!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

From Grazing to Grace (Daniel 4-6)

Scripture reading – Daniel 4-6

Today’s Scripture reading is lengthy (Daniel 4, 5, and 6), and for that reason I will limit my devotional commentary to one chapter, Daniel 4.

Daniel 4 – A Testament to the Tragedy of Sinful Pride

King Nebuchadnezzar was one of history’s greatest rulers and was a man whose life was a testimony to the sovereignty of God. He was, in the words recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, the servant of the LORD when God employed the king’s ambition and judged Judah for that nation’s sin and rebellion (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10). While there is some dispute as to whether or not Nebuchadnezzar died a man of faith, there is certainty that his life was a testimony of God’s providence and grace.

We find Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted with a spiritual malady, of his own choosing, that is the nemesis of mankind–Pride.

Solomon warned his son, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Pride is the rotten root of man’s sinful nature and is at the core of man’s wickedness. We read in the psalms,

Psalm 10:2 – “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor…”

Psalm 10:4 – “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”

Nebuchadnezzar was no stranger to pride. He was the most powerful figure in the world of his day. His accomplishments are nearly unrivaled: A mighty warrior, a great administrator, a visionary and master-builder. His tenure as king spanned 43 years (605 BC-562 B.C.) and during his reign, Babylon grew from a city-state to an empire. Babylon encompassed an estimated 14 square miles and was fortified by a triple line of walls, the outermost wall being 300 feet high and 80 feet across at the top (wide enough for four chariots to race abreast).

Daniel 4 finds Nebuchadnezzar enjoying the “golden years” of his reign. He was “at rest” (4:4a), and his war years were behind him. The king was enjoying the fruits of his labor and the spoils of war; however, we find him troubled by a dream, a vision that he demanded interpretation.

After the king’s magicians and astrologers failed to interpret his dream (4:7), Nebuchadnezzar summoned Daniel (4:8) and expressed his confidence that God had given him a gift for interpreting dreams (4:9). The king proceeded to tell Daniel his dream (4:10-18), and when he was finished, we read that Daniel was speechless for an hour. (4:19).

Nebuchadnezzar, seeing that Daniel (also known by his Chaldean name, Belteshazzar) was troubled by the meaning of his dream (4:19), exhorted him to interpret his dream.

Daniel answered the king’s command by tactfully preparing him for the bad news saying, “My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies” (4:19c).

Daniel then explained the dream saying, the tree was a symbol of the king’s power and accomplishments (4:20a, 22b); however, like the tree, he would soon be cut down, deemed insane, and driven from the palace where he would spend seven years living like a wild beast.

Daniel urged Nebuchadnezzar to repent of his pride (4:27), warning the king that only when he would acknowledge the sovereignty of God in the earth (4:26) would he be healed and restored as king.

Twelve months passed (4:29) while God patiently waited for the king to repent of his sinful pride and acknowledge Him as Sovereign.

One day the king was walking about the terrace of his palace, and looking out upon the city he boasted with sinful pride, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (4:30)

The king had refused to humble himself, and his pride exceeded God’s patience. God had given the king 12 months to repent, however, when the time of God’s judgment had come there was no delay.

Daniel 4:31 – While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

The king was driven out of his palace and lived like a wild beast. When seven years of humiliation had passed, we read, “Nebuchadnezzar lifted up [his] eyes unto heaven, and [his] understanding returned unto [him] (4:34a). The king acknowledged God’s rule, power, and the breadth of His eternal kingdom.

Nebuchadnezzar confessed that the God of heaven is immutable and His kingdom and reign is eternal, “from generation to generation” (4:34b). As He had promised, God restored the king to his throne (4:36), as he confessed, that the “King of heaven” is just and He is able to bring low the proud (4:37).

Friend, you cannot know when you might refuse to hear God’s voice for the last time. You cannot know when you might hear your last invitation, your last opportunity to confess your sin and repent.

Ecclesiastes 9:12 – “For man also knoweth not his time…”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

You Are Invited to, “The King of Kings is Coming!” – Sunday, September 13, 2020

Good morning! You are invited to join Hillsdale Baptist Church for our public worship services this Sunday morning. We are looking forward to an uplifting day of worship in music and a message in the 10:30am service on the Sovereignty of God.

Our Children’s Rally time begins at 9:00am in the Friendship Hall and is followed by Kid’s Choir (9:15am-9:45am) with Music Pastor Steve Armstrong. Our Children transition to their Sunday School classes at 9:45am.

Teen and Adult Bible Studies all begin in their individual classes at 9:15am. Pastor Brian Barber will be teaching the auditorium class and broadcasting live at 9:15am on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page and at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

Pastor Smith is continuing his prophetic series in Hillsdale’s 10:30am service with a message titled, “The King of Kings is Coming,” a study in the sovereignty of God taken from the Book of Joel, chapter 1. Please click on the links to print out your student notes for today’s message.

The King of Kings is Coming (part 2) – September 13, 2020 AM student blank

The King of Kings is Coming (part 2) – September 13, 2020 AM student blank

Reminder: Hillsdale’s 9:15am Bible studies and 10:30am worship service are open to the public and also broadcast live on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page and at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith, Pastor

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Daniel: A Model of Godly Character, Integrity and Courage” (Daniel 1-3)

Scripture reading – Daniel 1-3

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic panorama of human history, beginning with the days of Nebuchadnezzar and ancient Babylon and encompassing a prophetic vision of world empires that would follow…Medo-Persians, Greece and Rome.  Daniel’s writing includes prophecies that are for the 21st century reader a footnote in history past and a foretelling of future events that conclude with the Second Coming of Christ. Today’s devotional commentary will be taken from Daniel 1.

Daniel 1

Daniel 1 opens with a straightforward, historical account and one we are familiar with from our earlier study of 2 Kings 24:12-16. The children of Judah are in Babylonian bondage, and the beloved city of Jerusalem, and the Temple will soon be laid waste (2 Kings 25).  The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah’s kings if the people did not repent of their sin and turn to the LORD, His wrath would rise “against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).   Jeremiah prophesied the captivity in Babylon would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:12) and when those years were “accomplished at Babylon [God] will visit you… causing you to return to this place [the promise land]” (Jeremiah 29:10).

Daniel was probably no more than 13-14 years old when he was taken from his home and transported to Babylon with its strange language and idolatrous culture. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, instituted a plan and chose the best and brightest of Israel’s impressionable youth that they might serve him in the administration of his empire (Daniel 1:8).  Daniel was numbered among those youth who were without blemish, handsome, discerning, cunning, and “understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” (1:4).

Daniel soon proved he was not only a gifted young man, but also a child of faith. Three other youth of Judah shared Daniel’s passion for the LORD: “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7  Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego” (1:6-7). Leading by example and conviction, we read,

Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed [pledged; determined; made a decree] in his heart that he would not defile [pollute; soil; stain] himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine [lit. intoxicating wine] which he drank: therefore he requested [desired; sought; enquired] of the prince [captain; governor] of the eunuchs [most likely a castrated servant] that he might not defile [pollute; soil; stain] himself.”

Daniel purposed: He pledged his heart, and resolved in his character, “he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).

What courage!  What conviction!  What passion!  God was at work and He blessed Daniel and providentially “brought [him] into favour [mercy; kindness; grace] and tender love [to have compassion; pity; i.e. brotherly love] with the prince[chief] of the eunuchs [who were the servants of the king] (1:9).

Faithful to their convictions and respectful of their authorities, God blessed the faith of Daniel and his three companions, and when they were proved (i.e. tested and examined), they appeared healthier than those “children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat” (1:15).

We will see in our study, that the testing of Daniel’s faith in his youth prepared his heart for the opportunities, challenges, and trials he would face in his service to the kings of both Babylon and Persia (1:21).

I close inviting you to consider four qualities that defined Daniel’s submissive and sensitive heart to authority: He was subordinate in his spirit (1:12); he was sincere in his appeal (1:12); he was Scriptural in his purpose (1:12-13); and he was sensitive in his request (1:13-14).

We would do well to weigh our spirit, manner, and relationship with the authorities in our lives, using Daniel as perfect example of a young man of faith and convictions.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Day of the LORD (Joel 1-3)

Scripture reading – Joel 1-3

The Book of Joel is another of the minor prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures (not minor in the sense that his ministry was unimportant, but in the brevity of the book that bears his name and fills only three chapters in the Bible).

We know little of Joel except that his ministry was to Judah, the Southern Kingdom ,and he was the “son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1). Even the dates that Joel ministered are unknown, although scholars suggest he might have prophesied during the reign of King Joash (835-796 B.C.).

The Book of Joel described three catastrophic invasions that would befall Judah and serve as symbols of the great and dreadful judgment that would come upon the world in the “Day of the LORD.”

Joel 1 – A Plague of Locusts

From antiquity to our modern day, locusts have been the haunt of mankind, often devasting a nation’s crops and producing a famine that leaves both man and beast starving.

Joel called upon all the people of Judah to acknowledge the plague of locusts was unlike any the nation had faced (1:2-3). Coming in four waves (1:4), the locusts had entered Judah like an invading army, and there was nothing left to feed or sustain the population (1:4-7). Fruit vines, trees, and crops were in ruin, and the “field is wasted…corn is wasted” (1:10). There were no offerings to the LORD, because there was no harvest (1:9).

Why would the LORD allow this frightening hoard of locusts to descend upon His people and leave them starving? Because the LORD in His mercy will use natural disasters to cause a nation to reflect on its sin, repent, and turn to Him.

Joel called upon the “ministers of God, the priests, to stand between the altar and the porch of the Temple. Dressed in “sackcloth,” there were to “howl” all night and sorrow that there were no offerings, because there was no harvest (1:13). If the people did not repent of their sins and turn to God, Joel warned “the day of the LORD [was] at hand, as a destruction from the Almighty” (1:15).

After describing the devastation left in the wake of God’s judgment (1:16-18), Joel cried out to the LORD for the nation,

Joel 1:19-2019  O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. 20  The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.”

Joel 2 – The Invasion of a Heathen Horde

The second invasion that comes as God’s judgment on Judah was that of a great army, so vast in number, they were like the locusts that had darkened the sky in Joel 1. Once again, the warning of an invading army gave cause for the people to repent of their sins and call upon the LORD (2:1).

We read, “the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand” (2:1). A day described as, “a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (2:2). The enemy will be “a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it” (2:2b).

The enemy of God’s people would spread across the land like a “fire devoureth” (2:3) and the sound will be “like the noise of a flame of fire [that] devoured” (2:5). The judgment of God on “the day of the LORD” will affect the universe, for “the earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (2:10).

Having stated the “day of the LORD is great and very terrible” (2:11), Joel declared the invitation of the LORD saying,

“Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (2:12-13).

Joel prayed for a national revival and called out to God,  “Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (2:17b).

Knowing God is gracious and merciful, Joel encouraged the people if they would repent, the LORD would restore the nation, bless the land and “restore to you the years that the locust have eaten…26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (2:18-26).

Joel 3 – Armageddon

Joel prophesied the regathering of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem (3:1), and the Gentile nations gathering against Israel (3:2) in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (3:2, 12). The sins of the nations against Israel are listed (3:3) and God promised he will reward those nations for the evil they have done to His people (3:4). Knowing the oppression and ill treatment Israel and Judah had suffered (3:3-8), the LORD promised to make war against the nations of the earth (3:9-17).

I close observing there are two Gentile nations that are specifically named for destruction in the Day of the LORD: Egypt and Edom (3:19).

From time immemorial, Egypt and Edom (represented among the Arab tribes and nations of our day), have been perpetual enemies of Israel and Judah. Of those nations we read,

“Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah” (3:19).

All of this will surely be done in that day, “for the LORD dwelleth in Zion” (3:21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He that is Mighty Watches Over Israel! (Ezekiel 46-48)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 46-48

Today’s Scripture reading concludes our devotional study of the Book of Ezekiel. We have followed the prophet from his work as a 30-year old priest ministering to His people “in the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezekiel 1:3), to God calling him to serve as His prophet.

Ezekiel prophesied the judgment of God against Judah and foretold the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon. The prophet warned the Temple would be destroyed and the land left desolate. While false prophets lied to the people, Ezekiel faithfully confronted their sins, and warned the imminent judgment of God (2:3-5).

While the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were assured, the LORD revealed to Ezekiel that He would not altogether forsake Israel, promising to one day resurrect the nation (Ezekiel 37).  The LORD encouraged His prophet that the Jews would not only be restored to their land, but even described in exacting detail the dimensions of the new Temple the LORD Himself would build in the Millennium Kingdom (Ezekiel 40-43).

Having prophesied the Jews would be restored to their land, the guidelines and the role of priests was defined in Ezekiel 44:9-31. The division of the land was given, including the portion set aside for the LORD (45:1-5) and the portion of the sacrifices to be offered in memoriam to Christ’s sacrifice (45:6-27). Three Feasts or festivals are renewed during the Millennial reign of Christ: The New Year’s Feast (45:18-20), the Passover (45:21-24), and the Feast of the Tabernacles (45:25).

Ezekiel 46 – Sabbaths, New Moons, and Sacrifices

Ezekiel’s record of his vision of the Temple and the worship and offerings continues in chapter 46. Worship on the Sabbath and on the New Moon is noted (46:1-3). Guidelines for feasts and regulations for sacrificial offerings observed during the Millennial Kingdom are given (46:4-15).

Ezekiel 47 – The River of Life

The source of the “River of Life” is observed by Ezekiel as coming forth from the threshold of the Temple (47:1-2). The water begins to flow as a trickle of water and is described as ankle deep (47:3); however, it soon became a mighty river that nourished the city and the land (47:4-5).

The “River of Life” will bring new life to the land of Israel, nourishing trees, healing the Dead Sea and turning it into a thriving sea of life with fish (47:6-12) where fisherman cast their nets.

Guidelines, instructions, and boundaries for dividing the land is recorded in Ezekiel 47:13-23.

Ezekiel 48 – The Land Divided Among the Tribes of Israel

With the central portion of Israel, the land around the Temple and Jerusalem, noted as a sacred district (48:8-22), there were seven tribes to the north that were assigned their lands by tribe (48:1-7). The land south of the sacred district was assigned to the five remaining tribes (48:23-29).

Jerusalem, the capital city and the seat of Christ’s government during His millennial reign is described as having twelve gates, each named for one of the twelve tribes (48:30-35). I invite you to notice that new Jerusalem is given a new name: “Yahweh Shammah,” meaning, “The LORD is there” (48:35).

I close with an observation: With the exception of Israel, the nations and people of the antiquity are either a footnote in history or have been altogether assimilated into the populations of the world. The Jewish people alone stand out as the exception.

The Jews have survived indescribable suffering, atrocities, purges, and attempts at mass annihilation. Yet, there exists today a small sliver of land in the Middle East known as Israel, a testimony of God’s faithfulness and sovereign care of His people.

There is no explanation for the existence of the Jewish people apart from Elohim.

He that is Mighty watches over Israel!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

New Jerusalem and the Millennial Temple of the Messiah (Ezekiel 43-45)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 43-45

Ezekiel is ministering to a people in captivity whose homeland has been left desolate. The Temple was in ruins and Jerusalem was destroyed. For many, the hope of returning to their land had died with the nation. It was in the hour when all seemed lost, that the ministry of Ezekiel became one of encouraging the people that there was hope. The LORD had not forsaken His people, nor had He forgotten His promise to restore them to their land.

The LORD, in a vision, sent a messenger to Ezekiel (40:1-4), “a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass” (40:3), who commanded the prophet to open his eyes and ears, and see and declare to “the house of Israel” all that he would be shown (40:4).

Ezekiel 40-44 – The LORD revealed to Ezekiel the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom when Christ would reign upon the earth.

Ezekiel recorded the dimensions of the New Temple: The outer court, its gates, and rooms (40:5-26); the inner courtyard of the Temple grounds (40:27-47). The dimensions of the Temple porch (40:48-59), its outer sanctuary (41:1-2), and inner sanctuary (41:3-5) were recorded. There were also buildings outside the Temple that were for the priests who were ministering in the Temple (42:1-20).

Ezekiel 43 – The Glory of the LORD Filled the Millennial Temple

The Temple of the Messiah in the Millennium Kingdom continues to be the focus of Ezekiel 43 and Ezekiel 44. The messenger then brought Ezekiel in the vision to look on the New Temple and he watched as “the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory” (43:2).

What an incredible sight and sound that must have been! What wonderful news for a people who had lost everything! The news of a new Jerusalem and a new Temple must have moved the people to rejoicing!

Ezekiel’s response to seeing the glory of God filling the Temple moved him to fall upon his face before the LORD (43:3). Ezekiel writes,

Ezekiel 43:4-64  And the glory of the LORD came into the house [Temple] by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. 5  So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. 6  And I heard him [the LORD] speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.

According to Zechariah 6:12-13, the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom will be built by the LORD and He will sit upon His throne in the Temple.

The LORD spoke to Ezekiel and revealed that His throne would “dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever” (43:7). The presence of the LORD would move the hearts of the people to repent, and be “ashamed of their iniquities” (43:10).

We read that there was “the law of the house [Temple]” (43:12). What was the law of the Temple?

The law of the Temple was this: “Upon the top of the mountain [upon which the Temple was built and where the LORD ruled from His throne] the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy” (43:12).

Unlike the Temples that had gone before and been polluted by the sins of the people, this Temple would be perpetually holy because the LORD Himself was seated on the throne not only as the KING, but also as PRIEST. The author of Hebrews writes,

Hebrews 4:14-1514 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

The apostle John shared a similar experience with Ezekiel when the LORD revealed to Him “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

Revelation 21:3-53  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

What a glorious day that will be when the LORD Jesus Christ reigns and there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Missing Veil (Ezekiel 40-42)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 40-42

Ezekiel 40-42 gives us a prophetic time not yet fulfilled when Israel, safely restored in her land will set her heart to build a new temple (the last was destroyed in 70 A.D.) and worship the LORD. The Temple described in today’s Scripture reading is the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom. Ezekiel 40-42 gives us the plans, dimensions, physical attributes and future construction of the Millennial Temple.

Ezekiel 40 – A Vision of a New Jerusalem and the Temple

Israel’s captivity in Babylon was 70 years and the time of the vision recorded in Ezekiel 40 is in the “five and twentieth year” of the Jewish captivity (40:1).  Ezekiel has been in captivity for 25 years, and 14 years had passed since Jerusalem was destroyed (40:1).

The LORD sent an angelic messenger whom Ezekiel described as “a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass” (40:3). The messenger held in his hand a “line of flax” (a tape measure) and a “measuring reed of six cubits long” (40:3, 5). While there is some debate regarding the exact length of a cubit, we will accept the traditional definition of one cubit being 18 inches in length.

The measurement of the outer court of the Temple is given (40:5-26), along with the measurement of the inner court (40:27-47). Ezekiel noticed there were rooms used to prepare sacrifices (40:32-38), and butcher tables that were used to prepare meats (40:39-43).

Ezekiel 40:48-41:26 – The Outer and Inner Sanctuaries of the Temple

The Temple in Ezekiel’s vision had a large portico (porch) measuring thirty-five feet long and its width twenty-one feet (41:2). The Outer Sanctuary of the Temple measured seventy feet by thirty-five feet (41:1-2). The Inner Sanctuary, known as the Holy of Holies, was a perfect square measuring thirty-five feet by thirty-five feet and its walls were ten and one-half feet thick (41:3-5).

The side chambers of the Temple were three stories tall with a winding staircase leading to the upward floors. Thirty rooms were on each floor of the chambers (41:6-11).

Ezekiel 41:16-26 records the Temple decorations, furnishings, and the design of the doorframes. Remembering this is the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom, I invite you to consider there is one item missing in this Temple that was essential in Moses’ Tabernacle, and in Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod’s Temples.

Notice there is no mention of the Veil that separated the Outer Sanctuary of the Tabernacle and the Temple from the Inner Sanctuary known as the Holy of Holies.

The veil in the Temple separated the outer court from the Holy of Holies where was found the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat symbolizing the throne and presence of God. The veil represented man’s separation from God. Only the High Priest could enter into the Holy Place, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 26:33).

We read in Matthew’s account of Christ’s death on the Cross: “When he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51).

Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection removed the veil that separated sinful man from God. We, by faith in Christ, have access into the presence of God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

Hebrews 10:19-20 – “19  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith