Tag Archives: Separation

God’s Call to Holiness

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

After addressing the issue of leprosy (Leviticus 13-14), the opening verse of Leviticus 16 reminds us of a tragedy that occurred in the priesthood when two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1) and were slain for their sin against the LORD (Leviticus 10:2).

Reminding us the office of high priest was a holy office and Aaron’s ministry before the LORD on behalf of the people was a sacred duty; the LORD instructs Moses the high priest was only to enter the holy place, the “holy of holies”, once a year (16:2) on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).   The Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” and the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar and was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for nation’s sins against God.

The pattern of blood sacrifices was necessary to remind all sinners the penalty of sin is death and there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shedding of blood, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Once a year and every year, the high priest offered sacrifices for the sins of the people.  Under the new covenant, this annual ritual is no longer needed following Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for sin, His burial and resurrection from the dead. We read in the Book of Hebrews,

Hebrews 9:24-28 – “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25  Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Leviticus 17 continues the LORD’s instructions to Moses concerning sacrifices the priests were to offer for the people before the door of the tabernacle.   Thirteen times in chapter 17 the centrality of blood sacrifices for sin is mentioned and explicit instructions are given regarding the offerings to the LORD, including the prohibition regarding the consumption of blood (17:10-14).   For those curious regarding the meaning of “Kosher” meats; they are meats derived from animals slaughtered and the blood drained according to Biblical guidelines.

Morality and the sanctity of marriage is the subject of Leviticus 18:1-30 and one that should be a subject of teaching in the 21st century church.   Several moral issues are addressed including the prohibition of incest (18:6-19), adultery (18:20; Exodus 20:14), homosexuality (18:22), and bestiality (18:23).

The wicked immoral practices the people might remember from Egypt and the immorality that might observe in the new land were prohibited.  In other words, the world was not to be the standard of God’s people in conduct and lifestyle.  Israel was to not follow in the ways of Egypt and Canaan (Leviticus 18:3; 24-29).  The LORD commanded His people, “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God” (18:4).  Excommunication from fellowship and living among the people was the judgment against any who chose to walk contrary to the law and commandments (18:29).

Friend, there was a time the church and God’s people set the moral standard for these United States and defined a godly lifestyle according God’s Word, law and commandments.   It troubles me to observe the average Christian home in America has an appetite for the world and looks to society, politicians, judges, and liberal media for their moral judgments.  Our homes, churches and schools will not be blessed until we allow our consciences to be disciplined by God’s Word, law and commandments (18:30).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Commonality of Leprosy and Sin

Monday, July 10, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 13-15

The ancient scourge of leprosy is the subject of Leviticus 13-14.  Leprosy known today as “Hansen’s Disease” (HD); is a bacterial, infectious disease.  Leprosy is treatable, even curable in the 21st century; however, in ancient times it was a dreaded disease not only feared, but also inevitably leading to its victims separation from society and assignment to leper colonies.

In Leviticus 13, the LORD directs Moses and Aaron in the steps He required to address leprosy in Israel including diagnosing the disease and the exclusion of lepers from the tribes of Israel (Leviticus 13:1-59).   Lepers were required to cry out, “Unclean, unclean” (13:45), warning any who approached they were carriers of the disease.

Should the leper be deemed healed of the disease, steps and sacrifices are prescribed in Leviticus 14 to insure the legitimacy of the healing and the purification of the leper.  After following the prescribed rituals for purification, the leper was deemed clean and restored to the fellowship of his family and nation (14:9-32).

As a point of application, leprosy is the physical disease God chose to illustrate the infectious danger of sin among his people.  Notice in chapter 13 the number of times leprosy is described as “unclean” (13:3, 8, 11, 14, 15, 20, 22, 25, 27, 30, 36, 44, 45, 46, 51, 55, 59).  Leprosy is more than a surface issue of the skin and the outward man; leprosy inevitably effects the tissues, nerves and eventually causes the extremities to rot and decay.  In a real sense, it so scarred the body it was well-nigh an unbearable ugliness.

Such is the way of sin.  Liberals would have us believe man is born innocent and it is man’s environment (i.e. home, society, religion) that is the cause of man’s societal deprivations.  Rather than innocence, God’s Word declares, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).  The apostle Paul, likening sin to a physical ailment writes, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18).

At the heart of problems in our society is the problem of sinful hearts.  Jesus taught His disciples, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:19-20).

Without a human cure for leprosy, lepers hoped for a miraculous healing, a divine intervention that would be verified by examination and sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 14).

In the same way, mankind has no cure for sin.  Twenty-first century society, doctors and judges prescribe counseling, psychiatry and drug-therapy for lawbreakers and prisoners deemed to have “mental-disorders”; however, these all fall short of addressing the heart of the issue, which is the issue of the heart.

In the same way there was no cure for leprosy without the LORD, there is no cure for a sinful soul without turning from sin and placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  It is for this reason Jesus Christ bore the penalty of our sins on the cross. In the words of the prophet Isaiah,

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

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

An imbalanced emphasis on “Grace” and “Liberty” has encouraged a culture of carnality and produced lawless believers.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 19-24

Dear “From the Heart of a Shepherd” readers,

Today’s devotional reading is Ezekiel 19-24. I may have opportunity to post a devotional commentary before this day passes; however, in the absence of one I encourage you to read my past posts on the Book of Ezekiel as an introduction to today’s scripture reading.

On a personal note, I am preparing to preach both Hillsdale’s 10:30 AM and 6:00 PM worship services this Sunday and need to devote my thoughts and energies to preparation.  I am continuing my series on “Lessons of Faith from the Life of Abraham” in Hillsdale’s 6:00 PM services; however, I am beginning an entirely new series in Hillsdale’s 10:30 AM services.

The topic of my new Sunday morning series is “The Commandments of the LORD”.   The impetus for the series is a brief command, the third part of the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28:20– Teaching [i.e. to learn; instruct] them to observe [hold; keep; preserve; watch; guard] all things [everything; all manner] whatsoever [all; as many as] I have commanded [charged; give commandment] you…”

Two questions have haunted me for the past two weeks.  The first, What “all things” were the disciples to teach (Matthew 28:20)?   The second, What had the LORD commanded His disciples that they were to be “teaching” believers in “all nations” to “observe” (Matthew 28:19)?

The answer to those questions is essential to the mission of the church and the individual responsibility we share as members of the body of Christ.  I have heard hundreds of messages on Matthew 28:19-20 and referred to them myself hundreds of times; however, I cannot recall anyone systematically addressing the commandments the LORD’s disciples were to teach others to observe (Matthew 28:20).

I propose an imbalanced emphasis on “Grace” and “Liberty” in Bible fundamental churches has encouraged a culture of carnality and produced lawless believers.  It is my observation the carnal condition of today’s fundamental churches, Bible colleges, Universities, and Christian institutions is directly related to the failure of pastors, preachers, evangelists and Bible teachers to do exactly what the LORD commanded: Teach the commandments of the LORD and teach believers to “observe” them (Matthew 28:20a).

Thus, I have begun an in depth study of the commandments of the LORD and am compiling what the disciples were to teach believers to observe, keep and guard.  Some will attack me and my premise that we are failing to fulfill the Great Commission if we are not teaching our churches the commandments of the LORD, exhorting and admonishing believers to observe them.

I answer that criticism with the words of our LORD:  “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Monday, July 03, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 10-12

In our last reading in Leviticus, Aaron and his sons were ceremoniously consecrated to the priesthood (Leviticus 8-9).  What a glorious day it was for all Israel when Aaron blessed the people, offered sacrifices and “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people” (Leviticus 9:23)!  The LORD displayed His presence and approval when “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat” (Leviticus 9:24) and “all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24b).

One would hope that blessed display of God’s favor might continue with all Israel maintaining a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case.  Tragedy soon fell upon the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).

What great sorrow that priests would sin against the LORD.  We are not told the motive or reason the eldest sons of Aaron offered “strange fire”; however, we read it was not “commanded” by the LORD.  My own speculation is, given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; pride moved the sons of Aaron to exalt themselves before the people.  Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge these earthly representatives of His heavenly throne and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).

Aaron, the father of Nadab and Abihu, was no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths.  Moses reminded Aaron the LORD sanctified the priesthood and demanded He alone be glorified before the people.  Of Aaron we read, he “held his peace” (10:3), meaning he was silent.

The LORD commanded the bodies of Nadab and Abihu be taken outside the camp for burial (10:4-5); and, lest the people be tempted to sorrow and grieve over the deaths of those who sinned against the LORD, God warned Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, to not make a public display of their sorrow before the people (10:6-7) and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:7).

Priests were not to drink wine or strong drink when they ministered before the LORD (10:8-10).  Of the sacrifices offered before the LORD, a portion was to serve as meat for Aaron and his sons (10:12-15).

God instructed Moses and Aaron regarding meat the children of Israel could eat and the meat they were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11).   Large beasts that are “clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud” (11:3) were acceptable; however, beasts that are not were forbidden.  Examples of forbidden beasts are the camel (11:4), “the coney…the hare” (11:5-6) and “the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you” (11:7).

Leviticus 11:9-23 lists other meats acceptable and forbidden, including fish (11:9-12), birds (11:13-20) and insects (11:21-23). Leviticus 12 instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).

I close today’s devotional commentary pondering what “strange fire” (10:1-7) is present in American churches today under the pretense of worship.  When the goal of worship services is excitement and entertainment as opposed to hallowed and holy, I suggest what many call worship is nothing less than “strange fire”.

If pride motivated Aaron’s sons to offer incense without the LORD’s command (and I believe it was); then what must the LORD see when “worship” leaders and music groups lead an audience with music that has an overriding rock beat moving the audience to cavort about under the guise of worship?

Friend, God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).  If what we call worship looks like the world and acts like the world, it is not holy!

In other words, “If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Dismiss the warning of faithful men and you do so to your own demise.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 19-22

I am posting two versions of today’s devotional commentary from 1 Kings 19-22.  This blog post is an abbreviated version of a longer one that will soon follow.

We conclude our study of 1 Kings with Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah allying himself with king Ahab against the king of Syria.  This final chapter records Ahab’s death on the battlefield against the king of Syria and the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophesy that the dogs would lick his blood as they had Naboth’s (22:37-40).  However, rather than focus on Ahab’s death, I draw your attention to the confrontation between Ahab and a prophet identified as “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (22:8).

Evidencing the nature of a godly king, Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, desired the LORD’s direction before going to battle (22:5).  Ahab complied with Jehoshaphat’s request and gathered nearly four hundred prophets who falsely prophesied the LORD would give Israel and Judah victory on the battlefield over the king of Syria (22:6).  In spite of the prophesies of nearly four hundred men, godly Jehoshaphat was not satisfied and enquired if there was not another prophet in Israel (22:7).

Now there was one prophet in Israel who had not received the invitation to prophesy before the kings, “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (22:8).  Ahab explained Micaiah had not been invited to prophesy saying, I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (22:8).

King Ahab complied with Jehoshaphat’s request and Micaiah was summoned to stand before the kings and prophesy (22:9-10).  Sitting in the “gate of Samaria”, the most public venue in the capital, Ahab’s prophets, led by one named Zedekiah, agreed in their prophesy that the LORD would give Israel and Judah victory over Syria (22:10b-12).  The servant Ahab sent to invite Micaiah to prophesy warned him the other prophets were of “one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good” (22:13).

In a moment of irony, Micaiah prophesied exactly what Ahab wanted to hear (22:15); however, the king rebuked him and demanded, “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?” (22:16).

Micaiah answered, prophesying Ahab would die and Israel would be “scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd” (22:17).  Acknowledging his own self-fulfilling sentiment, Ahab said to the king of Judah, “Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?” (22:18).

Micaiah completed his task as God’s prophet, boldly confronting Zedekiah and the four hundred men who prophesied lies with him (22:19-23), declaring the true prophet would be revealed by whose prophesy came to pass (22:24-25).  As prophesied, Ahab died in battle and the people were scattered (22:36-40)

I close today’s devotional commentary noting Ahab’s disdain and reluctance to invite Micaiah to prophesy, because “I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (22:8), has become, in my opinion, the malady of Bible fundamental churches, schools, and institutional boards.

Is that not the nature of sinners?  Pulpits of what were once thriving Bible fundamental churches are being filled with preachers dedicated to soft-pedaling God’s Word, appeasing the masses and giving them what they want to hear.  Pulpit committees, deacon boards, and boards of Christian schools and institutions are dedicated to insuring the voices heard in boardrooms and pulpits are those that will “prophesy good” while they dismiss and silence pastors, administrators, and faculty who are willing to give a clarion call concerning the way of sin and compromise.  Like Micaiah, because their voices are not in harmony with the sentiment of the majority, they are undesirable and unwelcome.

While Jehoshaphat desired to hear a true word of prophecy; Ahab was committed to the prophets that would tell him what he wanted to hear and he and all Israel suffered failure.

The same is no less true of our churches, schools and institutions.  Dismiss the warning of faithful men and you do so to your own demise.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Holy Calling of the Pastor\Shepherd

Monday, June 26, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 7-9

Today’s scripture reading begins with “the law of the trespass offering” in Leviticus 7, while Leviticus 8-9 commences with the consecration of Aaron (the brother of Moses) and his sons to the Levitical priesthood (Moses and Aaron were both of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe).

Leviticus 7 introduces us to the “trespass offering”, a sacrifice identified with an individual’s sin. In his Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) on the Pentateuch, pastor and author Warren Wiersbe writes concerning the “trespass offering” in Leviticus 7,

“The sin [burnt] offering and the guilt (or trespass) offering were very much alike and were even governed by the same law (7:1-10). Generally speaking, the guilt offering was for individual sins that affected people and property and for which restitution could be made, while the sin [burnt] offering focused on some violation of the law that was done without deliberate intent. The trespass offering emphasized the damage done to others by the offender, while the sin offering emphasized the offender’s guilt before God. The priest would examine the offender and determine which sacrifice was needed.”

The “peace offering”, an offering for the purpose of acknowledging God’s grace and giving thanks to Him is described in Leviticus 7:11-21.  The sacrifice of oxen or cattle was accompanied by offerings of “unleavened cakes…unleavened wafers…and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fired” (Leviticus 7:12). The portions of the “peace offering” not consumed by the fire were given to the priests for their consumption.

The “fat of the beast” and “blood” portions of the offerings were not to be eaten (Leviticus 7:22-27).  The specific portions of the “fat of the beast” that were forbidden is described in Leviticus 3:3-4, 9.  Concerning the “blood” of the sacrifices, blood was not to be consumed because it was the means and object of atonement (Leviticus 17:11).  The penalty for consuming the “fat of the beast” or the “blood” was to “be cut off from his people” (7:25, 27).  To “be “cut off” might extend so far as capital punishment (as for Sabbath breakers (Exodus 31:12-14; Numbers 15:32-36) or put out of the camp until the sinner had followed cleansing rituals and was restored to their family (Leviticus 15).

Leviticus 8 establishes the Levitical priesthood by publicly ordaining and consecrating Aaron and his sons to serve as priests before the LORD on behalf of the nation (8:1-5).  The LORD describes each step of the ordination, beginning with a ceremonial washing of Aaron and his sons with water (8:6).

Aaron was the high priest and is distinguished by his clothes (8:7), a breastplate (8:8) upon which was mounted twelve precious stones and referred to as “the breastplate of judgment” (Exodus 28:30).  “Urim and the Thummim” (8:8) are believed to be some form of dice that were cast by the priests in matters of judgment, trusting the LORD to determine the outcome.

As a word of caution for some tempted to adopt some manner of the same in making judgments, either tossing dice or “putting out a fleece” (Judges 6:36-40), God has given us a superior means of determining His will and making good judgments…His Word!

Although serving before the LORD as priests on behalf of the nation, the ministries of the priests began with a “the bullock for the sin offering” upon which Aaron and his sons laid their hands identifying the bullocks death as the offering for their sins (8:14-17).  A ram was then brought as a “burnt offering” and its blood applied to Aaron and his sons “upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet” (8:23-24).

Seven days Aaron and his sons were to remain at the tabernacle and Moses continued to offer sacrifices as they consecrated themselves to the LORD as priests (8:31-36).  On the eighth day Aaron and his sons were to begin ministering before the LORD and offering sacrifices on behalf of the nation (Leviticus 9:1-24).

Displaying His glory and accepting the sacrifices in the sight of all the people, “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24).

I close today’s devotional commentary, reminded of the great responsibility borne by those who minister for the LORD before God’s people.  While the offering of sacrifices is no longer necessary because Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, once and for all ended the need of sacrifices and became our priest making intercession for us before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25-28); nevertheless, God has called and ordained men who are set apart for the purpose of shepherding His church.

Writing to believers in Ephesus, Paul reminded the church of the office and duties of the pastor.

 Ephesians 4:11-12 – “11 And He [the LORD] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting [lit. to refit; make whole; equipping] of the saints, for the work [occupation; labor] of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ” .

The work of the pastor as a shepherd of the church is described in 1 Peter 5:2-4.

1 Peter 5:2-4 – Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Such is the great calling of the pastor…teacher, shepherd and spiritual leader in word and example.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Malady of 21st Century Churches: Sissy Preachers and Starving Sheep

Friday, June 16, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 1-6

Our study of Old Testament prophets moves from Jeremiah prophesying to Judah in the years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the people being taken captive to Babylon to Ezekiel prophesying to the Jews in Babylon in the midst of an exile that would last 70 years before they returned to rebuild their homes, the Temple, Jerusalem and the nation.

The opening verses of the Book of Ezekiel introduce us to Ezekiel, a 30-year-old man ministering as priest to the Jews “in the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezekiel 1:3).  The “hand of the LORD” (1:3) moved Ezekiel from the esteemed ministry of a priest to the prophet of God confronting the sins of the people and calling them to repentance.  The length of today’s scripture reading inhibits a thorough study of the prophecies; however, I will share a few highlights that I trust will be a blessing.

Ezekiel 1 records three visions that together gave Ezekiel an appreciation of “the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (1:28b).  Humbled by the majesty of the LORD, Ezekiel writes, “I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (1:28c).

Addressing Ezekiel as “Son of man”, chapter 2 records the prophet’s commission and the gravity of his ministry to the Jews living in Babylon (2:3-4).  Ezekiel’s calling would move him from the safe anonymity of one priest among many to a ministry that of necessity become confrontational as God commissioned and commanded him, “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. 4  For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. 5  And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them” (Ezekiel 2:3-5).

The Jews in captivity were “impudent children and stiffhearted” (2:4) and God’s response to their sin was to raise up a prophet among them.  Whether they would hear or reject the message of the prophet was the LORD’s business; however, God declared to Ezekiel, they will “know that there hath been a prophet among them” (2:5).

On a personal note, the same will not be said of this 21st century generation.  Fundamental churches, colleges and seminaries across our nation are in desperate need of preachers and evangelists who will stand in the pulpits and boldly declare the Word and Law of the Lord!  Sadly, like the Jews in Babylonian captivity, our churches have become carnal, spiritually cold institutions that demand to be catered to by silver-tongued orators and despise those who dare confront their sins.  While saints idle away their lives sitting in pews, timid preachers stand in pulpits… fearing offending a generation that has little passion for Truth or Holiness.

No wonder God commanded Ezekiel, “be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words… son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee” (2:6-8).

The laments and woes of the LORD concerning Israel appears in Ezekiel 2:9-10 and the prophet is commanded to “eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel” (3:1).  Ezekiel described the taste of the words written on the roll as “honey for sweetness” (3:3).  God commanded the prophet to speak plainly and boldly to the people leaving no doubt the words and the meaning (2:4-6).   The LORD warned Ezekiel, the people “will not hearken unto thee” (3:7).

No doubt Ezekiel was given a difficult task and the message he was to deliver the people would find hard to hear; however, should the prophet be tempted to fail in his duty, God warned, “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (3:18).

Should 21st century preachers not fear the same?  I have observed trends in churches for nearly 40 years that magnify everything except the most important thing…Preaching “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)!   In the 1980’s we promoted Christian schools as the answer to America’s troubles.  In the 1990’s “Nouthetic Counseling” became trendy.  The 2000’s introduced an emphasis on “The Gospel…the Gospel…the Gospel”.  The 2010’s decade has suggested the answer is Discipleship.

Before you take me to task…I am not suggesting the above do not have their place…Christian schools, Nouthetic Counseling, “The Gospel” and Discipleship all have important roles; however, where is the clarion call for the man of God to do what God has called him to do… “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2)?

In his farewell message to the churches, Paul declared with conviction, “I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).  I assure you that declaration embodied more than preaching the “Gospel” to the churches.  Paul exhorted the pastors, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (20:28).

Believer and pastor friend, the devil is content with shallow preaching and pastors doing all manner of “good things” at the neglect of the most important thing that preachers alone are called to do…Preach the Word!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith