Tag Archives: Spiritual warfare

Troubles are Inevitable in a World That Bears the Curse of Sin. (Job 14-15)

Scripture reading – Job 14-15

Job 14 brings us to the third of three chapters outlining Job’s reply to Zophar (Job 11). Unlike Eliphaz, Zophar made no pretense of comforting his suffering friend (11:1-3), and instead charged him with concealing sin and deserving what he believed was God’s punishment (11:4-6).

Job’s reply to Zophar began in Job 12 when he mocked his friends’ delusion that they had wisdom into the ways of God that he did not (12:1-4). Reserving the right to test and examine their counsel (12:11), he contended they had spoken much, but said nothing (13:1-2), and condemned them as “forgers of lies” (13:4). Stating his unshaken faith in God’s providence, Job declared, “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (13:15).

Job 14 – An Elegy to Death

Job’s response to Zophar continues in Job 14 with an observation that is as beautiful as it is tragic. We read, 1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (14:1).

There may be many joyful days in our earthly sojourn; however, there is no escaping the reality that humanity has a shared universal experience—trouble. Contradicting his friends’ counsel that his troubles were the afflictions of the wicked, Job challenged that troubles, trials, sorrows, and death are inevitable for sinner and saint alike. Job goes on to observe that the life of a man is like a flower that is soon cut down and perishes, and like a shadow that is soon gone when light is extinguished (14:2).

Confessing God sees, and knows man intimately (14:3-4), Job declared that a man’s “days are determined” (14:5a), and the “bounds” of his life “he cannot pass” (14:5b). In other words, God orders your birth, and your death. Wise men are conscious that it is inevitable that “man dieth, and wasteth away: Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? …12So man lieth down, and riseth not” (14:10-12a). Desiring to escape his afflictions and sorrows, Job pled with God, “hide me in the grave…keep me secret, until thy wrath be past…set a time, and remember me” (14:13).

Though he was a man of ancient times, and did not have the privilege of the written Word that we possess today, nevertheless, Job was confident that physical death was not annihilation. Asking and answering the question of death, Job proposed, 14If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, Till my change come” (14:14).

On what was Job waiting? The Resurrection! He affirmed to the LORD, “15Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee” (14:15a).

Job 15 – Eliphaz’s Second of Three Speeches (Job 4-5; Job 22)

Eliphaz again picks up his accusation that Job’s troubles were indicative of what wicked men suffer. Rejecting Job’s plea of innocence (15:1-3), he charged him with folly, and turning away from God (15:4-6).

Eliphaz then stated a foolish supposition regarding the way and fate of the wicked (15:17-35). Beginning with a false premise, he stated, 20The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a). Rather than prove his assertion, he continued in his lie claiming that the prosperity of the wicked eventually comes to destruction (15:21). He contended that the wicked will be overcome by trouble (15:24), and “he shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue” (15:29).

I close reminding you that Eliphaz’s conclusions were false. Contrary to his assertion, the wicked often prosper, and many die surrounded by their wealth, and often praised by their peers. Like many who profess wisdom, Eliphaz lacked understanding and godly discernment. He began his dispute with a false premise, and added to poor Job’s sorrows.

Lesson – Don’t assume your sorrows are the consequence of some wrongdoing;  troubles are inevitable in a world that bears the curse of sin.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Who Needs Enemies When You Have Job’s Friends? (Job 4-5)

Scripture reading – Job 4-5

The Book of Job is a study in Hebrew poetry, and as we have seen, a record of one man’s suffering and his righteous response to earthly trials and sorrows. It is the story of a heavenly drama pitting Satan’s assertion that Job would curse God, should trials befall him (1:7), against God’s confidence that his servant was “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth [shunned] evil” (1:8). Job was unaware that his trials were initiated by Satan, but limited by His omnipresent, loving Creator.

With his sons and daughters deceased, his possessions lost, and his body afflicted with sores from head to foot, Job’s wife looked upon him with disdain, and asked, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die” (2:9).

The arrival of three friends (2:11-13), brought the hope of encouragement in the midst of sorrows, but we will see in today’s Scriptures that the opposite would be true. Shaken by his troubles, and overcome with sorrow, Job shared with his friends his longing for death as a deliverer from his suffering (Job 3).

Job 4 – The Counsel of Eliphaz the Temanite

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s three friends to respond to his longing to escape his suffering by death (that does not imply suicide, but the natural course of life that inevitably ends in death). The first of three speeches given by Eliphaz to his friend Job is recorded in Job 4-5, the second and third in Job 15 and Job 22.

Eliphaz’s manner began with a kind, comforting tone (4:3-5), but soon turned to an indictment of Job’s character (4:6), asserting his troubles were those faced by wicked men: “They that plow iniquity, And sow wickedness, reap the same” (4:8).

Claiming he had received a vision (4:12-16), and heard a voice, Eliphaz asked Job, “17Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?” (4:17). The implication was that Job’s troubles had come upon him because he had failed to confess his sin (4:18-21).

Job 5 – Eliphaz Proclaims the Greatness of God

Continuing his contention that Job’s trials were a consequence of his sins, Eliphaz questioned, “To which of the saints wilt thou turn?” (5:1) In other words, “Job, to whom will you turn, if you don’t turn to the LORD for help?”

Eliphaz accused Job of failing to respond to God with humility, and warned, “2For wrath killeth the foolish man, And envy slayeth the silly one” (5:2). Adding a greater assault on Job’s character, he seemed to have implied that the deaths of his children were a result of his sin (5:4; 1:18-19). Continuing his discourse, Eliphaz encouraged Job to accept his troubles as a sign of God’s chastening, and urged him to “despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (5:17; 5:18, Hebrews 12:5; Proverbs 3:11-12)

Eliphaz challenged Job to accept that there are seven troubles (seven being the number of perfection and wholeness), from which the LORD is able to deliver His people: Famine unto death (5:20a); death in war (5:20b); a slanderous tongue (5:21a); natural calamities (5:21b); fear of famine (5:22a); fear of wild beasts (5:22b); and a fear of early death (5:26).

The implication of Eliphaz’s observation was, “If the LORD is able to deliver His people out of their troubles, why has he allowed Job to suffer so much?”

Lest some dear saint accepts Eliphaz’s counsel as truth, and applies his statements to themselves, remember that Job’s trials were not caused by sinful failures or unconfessed sins. The LORD allowed Job to suffer as a means of testing, that would ultimately bring blessing. We cannot grasp all that is in the mind of God; however, we must accept that He is Sovereign.

Remember, when trials and sorrows come, they are temporal; however, you can be confident in this: The way of the LORD is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Just When You Think Things Could Not Get Worse! (Job 1-2)

Scripture reading – Job 1-2

Introduction to The Book of Job

Our chronological study of The Book of Genesis is interrupted by a diversion to The Book of Job.

The Book of Job is commonly accepted among scholars as the oldest book of the Bible. Genesis 1-5 gave us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man, and Genesis 6-11 carried the historical narrative from the worldwide flood, to God calling out Abraham. The man named Job is believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details that lead us to accept that conclusion, particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1:1-5 – Job, the Man

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears, giving us no background of the man, or how he came to be so incredibly wealthy.

Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, because there are cities mentioned in the book that are located in the land of Edom, we might place Uz in that geographical area (southeast Israel, on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south).

It is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. He was what God would have every man to be: “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (1:1). He was perfect, meaning blameless, guiltless, a man of integrity. He was an upright man, righteous, and honest before God and man. He was a God-fearing man; a man who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2), and great wealth (1:3). His children were adults with their own households (1:4), and having shared in their father’s wealth, they were enjoying the bounty of their own riches and observing a week of feast days with their siblings, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest.

When the feast days were finished, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his family, summoned his children to offer sacrifices to God, reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (1:5). Notice that last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a constant pattern in Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

Job 1:6-12 – A Heavenly Council

Job 1:6 carries us into the midst of a heavenly council where “the sons of God” (whom I believe are angels), are standing before God’s throne, and in their midst was Satan, the serpent, the wicked one, the adversary of God and man (1:6). The LORD inquired of Satan, “Whence comest thou?”, and he answered saying, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7b).

God turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy, and asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (1:8).

Evidencing his adversarial heart, Satan questioned God, and implicated Job asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).

Job 1:12-19 – From Riches to Rags

Accepting Satan’s challenge, the LORD gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials, but limiting the devil’s power and commanding him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Departing from the presence of God, Satan went out and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17), ultimately taking from him that which was dearest, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Now, Satan had slandered Job, supposing he was only faithful to God because he had been abundantly blessed and protected by Him (1:9-11). How did Job respond to his losses? Did he curse God as Satan alleged, he would? (1:11)

Rather than reprove his Creator, Job responded with humility, and acknowledged God’s sovereignty over His creation. He worshipped the LORD, and prayed, “Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes away; blessed be the name of Yahweh” (1:21b). Contrary to Satan’s accusation, Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).

Job 2 – Job: His Body Afflicted, His Friends’ Inquisition

A thorough study of Job 2 will have to wait for another time, and another year; however, Job 2 records a second heavenly council (2:1-3), and introduces a trial that will afflict Job’s body and rob him of his health (2:4-7). You will meet Job’s wife who questions why he maintains his integrity in the midst of sorrows (2:9-10), and meet Job’s “three friends” who will assert his losses are a punishment for unconfessed sin (2:11-13).

A Closing Thought: Satan is a real person, and an adversary of believers; however, God limits his power and influence. When trials come, and they will, trust God knowing He is intensely interested in your soul and well-being.

Romans 8:2828 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Tower of Babel and One Big Unhappy Family (Genesis 10-11)

Scripture reading – Genesis 10-11

The conflicts among the races and nations of the world have their origin in today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 10-11). Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons and concludes by introducing us to Terah, the father of Abraham, the patriarch. We find in Genesis 10-11 the common kinship of all humanity, traced back to Noah’s three sons.

Genesis 10 is where God begins to deal with the Hebrew people through the lineage of Shem. Though the Old Testament focuses upon the history of Israel, and God’s dealing with His chosen people, nonetheless, the LORD never forsook humanity.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 records the names of sixteen sons who were born to Noah’s three sons (and perhaps as many daughters). Genesis 10 registers seventy individual nations that emerged from Noah’s sons: fourteen associated with Japheth (10:2-5), thirty linked to Ham (10:25-27), and twenty-six from Shem (10:21-31).

Japheth, Noah’s oldest son, was the father of many Gentile nations (9:27; 10:2-5), among them the ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the European people (namely, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, Spanish, and the English).

Ham, Noah’s youngest son who was identified as “Canaan” in Genesis 9:25, was father to some of the great empires of the ancient world, among them the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and some scholars would suggest Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, and African tribes (10:6-20).

Although cursed to be a “servant of servants” (9:25-27), the accomplishments of Ham’s progeny were so vast that it appears they set their minds to cast off the curse of being a “servant of servants.” Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the son of Cush, was the first ruler following the flood (10:8-10). He was a “mighty hunter” (10:9), and founded what would become ancient “Babel…in the land of Shinar” (10:10).

Shem, Noah’s second born son, was “the father of all the children of Eber” (10:21-31). Scholars believe the name “Eber,” is an ancient word from which the word “Hebrew” was derived (10:21). “Eber” was the father of the Hebrews (Abraham is described as “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, and the nomadic Arab tribes and nations.

Shem’s lineage is the ancestral line through which God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer Savior. Genesis 10 concludes leaving no doubt that all nations and people in our world today are descended from Noah’s three sons:

Genesis 10:32 – “32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”

Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel

Resisting God’s command to “replenish the earth” (9:1), Noah’s sons and their families continued as “one language, and of one speech” (11:1), and congregated in “a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there” (11:2).

Arising from their desire to continue as they were (being “of one language, and of one speech,” 11:1), mankind resolved to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (11:4). Man’s sinful pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion was summed up in this: Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4).

Once again, we are made privy to a heavenly conversation when the LORD determined to intervene, lest the wickedness and rebellion of man be carried so far that there would be no hope of salvation, and “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (11:6).

Confounding their one language into multiple languages, the LORD caused the work on the tower and the city to cease, and men were forced to scatter abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (11:7-8).

Genesis 11 concludes with the lineage of Shem, and leading our Bible study to a great crossroads in the history of mankind: God calling Abraham (11:31-12:1).

Friend, never forget that the story of history is “HIS-STORY;” a testimony of God’s invisible, providential hand and His “Amazing Grace.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sin is Like A Slithering Snake (Genesis 4)

Scripture reading – Genesis 4

Adam’s sin, and his fall from God’s favor, had immediate consequences on himself, his wife, and the world God had created.

Satan was cursed and his fate sealed with the revelation that he would be at enmity (an enemy) with “the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it [the seed of the woman, fulfilled in Jesus Christ] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel [fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion]” (Genesis 3:14-15).

The sanctity of marriage and the home were affected, as the woman’s role would become one of pain in childbirth, and a desire to please her husband, who would “rule” (headship or authority) over her (3:16).

Adam, as the federal head of humanity, and the caretaker of God’s creation, learned that the curse of his sin not only affected the human race, but infected all creation: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (3:17b-19).

While the consequences of sin were grave and irreparable in Adam’s hands, there was hope in the revelation of God’s mercy and grace: 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (3:21).

Rather than risk man eating of the fruit of “the tree of life” (2:9; 3:22) and living forever in his fallen state, Adam and Eve were shamefully, but mercifully driven from the Garden. God placed at its east entrance “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (3:24).

In Genesis 4 we learn that Eve had borne Adam two sons, Cain, the elder (4:1), and his younger brother Abel (4:2).  

The curse of sin was soon manifest in the home. Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the LORD, as they had seen demonstrated and taught by Adam (4:3-4). God accepted Abel’s offering that consisted of “the firstlings [firstborn]of his flock and of the fat thereof” (4:4); however, he rejected Cain’s offering of “the fruit of the ground” (4:5), for it fell short of the standard of a blood sacrifice that God had demonstrated when He covered man’s nakedness with the skins of animals (3:21).

Abel’s offering followed God’s pattern, and was a humble acknowledgement of his sinfulness and need for God’s grace and forgiveness (Hebrews 11:4; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Cain’s sacrifice, the fruits and vegetables of the ground, was an offering of the fruit of his labor, but insufficient to represent the blood offering which was symbolic for covering sin. Sin offerings could only be accepted from one who came with humility and a heart of repentance (4:3,5).

Rather than accept the LORD’s rejection with self-abasement, Cain became angry, and with his face betraying his wayward heart, “his countenance fell” (4:5b)! God mercifully confronted Cain, and reasoned with him, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (4:6). Cain, stubborn and proud, refused God’s invitation to “Do Right” (i.e. “doest well” – 4:7a), and failed to heed the admonition, “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (4:7b).

Notice the swift degradation of sin as the first son, in a sudden act of jealousy, murdered his brother (4:8-9).

Luke 11:50-51 identifies Abel as a prophet, implying that he had reasoned with his brother to obey God (4:8a). Tragically, the degressive nature of sin in Cain’s heart moved from pride and jealousy, to defiance and hatred, and “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (4:8b). He hated Abel, “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).

Summary thoughts: God had warned Cain, “sin lieth at the door” (4:7).

That is the nature of sin. Sin stalks mankind just as a wild animal stalks its prey. Knowing the blood of Abel had stained the soil of the earth, God mercifully confronted Cain, and five times reminded him that Abel was his brother (4:9-10); yet, each time, Cain hardened his heart and became more defiant. Depressed with his guilt, and overwhelmed with its consequences (4:13), he exaggerated his suffering (4:14).

Consider three spiritual principles from today’s devotional.

The first, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Cain had a choice; heed God’s invitation to “doest well,” or face the consequence of sin lying at the door (4:7). Cain rebelled, and murdered his brother.

A second principle is summed up in this: “His [a sinners] own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, And he shall be holden [entrapped] with the cords of his sins” (Proverbs 5:22). Like a snake silently slithering, then apprehending its prey, constricts the life of its victim. Patterns of sin, if unbroken, will bind the soul until there is no hope.

The third principle is, the greater sin’s guilt, the greater the sinner’s depression. When a man despises correction, and refuses to repent and confess his sin, his sin invariably leads him to deeper, more dominating sins (4:13-14).

An invitation: There is hope for deliverance from sin’s constraining grip and guilt…Repentance!

The prodigal son, came to the end of himself, confessed his sin, humbled himself, and found forgiveness (Luke 15:17-19). That same path of restoration and happiness is open to all.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelations 19-20)

Scripture reading – Revelations 19-20

Our Scripture reading brings us to future events that have captured the imagination of the saints of God for two millennia. The apostle John wrote in vivid detail the same prophetic scenes that the prophets Zephaniah and Zechariah had foretold would come to pass.

The events recorded in Revelation 19 follow the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:1-8), whom we have seen was the symbol of all false religions, and the enemy of God and believers. John observes that the kings of the earth, and all the people, will be stunned when Babylon falls, and will mourn her sudden destruction (Revelation 18:9-20). Several remarkable events follow the destruction of Babylon.

Revelation 19

A scene of praise and worship begins, as the people of heaven begin saying, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore [Babylon], which did corrupt the earth with her fornication [false religions], and hath avenged the blood of his servants [believers] at her hand” (19:1-2).

Imagine the voices of all the redeemed, the saints of both the Old and New Testaments, and the martyrs of the Tribulation, all lifting their voices and shouting, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (19:6).

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:7-10)

A heavenly wedding feast will follow as the Lamb, Jesus Christ the Son of God, takes His spiritual bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-27), as His wife (19:7). The church, who are the true believers, is described as a wife who has “made herself ready” for her groom (19:7). Her clothing portrays her preparation, for she is “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8).

The Marriage Supper being ended, the stage is set for the next glorious event:

The Second Coming of Christ (19:11-16)

Christ is portrayed coming from heaven (19:11a), and riding upon a white horse (a symbol of victory, and spotless, sinless perfection). He rides under a war banner that bears His name: Faithful, for He is ever faithful to His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20); True, for He is true to His Word and will not lie (Titus 1:2). He is coming to judgethe earth in righteousness (19:11) and to make war against the antichrist and the nations that will assemble against Israel.

Christ will be accompanied by the armies of heaven (19:14), whom I imagine are the believers who were in attendance at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (notice they wear the same robes as those that were described at the feast, 19:8, 14). Christ is coming as a fierce warrior, and He will destroy the enemies of God and His saints (19:15-16).

The Battle of Armageddon (19:17-19)

I believe the host of heaven that accompany Christ, will not come to wage war themselves, but to witness the sudden destruction that will befall “the beast” (the antichrist), and “the kings of the earth and their armies” (19:19). Christ comes wearing the name written on His robes, “KING OF KING, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16).

The battle having been won, an angel summons carrion (flesh-eating birds) to the battleground to devour the carnage (the battlefield is described in Revelation 14:20 as “the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs,” or a spread of 200 miles). For more on the battle scene of Armageddon, go to Zephaniah 1:14-18 and Zechariah 14:1-13.

The Judgment of the Beast (Antichrist) and the False Prophet (19:19-21)

The battle having been won, the beast (antichrist), and his false prophet who had performed miracles to deceive the people, are both “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20). This is the dreadful place of judgment where all unbelievers, the demons, and the devil will eventually be judged for all eternity.  It is described as “a furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:42), “everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8), and a place of “[torment] day and night for ever and ever” (20:10).

Lord willing, I will address the Millennial Reign of Christ (20:1-6), God’s final judgment of Satan (20:7-10), and the final judgment of unbelievers (20:11-15), in another year.

I close inviting you to search your heart, and make sure your salvation; trust Jesus Christ as your Savior before it is eternally too late (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Acts 16:30-31).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“It is Done!” (Revelations 16-18)

Scripture reading – Revelations 16-18

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study of God’s judgments that will be poured out upon the earth in the latter-half of the tribulation, a period of three and a half years, known as “The Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 7:9, 14; 16:4-7; 22:14-15). Today’s devotional commentary will focus upon Revelation 16.

Revelation 16 – Seven Angels and Seven Bowls (vials) of Judgment

Revelation 16 opens the next phase of God’s judgment as He summons seven angels to go forth bearing seven “vials” or bowls of “the wrath of God.” The bowls are symbolic of individual judgments that will be poured out on the earth (16:1).

There are seven distinct judgments (i.e. bowls). The first bowl of judgment will result in open sores or ulcers, and will afflict all those who have taken “the mark of the beast,” and worshipped his image (16:2). The second judgment disturbs the sea (probably the Mediterranean Sea which is in the vicinity of Babylon), and its waters will become “as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul (i.e. the fish of the sea) [will die] in the sea” (16:3).

The third bowl of God’s wrath will poison the fresh waters, that are described as “the rivers and fountains of waters.” The waters will become as blood (16:4). The third angel states the justification for God’s judgments, declaring His righteousness (16:5) demanded man’s wickedness be condemned (16:6).

Revelation 16:6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. [In a literal sense, they are punished as they deserve, for their wickedness.]

A voice will arise from the altar in heaven and will state, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

A fourth angel will then go forth, and will bear a bowl of judgment that will cause the sun to become unbearably hot, so that it will “scorch men with fire” (16:8). Rather than repent of their wickedness, men will revile and curse God’s name (16:9).

The fifth bowl of God’s wrath will be poured out upon the antichrist and his throne (16:10), and a heavy, frightening darkness will descend on the earth. Once again, though their bodies will bear the “pains and sores” of God’s judgments (16:11), men will not repent.

The sixth angel will bear a bowl that will dry up the Euphrates River (a principal waterway in the Middle East), enabling the armies of the nations to make their way toward Israel (16:12-15). Three evil spirits are described, who will be unleashed to stir the nations of the earth to go to war in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14b).

The Lord will then warn the people of the earth, “15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, andkeepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (16:15), as He gathers all the armies of the earth to “Armageddon” for the final judgment (16:16).

The seventh angel will then be sent with the bowl of God’s wrath that will affect the air and atmosphere of the earth (16:17). Suddenly a voice will cry out from the throne of heaven, saying, “It is done” (16:17b).

God’s final judgment will be accompanied by terrifying natural events: “Voices, and thunders, and lightnings;” and a great earthquake like none that had ever been seen (16:18).

“The great city,” which I believe is Jerusalem, will be “divided into three parts;” however, not destroyed (16:19a). The other great cities of the earth will fall, and “great Babylon” will be utterly devastated by God’s wrath (16:19).

The continents of the earth will shift, and the mountains will fall (16:20). Great hail stones will fall to the earth (the weight of a “talent” may be estimated between 90 to 150 pounds). Still, men who survived will refuse to repent (16:21).

So much more could be written of that great and awful day of judgment; however, I will reserve that to another year.

I close reminding you that wise men and women are looking for, and anticipating Christ is coming (16:15). If you are not ready for His judgment, I urge you to repent of your sins, and turn to Christ before it is too late.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

The Expulsion and Defeat of Satan (Revelation 12-15)

Scripture reading – Revelations 12-15

The imagery of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 12-15) is profound, and complicated. I will limit the devotional commentary to focusing on Revelation 12; however, I encourage you to read today’s full Scripture reading assignment.

A novice Bible student might be so stunned by the descriptions and characters in Revelation 12, that he forgets there is practical meaning and application behind the narrative. Remember, in Revelation, we are observing literal events that will come to pass in the Tribulation.

Three characters in Revelation 12: A Woman Great with Child (12:1-2); A Great Red Dragon (12:3-4); and the birth of a “Man Child” (12:5).

Israel – A Woman Great with Child (12:1-2)

Who was this woman who was “with child,” and is pictured as one “travailing in birth” (12:2)? I believe the woman “with child” is a description of Israel as a people.

She is described as, “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1). Israel’s glory, her prestige as God’s chosen people, her “crown of twelve stars,” symbolizing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and her labor and travail with child was because the Christ child, God’s Redeemer would be born of and come out of Israel.

A Great Red Dragon (12:3-4)

The “great red dragon” is a symbol of Satan (12:3), and his being cast out of heaven is repeated here as it was described in the prophesies of Isaiah (14:12-15), and Ezekiel (28:12-17). Satan was the angel Lucifer, until his heart was lifted up with pride, and he led a rebellion against the God of heaven in which one-third of the angelic host followed him in an uprising against God.

Satan did all he could to prevent the birth of the promised Redeemer, seeking to destroy, to annihilate Israel, the people through whom God had promised the Christ child would be born (fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that through his lineage all the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). When Christ was born, the devil attempted to have Him killed, by King Herod’s assault on the children of Bethlehem. When Christ was crucified, and rose from the dead, sin and death were defeated, Satan turned his fierce wrath upon believers, and Israel.

The devil, the great dragon, knowing his time is short in the Great Tribulation (12:12), will make one last desperate attempt to destroy the true Israel (12:13-15), but he will fail when the earth opens up and swallows his forces (12:16).

A “Man Child” (12:5)

Who is the “man child” (12:5)? He is Jesus Christ. He was the son born of Israel (his mother being Mary), and of the lineage of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). He was born of the virgin, but was rejected by Israel. However, when He comes again, He will come and reign for a thousand years.

The woman who “fled into the wilderness” (12:6).

This is a prophesy that Israel as a nation and people will flee into the wilderness in the second half of the tribulation (lasting 3.5 years, or 1260 days, 12:6). Israel will seek refuge from the wrath of the devil and his forces.

A Heavenly Battle (12:7-9)

A heavenly war will be waged between “Michael (the archangel) and his angels” and the dragon and his angels (12:7-9). The devil’s defeat is assured, and he and his fallen angels will be “cast out into the earth” (12:9).

There is much in today’s Scripture reading that might baffle you, but you can be assured of this one thing:

Satan is a defeated foe, and God has assured believers the victory!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

The Seven Seals and Seven Judgments of Revelation (Revelation 6-11)

Scripture reading – Revelation 6-11

The intensity and breadth of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 6-11) is nearly overwhelming, for the veil of future things is drawn back and we are permitted to see those things that will surely come to pass in that time that is known as The Tribulation (Revelation 6:1-18:24).

The Seven Seals of God’s Judgment (Revelation 6:1-7:17)

We read that “the Lamb” (6:1), Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God, will open or break seven seals. A seal was an instrument that guaranteed the privacy and security of the contents of a letter or other means of communication. A king would use a seal to guarantee the privacy of a letter. A seal might be used by a judge to bind an agreement between two individuals.

Four Seals and Four Horses with Riders

When Jesus Christ, “the Lamb,” breaks the seven seals in Revelation, He does so as the One with authority to unleash God’s judgments and fulfill their purpose. The first four seals are immediately followed by a rider and horse that go forth to judge the earth in an escalation of sorrows.

When the first seal is broken, a rider on a white horse goes forth to conquer and subdue the earth (6:1-2). The second seal is broken, and a rider on a red horse goes forth with a “great sword,” and removes peace from the earth (6:3-4). A third seal is broken, and a black horse and rider are sent and famine follows (6:5-6).

When the fourth seal is broken, a pale horse departs, and its rider identified as “Death, and Hell” (6:7), brings the greatest judgment the earth has faced in the Tribulation. In the wake of the fourth rider’s judgment (6:8), one fourth of the earth’s population is killed (that number today would be one billion nine hundred million souls that would perish).

The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Seals

The fifth seal marks a departure from the symbolism of riders and horses. When “the Lamb” (Jesus Christ) breaks the fifth seal, a heavenly veil is drawn back and the souls of those who have been martyred in the tribulation appear “under the altar” (6:9). We are told they are those who were slain because of their faithfulness to the “word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (6:9).

The sixth seal is broken, and a time of universal judgment begins (6:12-17) that is manifested in “a great earthquake,” the darkening of the sun, the moon appearing as blood (6:12b), and the light of the stars being extinguished (6:13). All men, great and small, will realize the wrath of God is being poured out, and will seek in vain to hide themselves (6:14-17).

Revelation 7 is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, and it is revealed that 144,000 of all the tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, will be chosen to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When “the Lamb” breaks the seventh seal, heaven will fall silent “about the space of half an hour” (8:1). “The seven angels which stood before God” will be given seven trumpets (8:1-2), and the sounding of their trumpets will usher in a time of unimaginable destruction and judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants (8:1-11:19).

Unfortunately, an interpretation of the seven angels, and the seven trumpets that accompany the breaking of the seventh seal will have to wait to another year, and another devotional.

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Saints and Scoundrels in the Church (2 John; 3 John)

Scripture reading – 2 John; 3 John

As noted in my observation regarding the authorship of The First Epistle of John, the brief letters in today’s Scripture reading are believed to have been authored by the same disciple who penned The Gospel of John. The Second Epistle of John and The Third Epistle of John were most likely written prior to the book known as “The Revelation,” and near the end of John’s life. This devotional will offer a brief introduction to 2 John and 3 John.

The Second Epistle of John

Though not by name, the introductory verse of 2 John identifies the letter’s recipient: “The elder [John identifying himself as a pastor\elder of the church] unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth” (1:1).

The identity of the “elect lady and her children” has been cause for debate. Many suppose the phrase, “the elect lady,” is a reference to the Church in general. Others believe John was writing to an individual believer (“elect”), one who was beloved by all believers, and respected for her testimony among them (1:1b).

Another strong reason to suppose 2 John was written to a specific “elect lady and her children,” are the closing verses of 2 John where the apostle greets her sister’s children:

2 John 12–1312 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

The Third Epistle of John

In his third letter, John introduces himself as “The Elder” (1:1), and the word could have served as a description of not only his office as an “elder\pastor” (John served as the elder\pastor of the church in Ephesus), or an older pastor. The epistle is addressed to a believer named Gaius, whom John speaks of as “the well-beloved,” and writes of him, “I love in the truth” (3 John 1:1)

John’s affection and admiration of Gaius as both his friend and brother in Christ is undeniable. Remembering the apostle’s challenge to love the brethren “in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), and “love one another” (1 John 3:7, 11), John’s third letter effuses sincere agape’ love (3 John 1:1-8).

Of course, not all in the church are loving, and John identified one named Diotrephes who was anything but loving (3 John 1:9-11). The apostle spared no words identifying Diotrephes’ hypocrisy, exposing the man for self-promotion (1:9), spiritual insubordination (1:10a), and for criticizing, accusing, and opposing John’s leadership as an apostle and elder (1:10). John leaves no doubt regarding the fate of Diotrephes, and identifies him as one who “doeth evil [and] hath not seen God” (1:11).

The third epistle closes with a note of affirmation for a believer named Demetrius, of whom John writes, “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (1:12).

I close noting that, though times have changed, people have not!

There are the loving “elect ladies” (2 John 2:1), Gaius’ who encourage the hearts of pastors and believers (3 John 1:1), and the Demetrius’ who have testimonies of being faithful and true (3 John 1:12). Nevertheless, there are always some of Diotrephes’ stripe who in words and examples desire the preeminence, even to the destroying of faithful pastors with “malicious words” (3 John 1:9-10). Of such a one, the church must recognize them by their works and words, and cast them out (3 John 1:10).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith