Tag Archives: United States

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

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 49; Jeremiah 50

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

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

Jeremiah 49 – The Vengeance of the LORD

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 50 – The Vengeance of the LORD Against Babylon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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Too Late to Repent (Hosea 4; Hosea 5)

Scripture reading – Hosea 4; Hosea 5

Today’s Scripture reading records the LORD’S indictment against Israel and Judah with Hosea’s adulterous wife, Gomer, serving as the backdrop.

With the words, “Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel” (4:1), we observe a setting reminiscent of a heavenly court with the LORD presiding, and Hosea serving as the prosecuting attorney.

Hosea 4 – The Charges Against Israel (4:1-3)

The opening charge against Israel was threefold: “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (4:1). 1) Truth and integrity were lacking in Israel; 2) There was no mercy, kindness or compassion; 3) There was “no knowledge of God in the land” (4:1). Though Israel had the Law and Commandments, and God had sent His prophets and teachers, the people had no knowledge of God’s person and character.

The children of Israel were charged with five violations of God’s Commandments. They were guilty of swearing(for it is a sin to “take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,” 4:2; Exodus 20:7). They were liars, violating the ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” (4:2; Exodus 20:17). They were a nation of murderers, violating the sixth commandment (4:2; Exodus 20:13). They were thieves (4:2; Exodus 20:15). Breaking the seventh commandment, they had become adulterers (4:2; Exodus 20:14).

Israel had become a violent nation with civil strife among the people (“they break out, and blood toucheth blood,” 4:2). Because Israel had shed innocent blood, the land itself would suffer.

Religious Leaders Charged (4:4-11)

The priests had failed in word and example (4:4-5). Hosea decried the failure of the priests, and the spiritual condition of the nation, saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: Seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (4:6).

The spiritual failure of the priests and the people had turned Israel’s glory to shame (4:7). Therefore, God promised the nation would suffer the consequences of their wickedness (4:8-11).

An Admonition (4:12-14).

The children of Israel were charged with three counts of gross wickedness. They refused to seek the LORD for wisdom, and had turned to “their stocks” (idols carved from wood), and spiritually “gone a whoring” (4:12). They neglected the LORD’s altar, and offered sacrifices upon the mountain peaks, and burned incense in the groves(4:13). They had become a grossly immoral people (4:13b-14).

Hosea’s Warning to Judah (4:15-19)

For a few brief sentences, the admonitions of the prophet focused on Judah, and he pled with that nation: “Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend” (4:15). Israel was backslidden (4:16), and Hosea urged the southern kingdom to not go up to “Bethaven” (4:15). Bethaven had been a sacred place known as “Bethel” (the “house of God”), but the people in their wickedness had turned it into “a house of evil” (4:15).

Hosea 5 – The Court is in Session

Our spiritual courtroom continues in Hosea 5, and the priests, king, and the people are judged guilty as charged (5:1). God declared, “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: For now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled” (5:3).

An Appeal Rejected (5:6-7)

The people appealed to the LORD for mercy, going “with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord” (5:6a), but Hosea declared, “they shall not find Him [the LORD]; He hath withdrawn himself from them” (5:6b).

Judgment Declared (5:8-15)

The hour to repent had passed, and the judgment of God was imminent. A trumpet was heard (5:8), and the judgment of God declared: “Ephraim [i.e., Israel] shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: Among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be” (5:9).

Like a lion that seeks and devours its prey, the LORD declared He would “be unto Ephraim [Israel] as a lion, And as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him” (5:14).

Closing thoughts – I close today’s devotional and am reminded how much our world parallels the last days and hours of Israel as a nation. The priests failed to teach the people the Law and Commandments, even as preachers in our day trifle with their sacred duty to declare Word of God.

What a tragic time!  In the hour the nation was desperate for a clarion call to repent and turn back to God, the spiritual leaders were themselves guilty of all manner of wickedness (4:6-11). They had failed God, and failed the nation!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

No King (or President) is too Big for God (Isaiah 10)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 10

The first four verses of Isaiah 10 are in fact a summary of the preceding chapter’s warning to Judah for the injustices that nation’s leaders had committed against the poor and needy (10:1-2). Because God’s people had rejected Him, His Law and Commandments, they would be subject to the harsh laws, and leadership of wicked rulers.

An Admonition to Those Who Abuse Justice (10:1-4)

Knowing God is immutable and just, no nation or people should be blind to the justice He expects of those in authority. As we consider our world today, we can see that the injustices committed by the leaders of Judah are the same injustices prevalent today: The needy and poor are denied justice (10::2a), widows are preyed upon by unscrupulous men, and orphans are tragically trafficked and abused. What becomes of a people who ignores injustices? Such a nation will ultimately fall into such degradation that it will lose its identity and fall to the hand of enemy (10:4).

A Warning of Judgment Against Assyria (10:5-19)

Why was Assyria the focus of God’s wrath in this passage?

That great empire had been the tool, the vessel God used to punish Israel for that nation’s rebellion against the LORD (10:5-6). The king of Assyria was blind to the truth, “1The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).

The Assyrian king’s ambition to conquer other nations was planted in his heart by the God of heaven (10:7). He boasted his “princes” (leaders he had ordained to rule over the people he had conquered) were as powerful as kings in their own right (10:8-9). Blinded by ambition, the Assyrian king was unaware when he had “performed his whole work” (all God had ordained to punish Jerusalem, 10:12), He would be punished (10:16). The king boasted he had gathered the riches of other nations, like a farmer gathers eggs (10:14). He believed all he had accomplished was “by the strength” of his own hand (10:13-15).

God promised He would send against Assyria an enemy (Babylon) that would take away that nation’s wealth, and destroy its strength with fire (10:16-19).

God Remembered Israel (10:20-33)

Assyria would destroy Israel (the northern ten tribes), and afflict Judah, but the LORD promised He would not forget “the remnant of Israel” (10:20). Though God’s people would suffer great afflictions for their sins, He promised “the remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God” (10:21). God had promised Abraham his seed would “be as the sand of the sea” (Genesis 22:17; 32:12), but the sins of the people had reduced their number to a “remnant” whom the LORD promised would one day return to their land (10:22-23).

Assured by God’s promises, the prophet encouraged the people that “dwellest in Zion” (Jerusalem), “Be not afraid of the Assyrian: He shall smite thee with a rod…25For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, And mine anger in their destruction” (10:24-25).

Closing thoughts – Judah would be afflicted by Assyria, but it would not be overcome (10:26-27). The Assyrian army would march south, and the cities north of Jerusalem would fall in succession (10:28-32). The citizens of Jerusalem would be shaken, but the LORD promised to intervene, and figuratively “lop the bough [the head of the king] with terror” (10:33).

Assyria appeared unstoppable. Nation after nation, and city after city had fallen to that nation’s army. Israel was destroyed, and the people had been taken captive. The cities north of Jerusalem were conquered, and the king and the people believed they would succumb to the terror of that enemy.

Had the nation heeded Isaiah’s prophecy, they would have known there was no cause to fear Assyria, for the LORD had planned the demise of that nation (10:34).

A word of encouragement – Do you wonder who is behind world events? Do you lack confidence in your nation’s leaders? Do you fear the effects of wicked leaders? Take heart, and be encouraged:

Proverbs 8:15–1615By me [the LORD] kings reign, And princes decree justice. 16By me princes rule, And nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Remember: The same God who “lopped off” the head of Assyria, is still Sovereign God.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

To All Who Secured Our Freedoms, and to Those Whose Loved Ones Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice, THANK YOU!

“The American Experiment,” as some have described the founding of our union, began with a unanimous Declaration by thirteen colonies, who identified themselves as, “the thirteen united states of America.”

Thomas Jefferson, and fifty-five other patriots who represented their home states, declared and affirmed a foundational principle of liberty for which they were willing to lay down their lives, and sacrifice their wealth:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson went on to write, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

I denoted the phrase, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” for we have become a nation whose government is managed by self-appointed oligarchs, and that assert powers for which we, the American people, have not consented!

I have not consented that federal, state, or municipal governments have the right to limit my freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion. I have not consented to politicians the authority to define the sanctity of human life, or the definition of male and female. I have not consented to the right of the state to enforce laws, guidelines, and policies that restrict my “Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.”

Ronald Reagan, the late 40th president of the United States, once said: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Unfortunately, the pandemic of 2020-2021 became a catalyst for politicians, judges, and bureaucrats to erode our freedoms, under the pretext that they are limiting our liberties in the interests of the citizenry.

Remember, whatever can be taken from you is effectively not yours. I fear we have lost many of the freedoms for which brave men and women have died in the service of our nation. I pray the membership of Hillsdale Baptist Church might remember our indebtedness to those who have lived, fought, and died, and in the words of Patrick Henry, declare: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
https://tv.gab.com/channel/HeartofAShepherd1
https://mewe.com/p/heartofashepherdinc

The Curse of a Dying Nation: Feminine Men, and Rebellious Women (Deuteronomy 28)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 28

The sum of today’s Scripture reading is essentially two words: Blessings and Cursings. Deuteronomy 27concluded with the people affirming their understanding of God’s Covenant, and agreeing to both its blessings and penalties (27:15-26). Deuteronomy 28 continues the same proclamation, detailing the LORD’S promise of His blessings if the people would obey His Laws and Commandments (28:1-14), and curses should they disobey (28:15-68).

The Rewards and Blessings of Faithfulness (28:1-14)

The promise of blessings was conditional, and would be fulfilled, but only if the people would “observe and to do all His commandments.” If the people would “hearken…observe…and do all His commandments,” the LORD promised He would “set [Israel] on high above all nations of the earth” (28:1). All would be blessed, both city and field (28:3), and would be fruitful and increase. Children would be born; cattle would calve, and the flocks of sheep would increase. The fields would give forth a great harvest (28:4-6).

Israel’s enemies would fall before them, and be scattered (28:7). Her storehouses, and treasuries would overflow (28:8-14).  The LORD promised He would open the treasury of heaven, send rain upon the land, and the nations of the world would become debtors to Israel (28:12). All this was promised, if Israel obeyed the LORD’s Law, and His Commandments (28:13-14).

The Penalties of God’s Judgment for Disobedience (28:15-68)

The balance of Deuteronomy 28 predicts the punishments that would befall Israel as a nation, should the people turn from the LORD, and disobey His Law, and Commandments (28:15-68). In the same way the LORD promised to bless the nation if the people obeyed Him, the opposite was true should they disobey Him. The curses are far too extensive for me to address individually; however, we should notice the sum of them in our Scripture reading.

Should Israel reject Him, the LORD warned He would abandon them to their enemies (28:45-47), and the people would become slaves to their enemies (this would come to pass during the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, and be repeated in the Roman era). The fruitfulness of their lands, trees, and storehouses would be eaten by their enemies. Their cattle, and flocks would be destroyed (28:48-51).

When the cities would be besieged, the starving people would turn to cannibalism, and eat “the flesh of [their]sons and of [their] daughters (28:52-53). Their men would become effeminate, “tender among you, and very delicate” (28:54), and their women would no longer be “tender and delicate” (28:56). The eyes of a wife would “be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter” (28:56). Leaving her natural affection, Moses warned a mother “shall eat [her children] for want of all things secretly in the siege” (28:57).

Because the people had rejected the LORD, and disobeyed His Law, the LORD promised to bring upon the nation “great plagues…and sore sicknesses” (28:59). Israel would be overcome with plagues (28:58-60), and the births of the children would be few (28:62-63). The nation would be conquered, the people scattered, oppressed, and enslaved (28:64-65).

Fear, dread, and depression would haunt the nation, and the people would dread the night, and the dawn (28:66-67). Eventually, they would be taken from their land, “see it no more again…[and] be sold unto [their enemies]” as slaves (28:68). All of this did come to pass in AD 70 when Titus, the Roman General, destroyed Jerusalem, and the Jews were scattered throughout the nations.

I close, being reminded, the pattern of decline seen in today’s Scripture is a foretelling of judgment upon all nations that reject God. History records the rise and fall of nations, and no nation can long reject God without experiencing moral decay, and the judgment of God.

My own country, is following the path God promised to curse.

Everywhere I look, I see the evidences of a nation whom God has turned over to its enemies. We are enslaved, and become a debtor nation to our enemies. The women of our nation, take the lives of their unborn in grotesque abortions, as surely as if they cannibalize them from the womb (28:52-53). Effeminate men, “tender [and]delicate” (28:54) are celebrated, and rebellious women blight our society, and with an “evil eye,” look upon their husbands and children (28:56-57). We are experiencing epidemics, a failing birthrate, and a fear, and dread of the future such as I have not witnessed in my lifetime.

If America does not repent of her sins, and turn to God, she is doomed.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Women’s Rights, and the Changing of the Guard (Numbers 26-27)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 26-27

The gross adultery, and idolatry recorded in Numbers 25 had provoked God to send a plague in Israel that occasioned the deaths of twenty-four thousand people (25:9). With the plague past, the LORD commanded Moses to take a final census before crossing over the Jordan River, “from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers’ house, all that are able to go to war in Israel” (26:2).

Numbers 26 – The Final Census, Before the Promised Land

A census of the Twelve Tribes of Israel had first been taken in Numbers 1-4. A comparison of that census, with this later one reveals a slight decrease in the Twelve Tribes overall (the first totaling 603,500 men, and the second 601,730 men, who were twenty years or older). Some tribes had experienced a decline (Simeon declining from 59,300 men, to 22,200 men, twenty years and older). Other tribes had experienced a large growth in population (the men of the tribe of Manasseh had increased from 32,200, to 52,700 men, twenty years and older). The names and the numbering of the Twelve Tribes is recorded in Numbers 26:5-50.

The census was important, for it became the basis for assigning each tribe their own territory in the Promised Land (26:52-56). The Tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe chosen by the LORD to serve Him, did not receive an inheritance of land in Canaan (26:62).

Numbers 26 concludes with a sobering reminder of God’s judgment upon Israel (26:64). The prior generation of people who had come out of Egypt, but refused to trust the LORD and obey Him, had all perished in the wilderness, save two men: “65For the Lord had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun” (26:65).

Numbers 27 – Women’s Rights, and the Changing of the Guard

The Scriptures prove the LORD’s judgments are just in the matter of women’s rights. Numbers 27:1-11 is a wonderful case study regarding the rights of women, and reveals the inequitable laws women protest are not God’s way, but men’s! If men would follow the ethics of the Scriptures, they would realize the ways of the LORD are wise, benevolent, and compassionate.

Five daughters, of one man of the tribe of Manasseh, came to Moses, and Eleazar the high priest (27:1-2). Their father had died, with no son, and leaving no male heir. The daughters were permitted to plead their case regarding their late father’s right-of-inheritance in the Promised Land (27:1-4). According to the law, a man’s inheritance was to pass to his son; however, without a son, what was to become of a man’s possessions?

The daughters reasoned, “4Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son?” (27:4) Arguing they, and their father had been slighted, the women petitioned, “Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father” (27:4).

Rather than make a hasty, ill-advised decision, or trust men’s opinions, Moses withdrew, and “brought [the] cause [of the daughters] before the LORD” (27:5). The LORD, affirmed the sisters assertion (27:6), and answered Moses: “Thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter” (27:7). Ensuring a family’s possessions would remain within the tribe, should a man die and have neither a son or daughter, his inheritance would pass to his next of kin (27:9-11).

Numbers 27:12-23 – End of an Era

The LORD commanded Moses, “Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. 13  And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered” (27:12-13).

Moses was reminded that he would not enter the Land of Promise (27:14; 20:7-13), and accepted the consequence of his sin with grace. Like a true shepherd leader, Moses requested the LORD “set a man over the congregation” (27:16). Moses desired to ensure his successor would be a man of God’s choosing, and a man with a shepherd’s heart (27:17).

God chose “Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit [of God]” (27:18).  Leaving no uncertainty that Joshua was God’s choice (27:18), the LORD directed Moses to confirm him before “all the congregation” (27:19-20). Moses obeyed the LORD, and took Joshua, and “laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded” (27:23).

A closing thought: Although he was one of the greatest men to ever live, Moses did inevitably go the way of all flesh, and was “gathered unto [his] people, as Aaron [his] brother was gathered” (27:13).  Miriam was dead; Aaron was dead; and because he had sinned before all the people, Moses would die, without crossing into the Promised Land (27:14).

The author of Hebrews writes, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Pay Day Someday! (2 Chronicles 10-12)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 10-12

You will find that today’s Scripture reading in 2 Chronicles parallels events that are recorded in our preceding reading assignment (1 Kings 12-14).

2 Chronicles 10 – A Tragic Time in Israel’s History

Following the death of King Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:30-31), his son Rehoboam ascended the throne and all Israel came to Shechem to make him king (10:1).

Unfortunately, all was not well in Israel. Though not yet physically divided, the nation was spiritually duplicitous and Solomon’s “heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4). The LORD had warned Solomon that his failure to keep the Law and Commandments would be punished by Israel being divided by one of his own servants. The identity of that servant is revealed as Solomon’s old adversary, Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 10:2-3).

Evidencing the foolishness of his youth and inexperience, Rehoboam faced the grievances of Israel, lacking both grace and humility (10:4-5).  Rejecting the counsel of his father’s older and wiser advisors (10:6-7), Rehoboam heeded the counsel of his peers and the king’s harshness provoked the people to rebel (10:8-14).

Remembering the LORD is sovereign, we read, “So the king hearkened not unto the people: for the cause was of God” (10:15).  The ten northern tribes of Israel, after hearing the king’s words, “went to their tents” (10:16) and “rebelled against the house of David” (10:19).

2 Chronicles 11 – A Nation Divided

Under Jeroboam, the ten northern tribes became known as Israel and the tribes of the south, Judah and Benjamin, became one nation known as Judah. King Rehoboam had thought to raise an army to seek the unification of Israel through war; however, the LORD sent a prophet named Shemaiah and deterred him from provoking war against his brethren (11:1-4). Dissuaded from civil war, Rehoboam set about building fortresses (11:4-12) to strengthen Judah against the battles that would be provoked by a divided kingdom.

2 Chronicles 11 illustrates the swift decline of a nation that rejects God (11:13-15).

We read “the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to [Rehoboam] out of all their coasts [borders; i.e. cities and lands in Israel]… and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off [i.e. cut them off] from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD” (11:13-14).

True to the character of a godless politician, Jeroboam consolidated the northern ten tribes not only politically, but spiritually. He instituted a new religion worshipping calves, ordaining “priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made” (11:15). Thankfully we read that there were a few left in Israel who “set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel” and they continued to worship in Jerusalem (11:16).

For three years, Rehoboam exercised the wisdom passed on to him by his father; however, it was his father’s proclivity to lust and immorality that proved to be his own destructive pattern of sin (11:17-23).

2 Chronicles 12 – The Menace of Pride and Arrogance

Comfortable in his palace and with Judah secured and strengthened, Rehoboam “forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him” (12:1-2).

The LORD brought Shishak, king of Egypt against Judah. The prophet Shemaiah declared that the sins of Rehoboam were to be punished by the LORD delivering his kingdom over to serve Egypt (12:1-5). Hearing the warning of the LORD’s displeasure, the king and his leaders humbled themselves before the LORD, Who in His mercy, spared Judah from destruction (12:5-8).

Adding to Judah’s humiliation, Shishak removed “shields of gold which Solomon had made” from the walls of the palace (12:9).  Rehoboam, perhaps to save face in front of his people, contented himself with a counterfeit of the glory that once belonged to his kingdom, and “made shields of brass” to replace the “shields of gold” (12:10).

What a tragedy! Where shields of gold once reflected God’s glory and blessings upon Israel, shields of brass, cheap imitations made of tin and copper, masked the miserable state of the nation!

I close pondering what lessons we might take from today’s Scripture.

Is it possible that, like Judah of old, our nation’s wealth and prosperity has deceived us? In the same way Rehoboam became servant to Egypt and counterfeited the loss of his “shields of gold” with brass shields, I fear we have become a nation enslaved to a mounting debt we owe to enemies committed to our own demise.

The United States has rejected the LORD, His Word, Law and Commandments. Is it possible our nation’s pursuit of the pleasures of sin has blinded us to the warnings of the evangelists of old… There is a pay day someday!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“A Prophetic Portrait of a Rebellious Nation”

June 16, 2020

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Readers,

I am not one given to self-promotion; however, there are subjects I address in the pulpit at Hillsdale that I wish were preached in every pulpit across America. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. I find few pastors willing to confront the sins of society and honestly address the spiritual issues of our day.

I fear the majority of churches in America will never hear anything more from their pastors than a spirit of compromise and appeasement when it comes to honestly confronting and addressing the social issues that are tearing at the soul and moral fiber of the United States.

I am writing to invite you to listen to this past Sunday’s introductory sermon in the Prophetic Book of Isaiah. https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=615201554572035

You can also watch a video of the same sermon on Facebook that begins at the about the 37:00 minute mark in the service. https://www.facebook.com/hillsdalebaptistchurch/videos/642918159899564/

I encourage you to have your Bible in hand and follow me as I go systematically through Isaiah 1:1-10. I will address the moral failings of the United States, using the backdrop of the cyclical nature of the rise and fall of nations that is illustrated in God’s warning of judgment to Judah that was delivered by His prophet Isaiah.

I promise to end the sermon on an encouraging note.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Remember When Superman Symbolized Justice and “The American Way?”

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 16-18

Continuing our chronological daily reading of the Scriptures, you are invited to read Proverbs 16-18. Today’s devotional will be based on Proverbs 16:10-13.

Americans live in a republic whose laws should be as binding on her leaders as they are on common citizens.  Idealistically, no leader is above the law and the scales of justice are in no man’s favor.

In a monarchy, however, the king is the embodiment of the law and the citizens of his realm can only pray that their king is a righteous man who fears the judgment and wrath of God.

Proverbs 16:10-13 expresses four principles that serve as a guide for every leader and those he serves.

Proverbs 16:10 – “A divine sentence [decision reflecting God’s Law] is in [proceeds from; is on] the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not [does not commit trespass] in judgment [sentence; verdict].”

Kings, rulers, judges and all who are in authority are to exercise judgment being mindful that God, not man, is the ultimate authority of right and wrong.  When godly men sit in places of judgment, their hearts are able to weigh matters with the discernment God alone gives.  How is that possible?

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 – “And it shall be, when he [king] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he [king] shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”

The kings of Israel were to possess a copy of God’s Law written in their own hand (17:18).  The Law of God was to be a king’s daily meditation (17:19) and he was to remember he was God’s servant and a minister to his people (17:20).

Proverbs 16:11 – “A just weight [right verdict; scale] and balance [scales] are the LORD’S: all the weights [stones; measurements] of the bag are His work [labor; work of His hands].”

Lady Justice continues to serve as an international symbol of equity. She is often depicted wearing a blindfold, holding in her left hand the scales of justice, and in her right the double-edged sword of judgment.  She serves as a modern reminder of what kings were to remember: God is the final judge and arbitrator.  Israel’s king was to remember that God’s Law and the immutable principles of His holiness, grace and mercy were the final word when he executed judgment.

Proverbs 16:12 – “It is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome; repulsive] to kings to commit [do; execute] wickedness [moral wrong]: for the throne [seat of authority and judgment] is established [fixed; firmly established; made strong] by righteousness [rightness; moral virtue].”

Proverbs 16:12 addresses the responsibility and influence of kings and all who are in authority. I believe America is in a quagmire of immorality and injustice because our leaders have forsaken the Law of God, and have no moral compass for discerning right and wrong. The decay of our strength and security as a nation has paralleled the erosion of our confidence and respect for those in authority.

Proverbs 16:13 – “Righteous [true; just] lips are the delight [desire; pleasure] of kings; and they love [desire; like] him that speaketh right [just; upright].”

The integrity of a leader may be measured by the moral character of his counselors.  Godless leaders seek counsel from those who serve their immoral ends, but godly leaders have a passion for truth and love those whose words and counsel are honest and just.

Do you desire wisdom and discernment? Study God’s Word and meditate on His Laws and Commandments.

Psalm 119:103-105 – “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hillsdale’s Sunday Memorial Day Weekend Service: “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd”

You are invited to Hillsdale’s Sunday Memorial Day Weekend Service, this Sunday, May 24, 2020.

9:45 AM Service – Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will speak in the Teen\Family Bible Study as he continues his series in the Book of James. This week’s study is titled, Taming Our Twisted Tongues from James 3:1-12. (Please note the entrance doors to the building will open at 9:40 AM and will be closed at 9:50 AM. Per guidelines, please go directly to the auditorium.)
10:30 AM Service – Our Memorial Day worship service will begin promptly and doors to our building will reopen at 10:15 AM and be closed at 10:45 AM. The service will open with a video tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and be followed by the pastoral staff singing the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
Pastor Smith will be continuing his “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. The focus this week is Psalm 23:4, “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd.”
The following is an excerpt from this Sunday’s bulletin: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Anglo/Irish author, statesman and orator, Edmund Burke, is credited with many of my favorite political and philosophical quotes. Burke’s observation regarding the “triumph of evil” when “good men do nothing” is cited with various wordings; however, the essence of his quote is that:

When good men are silent and do nothing; evil men will triumph in the moral, spiritual and political arenas.

I fear that day has come upon us, our nation, and our world. The wicked champion egregious sins and depravity marches in the streets under banners that assert freedom at the sacrifice of lives, individual liberty and happiness.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is credited with a “do nothing” peace agreement that he signed with Adolf Hitler in 1938. Chamberlain returned to England and announced that he had negotiated with Hitler an agreement that would give all Europe, “Peace with honour…Peace for our time.” One year later, Germany’s army invaded Poland and plunged Europe, and eventually the world into World War II and a conflict that would take the lives of 85 million people, including 6 million Jews.

This Memorial weekend we take time to honor those men and women who did not stand by in silence when our nation went to war. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines refused to be numbered among the “do nothing” crowd that was so quick to dismiss their honor, and criticize those who made a difference, often at the sacrifice of their youth and their lives.

Warning: While “We the People” choose to “do nothing,” America continues to decline morally, spiritually, and politically. When evil is emboldened, freedom erodes. In the words of the 19th century French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville:

America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” 

With love and the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith