Category Archives: Creation

Feminization, Sanitation, and Compassion (Deuteronomy 23)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 23

We continue our study of Moses’ challenge to Israel, as he prepared that nation to go forward without him as its leader. Some of the principles in today’s Scripture may seem mundane; however, such was not the case for a nation that had suffered the humiliation of bondage for four centuries. Moses was teaching the children of Israel how they were to conduct themselves in the sight of the LORD, and preserve their sanctity as His people. We will consider the right of citizenship in ancient Israel, and the exclusion of some from “the congregation of the LORD” (23:1).

The Feminization, and Castration of Men Was Forbidden (23:1)

The topic of mutilation, or castration is one in which we shall use discretion; however, the LORD was clear in His instruction concerning honoring one’s vessel. There was to be no mutualization of a man’s private parts, for such was unnatural, and against God’s created order.

Illegitimate Sons (23:2)

Sons born of adultery, or incest, were to be excluded in Israel, unto the “tenth generation” (23:2). Sons borne of extra-marital relationships were excluded, for their conception was contrary to the will, and design of God’s order.

Ammonites and Moabites Were Not Permitted in Israel (23:3-6)

These nations were the offspring of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). The Ammonites, and Moabites had made themselves adversaries of Israel, and hired Balaam to curse the people (23:4-6).

Edomites and Egyptians (23:7-8)

Though not friends of Israel, the Edomites and Egyptians had a history that prevented their being excluded entirely. The Edomites were of the lineage of Esau, and therefore distant kin of Israel through the lineage of Jacob, Esau’s brother (23:7). Egypt had been the host of Israel during their sojourn in that land.

Cleanness and Purity in Times of War (23:9-11)

Remembering the presence of the LORD was represented by the Tabernacle in the midst of the encampment, the people were reminded to keep themselves clean (23:9-10). A man who was not clean, was to remain outside the camp until the evening, and “wash himself with water” before entering the camp (23:11).

A Lesson in Sanitation (23:12-14)

The sanitation guidelines given by Moses to Israel placed that nation centuries ahead of other nations. The people were to practice cleanliness, and basic sanitation. They were not to answer nature’s call (i.e. to relieve themselves), within the camp. They were instructed to go outside the borders of the camp and “have a paddle” (a spade or shovel), and cover over their excrement.

We understand much about sanitation, and disease today; however, only in the past two centuries has the need for sanitation been fully appreciated. The sanitation commanded by the LORD was not only because He dwelt in the midst of His people, but also because it was proper, and good for the health of the people (23:14).

Compassion for a Fleeing Slave (23:15-16)

A slave that had fled from his master seeking refuge with another, was not to be returned to the former (23:15). Instead, he was to be given shelter in the land, and allowed to dwell where he chose (23:16).

Prostitution and Sodomy Condemned (23:17-18)

All manner of gross immorality accompanied the worship of idols in ancient times. Whoredom, and sodomy were ever present among the heathen nations. No daughter of Israel was to fall into whoredom, and no son was to be a homosexual (described as “the price of a dog,” thus graphically describing the debasement of sodomy, 23:18).

Usury: Charging Interest on Debts (23:19-20)

Israelite men were not to charge their fellow man (“thy brother”) interest for borrowing money (23:19). A “stranger;” however, a non-Hebrew, was charged interest on debts (23:20).

To Vow, Or Not to Vow (23:21-23)

Swearing an oath, or vowing a vow, was a serious matter with the LORD, and was not to be taken lightly (23:21). No man was to “vow a vow unto the LORD,” and fail to fulfil it without delay (23:21b). Indeed, it would be better to not have committed oneself to a vow, than to do so and fail to fulfill it (23:22-23).

To Eat, or Not to Eat (23:24-25)

Suppose a man is hungry, and lacks the means to feed himself. Should that man be permitted to take from another’s field or vineyard, and satisfy his hunger?

The answer is found in Deuteronomy 23:24-25, and reminds us again that the God of Israel was compassionate and merciful.

A hungry man was allowed to eat grapes from his neighbor’s vineyard, and take kernels of wheat into his hand from his neighbor’s field. He could not, however, go into his neighbor’s field with a vessel, and fill it. He was allowed take only what he needed to quench his hunger.

I close, trusting you are developing an appreciation for the judiciousness of the LORD, and the evidence of His grace and compassion in His Law and Commandments.

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With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Behold, the God of Creation, and Heaven Has Revealed Himself” (Deuteronomy 10)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 10

Deuteronomy 10 continues Moses’ second oration, describing how the LORD had shown Israel mercy following the idolatry of the people at Sinai. Moses was reminding the people what they, and we already know. Nevertheless, it was important for the people to recollect all that had befallen their forefathers, and remember the LORD’s Covenant with them as a nation.

Moses recalled how, in anger because of their idolatry, he had broken the first tables of stone upon which were written the Ten Commandments. The LORD had then commanded him to hew out two additional tables of stone (10:1). On them, the LORD engraved “the words [the Commandments] that were in the first tables” (10:2). The Commandments were then placed in the Ark, and served as a lasting memorial of God’s covenant with Israel (10:2b-5; Exodus 40:20).

Continuing his remembrance of the events that had brought the nation to the edge of the Promised Land, Moses rehearsed how his brother Aaron, the first high priest, had died short of Canaan, and “Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead” (10:6).

Lest any should forget, the people were reminded that the LORD had chosen, and “separated the tribe of Levi” to serve Him, and “to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (10:8). Unlike the other tribes, the Levites would have no inheritance, no land, assigned to them. Their inheritance was a portion of that which was due the LORD, in the people’s tithes, offerings, and sacrifices (10:8-9).

With the urgency of a father who loves his sons and daughters, Moses challenged the people to obey the LORD with five imperatives (10:12-13).

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear [revere]the LORD thy God, to walk [behave] in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep [keep watch; guard] the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Who is this God who revealed Himself as Creator, and chose Israel, and covenanted with them by giving them His Law, Commandments, and Statutes (10:14-22)?

He is the Creator and Sovereign of “the heaven of heavens…and the earth also, with all that therein is” is the LORD’S (10:14). He is the “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [i.e. to be feared].” He is just, and “regardeth not persons [not a respecter of persons], nor taketh reward” (10:17). He is merciful, and the protector “of the fatherless and widow [the defenseless]” (10:18a). He is tender, and “loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment” (10:18b).

I close, inviting you to ponder what effect the revelation of God’s nature, and attributes should have had upon Israel?

The answer to that question is found in the closing verses (10:19-22). The children of Israel were to love strangers (10:20), for they could identify with the hardships of being a stranger in Egypt (10:19). They were to fear, serve, and cleave to the LORD (10:20). They were to be a people whose word, was their bond (“swear by His name,” 10:20).

The hearts, thoughts, and affections of Israel were to be solely directed to the LORD (10:21), for He had fulfilled His promises, and they had grown from seventy souls, and “the LORD [had] made [them] as the stars of heaven for multitude” (10:22).

My God is great, and mighty. He is the LORD of the Scriptures, Sovereign of Creation, and King of heaven and earth!

Is He your God?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Count Your Days, and Your Blessings! (Psalm 90)

Count Your Days, and Your Blessings! (Psalm 90)

Scripture reading – Psalm 90

We depart from the Book of Numbers, to consider Psalm 90 for today’s Scripture reading. Psalm 90 is a prayer of intercession, and a song of praise that was authored by Moses, and is therefore the oldest of the Psalms. Certainly, it would have been one of the psalms heard in the Temple, and sung by the people when they assembled in the wilderness before the Tabernacle.

Scholars generally place Psalm 90 about the time Israel rebelled, and turned back from the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). The context is most likely when the people began murmuring against the LORD, and He threatened to “smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them” (Numbers 14:11-12). Moses implored the LORD to spare the congregation (Numbers 14:13-19), and I believe Psalm 90 memorialized that occasion.

Psalm 90 – Great is the LORD!

The Lord had proven He was the refuge for Israel (90:1), the Creator (90:2a) who set the foundations of the mountains, and “formed the earth and the world” (90:2). He is the God of eternity (90:2b), and the absolute Sovereign of Creation (90:2). What is man? He is temporal, and dust (90:3).

When I was young, I could not fully grasp the meaning of Psalm 90:4. Moses wrote, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (90:4). I have come to know all to well the fleeting of time, and life itself. A lifetime, or even a generation passes, and it seems “as a watch in the night” (90:4), and our lives are “soon cut off, and we fly away” (90:10).

Lest one be tempted to wallow in self-pity, and sorrow for the years that are past and cannot be reclaimed, Moses states a principle that should guide believers: So teach us to number our days [to make them count], that we may apply [give; attain] our hearts [understanding; i.e. thoughts] unto wisdom (90:12).

How different your life would be, if you knew the year, day, the hour, God has appointed for your death (Hebrews 9:27)! Many things that consume your thoughts, and your time would suddenly prove trivial. Moments to which you give little thought, and opportunities that seem routine, might suddenly be savored, if not treasured. Every day is a gift of God’s loving grace, and should be numbered and treasured.

Set aside pettiness, and be grateful for the day God has given you. Pray with Moses: “Let the beauty [grace, and favor] of the Lord our God be upon us: And establish thou [LORD] the work of our hands upon us; Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (90:17)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

What is Man? (Job 40-41)

Scripture reading – Job 40-41

The LORD continued interrogating Job in today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41), giving that man an opportunity to respond to the question:

2Shall he that contendeth [strives with; complains] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct [find fault; rebuke] Him? He that reproveth [rebuke; corrects] God, let him answer it (40:2).

God challenged Job, Will you dare instruct your Shaddai? Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job replied:

Behold, I am vile [cursed; despised]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [i.e. silent; have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Humbled, Job began to yield to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

The LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute; challenge] my judgment [justice]? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e. appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare question the ways of the LORD as less than just (40:6-14)? Will you challenge God’s majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God illustrated His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

Job 40:15-24 – The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The exact identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is that the behemoth was either the hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am of the opinion the behemoth might be an extinct beast, perhaps a dinosaur that might have roamed the earth or the seas following the flood.

The Scriptures reveal some physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24). It was a vegetarian, for “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The behemoth also moved “his tail like a cedar” (40:17a). Perhaps the movement of his tail was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continues (40:18-24), describing his bones like brass and iron (40:18), and his voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and water which is said to “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” yet the Creator had power over him (“can make his sword to approach unto him,” 40:19).

What did this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The second great beast that LORD invited Job to consider was the “leviathan” (41:1). The identity of this great creature is uncertain; however, some scholars suggest it to be a giant saltwater crocodile, perhaps one that is extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy was meant to draw Job to conclude that he was foolish to question his Creator when he paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan that God had created (41:1-9).

Job was asked, if man cannot tame the “leviathan,” what right does he have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  The leviathan “beholdeth [considers; sees] all high things [no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [he withdraws from none](41:34). Having considered the beauty and majesty of creation, and the great creatures over which God reigns supreme, “What is man?” 

Job 7:1717  What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:1414  What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “4  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “3  LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

What is man?

We are eternal souls, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). We are physically feeble, born sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and the curse of sin is upon us (Romans 6:23). In spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God, our Creator, is majestic in His glory, sovereign of creation, omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving; He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

You Have No Right to Question God! (Job 38-39)

Scripture reading – Job 38-39

Elihu had waxed eloquent in his observations that the God of creation is Sovereign, and Master of nature. He had urged Job to consider the majesty of God evinced in thunderstorms (Job 37:1-5), snow and ice (37:6-10), the winds, clouds, and rain (37:11-18). He challenged Job, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14), and disputed his audacity to question God’s providence in his life (37:15-22).

When Elihu finished speaking, the LORD appeared suddenly, and His voice was heard “out of the whirlwind [great storm]” and He questioned Job: “2Who is this that darkeneth [obscures] counsel [God’s plans or matters] by words without knowledge [discernment]? (38:2) The LORD’s thunderous voice asked Job, who are you to question my providences in your life? Stand up, justify your right to question Me (38:3)!

Job 38:4-41 – Job Had No Grounds to Contend with God.

A series of questions fills the balance of Job 38, and the implication of the questions and their answers is that Job had no right to question or argue with God. The questions proposed by the LORD were meant to convince Job that he was ignorant of God’s ways, and therefore had no right to query Him.

The LORD asked Job, where were you when I created the earth? (38:4-5). Where were you when I laid the foundations? (38:6) Where were you when I set the boundaries of the sea? (38:8-11) Where were you when I created light, and divided the day and the night? (38:12)

Job knew nothing of the depths, or the darkness of the sea (38:16). He did not know from where light originated, nor how far it had traveled (38:19-21). He could not explain the origin of snow or hail (38:22-23). He did not understand the wind currents, described in Job 38:25 as “a watercourse for the overflowing of waters.”

Four constellations of stars are mentioned (38:31-32), and Job was asked, “33Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” Job, can you command the course of the stars? (38:33) Can you command the rain to fall (38:34), or control the lightnings? (38:35) Job, can you feed the lions, or provide food for the ravens? (38:36-41).

Job 39 – If Job Could Not Understand the Course of Nature, He Surely Could Not Understand the Providences of God.

The LORD proposed to Job a series of questions, proving His sovereign care of the animals of His creation. The first question, “1Knowest thou [Job] the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth [give birth]? Or canst thou mark when the hinds [deer] do calve [give birth]?” (39:1)

God knows the exact moment that wild goats give birth, and deer go into labor (39:1). He knows when their months of gestation are fulfilled (39:2), and when their offspring are old enough to “go forth, and return not” unto their parents (39:4).

The LORD asked, “5Who hath sent out the wild ass [donkey] free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” (39:5) Think of it: God takes care of wild donkeys, providing them a home in the wilderness, and pasture in the mountains (39:6-8).

Job was asked regarding the unicorn (39:9-12). There has been much debate on the identity of the unicorn; however, it is certainly not the mythical creature of man’s imagination. Scholars identify the unicorn as a two-horned animal, perhaps a wild ox or an antelope. They are wild beasts, and cannot be tamed, or serve as domesticated beasts of burdens.

The LORD questioned Job if he had given the peacock or ostrich beautiful feathers (39:13). The description of the ostrich is notable, for she is an ignorant bird that buries her eggs in the earth (39:14), and “forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them” (39:15). God declared that He had “deprived her [the ostrich] of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding” (39:17).

The horse, its beauty, and courage was proposed to Job, and the LORD asked, “19Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” (39:19-25)

The hawk and the eagle were proposed to Job, and he was asked where they derived their instincts? “26Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, And stretch her wings toward the south? 27Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, And make her nest on high?” (39:26-27)

What was the summation and purpose of the LORD interrogating Job?

It was to demonstrate that Job had no right to complain that he was treated unfairly, or to strive against God. The LORD is God, and He is sovereign of not only creation, but He is man’s absolute authority. Man has no right to question the ways of God!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Religious Zeal without Knowledge is a Travesty (Job 33-34)

Scripture reading – Job 33-34

We were introduced to Elihu in the previous devotional (Job 32). Understanding Job and his friends were his elders, he had remained silent and observed the debate between those men. Having failed to convince Job of his error, “the three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). Provoked by the failure of Job’s friends, and incensed by his protests of innocence (32:2-3), Elihu had confessed he was “ready to burst” with his own opinion (32:17) like wine that had fermented in wine skins and having no vent (32:18-20).

Job 33 – Elihu’s Denigration of Job

Elihu began with a façade of humility, conceding he was no better than Job, for he too was “formed out of the clay” (33:6). His humility soon gave way to arrogance as he accused Job of daring to accuse God of treating him as an enemy (33:7-10).

Attempting to convict Job of folly, Elihu reminded him that he was not “just” (i.e. righteous), and God is Sovereign, and does not give “account of any of His matters” (33:12-13). God is altogether righteous in His ways, and good in His dealings with man (33:14-18).

Job’s friends had argued that his afflictions were God’s punishment for some wickedness, and he had confessed he believed his suffering was a token of God’s wrath (33:19).

Elihu believed that God uses pain and afflictions for His purpose, and to protect men from pride (33:17-23). Job’s sorrows, he argued, could be used by God to purge his passion for “bread…and dainty [rich] meat” (33:19-20), and “deliver [redeem] him from going down to the pit [grave]” (33:24, 28).

Job 34 – The Majesty of God’s Character, and Elihu’s Defamation of Job’s

Elihu challenged Job and his friends to listen to his indictment of the man (34:1-4), and accused him of entertaining high ideas of himself, and a false view of God (34:5-9). He alleged that Job was self-righteous, and that he had accused God of injustice (34:5). He insinuated that Job believed he had been wounded “without transgression” (i.e. unfairly, 34:6), and that he had declared he might as well run with the wicked, for pleasing God “profiteth a man nothing” (34:7-9).

Although he had mistaken the cause of Job’s sorrows, Elihu nevertheless stated some great insights into the attributes of God (34:10-30).

He declared God is Just (34:10-12, 17, 19, 23), Sovereign (34:13-15), and Almighty (34:20, 24). He is Omniscient, “21For his eyes are upon the ways of man, And he seeth all his goings. 22There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves…He knoweth their works” (34:21-22, 25). He is Judge of the wicked (34:26-28).

Job 34 concluded with Elihu sharply rebuking Job, and demanding, “speak what thou knowest” (34:33b), or say what you think! He reproved him, and accused him of speaking “without knowledge [thinking]…[and] without wisdom [discernment]” (34:35). He cruelly declared his desire that “Job may be tried unto the end [forever]because of his answers for wicked men [i.e. he answers like wicked men]” (34:36), and “addeth rebellion unto his sin…and multiplieth [murmurs or complains] his words against God” (34:37).

A closing thought: Elihu had defamed, cruelly past judgment, and condemned Job without cause. He had arrogantly demanded that others hear and agree with his conclusion (34:34). Rather than a friend, Elihu’s words, and actions had proved he was Job’s enemy. He desired to destroy the man God pronounced as “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:1, 8).

Warning: Elihu’s are ever present, and we should be vigilant and oppose those who are swift to libel and slander others.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Acquiring Wisdom Demands Hard Work and Sacrifice (Job 27-28)

Scripture reading – Job 27-28

Bildad had concluded his final address to Job, reminding him that, in the sight of Almighty God, a man can never be justified (25:4), for he is nothing more than a maggot (25:6). Job’s response to Bildad’s assertions comprised his longest speech, beginning with Job 26:1, and concluding with Job 31:40. We continue our examination of Job’s response, considering two chapters, Job 27-28.

Job 27 – Job’s Parable: His Wise Response to Bildad (27:1)

Job continued his speech, but this time directed his appeal to God and complained that he felt he had been dealt with harshly (27:1-2). He acknowledged God as his Creator, and realized that he was like Adam, a man in whom “the Spirit of God is” (27:3; Genesis 2:7).

Job’s friends had challenged him to confess his sins, but he asserted his innocence and declared, “4My lips shall not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit [lies]. 5God forbid that I should justify you [affirm or agree with their false accusations]: Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (27:4-5).

Job would not compromise his integrity, to appease his lying friends. His character and testimony were more important to him than pacifying men who assailed him. He was determined to be an honest man, one who would not bear the sorrow of a guilty conscience (27:6).

Job confessed that the wicked are not always punished according to their sins, but the judgment of God is inevitable (27:11-23). For instance, the children of the wicked often suffer for the transgressions of their fathers. They are destined “for the sword” (they often die early, tragic deaths), and they are never “satisfied with bread” (never happy or content, 27:14). When the wicked die, they have so embittered their wives that, their “widows shall not weep” for them (27:15). The households of the wicked are unstable, for “he buildeth his house as a moth” (27:18).

When the wicked lie down in death, the honors heaped upon him in life are soon lost and forgotten (27:19); and the terror of death, and the wrath of God come upon him suddenly (27:20), and he will be shown no mercy (27:22).

Job 28 – Searching for Wisdom Compared to A Miner’s Labor

Job described the lengths that men go to in seeking wisdom, and he drew an analogy with men who work in mines digging for gold and silver (28:1), and refining stones for iron, brass, and copper (28:2).

The intense labor of the miner is described (28:3-11). He digs a shaft into the earth, and brings light in search of ore (“stones of darkness,” 28:3). As the ground and rocks of the earth are mined, they reveal “sapphires…dust of gold” (28:6). The miner lays his hand to the rocks, and overturns mountains in seeking rich ore (28:9). He cuts channels in the rock (“rivers among the rocks”), and prevents waters from flowing into the mine (28:10-11).

The search for wisdom is as intense as the miner’s search for precious metals and stones.

“Where shall Wisdom Be Found?” (28:12)

Wisdom, unlike “book learning,” is not something a man can acquire in a classroom, or by hiring others to labor for him. True wisdom, the wisdom that only God can impart to a man, is priceless (28:13a). One cannot mine wisdom out of the earth, or find it by exploring the depths of the sea (28:14). Wisdom cannot be purchased with gold or silver (28:15), and the purest gold is not to be compared to it (28:16-19).

If wisdom is so valuable, and rare, “Whence then cometh wisdom?” (28:20). Wisdom is “hid from the eyes” of man and “the fowls of the air” (28:21). You cannot find wisdom, though you seek it among the dead who have passed from this life (28:22).

God Alone is the Source of Wisdom (28:23-28)

23God understandeth the way thereof, And He knoweth the place thereof” (28:23). Man can only know wisdom by God’s revelation. God sees and knows all things, “24For he looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven” (28:24). God is Creator, and He knows the weight of the winds and the water, and regulates the rain and the “way for the lightning” (28:25-26).

Where Might a Man Acquire Wisdom? (28:28)

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (28:28).

The acquisition of wisdom begins with the fear and reverence of God (a fear of God and wisdom are inseparable).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Did You Know, Men of Ancient Times Knew the Earth Was Suspended in Space? (Job 25-26)

Scripture reading – Job 25-26

Job 25 – Bildad’s Final Reply

Bildad the Shuhite, the last of Job’s friends to speak, offered his final reply to Job in Job 25. Only six verses long, and unlike the vein of his earlier judgments, the focus of Bildad’s comments was upon God’s character. Remember, the opinion of his friends was that Job’s troubles suggested some great unconfessed sin for which God was punishing him.

Bildad’s final speech declared lofty truths regarding God, identifying Him as the Sovereign of His creation (25:2a), whose reign brings peace (25:2b). The heavenly armies of the Lord are innumerable, and the bright light of His person never sets upon His creation (25:3). The righteousness of God is brighter than the moon, and of purer light than the stars of heaven (25:5).

Man, however, cannot be justified (declared righteous) in the sight of God, for he is “born of a woman” (25:4). All men are sinners by nature, and “there [are] none righteous” (Romans 3:10); “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

What is man? In contrast to God who is altogether holy, man is “a worm…and the son of man, which is a worm” (25:6). The word “worm” is a maggot; a disgusting worm that feeds upon dead flesh. In other words, man is so depraved, so inferior to God, that we are as maggots.

“How then can man be justified with God?” asked Bildad.

If sinful man is hopelessly depraved, and cannot find peace with God, what is a sinner to do? Paul answered man’s dilemma when he declared, “being justified [declared righteous and acceptable] by faith [in God’s offer of salvation and forgiveness], we have peace with God through [by] our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Job 26 – The Majesty of Our Creator

Job 26 commences Job’s longest, and last speech (Job 26-31:40). He denounced Bildad for his miserable failure. Instead of comfort, he had brought condemnation (26:2). Rather than sensible counsel, he had taught error, and brought sorrow (26:3-4).

Having listened to his friends claims of wisdom, Job revealed to them a knowledge of God that is astounding, even to 21st century humanity. Recollecting that the Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Scriptures, we find truths in Job 26:7-9 that are a marvel to consider, and were only in the past millennium accepted by scientists.

Job 26:7 7He [God] stretcheth out the north over the empty place, And hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Did you know that above the north pole, astronomers have found a space in which there are no visible stars [1]; in other words, there is an “empty place?” (26:7a) Job also revealed that God created, and He “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (26:7b).

Ancient men believed that the earth was held up, or was sitting upon something. Hindu worshippers believed the earth was resting on the back of an elephant, which was standing on a tortoise. [2] The Greeks believed the god they identified as Atlas was holding the world on his shoulders. God, however, had revealed to Job that the earth was suspended in space, and hanging on nothing!

Job 26:8 8He [God] bindeth up [wraps up; locks up] the waters in his thick clouds; And the cloud is not rent [breached; torn] under them.

Job knew that God had locked up tons of water in the fluffy, beautiful clouds that we see suspended in the sky. Though bearing tons of water, the clouds are “not rent,” until God has determined where and when rain will fall upon the earth. [3] So much more might be said, but I will conclude with Job’s closing observation in Job 26.

Job 26:14 14Lo, these are parts [limits; vastness] of his [God’s] ways: But how little a portion [only a whisper] is heard of him? But the thunder [roar] of his power who can understand [grasp; make sense of]?

Our Creator is so great, that no man can define Him with words. Let the heavens declare His majesty (Psalm 19:1; 97:6), and allow the image of His Son dying on the Cross remind us how much He loved the world (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

[1] Butler, J. G. (2008). Job: The Suffering Saint (Vol. Number Twenty-Four, p. 347). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.
[2] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Job (p. 451). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.
[3] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Job (p. 453). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Wise Counsel, Foolish Heart (Job 11)

Scripture reading – Job 11

Job 11 introduces us to the third of Job’s friends, “Zophar the Naamathite” (11:1). Like his companions, Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar’s counsel to Job was harsh, direct, and unsympathetic. Impatient with Job’s confession that he had committed no sin to warrant so great a trial, Zophar accosted the poor man with four rebukes.

He accused Job of being full of pious talk, saying, “2Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified [righteous in God’s eyes]?” (11:2) He assaulted Job’s character, and faulted him for lies, and irreverence: “3Should thy lies make men hold their peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?” (11:3) Finally, Zophar implicated Job, charging him with being a hypocrite, and observing, “4For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in thine eyes” (11:4).

Like the other “friends,” Zophar lacked the humility and compassion of a godly counselor. Giving him no opportunity to respond, Zophar asserted that Job was guilty of sin (excessive speech, lies, irreverence, and hypocrisy), and deserved the punishment of all that had befallen him (11:5-6).

Job 11:7-12 – The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God

I fear Zophar was like a lot who profess to be believers: He had a knowledge of God, but lacked the heart of God when it came to ministering to his hurting friend.

Zophar rehearsed God’s incomparable revelation of Himself (11:7-9), and confessed that no man can know the LORD apart from His revelation (11:7a). He is El Shaddai, “the Almighty,” omnipotent, all-powerful God (11:7b).

Job 11:8–98[God’s revelation of Himself is] as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? 9The measure thereof is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea. [the circumference of the earth and the breadth of the sea was incomprehensible to the ancients]

Declaring that God knows what lies within the heart of man, Zophar challenged Job, the LORD “seeth wickedness also” (11:11b).

Job 11:13-20 – Three admonitions concluded Zophar’s criticisms of Job.

Repent: Assuming Job’s troubles were God’s punishment, Zophar urged him to repent, prepare his heart, and humble himself before the LORD (11:13). He counseled Job to put away his sin, and “let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles [lit. tent; house or household]” (11:14).

Be Restored: Zophar promised the LORD would restore Job if he repented (11:15), and that he would soon forget his miseries as swiftly as flood “waters that pass away” (11:16). Zophar assured Job that his “age” (life; days) would become as bright as the noonday sun (11:17), his hope would be restored (11:18a), and he would find rest and safety (11:18b-19).

Final Admonition: Be forewarned that those who fail to repent of their sins will look in vain for rest (“eyes of the wicked shall fail’), will find no refuge (“shall not escape”), and shall have no hope (11:20).

Zophar’s criticisms of Job were presumptuous, and unloving; however, his counsel to confess, and repent of sin (when there is sin of which to repent) is one we should all heed.

1 John 1:9–109If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Job’s response to his friends’ allegations of wrongdoing will cover the next chapters (Job 12-14).

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