Category Archives: Faith

The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20-21)

Scripture reading – Job 20-21

Job 20 records the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Offended by Job’s admonition that his “friends” would face God’s wrath for their harsh judgments (19:28-29), Zophar’s rebuke came swift and furious (20:1-3).

Job 20:4-29 – The Fate of the Wicked

Like his friends, Zophar inferred that Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. Consider three erroneous opinions Zophar stated regarding his observations of the wicked.

The first error, that the wicked always come to destruction (20:4-11).

Zophar submitted that the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (20:4), and the honors bestowed on them perishes with them, and they are soon forgotten (20:5-8). Neither of those statements are necessarily true. In fact, the wicked often live out their lives enjoying ill acquired wealth, and their funerals and tombs are often grand spectacles to behold.

The second error, that the wicked will not prosper (20:12-23).

Continuing his erroneous observations, Zophar suggested that the prosperity of the wicked is brief (20:12), inevitably bites like a poisonous viper (20:13-16), and he dies in want.

One need remembers the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) to understand the error in Zophar’s reasoning. Beguiled with the pleasures of his riches, the rich man ordered his barns be torn down to build greater barns, and said to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Rather than die in want, the rich fool died as he had lived, enjoying his wealth until he learned in eternity that he was the poorest of men: “20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).

The third error in Zophar’s observations was that only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses (20:24-29).

Zophar maintained that the wicked are struck down (20:24-25), and all that he has is destroyed (20:26).  He observed that the wicked feel everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (20:27-28).

While it might be argued that the wicked often suffer loss, it is more often true that they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains (John 15:19a).

The implication of Zophar’s argument was that Job’s sorrows were a wicked man’s afflictions, and such is the lot or “heritage,” God has “appointed” for the wicked (20:29).

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

I will summarize Job 21 by outlining Job’s disagreement with Zophar’s fallacies. Demanding his friends be silent that he might speak, Job sarcastically challenged them that after he had spoken, “mock on” (21:1-2).

Confessing his struggle was with God, not with men (21:3-6), Job observed that the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (21:7-13). He contended that the riches of the wicked cause their hearts to be calloused, and “they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (21:14-15)

Failing to realize that they deserve nothing, and all that they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (21:16).

Do not assume that the wicked go unpunished.

The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “18 as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away. 19God layeth up his [the wicked’s] iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and he shall know it” (21:18-19).

Here is a tragic truth: The children of the wicked often suffer the influence of their parent’s sins. That truth is stated three times in the Law (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Numbers 14:18 – “18The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Warning: The consequences of your sins may be borne by your children.

A Personal Note: Knowing this devotional series is read daily by hundreds of believers, I covet your prayers for my wife. She was hospitalized today, January 19, 2021, with pneumonia and we are waiting on confirmation if her illness is COVID-19 related. As you might imagine, the devotions in the Book of Job have been personal, and have coincided with my wife and me facing our own afflictions. Thank you for interceding for us. I will update this prayer request when I receive news.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his three friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would have brought him some comfort and pity, he had soon realized they had come with one opinion: that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad had assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). He had opined that the wicked have a hard life that is characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and they go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). Of course, the implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19:1-5 – Job’s Bitter Complaint Against His Friends

Job accused his friends of tormenting his soul, and breaking him “in pieces with words” (19:2). He protested that they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed for how they had humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Frustrated with their meddling, Job rebuked them, and suggested if he was wrong, then let it be his fault alone (19:4). Contrary to their allegations, Job again declared he was innocent of wrongdoing (19:5).

Job 19:6-12 – Job’s Complaint Against God

A familiar complaint is once again raised by Job against the LORD. He felt he had been unfairly entangled with sorrows that exceeded his failures (19:6), and that when he cried out to God heaven was silent (19:7). Entrapped, humiliated, his world uprooted, Job felt everything had been brought against him (19:8-12).

Job 19:13-20 – A Crisis of Alienation and Loneliness

We can identify in Job’s afflictions the solitude of one who is suffering greatly. He acknowledged God’s hand in his trials, writing, “13He [God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from” (19:13). Though God was the author of his troubles, the response of his family, friends, and others had left him deeply wounded.

Job felt alone. Forsaken by his family (19:14a), forgotten by his friends (19:14b), slighted by his servants (19:15-16), and abhorred by his wife (“my breath [life, spirit] is strange to my wife” (19:17). Even “young children,” the picture of innocence, “despised” him (19:18). Finally, the friends he thought dearest, had turned against him (19:19).

Job 19:21-27 – Job’s Plea for Pity and Vindication

Turning his thoughts from self-pity, Job begged for pity and understanding (19:21-22). He entreated that the defense of his innocence be recorded so that future generations might look upon his afflictions with wonder, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know their cause, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (19:25).

Looking through the lens of sorrows and trials that he believed were unjustified, Job’s faith had remained unshaken, and he was confident that God his Advocate and his Redeemer, would rescue and ransom him out of his trials. Though worms would destroy his body, Job was confident that his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would one day see God (19:26-27).

Job concluded his rebuke of Bildad, admonishing him that the day of God’s judgment would come, and he would regret the injustices he had committed against him (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Be Thankful, God is Longsuffering (Job 17-18)

Scripture reading – Job 17-18

Job 17 – Job’s Response to Eliphaz Continues

Job’s complaint against his friends continued in Job 17, as the suffering saint lamented to God, 1My breath [lit. life; spirit] is corrupt [destroyed; spent], My days are extinct, the graves are ready for me (17:1).

Job longed to be free; free of his friends whom he described as “mockers” (17:2), and free of their foolish counsel. Though they pretended to have understanding, Job complained that God had “hid their heart from understanding,” and surely such men would never be exalted by Him (17:4).

We learn from Job that the stress of trials, and sorrows, will inevitably take a physical toll on a body. Job confessed, 7Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow [perhaps because of weeping], And all my members are as a shadow” (17:7). We do not know much about Job’s physical condition before he become the victim of catastrophic losses, but he acknowledged that he was but “a shadow” of the man he used to me (17:7b).

Frustrated and offended by the counsel of his friends, Job rebuked them, saying, “I cannot find one wise man among you” (17:10b). Once again, Job returned to his conviction that death alone was his only hope of deliverance from his sorrows (17:11-16).

Job 18 – Bildad’s Second Speech in Response to Job’s Mournful Defense

Rather than continuing his earlier narrative, notice that Bildad’s second response to Job was a series of proverbs (a proverb is a brief, practical truth that is meant to be so evident it needs no debate or discussion). Bildad’s controversy with Job evidenced his pride, and impatience with that poor man whom he accused of long-winded protests (18:2).

Bildad takes up his offense, and accused Job of treating his friends’ counsel as though they were dumb beasts (18:3). In fact, Bildad accused Job of acting like a madman (“he teareth himself in his anger,” 18:4), and supposing that God would suspend natural laws to accommodate his defense (18:4b).

Bildad returned to the opinion that has been voiced by the other friends, and that is that Job’s afflictions reflected the natural course of God’s judgment of the wicked (18:5-21). Bildad began with a wrong assumption (that the wicked will suffer sorrows in this life for their sins), and invariably came to the wrong conclusion—that Job’s sorrows were the consequence of his sins.

As you read Job 18:5-21, remember the proverbs recorded here originated with a man (Bildad) whose heart was proud, and unloving. Much of what he concluded concerning the consequences of wickedness are true, but God is longsuffering and His patience with sinners seems tireless; nevertheless, we can be assured that His justice is certain.

You might wonder why the wicked sin, persecute believers, and seem to do so with impunity. Peter, who denied the LORD three times on the night He was betrayed, counseled first-century saints,

9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God is with us in joys, and in sorrows. (Job 16)

Scripture reading – Job 16

A word of encouragement: The Book of Job is “heavy reading,” especially for young believers who have little experience with sorrows and disappointments; however, Job’s afflictions are spiritually instructive. We observe not only the reality of trials, but also a great truth: God is with us in joys, and in sorrows.

Eliphaz had made no allowance for Job to be anything less than guilty of some great wickedness. After all, he reasoned, “the wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a).  Beginning with that false premise, Eliphaz wrongly concluded that God was punishing Job.

Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Job 16:1-6)

The introductory verses of Job 16 reflect the heart of a man who had grown weary of accusations, brought by men who came under the pretense of showing him compassion. Instead of comfort, Eliphaz had wounded and offended Job. He and his friends were, in Job’s words, “miserable comforters” (16:2).

Job rebuked Eliphaz saying, “3Shall vain words have an end? Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?” We might say, stop talking! What makes you think that you have anything worth saying?

Job continued, were he in Eliphaz’s place, he would be able to heap on him similar judgments (16:4), however, his desire would be to strengthen and comfort his friend with the words of his mouth (16:5).

Job’s Complaint Against God (Job 16:7-22)

Turning his focus from his friends, I count at least seventeen complaints that Job confessed to God (16:7-22). I will not list all of his complaints, but I remind you as you read them that they reflect the sincere anguish of a hurting, troubled soul. Job believed his trials were from the LORD, but he did not know their cause. His complaints; however, shed light on the plight and emotions that afflict believers when they go through hard times.

Take a few moments and consider Job’s grievances. Grief had left him physically, and emotionally exhausted (16:7). Sorrow had wrinkled his countenance, and his body was physically wasted (16:8). Rather than pity, his “friends,” had attacked him like a lion seizes its prey (16:9).  Instead of compassion, he had been mocked and scorned (16:10-11), and left a broken, wounded soul (16:12).

Job felt crushed by the weight and sorrows of his troubles (16:13-15). His face was swollen from weeping, and the dark circles under his eyes were like “the shadow of death” (16:16). Still, Job argued his innocence (16:17a), confessed his devotion to God (“my prayer is pure,” 16:17b), and maintained he had harmed no man (16:18).

Though his friends had scorned him, and added to his sorrows (16:19-20a), Job held out hope that God would vindicate him before he died (16:20b-22).

I close with a common-sense adage for those times you might, like Job, feel your life is hanging by a thread:

TIE A KNOT, HANG ON, AND TRUST GOD!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

“God Has Got the Whole World in His Hands” (Job 12-13)

Scripture reading – Job 12-13

Zophar had contended that Job’s troubles were indicative of unconfessed sin (Job 11), and concluded his admonition with three challenges:  Repent (11:13-14); Be restored (11:15-19); but Be forewarned – A man who refuses to repent of his sin will vainly seek rest, refuge, and hope (11:20).

Job’s reproof of Zophar’s denunciation is recorded in Job 12-14. Today’s devotional will consider the first two of the three chapters (Job 12-13).

Job 12 – Four Spiritual Lessons in the Sovereignty and Providence of God

Job’s initial response to Zophar was sarcastic, asserting, “2No doubt…wisdom shall die with you” (12:2). In other words, Job argued that Zophar presumed he had all wisdom, and no doubt believed that wisdom would perish with him.

Continuing his reproof, Job declared, “I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?” (12:3) Although bearing the sorrows of his trials, Job’s confidence in the LORD, and his personal knowledge of God’s ways was unshaken by Zophar’s pride and condemnation. Job contended he was his friend’s equal, and he had heard nothing spoken that was not common knowledge among men (12:3). There are several lessons we might derive from Job’s defense.

Lesson – Trials are not indicative of sin or God’s judgment. (12:4-8)

Refuting Zophar’s contention that only the wicked suffer so many sorrows, Job observed, “6The tabernacles [houses or households] of robbers prosper, And they that provoke God are secure; Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly” (12:6).

Job’s observation was the opposite of Zophar’s conclusion. Using the order and laws of nature as the basis of his argument (12:7-8), Job concluded that the influence of sin in the world dictates that the stronger prey upon the weak (the beasts, fowls, and fish are proofs, 12:7-8).

Lesson – God is Sovereign, and He Will Not Abdicate His Authority (12:9-15)

The life and breath of “every living thing” is in God’s hands (12:9-10), and the wisdom of man is not the wisdom of God (12:11-13). God is all-powerful, and no man or nation can contend with His providences. What the LORD determines to break down, no man can rebuild (12:14a). He controls the floodwaters, and sends or withholds the rain (12:15). All men are under God’s control, for “the deceived and the deceiver are His” (12:16).

Lesson – No Man Can Contend with Divine Providence and Win (12:17-24).

God humiliates counselors, and makes fools of judges (12:17). He upends the bondage of kings, and entangles them in their own devices (12:18). He humiliates the mighty (12:19), and frustrates the counsel “of the aged” (12:20). He brings the powerful to disgrace (12:21). He brings to light the plots made in secret (12:22). He is Sovereign of the nations, and “increaseth [strengthens] the nations, and destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth [leads] them again” (12:23).

Lesson – God Frustrates the Heads of the Nations, Leaving Them Blind (12:24-25)

Job 12:23–2524He taketh away the heart [mind; will; understanding] of the chief [leaders] of the people of the earth, And causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way [perplexed, and confused]. 25They grope in the dark without light, And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.

Job 13 – Job’s focus turns from his friends to God.

Job 13 begins with the same contention he stated in the early verses of Job 12: His friends are no wiser than he (13:1-2), and he does not need them superseding God’s authority or speaking for Him (13:3). He rejects their counsel, contending they were “forgers of lies…physicians of no value” (13:4). He accused them of dishonoring God, by supposing to speak on His behalf (13:5-13).

I conclude with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences found in the Bible: Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him (13:15a). Job was confident that, though his life might be taken in death, the Lord would not forsake him.

What about you? Will you trust God, when it appears it will cost you everything? Will you trust Him when you feel humiliated, and betrayed? Will your faith remain unshaken, when all seems lost?

Psalm 23:44Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Human Life is Sacred: Thou Shalt Not Kill! (Job 10)

Scripture reading – Job 10; (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17)

Note from the Author: This is a bonus devotional from today’s Scripture reading, Job 9-10. My earlier writing focused entirely on Job 9; however, I feel the central theme of Job 10 is too important for us not to take a moment to consider the sanctity (sacredness) of human life (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17).

Job 10:1-6 – Job’s Petition

Job’s reply to Bildad continued in Job 10, and he confessed to God what many have felt when besieged with trials and beset by troubles: “My soul is weary of my life” (10:1a).

Job’s statement was not a threat of suicide, but an honest, transparent complaint that the sorrows and losses he had experienced had taken their toll on him physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Distressed in his soul, Job prayed, “Do not condemn me,” do not abandon me; show me why you have allowed such hardship and difficulties to fall upon me (10:2). Notice that Job’s appeal to His Creator was deeply personal, and he identified himself to the LORD as “the work of thine hands” (10:3b). He was not under any delusion that he merited God’s favor. In fact, the opposite was true. He acknowledged his “iniquity” and “sin” (10:6); however, he protested, “7Thou knowest that I am not wicked; And there is none that can deliver out of thine hand” (10:7).

Job 10:7-17 – Job’s Appeal to His Creator

The sanctity of human life is the central truth we find in these verses (10:7-17). Here is an inspiring passage that leaves no doubt that human life is consecrated from the moment of conception, and that God is intimately interested in each of us. From the unborn, to the very ancient among us, every human life is sacred, and conceived in the heart of God.

Notice Job’s description of God’s personal affection, and His attentiveness to everything about us:

Job 10:8–98Thine hands have made [shaped; formed] me and fashioned [created] me Together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. 9Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made [fashioned] me as the clay [an allusion to God creating Adam, Genesis 1:27; 2:7]; And wilt thou bring me into dust again? [implying death and decay]

God is not only the giver, and preserver of life; He is the gatekeeper for every trial and blessing that graces our lives.

Job 10:1212Thou hast granted [make; wrought; create] me life and favour [grace; loving-kindness], And thy visitation [lit. oversight] hath preserved [keep watch over] my spirit. 13And these things hast thou hid [treasured] in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.

David penned similar truths regarding the sacredness of human life, and acknowledged God as His Creator in Psalm 139:13-16.

Psalm 139:13–1613 For thou hast possessed [get; acquire] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; feelings]: thou hast covered [protect; defend] me in my mother’s womb [belly; bosom; body].
14 “I will praise [give thanks; confess] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly; stand in awe or reverence] andwonderfully made [distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous [wonderful; distinguish; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works [labor; i.e. needlework; deed]; and that my soul [life; person; being] knoweth [perceives; observes] right well [exceedingly; greatly].
15 My substance [bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought [woven as a tapestry] in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see [perceive; look; behold] my substance [might; body; frame; bones], yet being unperfect[embryo; unformed mass]; and in thy book [letter; scroll] all my members were written [described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which in continuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them [before one day of my life was past].”

God is your Creator, and He knows you personally, and intimately. He has followed your life from the moment you were conceived, and has kept you by His sovereign, providential care. In fact, He loves you so much that He has extended His grace to you, offering salvation and forgiveness of sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Will you accept Him as your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Will Do as It Pleases Him, Because He is God! (Job 9-10)

Scripture reading – Job 9-10

Bildad made his case, and accused Job of hypocrisy (Job 8), but rather than address Bildad’s harsh judgments, Job directed his lament to God in Job 9. We notice in Job’s defense several references that give us profound insight into the character and attributes of God.

Looking to the God of heaven, Job asked the LORD, “How should a man be just [i.e. justified, righteous, perfect, sinless] with God?” (9:2). The implication is that no man can be “just” or righteous in the sight of God, Who is holy, for He is “wise in heart, and mighty in strength” (9:4a)!

God is the Creator, Sovereign, and the Sustainer of creation (9:5-9). He can remove mountains (9:5), shake the foundations of the earth (9:6), and commands the sun, moon, and stars (9:7).

God does as it pleases Him (9:10-13). His wonders cannot be numbered (9:10), and His ways are invisible (9:11). He is sovereign and “taketh away,” and no man dare say “unto Him, What doest thou?” (9:12)

What are some things Job had seen God take from him? He had lost his health, his family, and his possessions. Even his friends had betrayed him with their harsh judgments.

Job Pleads His Cause (9:14-35)

To interpret the balance of Job 9, I invite you to picture a heavenly courtroom where God is the Judge (9:15), and Job is both the defendant and his own advocate.

Realizing His Judge is altogether Just, and Omniscient, Job acknowledged that God was under no obligation to answer mortal man: “16If I had called, and he had answered me; Yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice” (9:16).

While not understanding the reason for his troubles, Job believed he was suffering “without cause” (9:17), and not for any particular transgression he had committed. He had searched his heart, and could think of no sin that would deserve so many troubles.  In humility, he acknowledged he had no grounds to protest or declare himself sinless, saying: “20If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse” (9:20).

Job’s friends had declared his troubles were God’s judgment for some egregious sin he had failed to confess. Job, however, disputed their harsh judgment, testifying, 22This is one thing, therefore I said it, He [God] destroyeth the perfect and the wicked” (9:22).

Jesus made a similar observation in His Sermon on the Mount when He taught His disciples, “45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

The same God who sends the sun to shine, and the rain to fall upon sinner and saint, also allows troubles to be the fate of the “perfect and the wicked” (Job 9:22). Why? Because God is God, and does as it pleases Him for His eternal purpose, which is always for my good, and His glory (Romans 8:28).

2 Corinthians 1:3-43 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God is Ever Just and Faithful (Job 7-8)

Scripture reading – Job 7-8

We are continuing our Scripture reading in the Book of Job, and I encourage you to maintain this daily discipline. There are some difficult passages in this study, but I pray God to open your understanding. Remember that Job is in a dark place in life. He has suffered the loss of his possessions (1:14-18), the deaths of his sons and daughters (1:15-19), boils and open sores from his head to his feet (2:7-8), and friends who have judged that he must be guilty of some great wickedness (Job 4-5).

As we have seen in prior devotionals, Job’s friends arrived under the pretense of bringing him pity and compassion (2:11-13). While their presence brought some hope of empathy, their words soon betrayed their prejudice toward Job and his afflictions. Eliphaz was the first friend to speak, and he contended that God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. The implication was that Job, despite his plea of innocence, was being afflicted by God for sins he had committed and refused to confess. Job’s response to Eliphaz’s insinuations began in chapter 6, and continues in Job 7.

Job 7 – Failing Hope

Rather than the pity and kindness Job longed for, Eliphaz had added to his sorrows. Dispirited and despairing of life, his thoughts and feelings turned dark, as he reasoned that death alone might bring him relief from his distresses.

I suggest you consider four major divisions to Job 7. Job’s lamentations and despair of life (7:1-6); His reflections on death (7:7-10); His desire for God to show him mercy (7:11-16); and his longing for God to forgive him if his sins were the cause for his afflictions (7:17-21).

Job 8 – The Counsel of Bildad the Shuhite

We are introduced to Bildad the Shuhite, the second of Job’s three friends, in Job 8. Like Eliphaz, Bildad had come “to mourn with [Job] and to comfort” him (2:11); however, his counsel was unsympathetic and severe.

After hearing Job’s reply to Eliphaz, and his plea for God’s mercy, Bildad began to confront him in words that were harsh and judgmental. The tone of his words evidenced the pride of a man who had little experience in trials that bear the fruit of humility. He condemned Job’s lament of his sorrows (8:2), and alleged he was accusing God of being unjust (8:3). Adding to Job’s sorrows was Bildad’s inference that his children had died because they had sinned against God (8:4). Echoing Eliphaz’s counsel, Bildad reasoned if Job was “pure and upright” God would bless him (8:5-7). Bildad suggested if Job had been a sincerely righteous man, God would not have forsaken him: “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, Neither will he help the evil doers”(8:20).

Bildad’s counsel was not only lacking in compassion, but his rationale lacked both humility and spiritual discernment. He looked upon Job’s afflictions, and not only failed him as a friend, but added to his sorrows.  His judgments were contrary to the ways of God who is loving, compassionate, longsuffering, and just.

I close with a treasured principle that believers should remember when they or their loved ones face trials:

Romans 8:28 – “28 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