Category Archives: Love

God’s Call to Holiness

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Divorce: Don’t Do It!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 15-16

Today’s devotional reading is from the Gospel of Luke, chapters 15-16 and contains some of the most beloved parables taught by our LORD:  The Lost Sheep (15:4-10); The Prodigal Son (15:11-32); The Unfaithful Servant (16:1-13); and The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31).  The latter is believed by some to not fall into the category of a parable because it uses a man’s proper name, Lazarus.

In the midst of Luke 16 we come to five verses that seem an interruption in the passage until we remember they come as a response to the Pharisees (16:14) who were adversaries of the LORD and often used occasions He taught the people in public to confront Him.   Having listened to the parable of “The Unjust Steward” (16:1-13), the Pharisees “who were covetous” (16:14) chose the occasion to “deride” the LORD (i.e. to openly mock, sneer, scoff).

Rather than retreat, the LORD answered the derision of the Pharisees using the occasion to expose their hypocrisy.  Accusing them of aspiring for men’s venerations, Jesus unmasked the hypocrisy God knew was in their hearts (16:15).

Having rebuked the Pharisees who considered themselves experts in the law of God, I believe Jesus turned His focus to His audience and said, 16  The law and the prophets were until John [the Baptist]: since that time the kingdom of God is preached [marked by the coming of Jesus Christ], and every man presseth [pushes by force; forcing his own way] into it. 17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle [small stroke of a pen] of the law to fail” (Luke 16:16-17).

After addressing the transition between the Old Testament Law bridged by John the Baptist to the LORD’s ministry and His preaching concerning the gospel of “the kingdom of God” (16:16-17), Jesus addressed an issue of Old Testament law the Pharisees had distorted… marriage and divorce (16:18).

Luke 16:18 “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

Rather than being strong advocates of the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman as God designed (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:4-10; Ephesians 5:28-33), the Pharisees misinterpreted Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and gave liberty for men to divorce their wives for the silliest of reasons.

I close with a few parting thoughts on marriage, divorce and remarriage.  The first, there is no doubt God’s will and design is that marriage is a lifetime covenant between one man and one woman.  The second, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 – “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away”).

Finally, although there is heated debate over this point, I believe the only grounds for divorce is unrepentant adultery and I cite three passages of scripture for my authority in this matter.

Matthew 5:31-32 “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Matthew 19:9 “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

1 Corinthians 7:15 – “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”

Some might ask, “What if my adulterous spouse claims to be a believer, does 1 Corinthians 7:15 apply?”  My answer is, “Yes”; but you must be a member of a church that is willing to address the sins of its members biblically and follow the guidelines for restoration found in Matthew 18:15-17.  When a professing believer refuses to repent after repeated attempts for restoration, the church is to declare that one “an heathen”, an unbeliever.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Who You Gonna Blame?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 13-18

We continue our reading of the prophecies of Ezekiel with a reminder he is a prophet and priest, numbered among the Jews who are captives in Babylon.  The LORD has charged Ezekiel with the unenviable task of delivering a message of woes and judgments against Israel and his own people.  God commanded Ezekiel, “prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man” (11:4); however, the people would not repent.

False prophets become Ezekiel’s focus in chapter 13 when the LORD commanded the prophet, “prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy” (Ezekiel 13:2).   Lying prophets and prophetesses pretended to be the LORD’s prophets; however, their prophecies were lies pacifying the people’s lusts and belying the inevitability of God’s judgment against the nation (13:1-23).

Some elders of Israel living in Babylonian captivity come to Ezekiel in chapter 14 feigning a desire to hear the Word of the LORD; however, the LORD revealed to the prophet they were idolaters and not sincere worshipers of the God of Israel (14:1-5).  Rather than entertain the hypocrisy of the elders, Ezekiel called them to repent of their idolatry and warned them concerning the false prophets (14:6-11). The LORD charged Ezekiel to declare a series of four judgments He would send upon Israel (14:12-21), but also promising He would spare a remnant of the city (14:22-23).

With the elders of Israel serving as his audience (note 14:1), the LORD reveals to Ezekiel three prophetic pictures of judgment (Ezekiel 15-17).  The first is a vine (15:1-8), often a symbol of Israel in the scriptures (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:1).  The destruction of the vine by fire is a prophetic picture of God’s judgment against Jerusalem and Judah (5:6-8).

The second prophetic picture portrays Israel as an abused woman whom the LORD out of His mercy chose to be His wife (16:1-7) and out of His love and grace showered with jewels and fine robes (16:8-14).   Rather than serving her husband out of love and gratitude, the wife repaid her husband’s favor heaping shame and humiliation on him with her gross immorality.  Israel, like an unfaithful wife, had turned from the LORD Who chose her.  The sins committed by Israel are staggering and the evidence of her wickedness are named by Ezekiel.  The nation had played the harlot (16:15-16), made idols (16:17) and the people offered their sons and daughters as sacrifices to idols (16:20-21).

Rather than repent and turn to the LORD for His protection and blessings, Israel turned to her heathen neighbors (Egypt, vs. 26; the Philistines, vs. 27; the Assyrians, vs. 28; the Chaldeans, vs. 29) and her compromise was akin to the wife playing a harlot on street corners (16:22-34).

Having stated the sins of God’s people, Ezekiel was charged with declaring God’s judgment (16:35-43).   Those nations (i.e. “thy lovers”, vs. 36) with whom Israel had compromised would despise her and be the instruments God would use to punish His people.  Israel’s sin and rebellion against God was greater than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah because she had enjoyed God’s favor; however, she despised the LORD, rejected His Law, and committed the same abominations as the heathen (16:44-52).  In spite of the nation’s wickedness, God promised to not forget His covenant with Israel and to restore her (16:53-63).

The third picture of God’s judgment against Israel is a riddle of two eagles and three vine shoots (i.e. “twigs”) planted in Israel (17:1-24).  As discussed earlier, the vine, and in this chapter the cedar of Lebanon, are pictures of Israel; while Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon is pictured as an eagle in the Bible.  The prophet Jeremiah writes concerning Nebuchadnezzar, “he shall fly as an eagle” (Jeremiah 48:40; 49:22).  Leaving no doubt Nebuchadnezzar is the eagle and Israel and her king are the objects of God’s approaching judgment, we read:  “Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon” (Ezekiel 17:12).

In spite of the utter destruction and devastation of Jerusalem and Judah, the LORD promises to take a “twig” and replant it in Israel (17:22-23) and exalt “the low tree” (17:24).  Bible scholars believe, and I am inclined to agree, the “twig” represents the humble birth of Jesus Christ who will one day return as the King of kings and LORD of lords.

I conclude today’s devotional commentary with a passage of scripture from which I will be preaching this Sunday morning, Ezekiel 18.

There was no debate over the question of God judging Israel for sin; however, a question of responsibility for the calamities facing the nation rose among the people.

The younger population said,  “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” (18:2).  In other words, some were blaming the nation’s troubles and miseries on the sins of their forefathers.  In our day when “blame shifting” is epidemic and everyone is a victim, Ezekiel 18 is applicable to the homes of believers and non-believers .

The universality of man’s wickedness and the inevitable consequences of sin are declared by the LORD: Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (18:4).  While all have sinned, nevertheless, the LORD is just and His judgments are right and He blesses the man who chooses righteousness and obeys His statues and judgments (18:5-9).

Herein is a spiritual lesson for us all: Every generation bears responsibility for its sins and God does not hold a father accountable for the sins of his son (18:10-13) no more than he holds a son accountable for the sins of his father.   When a son see his father’s sins, but chooses the way of righteousness, that son will not bear his father’s guilt (18:14-17); however, the father will be punished for his own sins (18:18-20).

So, who you gonna blame for your troubles?

I close with a challenge to parents who, though not perfect parents, are loving parents but find themselves burdened with an adult child that is a sorrow to their hearts.  Guard your heart against false guilt!  Don’t allow a child wallowing in the mire of self-pity give you cause to despair.  No man or woman has the privilege to blame others for the consequences of their own sinful choices.

God is just and He judges every man and woman “according to his ways” (18:30).   A family will suffer consequences for a family member’s sinful choices; however, the key is in how you respond to those troubles and sorrows.

Remember:  “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20). 

 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Appearance, Attitude and Actions of a Seductress

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 is the story of a young man who, in the company of other like-minded fools, allows his heart to be drawn away by a temptress (Proverbs 7:6-9).  The verses in today’s study take our focus to a woman who, in the absence of her husband, forsakes the vows of her marriage and commits adultery.

We will note the appearance, attitude and actions of an adulterer.

Proverbs 7:10-12 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12  Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)”

Notice the adulterer’s appearance:  Her dress is as the “attire of an harlot” (7:10a).  Solomon lived 3,000 years ago, well before malls, slick advertisements and Hollywood glitz; however, he drew a distinction in a woman’s dress and that of an adulterer.

It is my observation that the dress of the harlot has moved from the immodestydarkened, seedy street corner to Main Street in America.  Modesty is still God’s standard for Christian women (1 Timothy 2:9-10) and believers should strive for appropriate decorum in dress and action (1 Peter 3:1-2).  Sad to say, the church has followed the world in its style and standards.

Solomon also addresses the adulterer’s attitude:  She is “subtil of heart” (cannot be trusted; her ways are sly and cunning – 7:10) and “loud and stubborn” (7:11a).  She has a rebel’s heart.  She is loud and raging, venting her rebellion with angry words and threats.

Finally, we notice her actions betray the heart of a fornicator, driven by lust and a passion for sin (7:11b-12).  Her thoughts are not set upon the matters of her household nor the needs of her family; “her feet abide not in her house” (7:11b).   She is everywhere, when she should be at home!   She is “without” [on the highways], “in the streets” [in the marketplaces, shopping centers and malls] and “lieth in wait at every corner” [as one lying in ambush, she entraps the fool who entertains her in his heart and thoughts].

chicken-run1Some say the rate of divorce in the church is equal to that of secular society.  There was a time I would have challenged that observation, but no longer.  I have known far too many professing Christians who allowed their hearts and thoughts to entertain forbidden lust, casting aside the sacred vows of marriage, as though God will overlook their sinful indiscretions!  What preachers of past eras use to say still holds true: “The chickens do come home to roost” and your sins will find you out (Numbers 32:23; Galatians 6:7)!

Some reading this devotional are victims of an unfaithful spouse; like the husband of the adulteress in today’s devotional, you carry the sorrows and consequences of a spouse’s sins.

If you are a member of a Bible-believing church that addresses adultery, as it should, the unfaithful spouse who refuses to repent should be declared by the church an unbeliever (Matthew 18:17).   When the church addresses adultery in its midst, Paul writes that the believer married to an unrepentant spouse is “not under bondage” (1 Corinthians 7:15).guard your heart

I close with Solomon’s challenge to his son:

Proverbs 4:23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

“The Path And Ways Of A Floozy”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 5-6

Our scripture reading for today is Proverbs 5-6; however, my focus for this devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 5:3-6.  As a reminder, my www.heartofashepherd.com site is host to my devotional commentary on the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 5 addresses a salacious subject—the strange woman (5:3-6) and is an appropriate subject in a day when some of the leading voices of women boast they are “dirty women”.

 The raunchy nature of our society has not only made women the objects of vulgarity, but has diminished their role as the purveyors of grace and innocence.  As wife and mother, womanhood has served humanity as the bulwark of human civility.   However, the 21st century woman embodied in the likes of Madonna, Ashley Judd and Miley Cyrus, are racing for the extremity of debauchery.   Abdicating the God-given roles that were her strengths, she has diminished her influential virtues—this in the name of liberation!

Ponder Solomon’s warning to his son concerning the “strange woman”.

Proverbs 5:3-5 – “For the lips [conversation] of a strange woman  [adulterous]  drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil [full of flattery]But her end [the end of the adulterous woman] is bitter as wormwood [cursed], sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet [path] go down to death; her steps take hold on hell [the path to hell].”

 Proverbs 5:6 – “Lest thou shouldest ponder [consider] the path of life, her ways [adulterous woman] are moveable [uncertain; wander], that thou canst not know [understand; discern] them.”

Solomon warns his son, the path of an adulterous floozy is aimless and her ways mesmerizing.  She flatters and her words are sweet as a honeycomb (Proverbs 7:13-20), but they are poison to the fool who believes them.

Fools believe they are the exception to the consequences of sin.  I assure you that breaking God’s commandments regarding the sin of adultery (Exodus 20:14, 17) will lead you down a path of self-destruction.  Indeed, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) and adultery is no exception—death of a marriage, family, career, reputation and friendship.

What?  You say the pornographic nature of your sin is on your computer in the privacy of your home and no one will get hurt?

Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

 Heed Paul’s exhortation and “Flee also youthful lusts…” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Salute and Challenge to Gray-headed Saints

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 69-71

Note from the author of “From the Heart of a Shepherd”:  Today’s post is the 900th blog post by this simple shepherd.  I pray the thoughts and spiritual ponderings of this pastor continue to be a blessing.  

Our scripture reading for today is a gold mine of truths and spiritual principles found in Psalms 69, 70 and 71; however, for the sake of brevity my focus will be two golden nuggets of truths taken from Psalm 71:9, 17 and 18.

Some believe king David is the author of Psalm 71 and I am inclined to lean that way; however, others make an argument its author is the prophet Jeremiah.  I will leave the debate of its authorship to others and am content it was written by a man of faith; a man who by God’s grace was young in spirit, but chronologically old in years.  The psalmist, confident in God’s providential care, had faith God’s hand had been upon him from his mother’s womb (71:6), through his youth (71:5) and was with him in the frailty of his old age (71:18).

Of the many fears that potentially haunt the elderly, surely the fear of being forgotten and forsaken is foremost.  The dynamics between youth and the aged presents a challenge; however, the technological revolution of the past 30 years with computers, iPads, cell phones and social media has made the generational divide a precipice.  The fast pace mobility of our 21st century society and an attitude of narcissism that dominates this generation has strained family ties and sadly, left as its victims millions of elderly who feel forgotten and forsaken.

Complicating the interaction of familial generations and contrary to what some aged might think, one is never too old to sin!   Many elderly fall into a sinful pattern and become cantankerous and difficult.  Because a negative, critical spirit only exasperates our loved ones and caregivers, let us who are grey-headed consider the prayer of the ancient psalmist to the LORD.

Psalm 71:9 – Cast me not off [down] in the time [season] of old age; forsake me not when my strength [power; vigor] faileth [consumed; finished].

The aged psalmist petitions the LORD for two things in verse 9. The first, “cast me not off in the time of old age” (71:9a).  Strength of youth inclines one to pursue independence…independent of family, friends and sadly, independent of God.  However, when the vigor of youth fails and the frailty of old age advances, we are reminded how much we need the LORD’s grace.

The second petition expressed by the psalmist is, “forsake me not when my strength faileth” (71:9b).  Visiting the elderly in nursing homes has been a pattern of my life from childhood.  I remember fondly accompanying my maternal grandparents, Roland and Sadie Whitley, in their Saturday visits to family and friends in nursing homes.  It comes as no surprise that, when they found themselves in those same beds, the Whitley’s were never lacking in visits from family and friends.

As a pastor\shepherd, my calling has me making frequent visits to hospitals, nursing homes and homes of shut-ins.  Sadly, there are many in those places that not only feel forsaken, they are all but forgotten.  At a time when their strength is gone, their eyesight is dim and hearing has failed…they are alone.  What a tragedy that our society looks upon its elderly as a burden rather than a blessing!

The elderly psalmist continues his prayer:

Psalm 71:17-18 – O God [Elohim; Mighty God], thou hast taught [instructed; goad or disciplined] me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared [tell as a messenger] thy wondrous works [miracles; acts that surpass human skill or works]. 18  Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed [declared; informed] thy strength [power] unto this generation, and thy power [might] to every one that is to come.

The psalmist declares in his old age, LORD, the things you taught me in my youth I continue to declare in my old age!  My elderly friend, when life affords you an opportunity to praise the LORD, whether in private or public, be among the first to declare God’s love, salvation, mercy and grace.

The psalmist’s prayer moves from affirmation and adoration in verse 17 to petition and purpose in verse 18.  Unlike the old sassy commercial that declared, “I’m going to wash the gray right out of my hair”, the psalmist acknowledges, “I am old and grayheaded” and petitions the LORD for His power and presence in his life (“forsake me not”).

Finally, the psalmist declares his purpose for living: “until I have shewed [declared; informed] thy strength [power] unto this generation, and thy power [might] to every one that is to come” (71:18b).  The old psalmist’s thoughts turned to his spiritual legacy.  Thirty-eight years of ministry has brought home to me the sad realization that few give any thought to the spiritual legacy they are leaving for the next generation.  They have their wills written, their possessions planned for parceling, but the urgency of declaring a lifetime testimony concerning God’s faithfulness and blessings seems forgotten.

Elderly believer, I know you and I share the sentiment of the psalmist…Oh Lord, don’t forsake me when I am old and frail; however, will you also purpose to declare to all who will listen God’s faithfulness? I close with an appropriate quote and challenge:

“How many people in our churches, at an age when they ought to be tearing the world apart, are instead sliding home?” – Dr. Howard Hendricks

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Beware ‘Fair Weather’ Friends”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 41-42

Today’s reading brings us to the closing chapters in the Book of Job and the conclusion of trials and troubles that shadowed Job’s life throughout our study.

God patiently allowed Job’s “friends” to accuse the poor man of concealing a sin that was the cause of his sorrows and He heard Job’s defense.  The LORD began to address Job with a series of questions in chapter 38 and invoked the man to turn his thoughts from himself to the glory and majesty of his Creator.

Having pondered the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty over His creation, 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).

Hearing Job’s confession, the LORD suddenly appeared in the midst of a great windstorm and began to speak and challenge Job in a series of penetrating questions meant to move Job to have a right perspective of himself and God (40:6-9).  The LORD continues to question Job in chapter 41.

Realizing it is impossible to address the series of questions in a brief devotional commentary, I will make a few passing observations.

The LORD invited Job to consider the “leviathan” in Job 41:1.  The identity of this great creature is uncertain; however, some scholars suggest it was a giant saltwater crocodile.  Perhaps it was a giant creature of the sea that is extinct, but whose remains we identify today as those of a dinosaur.  Either way, the analogy draws Job to conclude that man is foolish to question his Creator when he pales in size and strength to the majestic creatures God has created (41:1-9).

God challenged Job to consider, if man cannot tame a “leviathan”, he has no right to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  The LORD declares of Himself,  “He beholdeth [considers; sees] all high things [i.e. He is Master of His creation]: He is a king over all the children of pride” (41:34).

Having heard God’s revelations of Himself and pondered the evidences of the LORD’s power and might as sovereign of His creation, Job humbled himself and confessed, “I abhor [despise] myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).

God turned the focus of His wrath toward Job’s foolish “friends” (42:7-9) and commands “Eliphaz the Temanite” and Job’s other “friends” to go to Job with sacrifices, humble themselves, and ask the very man they had condemned to pray for them (42:8-9).  Job, evidencing the grace of a humble, repentant man of God, “prayed for his friends” and God rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10).

Consider with me a few closing thoughts on “Fair-Weather Friends” from Job 42:11.

Job 42:11 – “Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials], and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned [i.e. showed sympathy] him, and comforted [pitied] him over all the evil [troubles] that the LORD had brought [i.e. allowed to enter] upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.”

 I find Job 42:11 sadly familiar for anyone who has gone through difficult times that brought extended sorrows.  We have studied forty-two chapters in the life of Job and, with the exception of his wife who in the midst of her own anguish suggested Job curse God and die and four “friends” who proposed to be his counselors but became his critics, all other acquaintances in Job’s life have been strangely absent. Suddenly, with the hard times past and Job enjoying financial prosperity again, we read: Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials]” (42:11).

Where were these “brethren” and “sisters” when Job lost everything?  Where were Job’s acquaintances when he lost his sons and daughters, servants, home, physical health and possessions?  Why appear now to show sympathy and comfort?  Why wait to bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings after God has begun to pour out his blessings on Job and he has need of nothing?

Some reading this devotional commentary are and have been “fair-weather” friends to family, friends, and spiritual leaders.

You went MIA when loved ones needed you most.  You stopped calling when you could have encouraged.  You stopped visiting when a shoulder to cry on would have brought welcome relief.  When you should have offered a word of encouragement, you were silent.  When you were needed most, you departed and forsook your family, friends, church and pastors.

Friend, look into the mirror we find in Job 42:11, humble yourself and go to your “friend” if you were a “fair-weather” friend when you were needed most.

I confess, after thirty-eight years of ministry, I have had my share of “fair-weather” friends; however, my heart rejoices in the knowledge God prospered Job in his last years and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith