Category Archives: Peace

Forsaken by Man, But not By God! (Genesis 45)

Scripture reading – Genesis 45

Joseph, unable to contain his emotions, cried out suddenly, “Cause every man to go out from me” (45:1b). With only his brethren present, he wept so forcefully that his servants, and even those of Pharaoh’s household heard of it (45:2). Speaking for the first time without an interpreter, Joseph cried out in Hebrew, “I am Joseph; doth my father yet live?” (45:3)

Imagine that moment! They had betrayed, sold their brother as a slave, but now he stands before them. He is a powerful ruler in Egypt, and a man to whom they bowed in fear and reverence. With the authority of a sovereign, and the compassion of a brother, Joseph stated in their tongue, “Come near to me, I pray you”(45:4a). With fear, awe, and dread, his brothers drew near, and he confessed, “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt” (45:4b).

Calming their anxieties, he consoled his brothers, saying, “be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (45:5).

Take a moment, and meditate on the last phrase: “God did send me before you to preserve life” (45:5).

Rather than bitterness, and vengeance, Joseph’s words conveyed a reassuring spirit of faith and forgiveness. He had come to see the hand of God’s providences in his life. Confessing his faith, Joseph said, “8So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler [with power and authority] throughout all the land of Egypt” (45:8).

There were yet five years of famine (45:6, 11); therefore, Joseph commanded his brothers, “Go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not” (45:9). He promised his brothers, “thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast” (45:10).

When he had finished speaking, Joseph “fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him” (45:14-15). Imagine the conversation that passed between Joseph and his brothers. Through tears, and laughter, Joseph conveyed all that had passed in the twenty-two years he had been apart from them.

The news of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers had reached Pharaoh’s household, and the king of Egypt was pleased (45:17-18). Pharaoh decreed that wagons should be taken to Canaan, and the children, wives, and Joseph’s father be conveyed to Egypt (45:19).  He promised that the “good of all the land of Egypt” would be theirs, and they would have need of nothing (45:21-25).

Stunning News: Joseph is Alive! (45:25-28)

Imagine the spectacle when an Egyptian wagon train came within sight of Jacob’s encampment in Canaan (45:25). When he heard that Joseph was alive, and was “governor over all the land of Egypt, [his] heart fainted, for he believed them not” (45:26). Seeing the wagons, and all the provisions that had been sent to him by his son, Jacob’s spirit was revived (25:27). “Israel (Jacob) said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die” (45:28). He was content. The LORD had preserved his life into his old age, and answered the longing of his heart: He would be reunited with Joseph.

Let us take a moment and reflect on God’s providences in Joseph’s life.

His mother died giving birth to his brother Benjamin. He grew up resented, and hated by brothers who would have killed him had they not elected to sell him as a slave. He was falsely accused by his master’s wife, and was a prisoner, until the LORD directed Pharaoh to promote him to the second most powerful throne in Egypt.

Joseph was rejected, tried, and forsaken by man, but not by God!

Psalm 34:1919Many are the afflictions of the righteous: But the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

What Do You Call A Divine Appointment? – “Providence” (Genesis 40-41)

Scripture reading – Genesis 40-41

We concluded our study of Genesis 39, and left Joseph imprisoned for a false charge made by Potiphar’s wife (39:11-20). Remembering that Potiphar was “an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard” (39:1), I am of the opinion that he did not fully trust his wife’s word, for surely her charge of attempted rape would have been a capital offense (some scholars believe Potiphar might have served as the executioner).

Rather than a sentence of death, Joseph found himself in prison. Characteristic of the man of faith he was, he did not allow his circumstances to dictate his outlook. In fact, we read, “the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (39:23). Joseph understood what the psalmist observed when he wrote, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). The truths he had learned of the LORD from his father, and the dreams and visions he had been given in his youth (Genesis 37), continued to resonate in his soul.

Genesis 40 – No Time for Prison Blues

Having been charged with the responsibility of “all the prisoners that were in the prison” (39:22), Joseph was serving when two prominent servants of Pharaoh’s house, “the chief of the butlers [and] the chief of the bakers” were conveyed to the prison (40:1-2). The nature of the offense those men had committed against Pharaoh is not revealed, but in the providence of God, Joseph was charged by the captain of the guard to serve them (40:4).

The chief butler (most likely a cup bearer, and therefore the most trusted of Pharaoh’s servants), and the chief baker, both “dreamed a dream” (40:5-11), and were greatly disturbed by what their dreams might forebode. Neither time, nor space permits an exhaustive study of the dreams; however, Joseph’s interpretation of them (40:12-23) left the chief butler optimistic that he would be restored to his post in three days (40:12-13). Joseph requested that the butler remember him, and appeal to Pharaoh on his behalf (40:14-15). The interpretation of the chief baker’s dream was that in three days, he would be hanged “on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee” (40:18-19).

Three days passed, and the chief butler was restored, while the baker was executed according to Joseph’s interpretation of his dream (40:20-22). Joseph’s desire to be remembered by Pharaoh’s butler; however, appeared to end in disappointment when we read, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (40:23).

Genesis 41 – Forgotten by Man, But Not by God

Two years passed before the butler gave any thought of the man who had interpreted his dream in prison (41:1a). That would have been demoralizing for most men; however, there is no hint that it affected Joseph’s service. In fact, he was faithful to his task, until God was ready to promote him.

In the providence of God, “Pharaoh dreamed” (41:1), and the dreams were so disturbing that the king “was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh” (41:8).

Thus the stage was set for Joseph, and the butler confessed to Pharaoh, “I do remember my faults this day” (41:9). Giving credibility for his recommendation, the butler recalled how his and the baker’s dreams were interpreted, and came to pass as Joseph had prophesied (41:10-13).

Anxious to know the interpretation of his dreams, Pharaoh commanded that Joseph be brought from prison and to his throne (41:14). Imagine what a glorious moment that was in Joseph’s life! In an instance, at a time providentially appointed by the LORD, Joseph hastened to prepare himself to stand in the presence of the most powerful figure in the world (41:14). “15And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it” (41:15).

Genesis 41:16-57 – From a Slave in Egypt, to the Savior of Egypt

Deflecting any praise for himself, “Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (41:16). Pharaoh then shared his dreams of seven emaciated cows devouring seven healthy cows (41:17-21), and seven blighted ears of grain devouring seven healthy ears (41:22-24). The king confessed, “I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me” (41:24).

God sovereignly revealed the significance of Pharaoh’s dreams to Joseph, who then gave the interpretation to the king, and advised him to “look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt” (41:33). Joseph went on to suggest the administration that would be necessary to implement a storage of grain, not only to save Egypt, but also her neighbors from starving when the famine persisted for seven years (41:34-37).

Pharaoh, recognizing in Joseph not only wisdom, but that he was “a man in whom the Spirit of God is” (41:38), appointed him to serve Egypt, as second only to himself (41:33-44).  Only thirty years old when he was promoted (41:46), Joseph was entrusted with the granaries of Egypt as that nation prepared for seven years of famine that would follow seven years of plenty (41:45-57).

Genesis 41 closes with a revelation: “All countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (41:57).

The stage is set for a family reunion that would fulfill Joseph’s dreams.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Must Break You, Before He Will Fully Bless You! (Genesis 32)

Scripture reading – Genesis 32

The Backdrop to Events in Genesis 32

After twenty years of shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks, the LORD commanded Jacob to go home: “Return unto the land of thy fathers…and I will be with thee” (31:3).

Fearing his father-in-law would forbid his parting, Jacob secretly departed Padanaram, the place he had served his father-in-law Laban (31:17-20). Crossing the Euphrates river, and putting as much distance between himself and Laban, Jacob set his face toward Canaan, and arrived at Mount Gilead, on the east side of the Jordan River (31:21).

His stealth parting had given Jacob a three-day start before news reached Laban that he and his family had taken flight (31:22). Laban set out in anger, and pursued Jacob for seven days, before overtaking him at Mount Gilead. What ill intentions Laban might have had, were confronted by God who came to him “in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad” (31:24).

The verbal confrontation between Jacob and Laban is recorded in Genesis 31:26-42, and the amicable resolution between the two is recorded in Genesis 31:43-55. Setting a pillar of stones as a memorial to their covenant of peace, “Laban departed, and returned unto his place” (31:55)

Genesis 32 – Facing Your Greatest Enemy, and Greatest Fears

Jacob set out on his journey, and God gave him a vision of an angelic host that would accompany him, and he named the place, Mahanaim, “God’s Camp” (32:1-2).

Twenty years had passed since Jacob stole his brother’s birthright, and fled Canaan. His return home would take him through Edom, his brother Esau’s land and country (32:3). Though two decades in the making, his reunion with his brother had revived the memory of Esau’s threats and his fears. I am reminded of the proverb, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle”(Proverbs 18:19).

Knowing his brother was a warrior (27:40), and he a shepherd, Jacob feared Esau. Understanding he might face his brother’s wrath, Jacob plotted and planned how he might defuse his brother’s fury (32:4-8). When he received news that Esau was coming with four hundred men (32:6), Jacob prepared for the worst, and divided his household, hoping to spare his family and possessions from a total loss should Esau attack (32:7-8).

Jacob had evidently forgotten about the host of angels that had appeared to him along the way (32:1-2), and he prayed to the LORD, reminding Him how He had commanded him to return to his homeland, with the promise, “I will deal well with thee” (32:9-12).

Jacob then sent gifts to his brother, in hopes of appeasing his wrath (32:9-23). Knowing he would face his brother the next day, Jacob spent the night alone, perhaps pondering what the morning might bring upon him and his family (32:13, 24-32).

It was in the solitude of the night that the LORD appeared to him in the physical form of a man, and wrestled with both Jacob’s body and soul (32:24-32).  Even with his hip out of joint, Jacob wrestled with the LORD until he was assured of His blessing (32:25-28).

The LORD blessed Jacob (whose name meant trickster or schemer), and gave him the name of “Israel,” meaning one who has power with God (32:28).

The next morning, it was Israel, a man transformed by the grace of God, that faced his enemy. He had spent his life scheming, and wrestling with God; however, he was transformed after seeing “God face to face” (32:30).  No longer a man that relied on his wit, the painful limp in his stride was as a reminder of the night God broke his will (32:30-31).

Jacob had come to the end of himself, and the God of his grandfather Abraham, and his father Isaac, was his God. Jacob’s life was so transformed. If you saw him, you would know him; for he was a man with a limp, whose faith was in the LORD.

In the words of A.W. Tozer, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Four Guideposts to Knowing God’s Will (Genesis 31), part 2

Scripture reading – Genesis 31

Genesis 31 – Going Home

Jacob’s wealth had provoked jealousy in Laban’s household (31:1),. God had so blessed Jacob, that Laban’s own household was becoming impoverished (31:1b). Jacob had also observed a change in Laban’s countenance, and that his spirit was no longer “toward him” as it had been before (31:2).

The LORD confirmed to Jacob that it was time to depart, and said unto him, “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee” (31:3).

I close today’s devotional by suggesting four principles we find in Jacob’s decision to go home, that are guideposts we might also follow in knowing God’s will.

Desire is the first guidepost to knowing God’s will. Six years prior to Genesis 31, Jacob wanted to leave Laban’s household, and “go unto [his] own place, and to [his] country” (30:25). Though the timing was not right, the desire was there, and would be fulfilled after six years.

Regarding the will of the LORD, and one’s desire, the psalmist wrote, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. {5} Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 47:4-5). Of course, it would be unwise to trust solely in the desires and longings of one’s heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

The second guidepost to knowing God’s will is one’s circumstances (31:1-2). Laban’s sons had become jealous, and his countenance betrayed his spirit toward Jacob had changed (31:1, 7, 41). Laban’s heart had turned against Jacob.

An essential guidepost to knowing God’s will is God’s Word! Jacob had a desire to go home. The circumstances were certainly a motivation to go home. However, it was the LORD who spoke to him, and said, “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee” (31:3). When the LORD spoke to him, Jacob knew it was time to go home. In the words of the psalmist, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

The fourth and final guidepost in determining God’s will is counsel. Jacob went to his wives, and shared how their father’s spirit toward him had changed (31:5-12), and that God had commanded him to “arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred” (31:13).

His wives concurred, and said to Jacob, “whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do” (31:16). When making major life changes, wise men seek wise counsel, for “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)

God used four guideposts in Jacob’s life, and He will do the same in your life if you seek His will: Desire; Circumstances; God’s Word; and Wise Counsel.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Twelve Sons, Less One (Genesis 30-31), part 1

Scripture reading – Genesis 30

Today’s devotional will be published in two parts. The first will focus solely on Genesis 30. A second devotional will be published for Genesis 31.

Our study in Genesis 29 concluded with God blessing Leah, the least favored wife of Jacob, and she conceived sons by her husband (29:31-35). The LORD, ever compassionate, “saw that Leah was hated (despised or shamefully treated)”, and “opened [Leah’s] womb: but Rachel was barren” (29:31).

Twelve sons were born of Jacob, and they would become the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Leah, Laban’s oldest daughter, became the mother of Jacob’s first four sons: Reuben (29:32), Simeon (29:33), Levi(29:34), and Judah (29:35).

Genesis 30 – Jacob’s Family: Twelve Sons, Less One

Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, was barren (a cultural stigma in those days), and jealous of her sister who had borne her husband four sons (30:1a). Provoked by jealousy, Rachel had demanded that Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (30:1b). Betraying his frustration of living in a home with two unhappy wives, Jacob answered Rachel in anger and said, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (30:2).

Rather than trusting the LORD to bless her with a son, Rachel followed the cultural norms of her time, and demanded that Jacob give her children through her maid Bilhah. Rather than honor God, and the sanctity of marriage (2:23-24), he complied with Rachel’s insistence, and further complicated the spiritual, and emotional dynamics of his home.  Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, conceived and gave birth to the fifth and sixth sons of Jacob, Dan(30:1-6) and Naphtali (30:7-8).

Fearing she might no longer conceive sons by Jacob (30:9), Leah insisted that he would raise up children by her maid Zilpah. Zilpah, conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s seventh and eighth sons, Gad and Asher (30:9-13).

God once again blessed Leah, and she conceived Jacob’s ninth and tenth sons, Issachar and Zebulun (30:17-20), and a daughter she named Dinah (30:21). Although she was mother of six sons, Leah longed for something she would never have: to be first in her husband’s affections (30:20).

What were the dynamics in a home that had disregarded God’s plan for marriage to be the union of “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, one man, and one woman)?

There was a perpetual spirit of jealousy, disappointment, bitterness, and sorrow. Rachel, rather than calling upon, and waiting on the LORD to hear and answer her longing for a son, turned to bartering for mandrakes (a fruit that purportedly contained fertility properties, 30:14-16). She continued to be barren, until we read, “God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24And she called his name Joseph [Jacob’s eleventh son]; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son” (30:22-24). In a later study, Rachel will die giving birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, whom he will name Benjamin (35:16-19).

With the birth of Joseph, his eleventh son, Jacob’s obligation of servitude to uncle Laban was fulfilled (fourteen years, for his marriage to Laban’s daughters; 29:20, 30), and he made known his intention to return to his family in Canaan (30:25-26).

Laban, ever the sly one, had become a wealthy man, and realized God’s special blessing rested on Jacob. He was determined to bind Jacob to himself, and continue to profit from his presence and labor (30:27-30a). Jacob, now the father of eleven sons, reasoned, “the Lord hath blessed [Laban] since [his] coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?” (30:30)

Nonetheless, Laban constrained Jacob to remain in his household, and asked, “What shall I give thee?” (30:31) Jacob, wise to the ways of a deceiver, was unwilling to be indebted to Laban, and said, “Thou shalt not give me any thing” (30:31b).

Evidencing wisdom and discernment into husbandry and genetics, Jacob suggested that distinctive physical markings on the sheep, goats, and cattle, would providentially mark them as his personal property, and serve as his wages (30:31-32).

Laban agreed, and Jacob continued to care for his flocks, even as God blessed, and made him rich man. We read, he “increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (30:43).

In six years, God took Jacob from Laban’s poor hireling shepherd, to a man of great wealth.

This concludes our study in Genesis 30. A second devotional will be published for Genesis 31.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

THE END: “Job Died Old, and Full of Days” (Job 42)

Scripture reading – Job 42

Job had remained silent since he had confessed, “I am vile” (40:4), and being reminded of the majesty of God, he “answered the Lord, and said, 2I know that thou canst do every thing, And that no thought can be withholden from thee” (42:1-2). He had complained, but now he resigned himself to God’s sovereignty. He acknowledged he had spoken in ignorance (42:3), and accepted that the LORD was not obligated to answer his questions.

We find a wonderful expression of Job’s humility when he confessed, 5I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: But now mine eye seeth thee(42:5). Though dreadful to have experienced the afflictions, the experience had moved Job from a theoretical knowledge (“hearing of the ear”), to a personal and practical knowledge (“now mine eye seeth thee”) of his God and Creator. Job confessed, 6Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (42:6).

Job 42:7-10God Rewards Faithfulness

After accepting Job’s repentance, the LORD turned His focus to his foolish “friends” (42:7-9). “Eliphaz the Temanite” had been the first to challenge Job, and “the Lord said to [him], My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath” (42:7).

God commanded Eliphaz and his peers to “take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job” (42:8).

What an astonishing turn of events! Job had been the object of his friends’ scorn and judgments. It was their unkindness, and false arguments that had so provoked the LORD that He commanded them to humble themselves, and appeal to Job to intercede for them.

Job, evidencing the grace of a humble man, “prayed for his friends,” and the LORD rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10). 

Closing Thoughts

We have studied forty-two chapters in the life of Job, and with the exception of his wife who had suggested he curse God and die, and four “friends” who proposed to be his counselors but became his critics, Job’s acquaintances have been strangely absent.

With the hard times past, and Job enjoying God’s blessings and financial prosperity, 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 his acquaintances when he lost his sons and daughters, servants, home, health and possessions?  Why appear now to show sympathy and comfort?  Why wait to bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings? After all, he had need of nothing (42:12-15)!

We conclude our study of the Book of Job, and my heart rejoices when I read that God had prospered him, and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17).

Job had suffered much, and his afflictions were as severe as any we might imagine. He had borne the sorrow of his sons and daughters’ deaths. He had lost his house, possessions, and servants. Finally, he lost his health, and was afflicted from head to foot with painful sores. His friends had condemned him, and his family and neighbors had forsaken him, but God remembered him! When Job humbled himself before God, he was restored to His favor, and died very old, and content with his life (42:17).

Is that not what we all want? To not only live a long life, but be content, and satisfied when we draw our last breath!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God is Just, Merciful, Gracious, and Good (Job 35-36)

Scripture reading – Job 35-36

Job 35 – Elihu’s criticism of Job continues as that angry young man charges him with three improper statements.

The first, that Job had misrepresented religion as unprofitable (35:1-8). Elihu suggested that Job had implied that his “righteousness [was] more than God’s” (35:2). Of course, Job had not verbalized such an outrageous statement, but Elihu had supposed that was the implication of his testimony of innocence (35:3-8).

Job had prayed, and cried out to God because of his afflictions; however, Elihu suggests he was not interested in drawing closer to God, but merely seeking relief from his sorrows (35:9-13).

Job had complained of not understanding the cause of his plight, and despaired of ever again enjoying God’s favor (35:14). Elihu suggested the delay in Job’s deliverance from suffering was because he had opened “his mouth in vain; He multiplieth words without knowledge” (35:15-16). Stated simply, Job had said a lot, but he had failed to humble himself before God.

Job 36 – Elihu’s Proposal to “Speak on God’s Behalf” (36:2)

Evidencing youthful pride, Elihu proposed to “speak on God’s behalf” (36:2), and to impart uncommon “knowledge” (36:3). He promised his words would be true (36:4a), and that which God Who “is perfect in knowledge” would have him to speak (36:4b).

Elihu returned to the rationale that had been espoused by Job’s friends, and that is that God is just and always rewards men according their works (36:5-15).

Elihu declared that “God is mighty…mighty in strength and wisdom” (36:5). It was Elihu’s conclusion that was untrue. He implied that God always rewards men according to their works, and declared that the Lord “preserveth [prolongs] not the life of the wicked: But giveth right [justice] to the poor” (36:6).

Elihu’s assertion failed the reality that God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Not only does the LORD prolong the life of the wicked, providing them opportunity to repent of their sins, but the poor do not always receive the justice they are due in this earthly life (36:6b).

Another error proposed by Elihu was that, hypocrites in heart heap up wrath…They die in their youth” (36:13-14a). In a perfect, sinless world that statement would stand as just, and there are many instances where wicked men die young. However, it is also true that God is patient, and his grace is offered to the worst of sinners.

Elihu suggested that Job’s sorrows were due to his pride, and had he humbled himself and repented, God would have given him a “table…full of fatness [rich foods]” (36:16). Elihu continued, because Job had refused to repent, the “judgment of the wicked” had befallen him (36:17), and no amount of riches could deliver him (36:18-19).

Job 36 concludes with Elihu attempting to inspire Job to concede the sovereignty and omnipotence of God (36:22-33).

God is supreme, and He “exalteth” and sets up whom He pleases (36:22a). He is omniscient, and no man can teach Him (36:22b). He is perfect, and cannot be accused of “iniquity” or wrong doing (36:23b).

God’s greatness is displayed in His creation (36:24-25), for the “heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). He is eternal, and “the number of His years [cannot] be searched out” (36:26b).

God’s power and wisdom sustains His creation, and He determines where the clouds drop their water (36:27-28), and they act as a canopy, sheltering us from the rays and heat of the sun (36:29-30). The same clouds that brought judgment on the earth in the flood, also bear life-giving water by which He “giveth meat [food] in abundance” (36:31).

Contrary to Elihu’s reasonings, and the assertions of Job’s friends, God is not only just, He is gracious, merciful, and kind.

Matthew 5:4545That 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.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Remember the Good Old Days? (Job 29)

Scripture reading – Job 29

Job’s parable, his answer to Bildad (Job 25), continues in today’s Scripture reading. Having found no relief from his afflictions, and bearing the disappointment of friends who treated him as adversaries, Job reflected and remembered. He remembered better days, and happier times. Job 29 is his recollection of the way things used to be.

Job 29:1–2 – “1Moreover Job continued his parable [wise sayings], and said, 2Oh that I were as in months past, As in the days when God preserved me [watched over him].”

Job had stated throughout our study his feeling of abandonment by God. Indeed, he had felt as though God had turned against him. Afflicted by his friends’ assertions that he was being punished for some wrongdoing he was unwilling to confess; Job bemoaned his deplorable state and the advantage it had given to others to mock and scorn him.

Job remembered the security and sweet communion he once enjoyed with his Creator (29:2-6). When he was a young man, the light of God’s favor shined upon him (29:3), and the “secret of God,” literally his friendship and fellowship, was upon his household (29:4). He had been comforted by the presence of “the Almighty,” and enjoyed the company of his children (29:5).

He had been esteemed in all quarters of his realm (29:7-17). He was numbered among the respected elders and judges of the city (29:7), and when he passed by, young men shied from him, and aged men rose in his presence out of respect (29:8). When he spoke, all men listened and none questioned his wisdom (29:9-11). In former days, he had been beloved for his charity and compassion on those less fortunate (29:12-13).

Job had been hailed for his righteous character, and good deeds (29:14-17).

He had distinguished himself as a righteous judge (29:14), and had been charitable to those in want (29:15-16). He had served as the eyes for the blind, and feet to those unable to walk (29:15). To the needy, he demonstrated a father’s concern (29:16), and he had been a foe of the wicked, when men sought justice (29:17).

Job had believed his prosperity would last forever (29:18-23).

No doubt, Job believed God would favor him for his righteous deeds (29:18-19). He was admired for his glory (i.e. strength), and his counsel was valued by men (29:20-21). Lesser men were silent when he spoke, and they waited on his counsel, like dry soil waits on the rain (29:22-23).

Job had been beloved by all men; rich and poor, strong and weak, all found him amiable (29:24-25).

Though he had been great in his possessions and person, the people had found him a friend, and not the proud, haughty man his friends had accused him of being (29:24). He was the chief, the sovereign in his realm, but he easily moved from leading men, to comforting those who were overcome with sorrows.

A Closing Challenge

Enjoy the good times, and remember those less favored. Be assured, there may come a day when you will find yourself in the midst of trials, and the memories of God’s grace and favor will sustain you, and give you hope of better times to come.

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 – “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4Who 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 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.

Ever Think, “Life Seems So Unfair?” (Job 24)

Scripture reading – Job 24

Job’s response to Eliphaz began in Job 23, and continues in Job 24. His friends had slandered his character, and accused him of some great evil; however, Job had continued to maintain his innocence. He had suffered overwhelming afflictions, and felt abandoned by God (Job 23). He had lamented, if only God would give him a hearing, he would argue his troubles were greater than his sins (23:1-7). Yet, Job was comforted (23:8-12). He had been wrongly accused, but he was confident that God knew he was a man of integrity, and that he sincerely desired to walk in His commandments (23:10-12).

Job 24 – “Where is Justice?”

Job had been accused of gross wrongdoing, and those accusations had left him wondering why he, an innocent man, had suffered so many sorrows, while the wicked seemed to prosper and go unpunished? Job pondered the sins of the wicked, and marveled that they seemed to prosper (24:2-17).

There are some men who are thieves (24:2-8). They remove “landmarks,” stakes that mark the boundaries of another man’s land (24:2a). Some seize a neighbor’s sheep, and cause them to graze in his pastures (24:2b). Others prey upon the poor and the weak (24:3-8). Evil men steal the donkey of the orphan (24:3a), and demand a widow’s ox for surety or collateral (24:3b). They abuse the poor, and mislead them (24:4); leaving them to forage for food and shelter like wild beasts (24:5-8).

Some men are cruel to the weak and defenseless (24:9-17). They enslave fatherless children (24:9), and take his robes as collateral for debt (24:10). An ox is allowed the grain he treads out for his reward, but the wicked leave the poor man destitute, hungry, and thirsty (24:11-12; Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Some men are murderers, and adulterers (24:14-17). Murderers plot and prey upon the poor and needy (24:14), and adulterers wait for the twilight of the evening, and disguise their faces to avoid recognition (24:15). They mark the houses in the daytime, and enjoy the shadows to conceal their sins in the darkness (24:16-17).

The Character and Fate of the Wicked (24:18-25)

Job agreed with his friends, the wicked will not go unpunished. They steal the fruits of other men’s labor, because they are unwilling to toil in their own vineyards (24:18). Nevertheless, like “drought and heat consume the snow,” the wicked will eventually go the way of all sinners, to “the grave” (24:19).

The destiny of the wicked is inevitable:20The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; He shall be no more remembered; And wickedness shall be broken as a tree” (24:20). Rich or poor, famous or infamous, powerful or weak, the bodies of the dead eventually become the food of worms. While the most stately of trees will eventually be broken and fall, the bodies of the most powerful will inevitably decay in their graves.

We may wonder why God is so patient with the wicked, and his pernicious ways. We can be assured of this, “His eyes are upon their ways” (24:23).

Proverbs 15:33The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith