Category Archives: Providence

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

“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

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

Who Needs Enemies When You Have Job’s Friends? (Job 4-5)

Scripture reading – Job 4-5

The Book of Job is a study in Hebrew poetry, and as we have seen, a record of one man’s suffering and his righteous response to earthly trials and sorrows. It is the story of a heavenly drama pitting Satan’s assertion that Job would curse God, should trials befall him (1:7), against God’s confidence that his servant was “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth [shunned] evil” (1:8). Job was unaware that his trials were initiated by Satan, but limited by His omnipresent, loving Creator.

With his sons and daughters deceased, his possessions lost, and his body afflicted with sores from head to foot, Job’s wife looked upon him with disdain, and asked, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die” (2:9).

The arrival of three friends (2:11-13), brought the hope of encouragement in the midst of sorrows, but we will see in today’s Scriptures that the opposite would be true. Shaken by his troubles, and overcome with sorrow, Job shared with his friends his longing for death as a deliverer from his suffering (Job 3).

Job 4 – The Counsel of Eliphaz the Temanite

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s three friends to respond to his longing to escape his suffering by death (that does not imply suicide, but the natural course of life that inevitably ends in death). The first of three speeches given by Eliphaz to his friend Job is recorded in Job 4-5, the second and third in Job 15 and Job 22.

Eliphaz’s manner began with a kind, comforting tone (4:3-5), but soon turned to an indictment of Job’s character (4:6), asserting his troubles were those faced by wicked men: “They that plow iniquity, And sow wickedness, reap the same” (4:8).

Claiming he had received a vision (4:12-16), and heard a voice, Eliphaz asked Job, “17Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?” (4:17). The implication was that Job’s troubles had come upon him because he had failed to confess his sin (4:18-21).

Job 5 – Eliphaz Proclaims the Greatness of God

Continuing his contention that Job’s trials were a consequence of his sins, Eliphaz questioned, “To which of the saints wilt thou turn?” (5:1) In other words, “Job, to whom will you turn, if you don’t turn to the LORD for help?”

Eliphaz accused Job of failing to respond to God with humility, and warned, “2For wrath killeth the foolish man, And envy slayeth the silly one” (5:2). Adding a greater assault on Job’s character, he seemed to have implied that the deaths of his children were a result of his sin (5:4; 1:18-19). Continuing his discourse, Eliphaz encouraged Job to accept his troubles as a sign of God’s chastening, and urged him to “despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (5:17; 5:18, Hebrews 12:5; Proverbs 3:11-12)

Eliphaz challenged Job to accept that there are seven troubles (seven being the number of perfection and wholeness), from which the LORD is able to deliver His people: Famine unto death (5:20a); death in war (5:20b); a slanderous tongue (5:21a); natural calamities (5:21b); fear of famine (5:22a); fear of wild beasts (5:22b); and a fear of early death (5:26).

The implication of Eliphaz’s observation was, “If the LORD is able to deliver His people out of their troubles, why has he allowed Job to suffer so much?”

Lest some dear saint accepts Eliphaz’s counsel as truth, and applies his statements to themselves, remember that Job’s trials were not caused by sinful failures or unconfessed sins. The LORD allowed Job to suffer as a means of testing, that would ultimately bring blessing. We cannot grasp all that is in the mind of God; however, we must accept that He is Sovereign.

Remember, when trials and sorrows come, they are temporal; however, you can be confident in this: The way of the LORD is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

When Trials Come, and Sorrows Overwhelm (Job 3)

Scripture reading – Job 3 

Continuing our study of Job, we have noted that this suffering saint, though having lost everything, had in the words of his wife, “retained [his] integrity,” (2:9a). Frustrated by his humility before God, Job’s wife urged him to “curse God, and die” (2:9).

Job, however, reproved his wife for speaking the way of “foolish women,” and reasoned, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In spite of his trials, and overwhelming sorrows, Job never sinned by complaining against his God (2:10).

Job 2 concludes with the arrival of his “three friends” (2:11), who having heard of his trials, came purposing “to mourn with him and to comfort him” (2:11b). Arriving together, they were shocked when they beheld the physical toll of Job’s trials (2:12a). In an outward expression of their compassion and sorrow, “they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven” (2:12b). For “seven days and seven nights,” they sat on the ground with Job, never speaking a word, “for they saw that his grief was very great” (2:13).

Job 3 – The Silence is Broken

Seven days having passed, the silence was finally broken when Job began to speak. Contrary to Satan’s slander, that he would curse his Creator in the midst of his sorrows (1:11; 2:5), Job lamented that his suffering was so great it would be better had he never been born (3:1).

The balance of Job 3 records the anxiety of this man whose faith had not wavered, but whose mind and soul were weighted by an avalanche of trouble. Finding no solace, Job finally gave expression to his anguish, acknowledging his deepest, inmost doubts for his very existence (3:2-12). He bewailed the day he was conceived (3:2-12), and began to look upon death as a welcome release from his sufferings, and the great equalizer that all men must eventually face (3:12-19). Mourning his misery (3:20-23), Job questioned why God gives “light” (i.e. life) to a soul that longs to be free from sorrows (3:20-26).

But, lest we be too hard on Job, let us remember that his words serve as a reminder that even good men struggle deep within their soul. Though overwhelmed with misery, Job was no less the man in whom God had boasted, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (2:3).

Any who have suffered deeply can relate to the hopelessness that grasped Job’s heart. Pain, especially when it affects family and loved ones, can drive anyone to entertain dark or despairing thoughts.

Job did not know the calamities he had suffered were a matter in which heaven itself had an acute interest. Nor was God with him less in his sorrows, than He had been in his prosperity. I close reminding you of a spiritual principle that should lift your heart when you feel trials are overwhelming you:

1 Corinthians 10:1313 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God isfaithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Just When You Think Things Could Not Get Worse! (Job 1-2)

Scripture reading – Job 1-2

Introduction to The Book of Job

Our chronological study of The Book of Genesis is interrupted by a diversion to The Book of Job.

The Book of Job is commonly accepted among scholars as the oldest book of the Bible. Genesis 1-5 gave us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man, and Genesis 6-11 carried the historical narrative from the worldwide flood, to God calling out Abraham. The man named Job is believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details that lead us to accept that conclusion, particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1:1-5 – Job, the Man

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears, giving us no background of the man, or how he came to be so incredibly wealthy.

Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, because there are cities mentioned in the book that are located in the land of Edom, we might place Uz in that geographical area (southeast Israel, on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south).

It is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. He was what God would have every man to be: “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (1:1). He was perfect, meaning blameless, guiltless, a man of integrity. He was an upright man, righteous, and honest before God and man. He was a God-fearing man; a man who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2), and great wealth (1:3). His children were adults with their own households (1:4), and having shared in their father’s wealth, they were enjoying the bounty of their own riches and observing a week of feast days with their siblings, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest.

When the feast days were finished, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his family, summoned his children to offer sacrifices to God, reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (1:5). Notice that last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a constant pattern in Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

Job 1:6-12 – A Heavenly Council

Job 1:6 carries us into the midst of a heavenly council where “the sons of God” (whom I believe are angels), are standing before God’s throne, and in their midst was Satan, the serpent, the wicked one, the adversary of God and man (1:6). The LORD inquired of Satan, “Whence comest thou?”, and he answered saying, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7b).

God turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy, and asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (1:8).

Evidencing his adversarial heart, Satan questioned God, and implicated Job asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).

Job 1:12-19 – From Riches to Rags

Accepting Satan’s challenge, the LORD gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials, but limiting the devil’s power and commanding him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Departing from the presence of God, Satan went out and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17), ultimately taking from him that which was dearest, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Now, Satan had slandered Job, supposing he was only faithful to God because he had been abundantly blessed and protected by Him (1:9-11). How did Job respond to his losses? Did he curse God as Satan alleged, he would? (1:11)

Rather than reprove his Creator, Job responded with humility, and acknowledged God’s sovereignty over His creation. He worshipped the LORD, and prayed, “Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes away; blessed be the name of Yahweh” (1:21b). Contrary to Satan’s accusation, Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).

Job 2 – Job: His Body Afflicted, His Friends’ Inquisition

A thorough study of Job 2 will have to wait for another time, and another year; however, Job 2 records a second heavenly council (2:1-3), and introduces a trial that will afflict Job’s body and rob him of his health (2:4-7). You will meet Job’s wife who questions why he maintains his integrity in the midst of sorrows (2:9-10), and meet Job’s “three friends” who will assert his losses are a punishment for unconfessed sin (2:11-13).

A Closing Thought: Satan is a real person, and an adversary of believers; however, God limits his power and influence. When trials come, and they will, trust God knowing He is intensely interested in your soul and well-being.

Romans 8:2828 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

The Tower of Babel and One Big Unhappy Family (Genesis 10-11)

Scripture reading – Genesis 10-11

The conflicts among the races and nations of the world have their origin in today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 10-11). Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons and concludes by introducing us to Terah, the father of Abraham, the patriarch. We find in Genesis 10-11 the common kinship of all humanity, traced back to Noah’s three sons.

Genesis 10 is where God begins to deal with the Hebrew people through the lineage of Shem. Though the Old Testament focuses upon the history of Israel, and God’s dealing with His chosen people, nonetheless, the LORD never forsook humanity.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 records the names of sixteen sons who were born to Noah’s three sons (and perhaps as many daughters). Genesis 10 registers seventy individual nations that emerged from Noah’s sons: fourteen associated with Japheth (10:2-5), thirty linked to Ham (10:25-27), and twenty-six from Shem (10:21-31).

Japheth, Noah’s oldest son, was the father of many Gentile nations (9:27; 10:2-5), among them the ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the European people (namely, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, Spanish, and the English).

Ham, Noah’s youngest son who was identified as “Canaan” in Genesis 9:25, was father to some of the great empires of the ancient world, among them the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and some scholars would suggest Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, and African tribes (10:6-20).

Although cursed to be a “servant of servants” (9:25-27), the accomplishments of Ham’s progeny were so vast that it appears they set their minds to cast off the curse of being a “servant of servants.” Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the son of Cush, was the first ruler following the flood (10:8-10). He was a “mighty hunter” (10:9), and founded what would become ancient “Babel…in the land of Shinar” (10:10).

Shem, Noah’s second born son, was “the father of all the children of Eber” (10:21-31). Scholars believe the name “Eber,” is an ancient word from which the word “Hebrew” was derived (10:21). “Eber” was the father of the Hebrews (Abraham is described as “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, and the nomadic Arab tribes and nations.

Shem’s lineage is the ancestral line through which God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer Savior. Genesis 10 concludes leaving no doubt that all nations and people in our world today are descended from Noah’s three sons:

Genesis 10:32 – “32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”

Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel

Resisting God’s command to “replenish the earth” (9:1), Noah’s sons and their families continued as “one language, and of one speech” (11:1), and congregated in “a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there” (11:2).

Arising from their desire to continue as they were (being “of one language, and of one speech,” 11:1), mankind resolved to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (11:4). Man’s sinful pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion was summed up in this: Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4).

Once again, we are made privy to a heavenly conversation when the LORD determined to intervene, lest the wickedness and rebellion of man be carried so far that there would be no hope of salvation, and “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (11:6).

Confounding their one language into multiple languages, the LORD caused the work on the tower and the city to cease, and men were forced to scatter abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (11:7-8).

Genesis 11 concludes with the lineage of Shem, and leading our Bible study to a great crossroads in the history of mankind: God calling Abraham (11:31-12:1).

Friend, never forget that the story of history is “HIS-STORY;” a testimony of God’s invisible, providential hand and His “Amazing Grace.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Judas: Remorse is Not Repentance (Matthew 27; Mark 15)

Scripture reading – Matthew 27; Mark 15

Rich with drama, the passages we are reading today bring us to the spiritual crossroads of human history. The unfolding drama is providentially God’s redemptive plan of salvation for man’s sin, conceived in the heart of our Creator before the foundation of the world was laid.

Today’s devotional could focus on many aspects of this path to the Cross; however, I must limit myself to one thought: Judas, his remorse, and death.

The chief priests and the Sanhedrin, having condemned Jesus to die (Matthew 27:1-2), had taken Him away to the palace of Pontius Pilate where He would be tried, and sentenced to death by the civil authority.

Judas had watched with remorse, the effect of His decision to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies (27:3). For three years, he had been privileged to be Christ’s disciple. Along with the other disciples, he had listened to Him teach, and witnessed miracles that could not be explained apart from God’s power and anointing. Nevertheless, Judas was, like so many, a follower, but not a believer that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.

Judas, seeing Jesus was condemned, and desperate to make right his wrong, went to the chief priests and elders with the thirty pieces of silver burning in his hands. He confessed to them, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (27:4a).

Poor, sad, miserable soul; Judas realized too late the scorn those religious hypocrites held not only for Jesus, but also for him. They answered Judas with contempt, “What is that to us? see thou to that” (27:4b).

What terror of soul! Those religious pretenders cared nothing for Judas’ soul and offered him no counsel (27:5a). He realized too late that there was no place, and no one to whom he could go to find relief for his wickedness. Unable to bear the weight of his sin, and his betrayal of “innocent blood” (27:4a), Judas realized no act of contrition could ease his guilt. Casting down the thirty pieces of silver, he fled through the streets of Jerusalem, “and went and hanged himself” (27:5b; Acts 1:16-19).

Magnifying the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, though set upon the murder of Jesus, they disingenuously debated among themselves the unlawful expenditure of blood money, the silver Judas had returned and hurled at them (27:6b). In a plan to conceal their sin, they proposed an act of charity and purchased “the potter’s field, to bury strangers in” (27:8). Unknowingly, they had fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah (27:9-10) that was recorded by Zechariah, stating:

“So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (Zechariah 11:12–13).

The public would learn the secret of their purchase, and called the place, “The field of blood” (27:8).

What sorrow, depravity, and travesty of justice and piety! Such is the way of the wicked, and the sorrow of remorse without sincere repentance. Judas was filled with regret; however, he failed to confess his sin to God. With no recourse except repentance, Judas found himself in a state of hopelessness. His remorse was too little, and his repentance came too late.

Friend, don’t make that mortal mistake. Confess your sin to God, and turn to Him knowing Christ has borne the penalty of your sin on the cross.

1 John 5:11–1311 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith