Tag Archives: Anxiety

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 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 has stated throughout our study his feeling of abandonment by God. Indeed, he has 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).

He had his future all planned out, and believed God would always 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 that 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).

[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 a man’s lands (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 of darkness to conceal their sins (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

Be Thankful, God Knows You! (Job 22-23)

Scripture reading – Job 22-23

Job 22 – Eliphaz’s Rebuke of Job

Job’s friend, Eliphaz the Temanite, challenged him for this third and final time (the first two recorded in Job 4-5, and Job 15). He wrongly accused Job of thinking he was righteous, and that God was obligated to him (22:1-4). Impatient with Job’s pleas of innocence, Eliphaz unleashed a torrent of accusations against the man whom God had said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:8).

Eliphaz accused Job of being unmerciful: Exploiting the poor (22:6), refusing water to the thirsty, and denying bread to the hungry (22:7). He faulted him for sending widows away wanting (22:9a), and crushing orphans (22:9b). He warned that all the evil that had befallen Job was God’s punishment for his wicked ways, and suggested he must believe that God was blind to his wickedness (22:12-14)!

The false charges against Job continued throughout the balance of Job 22. Eliphaz’s diatribe ended with him admonishing Job to repent of his wickedness (22:24-25), promising God would then prosper him (22:26), and answer his prayers (22:27-30).

Job 23 – Job’s Appeal to God to Hear His Plea

Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s harsh conclusions is recorded in Job 23 and Job 24; however, today’s devotional will conclude with focusing solely on Job 23.

Job once again employed the scene of a heavenly courtroom, with God being his judge and he the victim advocating for compassion and understanding (23:1-2). Job complained that it seemed God was distant, but were he to find Him, he would petition the LORD to hear his appeal (23:3-4). He confessed, I know the LORD; “5I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say unto me” (23:5).

What a wonderful picture Job gives us of God! In fact, he makes one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences when he confessed, He knoweth the way that I take: When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (23:10).

Job was confident that, regardless what accusation his friends brought against him, he was sure that God knew him to be a man of integrity. His friends had slandered and misjudged him, but God’s judgment was perfect and just. He was determined to walk in God’s way (23:11), and not go back or turn away from His commandments (23:12).

Job confessed, unlike man, God is not given to whims; “He is one mind…and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (23:13).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Job 20-21

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

Job 20:4-29 – The Fate of the Wicked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

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

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

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

Do not assume that the wicked go unpunished.

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Job 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Job 17-18

Job 17 – Job’s Response to Eliphaz Continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Job 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIE A KNOT, HANG ON, AND TRUST GOD!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Troubles are Inevitable in a World That Bears the Curse of Sin. (Job 14-15)

Scripture reading – Job 14-15

Job 14 brings us to the third of three chapters outlining Job’s reply to Zophar (Job 11). Unlike Eliphaz, Zophar made no pretense of comforting his suffering friend (11:1-3), and instead charged him with concealing sin and deserving what he believed was God’s punishment (11:4-6).

Job’s reply to Zophar began in Job 12 when he mocked his friends’ delusion that they had wisdom into the ways of God that he did not (12:1-4). Reserving the right to test and examine their counsel (12:11), he contended they had spoken much, but said nothing (13:1-2), and condemned them as “forgers of lies” (13:4). Stating his unshaken faith in God’s providence, Job declared, “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (13:15).

Job 14 – An Elegy to Death

Job’s response to Zophar continues in Job 14 with an observation that is as beautiful as it is tragic. We read, 1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (14:1).

There may be many joyful days in our earthly sojourn; however, there is no escaping the reality that humanity has a shared universal experience—trouble. Contradicting his friends’ counsel that his troubles were the afflictions of the wicked, Job challenged that troubles, trials, sorrows, and death are inevitable for sinner and saint alike. Job goes on to observe that the life of a man is like a flower that is soon cut down and perishes, and like a shadow that is soon gone when light is extinguished (14:2).

Confessing God sees, and knows man intimately (14:3-4), Job declared that a man’s “days are determined” (14:5a), and the “bounds” of his life “he cannot pass” (14:5b). In other words, God orders your birth, and your death. Wise men are conscious that it is inevitable that “man dieth, and wasteth away: Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? …12So man lieth down, and riseth not” (14:10-12a). Desiring to escape his afflictions and sorrows, Job pled with God, “hide me in the grave…keep me secret, until thy wrath be past…set a time, and remember me” (14:13).

Though he was a man of ancient times, and did not have the privilege of the written Word that we possess today, nevertheless, Job was confident that physical death was not annihilation. Asking and answering the question of death, Job proposed, 14If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, Till my change come” (14:14).

On what was Job waiting? The Resurrection! He affirmed to the LORD, “15Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee” (14:15a).

Job 15 – Eliphaz’s Second of Three Speeches (Job 4-5; Job 22)

Eliphaz again picks up his accusation that Job’s troubles were indicative of what wicked men suffer. Rejecting Job’s plea of innocence (15:1-3), he charged him with folly, and turning away from God (15:4-6).

Eliphaz then stated a foolish supposition regarding the way and fate of the wicked (15:17-35). Beginning with a false premise, he stated, 20The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a). Rather than prove his assertion, he continued in his lie claiming that the prosperity of the wicked eventually comes to destruction (15:21). He contended that the wicked will be overcome by trouble (15:24), and “he shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue” (15:29).

I close reminding you that Eliphaz’s conclusions were false. Contrary to his assertion, the wicked often prosper, and many die surrounded by their wealth, and often praised by their peers. Like many who profess wisdom, Eliphaz lacked understanding and godly discernment. He began his dispute with a false premise, and added to poor Job’s sorrows.

Lesson – Don’t assume your sorrows are the consequence of some wrongdoing;  troubles are inevitable in a world that bears the curse of sin.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Job 12-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith