Tag Archives: Bible Christianity

Ever wonder, “Where is Justice?” (Job 24)

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Scripture reading – Job 24

Eliphaz, the third of Job’s friends to argue Job’s troubles were like those of the wicked, evoked a response from Job that began in chapter 23 and continued to chapter 24. Having slandered Job’s character, Eliphaz accused him of some great evil and urged him to repent promising God would restore him (22:23-27).

Nevertheless, though he suffered overwhelming afflictions and felt abandoned by God, Job maintained his innocence (Job 23). He lamented, if God would give him a hearing, he would maintain his troubles were greater than his sins (23:1-7). Yet, though he was wrongly accused by his friends, Job was confident God knew he was a man of integrity, who desired to walk according to His commandments (23:8-12).

Job 24

Accused of gross wrongdoing, the accusations brought against Job by his “friends” left him wondering why he suffered, when the wicked prospered and went unpunished? Job’s reflections on the sins of the wicked was recorded in Job 24:2-17.

Wrongs Committed by the Wicked (Job 24:2-17)

Tyrannical Thieves (24:2-8)

Job first considered the company of thieves, and their wiles, deceptions, and effronteries  against God and humanity. (Remember, as you read verses 2-8, the setting was an agrarian society, and the perspective was rural and agricultural. Of course, thievery and robbery are the same, though the coveted objects of the thief change with the culture). Times have changed, but the nature of man is as wicked as ever!

Before making an application to 21st century society, let’s consider Job’s observations. The first were land thieves who removed “landmarks,” essentially physical stakes, that designated the boundaries of a family’s lands (24:2a).  Not surprising, but the same criminal activity continues in our day. (Note – Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Proverbs 23:10-11). There were thieves who would seize a neighbor’s sheep, and move them to graze in his pastures, thus robbing a man of his livelihood (24:2b).

Tragically, the wicked have always preyed upon the most vulnerable of a society, the poor and the weak (24:3-8). In Job’s day, evil men would steal the donkey of an orphan (24:3a), and demand a widow’s ox for surety or collateral (24:3b). They would abuse the poor, and mislead them (24:4), and leave them to forage for food and shelter like wild beasts (24:5-8).

Cruel Oppressors of the Weak and Defenseless (24:9-17)

Job described children taken from their mothers (24:9) as collateral for debt (tragically, the 21st century has revived this abuse with “human trafficking,” and the mass movement of humanity across international borders). The wicked would take the robes of the poor (a symbol of the bare necessities for life) as collateral for debt (24:10). Such is the way of the wicked. While a farmer would reward an ox with the grain he treads, the wicked would leave the poor destitute, hungry, and thirsty (24:11-12; Deuteronomy 25:41 Corinthians 9:91 Timothy 5:18).

Murderers and Adulterers (24:14-17)

The rise of violent crimes and murder in 21st century society is akin to the observations of Job. He observed murderers who plotted and preyed upon the poor and needy (24:14). Numbered among the wicked were adulterers who disguised their faces to avoid recognition (24:15). Rounding out the society of the wicked were thieves who marked houses in the day, and enjoyed the guise of darkness to break into them and steal at night (24:16-17).

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

Having considered the character and sins of the wicked, Job agreed with his friends, for the wicked will not go unpunished. The wicked are swift to steal the fruits of other men’s labor, because they are unwilling to toil in their own vineyards (24:18). Nevertheless, the end of the wicked is akin to “drought and heat [that consumes] the snow;” they will go the way of all sinners, to “the grave” (24:19).

Closing thoughts (24:20-25) – Describing the fate and destiny of the wicked, Job graphically detailed his end, writing: “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 diet of worms. While the most stately of trees will eventually be broken and fall, the bodies of the powerful will inevitably decay in their graves. We might ponder with Job, why the LORD is patient with the wicked, and his pernicious ways; however, we are assured, “His eyes are upon their ways” (24:23).

Warning: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). 

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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Scripture reading – Job 20; Job 21

Our study of the trials and troubles of Job continues with today’s Scripture reading (Job 20-21). Admittedly, the text is dark, but the insights we gain from our study are illuminating. The chapters before us are lengthy, and at best, time and space permit only a brief commentary. As you read chapter 20, remember Zophar (the third of Job’s friends) is coming from an earthly, human vantage. His purpose was not to impart spiritual wisdom, but to assert that Job’s afflictions were the reward of the wicked.

Job 20

Job 20 is the record of the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Zophar was offended by Job’s admonition in the closing verses of chapter 19. Job had maintained his innocence, and warned 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 Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. His contentions revealed three erroneous opinions concerning the state and reward of the wicked.

First error: The wicked always come to destruction. (20:4-11)

Zophar suggested the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (20:4), 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.

Second error: The wicked do not prosper. (20:12-23)

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

The error in Zophar’s observations is evident when we remember the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). 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 lived, enjoying his wealth until he heard 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).

Third error: Only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses. (20:24-29)

Zophar maintained the wicked are struck down (20:24-25), and all he has is destroyed (20:26).  He declared the wicked feels everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (20:27-28). (While it may be argued how the wicked often suffer loss; I suggest it is more often true they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains, John 15:19a).

Of course, 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

Job 21 recorded Job’s response to Zophar’s fallacies. He demanded his friends be silent that he might speak, and challenged them, sarcastically, after he had spoken, “mock on” (21:1-2). Job confessed his struggle was with God, and not with men (21:3-6).

Contrary to Zophar’s assertions, he observed the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (21:7-13). He contended 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) The wicked fail to acknowledge they deserve nothing. Indeed,  all they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, and the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (21:16).

Closing thoughts (21:17-34) – Warning: Do not assume the wicked go unpunished.

The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “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).

Generational Sins: Children are not punished for the sins of their parents; however, they often suffer the influence of their sins (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Deuteronomy 24:16). Three times the Law stated: “The 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” (Numbers 14:18; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9).

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

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his 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 bring some comfort and pity, he 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 assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). According to his estimation, the wicked have a hard life, characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). The implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19

An old English adage reads, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Alas, life experiences teach us that sticks can leave scars, and stones may indeed break bones; but eventually the body will mend and heal. However, the effect of cutting words from a loved one, or friend, sometimes result in sorrows that follow us to the grave. Such is the protest we read from Job in chapter 19.

Job’s Complaint Against His Friends (Job 19:1-5)

Job answered the scorn of his friends, and challenged them, saying, “How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words?(19:2) The harsh judgments of his friends had left Job wounded and despairing of life. He protested, they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed of how they humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Though wronged by groundless judgments, Job fell into the well-worn rut commonly found among the embittered: He kept a tally of the wrongs committed against him. Job declared, “These ten times have ye reproached me (19:3). His heart was turned from the LORD, to those who wronged and accused him. Frustrated by meddling, Job suggested if he was wrong, let it be his business, and his alone (19:4).

“Not Fair!” – Job’s Complaint Against God (19:6-12)

Job then raised a complaint against the LORD, for he believed he was unfairly entangled with sorrows exceeding his failures (19:6). He cried to the LORD, but it seemed heaven was silent (19:7). He felt entrapped (19:8), humiliated (19:9), and his world destroyed (19:10). He complained, it seemed the LORD had become his enemy, and his life under siege (19:11-12).

A Crisis of Alienation (Job 19:13-20)

God’s Word gives us an insight into the human psyche, for in Job’s afflictions, he retreated into the seclusion often sought by those who suffer. If you have known rejection, endured personal attacks, or been dealt a setback, you might have known the temptation to retreat into solitude like a wounded soul.

Job had experienced the alienation of family and friends. He wrote, “[God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me” (19:13). He understood God was author of his troubles, but the response of his family, friends, and acquaintances wounded him. Job felt alone, forsaken by family (19:14a), and forgotten by friends (19:14b). Even the servants of his household dishonored him (19:15-16), and his wife abhorred his “breath [life, spirit]” (19:17). “Young children,” the picture of innocence, disdained him (19:18), and his most intimate friends turned against him (19:19).

A Plea for Pity and Vindication (Job 19:20-25)

His body physically wasted (19:20), Job turned his thoughts from self-pity, and plead with his friends for pity and understanding. He asked, “Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” (19:21-22). He begged for the vindication of his innocence to be recorded for future generations to consider, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know the cause of his afflictions, 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).

Closing thoughts (19:26-29) – Though he was looking through the lens of inexplicable sorrows and losses, Job’s faith remained unshaken. He was confident the LORD was his Advocate and Redeemer, and believed He would rescue and ransom him out of trials. Job reasoned, even if his afflictions ended in death, and worms destroyed his body, he believed his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would see God (19:26-27). Job’s rebuttal of Bildad concluded with a warning we should all consider: God is the final judge, and the day of his judgment will come (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

A word of invitation – Don’t be guilty of keeping a tally of wrongs committed against you (19:3). An angry, unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul and make you a slave to bitterness! Follow Job’s example, answer your enemies (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8), and turn to the LORD (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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

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Scripture reading – Job 16

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).  Having begun with that false premise, Eliphaz wrongly concluded God was punishing Job. Job’s response was recorded in three pleas in chapters 16-17.  The first was a plea for mercy, rather than comfort.

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

The introductory verses of Job 16 reflect the heart of a man who was weary of accusations, brought by men who came under the pretense of showing 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 , and said, “Shall vain words have an end? Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?” In 21st century vernacular, Job essentially said, “Stop Talking! What makes you think you have anything worth saying?”

Job’s friends were unsympathetic to his plight, and their words only added to his misery (16:1-14).  Job contemplated, if he were he in Eliphaz’s place, he would be able to heap upon him similar judgments (16:4). Yet, had they born his sorrows, they would have empathy (16:4-5).

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

Turning from his friends, I count at least seventeen complaints Job confessed to God in Job 16:7-22. I will not take the time to list all of his complaints, but I remind you they reflect the anguish of a hurting, troubled man. 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 we go through hard times.

Closing thoughts – Take a few moments and consider Job’s grievances. Grief had left him physically, and emotionally exhausted (16:7). Sorrow wrinkled his countenance, and his body was physically wasted (16:8). Yet, rather than pity, his “friends,” attacked him like a lion seizes its prey (16:9). Instead of compassion, they scorned and looked upon him with disdain (16:10-11), leaving him a broken, wounded soul (16:12).

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

I close with a common adage for those who feel life is hanging by a thread:

TIE A KNOT, HANG ON, AND TRUST GOD!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
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Troubles are Inevitable, in a World Cursed by Sin. (Job 14; Job 15)

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Scripture reading – Job 14; Job 15

Job 14 brings us to the third chapter that served as Job’s reply to Zophar (Job 11). Unlike Eliphaz, Zophar made no pretense of comforting his suffering friend (11:1-3). Instead, he charged Job with concealing sin, and declared he believed the man was suffering God’s judgment (11:4-6).

Job’s reply to Zophar began in chapter 12, and continued through chapter 14. Though wearied by the sorrows of his afflictions, Job nevertheless derided his friends’ assertions that they had greater wisdom into the ways of God than he (12:1-4). Reserving the right to test and examine the “counsel” of his three friends (12:11), Job contended they had spoken much, and said nothing (13:1-2). In fact, he condemned them as “forgers of lies” (13:4), and stated 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

Continuing his response to Zophar, Job stated the tragic universal experience of man: 1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (14:1). There are many joyful days in a man’s earthly sojourn; however, there is no escaping the common experience of man—trouble.

Job disputed his friends’ contentions that troubles were the afflictions of the wicked. He asserted the universality of troubles, trials, sorrows, and death, and declared they were inevitable for sinner and saint alike. Job went on to observe, man’s life is like a flower that is soon cut down and perishes. Man days are like a shadow, soon gone when light is extinguished (14:2). Man’s “days are determined” by God (14:5a), and no man will live beyond the “bounds” He has numbered (14:5b). In other words, God orders both the day of your birth, and the day of your death.

No wonder anxiety is epidemic in our day!  Our world is dominated by amusements, yet, everywhere we turn there are reminders life is temporal and death is coming. The sound of a siren racing, the solitary marker of a roadside cross, or the gathering of solemn mourners standing quietly at a grave, all remind us our days are numbered (Psalm 90:12) and our lives are like a vapor (James 4:14).

Wise men are conscious, “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).

He was a man of ancient times, and did not have the privilege of God’s written Word; however, Job was confident physical death was not annihilation. Asking and answering the question of death, Job proposed, “If 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 – The Second of Three Speeches by Eliphaz (Job 4-5; Job 22)

Although they purported to comfort him, Job’s friends served as prosecutors, judges, and jury. They condemned the wretched man, already stricken by losses and overcome by sorrows. Eliphaz the Temanite once again took up his dispute with Job, and accused him of pride (Job 15:5-6) and hypocrisy (15:34-35). He warned, all Job suffered was a consequence of sin (15:17-35).

Eliphaz, whom I suggested was the elder of Job’s three friends (for he was the first to speak, Job 4-5), avowed that man’s troubles were indicative of the suffering of the wicked. Rejecting Job’s pleas of innocence (15:1-3), he charged him with folly, and accused him of turning from God (15:4-6). Eliphaz began with a false premise, and stated, 20The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a).

Rather than prove his assertion, Eliphaz continued his lie, and claimed the prosperity of the wicked eventually comes to destruction (15:21). He charged, the wicked will be overcome by trouble (15:24), and “shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue” (15:29).

Closing thoughts – Eliphaz’s conclusions were untrue. In fact, the wicked often prosper, and many die surrounded by wealth, and the praise of their peers. Like many of this world who profess wisdom, he lacked understanding and godly discernment. Eliphaz only added to Job’s sorrows.

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

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
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You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

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

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Scripture reading – Job 12; Job 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 © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Wise Counsel, Foolish Heart (Job 11)

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Scripture reading – Job 11

Job 11 introduces us to the third of Job’s friends, “Zophar the Naamathite” (11:1). While his age is not given, I offer two observations that lead me to suggest he was the youngest of the three. The first, Zophar was the last to speak, and culturally would have deferred to his elders. Secondly, his zeal and untethered speech seemed unusually harsh. Like his companions, Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar’s counsel was unkind, direct, and insensitive. He had listened when his elders interrogated Job, and was offended when he asserted he had committed no sin to warrant his afflictions.

Zophar Accosted Job with Four Rebukes (11:2-6)

Zophar accused Job of being full of pious talk, saying, “Should 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, saying, “Should thy lies make men hold their peace?” (11:3a) Thirdly, he suggested Job was irreverent, and mocked men by his answers, when he should be ashamed (11:3b). Finally, He charged Job was a hypocrite, and observed, “For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in thine eyes” (11:4).

A personal note to those who aspire to counsel others: Notice, Zophar lacked the humility and compassion required of godly counselors (Galatians 6:1). He was proud and judgmental, and gave Job no opportunity to respond. He not only accused Job of sin (excessive speech, lies, irreverence, and hypocrisy), but asserted he deserved all that befell him (11:5-6).

The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God (Job 11:7-12)

Like some who profess a knowledge of God and a zeal for His Word, Zophar lacked the compassion and longsuffering of the LORD. Job was overcome by sorrows, and surely the Lord’s invitation would have resonated in his heart: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Yet, in spite of his youth, Zophar had knowledge and understanding regarding His Creator (11:7-9). He confessed; no man can know God apart from His revelation (11:7a). What had the LORD revealed of Himself? Our God is El Shaddai, “the Almighty,” omnipotent, all-powerful God (11:7b). His wisdom is “as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? 9The measure [of His wisdom] thereof is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea” (Job 11:8–9). (Stop and ponder: Zophar, like Job, was among the most ancient of men in the Scriptures after the flood; yet he had insight into the size of the earth and the breadth of the ocean.)

Then, Zophar boldly declared, God knows all that lies within the heart of man, and challenged Job, saying, the LORD “seeth wickedness also” (11:11b).

Three Admonitions Concluded Zophar’s Criticisms of Job (Job 11:13-20)

Repent: Zophar assumed Job’s troubles were God’s punishment, and urged him to repent, prepare his heart, and humble himself before the LORD (11:13). He counseled Job, and “let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles [lit. tent; house or household]” (11:14), in other words, put away your sin.

Be Restored: Zophar promised, if Job repented, the LORD would restore him (11:15-16). He would soon forget his miseries as swiftly as flood “waters that pass away” (dry up; 11:16). Zophar assured Job 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 (11:18b-19).

Be forewarned: Those who fail to repent will look in vain for rest (“eyes of the wicked shall fail”), find no refuge (“shall not escape”), “and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost” (hopeless; 11:20).

We will consider Job’s response to Zophar’s allegations in Job 12-14.

Closing thought – Zophar unlovingly and presumptuously reproached his elder. Nevertheless, there was truth in his counsel, and a lesson for us: Sincere believers will humble themselves, confess, and repent of sin. Remember:

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.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Will You Dare Speak Truth? (Job 6)

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(Other languages available upon request.)

Scripture reading – Job 6

Rather than pity and comfort, Eliphaz the Temanite (2:11) added to Job’s sorrows (Job 4-5; Job 6:1-13). Eliphaz had come to Job under the guise of friendship, but offered subtle insinuations of some wrong doing on his friend’s part. He had failed Job, for he was guilty of blending man’s reasonings with godly wisdom.

Job 6

Job answered Eliphaz’s insinuations that his troubles reflected God’s judgment and displeasure. He acknowledged his sorrows had come upon him like the “arrows of the Almighty” (6:4a), and he was wounded to the depths of his soul. (Remember, Job did not know God’s purpose for his troubles; had he known, he would have cause for shame.) In his afflictions, Job complained it seemed the “terrors of God” were aligned against him (6:4).

Job Asserted: His Complaints Were Not Without Cause (6:5-6)

Failing to empathize with Job’s sorrows, Eliphaz’s counsel was both insensitive and harsh. Nature offered ample illustrations of how beasts do not complain when they are fed (6:5). The donkey does not bray when it grazes in a field of grass, and the ox is satisfied with its fodder (6:5). Yet, Job complained, Eliphaz’s counsel was as unsavory as unseasoned food, and as tasteless as the “white of an egg” (6:6),

Job Articulated: Death is preferable to suffering unspeakable sorrows. (6:8-13)

Once again, Job’s thoughts turned to despair (6:8-9), and he reasoned the grave would bring release from his sorrows (6:10). Overwhelmed by disappointments, Job confessed his weakness, and sensed he had nothing for which to live (remember, he lost family, and riches in one fell swoop). Afflictions and sorrows had overwhelmed him, and he reasoned he did not have the strength of stone or brass (6:12). Indeed, Job was reduced to hopelessness (6:13).

Job Argued: His friends had failed him. (6:14-21)

Instead of the pity and compassion he should have been shown (6:14), Eliphaz afflicted Job with counsel he likened to the mirage of an oasis in a desert (6:15-17). His words had left Job’s soul thirsty and yearning for relief (6:15-17). Like a caravan seeking water in the desert, the arrival of Job’s friends had raised his longing for compassion; yet, they brought neither understanding nor comfort (6:18-21).

Job Admonished: Who invited you? (6:22-27)

Job questioned his friends, “Did I say, Bring unto me?” (6:22) (Stating the same in a different mode, Job asked: Why did you come? Did I invite you? Have I requested any of your possessions to replace the loss of my own? (6:22-23)

Job challenged Eliphaz, “Teach me [truth], and I will hold my tongue,” tell me “wherein I have erred” (6:24). In essence, Job confessed, he would gladly accept “right words” [truth], but was wearied by Eliphaz’s hollow arguments and unfounded reproofs (6:25). He asserted, Eliphaz’s counsel was flawed, for he lacked both wisdom and empathy (6:26). Instead of pity and compassion, he had added further grievance to a man who was childless (6:27a). In effect, Eliphaz dug a pit with his counsel, and hoped to entrap Job as a hunter would dig a pit to entrap his prey (6:27b).

Closing thoughts (6:28-30)

Job challenged Eliphaz, tell me the truth, and I will listen (6:24a). Tell me where I am wrong, and I will repent (6:24b). Resolute in his desire for truth, Job invited Eliphaz to speak the truth. He invited him to look at his countenance, examine his life, and determine if he spoke the truth (6:28). Job declared his integrity, and asked, “Is there iniquity in my tongue?” (6:29).

I admire Job’s resolute desire for the truth (6:24). Do you have that desire? A desire for those who love you to speak honestly, and lovingly the Truth? (Ephesians 4:15)

“Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Ephesians 4:25).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

From Riches to Rags: When Things Go from Bad to Worse (Job 1; Job 2)

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Scripture reading – Job 1; Job 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. Among Bible scholars, The Book of Job is commonly believed to be the oldest book of the Bible. So far, our renewed chronological study of the Scriptures has given us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man (Genesis 1-5), and carried the historical narrative from the worldwide Flood, to God calling out Abraham (Genesis 6-11). Job, the subject of the book before us, was believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details of the book that lead us to accept that conclusion, but particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1

Job, the Man (Job 1:1-5)

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears; however, we are not presented with any background of the man, nor how he became so incredibly wealthy. We read, “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” (Job 1:1).

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, there are cities mentioned in this book that were located in the land we will later identify as Edom. So, we might place Uz in that geographical region (southeast of today’s Israel, and on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south). Yet, it is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. Arguably, 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 who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, having “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2). He was also a man of great wealth (1:3). In our story, we find his children were adults, with their own households (1:4). They shared in their father’s wealth, and enjoyed the bounty of their own riches. As a family, we find they observed a week of feast days, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest. When the feast days were ended, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his household, 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 the last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a pattern of Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

A Heavenly Council (Job 1:6-12)

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

God then turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy. The LORD 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 disparaged 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).

From Riches to Rags (Job 1:12-19)

The LORD accepted Satan’s challenge, and gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials. Mercifully, God limited the extent of the devil’s power and commanded him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Satan departed from God’s presence, and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17). Eventually, the devil’s assault took that which was dearest to Job, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Satan had slandered Job, and suggested he was faithful to the LORD only because he was lavishly 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. Then, 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 © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

God Remembered Noah (Genesis 7-8)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 7-8

Review – “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8)

Because He “saw that the wickedness of man… [and] the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5), God determined to judge the earth. Nevertheless, He allowed 120 years before the earth and its inhabitants would be destroyed (6:3). Yet, there was one exception to this universal judgment. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (6:8).

Why Noah and his household? He was a believer, “a just man and perfect in his generations,” whose life gave testimony of his “walk with God” (6:10). Though the world of his day was given to all manner of wickedness, Noah’s testimony and influence evidenced the fruit of three sons: “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” were preserved from judgment (6:10).

God revealed to Noah his plan to destroy the earth, and in evidence of His grace, commanded him to build an Ark, and gave him the design of that great ship of salvation (6:14-17). Assuming one cubit is equal to 18-20 inches, the size of the Ark (6:15) was some 450 feet long (135 meters), 75 feet wide (22 meters), and its depth 45 feet (13 meters). (In fact, the Ark is believed to have been the largest vessel built by man until the mid-19thcentury.)

Lest there be any doubt of the extent of God’s judgment, He made Noah to understand the flood would be universal, destroying “all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die” (6:17). The LORD established a covenant with Noah (6:18), that his family would be saved from the flood waters. They were spared God’s judgment, not because they were sinless, but because they were the object of His grace (6:8), and Noah was a perfect [righteous] man “who walked with God” (6:9). Because He intended to restore the earth after the flood waters receded, the LORD directed Noah to bring two “of every living thing…into the ark, to keep them alive” (6:19-20), and to store “food that is eaten… food for thee, and for them” (6:21).

Genesis 6 concluded with Noah doing “according to all that God commanded him” (6:22). Though he had not experienced a rainfall (for the waters were still in the firmament encircling the earth, 1:7), Noah believed God and began building a massive ship, and preaching the imminent judgment of God (2 Peter 2:5).

Genesis 7 – “All Aboard!”

The day came when the preacher’s sermons fell silent, and the work on the Ark was complete; “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation” (7:1). In addition to the male and female of each “kind” and “every sort” (6:19-20), Noah was commanded to lead into the Ark seven “of every clean beast,” which he sacrificed in an act of worship and thanksgiving, when the flood waters receded (7:2-3; 8:20).

Noah was 600 years old “when the flood of waters” began, and he “did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (7:5-6, 16). With Noah, his family, and the animals safe in the Ark, “the LORD shut [Noah] in” (7:16), and unleashed the mighty powers of the waters above, and the waters reserved in the earth. “The windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (7:11-12). All was destroyed, and all “flesh died that moved upon the earth…and every man” (7:21). “Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (7:23).

Genesis 8 – God Remembered Noah (8:1)

After a year of devastating floodwaters, and confinement in the Ark, the Scriptures simply stated, “God remembered Noah” (8:1). In the midst of His wrath, and the greatest cataclysmic event to ever come upon the earth, God remembered one man and his family. The world Noah knew was destroyed, and every man, woman, boy, and girl perished in the waters. Three hundred and seventy days after the rains began, Noah was commanded, “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee” (8:16).

After disembarking from the Ark, Noah’s first act was to build an altar and offer sacrifices to God (8:20-21a). The LORD’s first act was to accept Noah’s sacrifice, and establish a covenant with him and his family (8:21b-22). Noah’s sacrifice acknowledged his sin, and need of a substitute. God’s covenant served as His promise to extend His mercy, and never again destroy the earth with floodwaters (8:21-22).

Closing thoughts: With the Ark resting on the slope of Mount Aarat as a backdrop, I invite you to picture in your thoughts, Noah and his family, lying prostrate on their faces before an altar. As the smoke of the offerings ascended to heaven, Noah looked across a valley and saw a beautiful rainbow (9:12-17), with an arch reaching into the heavens and toward the very throne of God.

Noah entered through the door of the Ark by faith, and God shut the door, saving the man and his family. So it is that sinners are invited to enter another door, and be saved from the penalty of sin and eternal judgment. That door is Jesus Christ who promised, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:7, 11).

The door of salvation is opened, if you will believe and accept God’s offer of salvation through Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)

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Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.
Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611
You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.