Tag Archives: Worship

What is Man? (Job 40; Job 41)

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(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 40-41

A note from the shepherd: Today’s devotional is the second to the last in our study of the Book of Job. I congratulate you for completing a difficult journey. Indeed, one of the great disciplines of a chronological reading schedule is it disciplines us to consider subjects that are not appealing. Certainly, a study of troubles, trials, sickness, sorrows, and death is unattractive, but necessary. I trust a study of Job’s life has challenged each of us to accept life in this sin-cursed world will be characterized by times of sorrow, as well as fleeting times of joy.

Job 40

Today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41) is a continuance of the Lord’s discourse with Job. Perhaps God’s question to Job is one He has brought to you and me.  Ultimately, it is the question of authority. The Lord asked Job: Shall he that contendeth [strives with] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it (40:2).

Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job saw himself for what he was as a man, and replied: Behold, I am vile [cursed]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Humbled by the presence of God, Job yielded to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

Then, the LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute] my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e., appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare to question the ways of the LORD (40:6-14)? Will you challenge My majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God proved His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature (Job 40:15-24)

The identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is he was either a hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am, however, of the opinion the behemoth may be an extinct beast. Perhaps a great dinosaur that roamed the earth following the flood.

Physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24)

The behemoth was a vegetarian, for we read, “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The movement of his tail, described “like a cedar” (40:17a), was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continued in Job 40:18-24. His bones were like brass and iron (40:18). He had a voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and when he quenched his thirst it was as though he “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was described as “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” and yet the Creator had power over him and could “make his sword to approach unto him” (40:19).

Before we consider the question, “What did all this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?”, let us ponder another great beast…the Leviathan.

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The LORD invited Job to consider a second great beast, the “leviathan” (41:1). Once again, the identity of this great beast is uncertain; however, scholars suggest it might have been a giant saltwater crocodile, one that is probably extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy between the “behemoth” (Job 40) and leviathan was meant to draw Job to conclude he was foolish to question his Creator. After all, man paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan God created (41:1-9).

Job was asked to ponder if a man could tame a leviathan? Of course, the implication was absolutely not; therefore, what right did Job have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  We read how the leviathan “beholdeth all high things [for no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [and retreats from none](41:34).

Closing thoughts – Having considered the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, and the great creatures over whom He reigns supreme, we must ask, “What is man?” 

Job 7:17What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:14What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Man is an eternal soul, and was created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). Because of sin, we are physically feeble, sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and bearing the weight and curse of sin (Romans 6:23). Yet, in spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God is our Creator. He is majestic in His glory, and sovereign of His creation. The LORD is omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving. Yet, He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Is He your Savior? If so, have you given Him authority over your life?

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). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Don’t Trifle with God! (Job 37)

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Scripture reading – Job 37

Job 37 brings us to the final chapter in Elihu’s protracted admonition of Job. Like his other friends, the younger Elihu suggested Job’s troubles had come because he had provoked the wrath of God. Humiliated by his sorrows, and troubled by friends who showed him no pity, Job remained silent throughout Elihu’s indictment.

Consider the Majesty of God Displayed in Creation (Job 37:1-5)

Speaking figuratively, Elihu encouraged Job to “hear attentively the noise [rumbling] of [God’s] voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. 3He [God] directeth it [the thunder] under the whole heaven, And his lightning unto the ends of the earth” (37:2-3). Elihu observed, the sound of thunder was the voice of God, and He “thundereth marvellously with his voice; Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend” (37:5).

God is the Director of the Snow, Ice, Rains, and Wind (Job 37:6-13)

Not only is the majesty of God displayed in thunderstorms, but in them He displays His power and authority over nature. The LORD guides the snow, ice, rain, and winds where He wills. He controls winter weather, and sends spring showers (37:6). He is able to stop all human activity with a storm, and “He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all may know His work” (37:7a).

Speaking allegorically, Elihu suggested frost was “the breath of God” (37:10), and the clouds a reminder of His presence and providence (37:11). The movement of storms and winds accomplish God’s will, and “do whatsoever He commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth” (37:12b). Some storms come as a manifestation of divine judgment (“correction”), and others as an expression of God’s mercy (37:13).

Elihu’s Parting Admonition: No Man Dare Judge Divine Providence (Job 37:14-20)

After he illustrated the nature and power of God in His creation, Elihu challenged: “Hearken [Listen] unto this, O Job: Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14). Man cannot know why God sends the lightning, nor why He distributes the clouds as He does (37:15-16). Irrespective of a man’s attempt to control nature, he is nothing for God orders nature, and spreads out the sky as He wills. The sky above is like a metal mirror, displaying the glory of God (37:18; Psalm 19:1).

Earlier, Job had complained, if he were he given opportunity, he would ask God to explain the reason for all he suffered (Job 13:8, 18-22). Therefore, Elihu, having described the majesty of God revealed in His creation, remembered Job’s complaint, and challenged him, “19Teach us what we shall say unto Him; For we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness” (37:19). In other words, Elihu suggested, should any man be so foolish as to question God’s providence, “surely he [would] be swallowed up” and destroyed by Him (37:20).

Closing thoughts – The Majesty of Almighty God (Job 37:21-24)

Some scholars suggest, as Elihu concluded his speech, he saw and felt an unusual stirring in nature, a “a bright light…in the clouds,” and a rising wind coming out of the north (37:21-22).

Elihu observed, no man can measure, define, or find El Shaddai, “the Almighty” (37:23). God is all powerful, and just, and “He will not afflict” or oppress for the purpose of doing evil (37:23b). He is Sovereign, and to be feared and revered (37:24a). The LORD respects no man who thinks himself wise (37:24).

Seeing the approach of a great storm, Elihu and Job’s friends fell silent. Even Job, who boasted he would have a word with God, did not speak. It was “then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind” (38:1).

Our next devotional study will consider God’s counsel to Job and his “friends” (Job 38-41). For now, let’s conclude with a warning from LORD:

Matthew 10:2828And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him [the LORD] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

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). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Keep Hope Alive: God Knows You! (Job 22; Job 23)

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Scripture reading – Job 22; Job 23

Continuing our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the midst of the Book of Job. What a powerful book and reminder that no one is spared the troubles and trials of this earthly life. Job served as a memorable example of a spiritual man who faced not only the hardships of catastrophic losses, but the erroneous, harsh judgments of some who purported to be his friends.

Yet, we should remember Job was not aware his afflictions were a consequence, not of God’s judgment, but His confidence there was “none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:8). The LORD gave Satan liberty to assail Job, and spared only the man’s life, from that evil one’s assault. In spite of his sorrows, Job’s faith did not falter, even as the evil insinuations of his friends increased.

After listening to Job maintain his innocence, and refute the allegations that he had committed some sin that warranted God’s judgment (Job 21), Eliphaz, obviously offended, spoke up.

Job 22 – Eliphaz’s Rebuke of Job

Eliphaz the Temanite disputed Job for his third and final time (his first two challenges were recorded in Job 4-5, and Job 15). Though claiming to be Job’s friend, Eliphaz accused him of supposing he was righteous, and 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 said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (1:8). He alleged Job had exploited the poor (22:6), refused water to the thirsty, and denied bread to the hungry (22:7). He suggested he had taken advantage of the most vulnerable, sent widows away wanting (22:9a), and crushed orphans (22:9b). Eliphaz dared suggest Job thought God must be blind to his wicked ways, and warned all the troubles that had befallen Job was God’s punishment (22:12-14).

Eliphaz’s diatribe (22:15-30) against Job’s character continued through the balance of Job 22, as he recapped for Job concerning the wicked, and God’s judgment (22:15). Understanding the Book of Job is believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible, we are not surprised to find the worldwide flood still fresh in the minds of the men of Job’s day (22:16). Eliphaz reminded Job how the wicked were destroyed in the flood, for they had rejected the LORD (22:17). Yet, men in Noah’s day, as in our day, enjoyed God’s common grace, and their houses were “filled…with good things” (22:18).

Then, Eliphaz proved the callous, heartless man he was and boasted the righteous rejoice when the wicked are afflicted (22:19), and the righteous are “not cut down” (22:20). Once again, the implication was only the wicked suffer in the manner Job was afflicted, and called upon Job to repent and “return to the Almighty” (22:21-23). Perhaps the first to preach a “prosperity gospel,” Eliphaz promised God would prosper Job (22:26), and answer his prayers if he confessed his sin and repented (22:27-30).

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

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

Once again, Job employed the scene of a heavenly courtroom, and God being his judge and he the victim advocating for compassion and understanding (23:1-2). Job complained it seemed God was distant, and were he to find Him, he would come to His throne and petition the LORD to hear his appeal (23:3-4). Knowing the LORD to be just, Job confessed, “I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say unto me” (23:5). He believed God would not only hear his cause, but would favor him in His judgment (23:6-7). Job complained, he searched everywhere for the LORD, but felt he was abandoned by Him (if only he had known, God was ever watching and attentive to him (23:8-9).

Closing thoughts (23:10-17) – Our devotion concludes with Job giving us a wonderful truth regarding God’s omniscience, mercy, and providences. Job 23:10 presents us with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences: “He knoweth the way that I take: When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).

Though his friends misjudged him, Job was comforted knowing the LORD knew his ways and motives (23:11-12). Though men are given to urges, Job knew the LORD was immutable, and not given to whims. Our God is of “one mind” and does as He pleases, and His plan will be accomplished in our lives (23:13-14).

Job was confident, regardless the accusations brought against him by others, he was sure God knew him to be a man of integrity. While friends slandered and misjudged him, he believed God’s judgment was righteous and perfect.

Take comfort and trust in God: The LORD is not given to whims, for “He is one mind…and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (23:13).

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.

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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.

Why Does God Allow Sickness and Sorrow? (Job 4; Job 5)

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* Please request other translations if desired.

Scripture reading – Job 4; Job 5

Continuing our study of the Book of Job, we have noted it served as a record of one man’s righteous response to sorrows and troubles. It is a story of a heavenly drama between Satan and the LORD, concerning a godly upright man named Job (Job 1). Unbeknownst to Job, the trials that came upon him were a test and proof of the confidence the LORD had in him as a man of faith and integrity (1:8; 2:3).

Job proved to be worthy of the LORD’s confidence, even when his sons and daughters perished, his possessions were lost, and his body was afflicted with sores. When his wife looked upon him with disdain (2:9), Job rebuked her and placed his trust in the sovereignty of God (2:10).

Surely the arrival of “three friends” (2:11-13), renewed Job’s long for encouragement in the midst of sorrows. Nevertheless, as we will see in today’s Scripture reading, the opposite would be true. Shaken by his troubles, and overcome with sorrow, Job shared with his “friends” his longing for death to deliver him from his suffering (Job 3).

Job 4 – The Counsel of Eliphaz the Temanite

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

Breaking his silence, and holding his tongue no longer, “Eliphaz the Temanite” (4:1), perhaps the eldest of the friends, questioned Job. Would he, a man who had counseled others, accept counsel himself? (Job 4:2-6) Eliphaz began with a conciliatory tone (4:1-4), but soon became accusatory, and suggested Job’s troubles were those of the wicked, and not a righteous man (4:5-8).

Rather than comfort, Eliphaz proposed a question that haunts some who have the privilege of ministering to others: 7Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?” (4:7)

It is difficult to accept, but sadly true: There are some who come on the pretense of offering sympathy, who take pleasure in a man’s troubles. Eliphaz’s words were biting, and implied Job’s pretense of faith was “fair-weathered,” for now that storms touched his life he was viewed as having fainted (4:7-11). He indicted Job’s character (4:6), and asserted, “They that plow iniquity, And sow wickedness, reap the same” (4:8). (In other words, he was reaping what he had sown.) Wrongly judging his friend, Eliphaz implied the losses and sorrows Job suffered were indicative of a man who lacked piety and was guilty of sin (4:12-21).

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

Job 5 – Eliphaz Proclaims the Greatness of God

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

Eliphaz urged Job to accept his troubles as God’s loving discipline, and then enumerated seven troubles from which the LORD delivers His people (seven being the number of perfection and wholeness). The seven troubles were: famine (5:20a), war (5:20b), a slanderous tongue (5:21a), natural calamities (5:21b), destitution (fear of famine or poverty, 5:22a), wild beasts (5:22b), and early death (5:26). The implication of Eliphaz’s observation was: “If the LORD delivers His people out of trouble, why are you (Job) left to suffer so much?”

Eliphaz’s reasoning reflects some truth; however, his argument that Job’s losses were God’s judgment was a false presumption. The wicked do suffer loss as a result of God’s punitive judgment; however, God chastens the righteous with the love of a Father (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19). There are times He also allows trials and suffering, not because of sin, but as a means of deepening our walk of grace and dependence on Him (1 Corinthians 11:32; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 5:11).

A Closing Word of Caution – Lest some believers accept Eliphaz’s counsel as truth, and apply his statements to themselves, remember: Job’s trials were not caused by sinful failures or unconfessed sins. The LORD allowed him to suffer as a means of testing, that would eventually yield blessings. You and I cannot grasp all that is in the mind of God; however, we must accept He is Sovereign. When trials and sorrows come (and they will), remember they are temporal, and you can be confident in this:

The way of the LORD is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

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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(Other translations are available upon request.)

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.

A New World, and A New World Order (Genesis 9)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 9

Review – Genesis 8

After He fulfilled His Word of judgment, “God remembered Noah” (8:1), and commanded Him to “go forth of the ark” (8:16). Then, Noah “builded an altar unto the LORD…and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (8:20).

Two things remained unchanged in the world after the flood. The first, God’s grace, for He accepted the sacrifices of Noah and his family (8:20), for they were “a sweet savour” to Him (8:21). A second object had not changed, and that was man’s sinful heart. Though He declared He would never again judge the earth as He had with the floodwaters, the LORD knew the heart of man, and judged it was sinful (8:21c). Yet, the LORD in His mercy, promised He would never again destroy “every thing living, as [He had] done” (8:21d). So, the earth continues to be blessed with its seasons, “seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (8:22).

A New World, A Renewed Covenant (Genesis 9:1-17)

The world was forever changed after God’s universal judgment, but in His grace, He “blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (9:1, 7). Man’s supremacy over nature was unchanged (Genesis 1:26, 28); however, animals began to fear man, and were terrified of him (9:2). Formerly, men were sustained by plant life (Genesis 1:29-30); however, after the flood they became omnivorous, consumers of the flesh of animals and the fruit of the earth (9:3-4).

Capital Punishment: Life for Life (9:5-6)

Genesis 9:5-6 repeated the value and sanctity of human life in the eyes of God, reminding us God created man in His image and likeness (9:6). Because human life is sacred, God established capital punishment to address all that shed the blood of man, whether man or beast (9:5). God’s justice required blood for blood (Psalm 9:12; Exodus 20:13; 21:12). Thus, a beast that killed a man, was to be put to death (9:5b; Exodus 21:28). Also, a murderer was to be put to death, for shedding the blood of another (9:6a). For that reason, government was instituted and empowered to enforce capital punishment (Romans 13:4).

God’s Universal Covenant (9:7-19)

The future of humanity was seeded by Noah’s three sons, and they were commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply” (9:7). Having accepted Noah’s sacrifices (8:22-23), the LORD established His covenant with him and his sons. What was the covenant? While it was to never again destroy the earth with floodwaters; it was much more.

The covenant promise was universal, and made to Noah, his sons, and his “seed after” him (all humanity, 9:9). I believe it was a renewal of God’s covenant with Adam and Eve; that her “seed” would crush the head (the seed) of the serpent (Satan, 3:15). It was a promise fulfilled through Noah’s lineage, and of whom Christ was born (Luke 3:36). The rainbow was more than a promise to never again destroy the earth by floodwaters (9:8-13). It was a sign God never forgets His covenant promises (9:14-17).

A Shameful, Tragic End (9:18-29)

The flood did not change man’s age-old problem—sin! Noah and his sons had witnessed God’s hatred of sin and judgment; nevertheless, they bore in their hearts the curse of sin, its effects, and tragic consequences. Though they believed God, and were saved by the Ark, they were still sinners! Noah was a just and upright man, and a man who walked with God (6:8-9); however, he and his sons were sinners.

Noah became “an husbandman” (farmer) after the flood, and planted a vineyard (9:20). Tragically, in his old age, Noah drank wine, “and was drunken” (9:21). Indiscreet in his intoxicated state, he was naked and “uncovered within his tent” (9:21). While the cause for Noah’s drunken state was not given, there are lessons we can take from this moment in history. (The first mention of wine in the Scriptures was associated with drunkenness, shame, and a curse that has continued to our day.)

Noah, the “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), became an object of scorn (9:21-23).

Whatever the excuse, Noah’s drunkenness was a spiritual and moral failure (9:21). Ham, who became the father of the Canaanites, “saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without” (9:22). The implication is he “saw” and mocked his father, unlike his brothers, Shem and Japheth, who took pangs “and covered the nakedness of their faither” (9:23). Ham took pleasure in his father’s shame, mocked and ridiculed him (9:22).

Noah’s Prophecy (9:24-29)

Noah, realizing Ham, “his younger son” (9:24), shamed him; pronounced a curse upon him and his lineage: Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” (9:25). Why did Noah not curse Ham who scorned his father? Perhaps the best answer is that Ham was a true believer (for he had believed God and been saved by the Ark). Canaan, the grandson of Noah (10:6), would become the father of wicked nations who rejected God, worshipped idols, and were perpetual enemies of God’s people (10:15-19).

Closing thoughts (9:26-29) – Genesis 9 concluded with Noah prophesying the future of his sons, and their posterity (9:26-27), and closed with the revelation that is a certainty for all men: He died (9:28-29). Though not perfect, Noah should be remembered as a righteous man. He was a man of faith who believed, and obeyed God, saving not only his household, but the human race from physical and spiritual annihilation.

How about you? How will you be remembered?

* 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).

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)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

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)

* 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).

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.