Satan Attacks Jobs Health
As we have already seen in the opening chapter of this book, Job is being subjected to a very severe test. Satan has been permitted by God to take away all Job’s possessions in an attempt to prove that if a man’s possessions are taken away, he will curse God to his face. But Job has survived that first cycle of tests —
- Tests that took away all his wealth,
- All his possessions,
- Even his children.
Job is left crushed and broken, but, nevertheless, full of faith. When we reached the end of Chapter 1, we saw that the score was 1 – 0 for Job against Satan.
Chapter 2 opens with another round in the test, and the first three verses tell us that God again initiates action against Job:
One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.
Satan answered the Lord; “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” ~Job 2:1-3
These three verses read much like the first chapter, where we have the same glimpse behind the scenes into the heavenlies, where God and Satan are holding a conversation about Job.
Here in this chapter, we have a viewpoint of Job and his suffering, one that Job himself is not permitted to have. We are given this because we too are not allowed this point of view in times of trial. We do not know what is going on behind the scenes in our lives, with our pressures and trials. We do not know what has transpired between Satan and God about us, but we have this reassurance that something does happen and that we are put through to a test. And this is very revealing and critical.
The thing that I think is important here is to see that God initiates further testing of Job. God challenges Satan, and says,
“Well, what do you think of Job now? You moved me against him without a cause, and I allowed it to happen. But now what do you say? There is none like him on the earth. He is blameless and upright, and he turns away from evil. You haven’t moved him an inch. What do you think now?”
And Satan replies by asking for a change in the rules, Verses 4-6:
Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.”
When Satan says, “Skin for skin!” he is using the same argument that he used in the first chapter. His philosophy was (and is) that men are selfish creatures. When you attack them directly, they will give way, and they will renounce their faith, their religion, anything, to save their possessions. Now that argument has been entirely answered. God has allowed Satan to test Job, and, though he lost his family and all his wealth, Job remains steadfast in his integrity, refusing to charge God with wrong.
It is a very sobering thing to realize that the tests that come into our life, its purpose, is getting us to curse God to his face. To tell him that he is wrong, that he does not keep his promises, that he is not the kind of a God that we think he is. If you take note of your life, you will recognize that, when under pressure, the thing you want more than anything else is to cry out in protest to God that he is not keeping his promises. That is where Satan always aims. He has the same philosophy and the same objective today: he wants us to curse God, as he wanted Job to curse God.
But Satan asks for a change in the rules because, in effect, he says to God, “You didn’t go far enough. You put a boundary about Job and said I couldn’t touch his body. That’s the problem. It’s true that a man may give up his possessions, but one thing he will never give up is his health. You let me get at him, let me destroy his health, and he will renounce his integrity and his faith.”
But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face! ~ Job 2:5 (NKJV)
Once again there is a divine limitation to the power of Satan, but this time God moves the boundaries closer. He says, “You can touch him.” In fact, when Satan uses the phrase, “touch his bone and his flesh,” he asks for access to the entire humanity of Job.
We still use that phrase today, flesh and bone, to speak of the totality of our humanity — not only our physical body but our emotional life as well, our conscious and subconscious thinking and reacting. And not only our soul but our spirit as well.
Satan is asking for access to this man Job, touching his body, soul, and spirit — and he proceeds in that order. That constitutes the argument and basic assault recorded in the rest of the book of Job. Satan knows what he is after. He knows that if he can get at Job in every part of his being, and shake Job’s faith that he can cause him to turn from his trust and confidence in God, and curse him to his face.
That is why we have the book of Job, to show us that there are reasons and purposes in these trials and sufferings that we do not see. Job could not see what was going on behind the scenes, and neither can we. And yet God knows, and God is working out an object. He has a purpose for it, and it is a proper and right use that will end up manifesting more fully the love and compassion of his heart. The test of every trial is always to this end.
So Satan is given access to Job, and in the next section we see the physical test that comes, Verses 7-9:
So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.
Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.
Here is the first attack on the body of Job. Some think it was leprosy; other scholars believe it was a form of elephantiasis, which not only covered the body with running, putrefying sores, but also caused the members to swell up and become bloated and distorted. Whatever it was, it rendered Job a pitiable spectacle, a repulsive hulk of a man, swollen and disfigured, and hurting with these running sores.
Here is Job entirely covered with these painful sores. He was not only physically afflicted, but he was also painfully humiliated. He ends up sitting in the ashes, scraping the pus from his wounds with a broken piece of pottery.
To cap it all, the one to whom he ought to have been able to turn for emotional support turned against him. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity?” I can see that her faith has crumbled under this attack. She no longer believes that God is loving, thoughtful, and just. She sees this as proof, as many of us have done in times of trial, that God has forsaken his promises, that the Bible is not true.
How many times I have come to comfort people going through trials, and had them say to me, “I tried these promises, I tried believing God, but it doesn’t work.” Have you ever said that?
That is getting very close to what Satan was trying to get Job to say: “Curse God, and die.” He used Job’s wife as his instrument, and, just as Eve became the tool to get at Adam in the Garden of Eden, the assault upon Job’s emotional life comes through his wife. She advises him to do two things:
- “Give up your faith, apostatize.
- Curse God.”
(In the Hebrew, the word is “bless” God, but it is correctly translated “curse” because the word “bless” is dripping with sarcasm.) “Bless God, and die.” She is apparently suggesting suicide: “It would be better for you to take your life than to go on like this.” So poor Job, bound by physical pain, sits in humility with a disfigured body and suffers from a sense of emotional abandonment by his mate.
I do not know if women fully understand how much their husbands depend on them. I think men often draw emotional strength from their wives far more than either they or their wives realize. Here was a severe attack addressed to the very soul of Job, in which he felt his wife abandoning him, advocating that he turn from his faith and renounce his God.
As you can see Satan actively looks for people to attack.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)
Lions attack sick, young, or slow animals; they choose victims who are alone or not alert. Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or persecuted. If you are feeling lonely, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, or if you are so focused on your troubles that you forget to watch for danger, those are the times when you are especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.
During periods of suffering, seek other Christians for support. Keep your eyes on Christ, and resist the devil. Then, says James, “he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Satan likes to pursue believers who are vulnerable in their faith, who are spiritually weak, or who are isolated from other believers.
Even though God permits the devil to do his work in this world, God is still in control. And Jesus has complete power over Satan – he defeated Satan when he dies and rose again for the sins of everyone. One day Satan will be bound forever, never again to do his evil work.
Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 (NLT)
Satan’s power is not eternal – he will meet his doom. He began his evil work in people at the beginning and continues it today, but he will be destroyed when he is thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The devil will be released from the bottomless pit (“his prison”), but he will never be released from the fiery lake. He will never be a threat to anyone again.
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible