Job Loses His Property and Children
In yesterday’s blog post we talked about “The Startling Truth About Satan and His Work” and how Satan attacks Job’s Character. Today we are going to talk about how Job loses his property and his children. What is shocking about this story is that Job did not complain, he did not blame God, he did not get all angry and upset and say, “Why should this happen to me?”
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” ~Job 1:13-15
Here came the first messenger of doomsaying, “Your oxen and donkey are all gone. You know the Sabeans, living over the hill? They came in a raid and took them all, and killed all the farmhands, and I am the only one left, and have come to tell you.” Verse 16:
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
Perhaps this fire was some lightning storm. More likely it was a volcanic eruption, in which brimstone and noxious gasses sprayed the countryside, and the sheep and all the shepherds except this one killed. Verse 17:
While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
There went Job’s camels, the most prized possessions of the Arab world regarding animal servitude, taken in a raid by the Chaldeans. Verse 18-19:
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home.
Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
What a terrible day! The next time you get bad news, I hope you will read through this chapter. If you think you have been mistreated, look at this. The malignancy of Satan revealed in that he struck to the full extent of his permission. He went right to the boundaries that God permitted him and took away everything Job had. Satan did not ease the load, he did not stretch it out, and he gave no time for preparation of heart and mind. One after the other, four times, the hammer fell, and every time Job’s heart crushed. Finally, he lost all his sons and daughters.
In this account, we see that Satan is given power over natural forces. Some have misinterpreted this, saying that this is always true of the devil, that he is the one who runs the wind and the waves. But I do not think that is necessarily true. Many of the Psalms speak of God’s control and power in the natural world. But I think we must remember here that Satan must always obtain divine permission to use these natural forces for his own ends.
When Jesus stilled the wind on the Sea of Galilee, he rebuked the wind and the waves. Now Jesus was not talking to air and water — he was talking to the forces that were behind them, the evil power that was using these forces to stir up a storm. Evidently, judging from this account in the book of Job, Satan had to receive permission from God the Father to bring that storm into being.
It is God who has allowed it to happen and this is what makes our faith tremble and quail, and we come up with superficial answers to what is going on.
One Christian defense of this is to say, “Well, Satan is a kind of independent agent, and he does what he likes. God has given him areas in which he can operate, and has no control over him.”
But when you read an account of some
- public disaster,
- a great earthquake,
- a volcanic explosion, or even, as in this case,
- a raid by one enemy upon another,
You must always read it with a realization that though Satan has been the instrument, the will of God is also involved in it. Satan has demanded and obtained from God the power to bring that to pass. And this is why the book of Job is given to us, to show that there is a far deeper reason why God permits tragedy than the superficial answers that we often give.
This reason will be unfolded as we go on in this book, and we will see that God is not, as Satan would love to have him painted, a cold, impersonal God who does not care for us, and who does not mind submitting us to tortures and indecencies and injustices like this. Rather, as James tells us, God is merciful and compassionate, and out of this book emerges the revelation of the mercy and compassion of God.
Now we see Job’s reaction, Verse 20:
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.
Job did not complain; he did not blame God, he did not get all angry and upset and say, “Why should this happen to me? What have I done that all these things should suddenly come upon me?” As C. S. Lewis once remarked when asked the question, “Why should the righteous suffer?” “Why not?” he replied; “they’re the only ones that can handle it.”
So Job’s response is, Verse 21:
He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”
That is, “Thank God for the times when I did have these things, and the enjoyment they gave me; the times with my children and the blessings they brought into my life. Rather than complain about the loss, I recognize God’s sovereign right to do with me, as he will. If he gives me things, he has the right to take them away. All I can do is say ‘Thank you’ for having had them as long as I did.” Verse 22:
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
He has won the first round. It is clear that Satan’s argument has been answered. Take away the possessions of a man like Job, and he still will not curse God to his face. He still loves God and follows him and serves him, and recognizes God’s right. It is a severe test, and I wonder how many of us would have passed it? But the test is not over — there is much worse yet to come.
Before this book is through we will see levels of pride in Job of which he was totally unaware. We will begin to see what God is after in Job’s life, and in ours, by this kind of testing.
Now you may be saying, “I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes about me? I wonder what Satan is saying about me now, and if he’s asking permission to get me!” If that is what you are thinking, all I can say is “Do not worry, live one day at a time.”
For the thing this book tells us is that, if Satan had his way, every one of us would always be in this kind of difficulty. Satan would wreck us, and hurt us, and tear us apart all the time if he could — not because he is angry with us, but because he wants to get at God, whom we serve. But God’s protecting hand has been over us.
If we can sit here in any degree of peace and enjoyment, it is because the hand of God has been like a hedge about us, protecting us and giving us great and wonderful things. Therefore, the attitude of every human heart ought to be, “Thank God for what I’ve got! Thank God for where I am now. What the future may hold, only he knows.”
And if it holds some testing like this, it is because, as Paul has reminded us in First Corinthians, “God will not test you above what you are able to bear,” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
He knows what you can bear, and he will not put you to the test so severe it must destroy your faith. But there are implications in every test that go far beyond the superficial aspects of the situation. That is what we need to remember. And as this remarkable book unfolds we will see some of the things that God brought to the attention of Job.
Our heavenly Father, we are grateful that we have so much blessing in our lives. How much your hand has given! How much it has poured into our life already, regarding joy, pleasure, peace, relationship, warmth, and love. We can only give thanks, Lord. And rather than complain about what we do not have, Lord, help our hearts to be filled with gratitude for what we have. Help us to know that your heart of love is watching over us, and protecting us from a vicious and evil being who would destroy us in a second if he could. Make us grateful for that. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In my next and final blog post about Satan and his work series, we are going to talk about how Satan Attacks Job’s Health.