Satan’s Work In The World
This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. ~ Revelation 12:9 (NLT)
The devil is not a symbol or legend; he is very real. Originally Satan was an angel of God, but through his pride, he became corrupt. The devil is God’s enemy, and he constantly tries to hinder God’s work, but he is limited by God’s power and can do what he is only permitted to do.
Satan Attacks Job’s Character
The scene suddenly shifts to that world of invisible realities which, in the New Testament — especially in the Epistle to the Ephesians — is called the heavenlies. It is not off in space somewhere; it is right around us, but it is invisible to us. An invisible barrier separates us from it so that we cannot see what is going on in that hidden world where God and Satan, angels and demons, function.
Suddenly the curtain is lifted. Just as the servant of Elisha, whose eyes were opened by the prophet’s prayer so that he saw the mountain-ringed about with the chariots of God, our eyes are now suddenly opened to this drama, and we see what is going on behind the scenes. We see what Job himself could not see, Verses 6-12:
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Surely a most impressive view, very similar to what John describes in the fourth chapter of the book of Revelation, where he sees tens of thousands and thousands upon thousands of angels gathered in the great audience chamber of heaven, in the very presence of God himself.
The sons of God were angels because, like Adam, they were a direct creation of God’s hand. But, unlike Adam, they were not given the authority or the command to multiply and produce others like themselves.
No one knows how many angels there are. There seem to be countless numbers of them, but all of them were created by God, directly, and, in this instance, were present before God to give a report of their activities.
I think we need to fling back the borders of our imagination in a scene like this and realize that God is interested in far more than this dark little planet of ours.
In the whole of the universe, as scientists are looking at it today, there are many guesses as to how many other planetary systems there are like ours, and how many other inhabitable worlds are out there in the millions of galaxies that span the heavens.
No matter how many there are one thing is clear, both from science and Scripture: it all adds up to a universe, one place, and God is in control of it all.
These ministering angels, then, came to report, and in the midst of them is Satan. Satan means “the Adversary,” and that is how he first appears in the book of Job. You can see him there with all the angels and naturally he has already fallen.
We are told in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel, how Satan fell. Once the greatest of the angels, now lifted up by pride, Satan has become the enemy of God, the rebel within the kingdom of God. You can see him sauntering about among the angels, hands in his pockets, or picking his teeth, disdainful of all the rest, looking for an opportunity to accuse.
I think the significant fact in this account is that though he clearly is fallen, he still has access to God. That is what we must yet know about Satan: God has not excluded him from His presence.
There are books you can pick up that suggest that he is bound to hell, or that he is bound to a kind of furnace room in the universe, but these are distortions and far from the actual truth. Satan has access to heaven, and, in that fact, we have the first hint of the reason from the book of Job: This book has tremendous things to say to us about the reasons for suffering.
Why do innocent, righteous people sometimes undergo terrible episodes of terrible injustice and suffering? This book will help us greatly with the answer to that question.
But there is still a deeper level of truth behind the book of Job. It is given to us to reveal the relationship between Satan and God so that we are not confused about the power of this vicious enemy against whom we all wrestle. Satan is not the equivalent of God. We do not have two gods, a good god, and a bad god, struggling against each other.
This book helps us to understand right from the start that God is in control of all things. All forces are at his command, and nothing ever takes him by surprise — nothing goes beyond his word and his will, including Satan.
This book, I think, will help us more than any other book in the Bible to catch a glimpse of the greatness and the majesty of God. We will see what we desperately need to see — that God is not just another man, high in power and authority, whom we call, influence, and command.
God is not a heavenly bellboy, ready to run at our orders. No, God is in charge, and he will always be in charge. If we are going to deal realistically with life, this is the way we must see him.
We sometimes hear that this book of Job is the record of an important battleground between God and Satan and that Job happens to be in between. Now, though there are aspects of this in the book, is this not a foreign war, in which one side must get permission from the other before it attacks? What kind of battle is that?
Can you imagine a German commander during World War II stepping up to General Patton, saluting him and saying, “Herr General, we would like permission to bomb your troops, to destroy your tanks, and to wreck all your plans!” I’m sure General Patton’s reply would have been unprintable, and unrepeatable from this pulpit!
And yet that is the situation you have in this book of Job. Satan comes to God and asks permission to do something against Job. Now that is not a battle; it is not warfare; it is a test. That is what we need to see. Job’s faith is the subject of a very rigorous test. Satan is the one who brings it about, but God permits it.
I think the striking thing about this account is that it is God that challenges Satan, not the other way around. God says,
“Satan, where have you been?”
“Oh,” says Satan, “I’ve been here and there, looking over the earth, trying to find somebody.”
And God says, “Have you taken a look at Job? There’s a man that I’m proud of!”
God’s assessment of Job is that there is none like him in all the earth. Job is blameless and upright, i.e., he is complete and balanced, and he turns from evil as soon as he recognizes it.
So God asks Satan, “Have you tried Job?”
Satan says, “Well, I certainly have tried. I’ve looked that man over very carefully and examined how to get at him, but I can’t get near. You’ve got him hedged in, surrounded by protection. I’ve tried every way I can to get at Job, but you’ve got him so protected there’s no way I can get through.”
Two things, in particular, emerge from this account — the evil activity and the satanic philosophy: Satan’s activity is going up and down looking for somebody he can get at, and this is in line with what Peter tells us.
“Your adversary [and here Peter uses the same term, the meaning of the name Satan] the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8 RSV).
He goes about seeking those he can get at, to twist and distort and ruin, if he can. Now there is a great helpful picture of some of the forces at work in every one of our lives. There is a vicious, malicious enemy looking for a chink in our armor.
Remember how, in the letter to the Ephesians; Paul speaks of giving the devil an opportunity. In Chapter 4, Verse 26, Paul says, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and [therefore] give no opportunity to the devil.”
When do you give the devil an opportunity to attack you? When you hold a grudge, when you get mad at somebody and refuse to forgive him, when you keep nursing your anger and wrath, feeding it all the time, the devil is watching and saying, “Ah, I’ve got a chance! I’ll get him!” The suggestion here is that whoever reflects some degree the devil’s philosophy is available to his attack.
The devil’s answer to God is, “You’ve protected Job, and that’s why he serves you. But if you take away your protection, he’ll curse you right to your face.” In other words, Satan’s philosophy says that self-serving is the fundamental law of life.
“‘What’s in it for me?’ is the ultimate question for every human being,” Satan says, “and nobody will ever deny that.” “Put them in the right circumstances, where they have to choose between what is best for them and something else, and they will choose for themselves every time,” he challenges.
Now whoever begins to reflect that philosophy to any degree becomes open to the devil’s activity? So the LORD says to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand.”
The third fact that emerges in this account is a satanic limitation. God has set the boundaries for Satan’s activities. But the impressive thing is that although Satan is a rebel, and he would break the rules if he could, there is no suggestion that he even attempts to break forth from this limitation. There is no possible way by which even Satan can violate God’s restriction. He has no power to do it and so he abides by the rules. God is totally in control.
Now the rules of the test are clear. Children.” is going to be stripped of his possessions because Satan’s argument is that when they are taken away, Job will deny God right to his face. So God says to Satan, “All right, we’ll see. Go at it. He’s in your power, but don’t touch his body.”
In tomorrow’s blog post we are going to talk about how “Job Loses His Property and Children”
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible