Job, his family or their servants had no revelation regarding the conversation that God had with Satan in the first two chapters of the book of Job. Consequently, there was no understanding that the destruction did not come at the hand of God. Throughout the ages, casual, non-critical reading of this passage has built the case that God is responsible for the destruction. God receives the blame for it even though the narrative clearly states that Satan was responsible and that Satan likely had the ability to influence natural forces.
Adam and Eve gave up their authority of the earthly realm to Satan when they fell to his deception in the garden of Eden. From that point until the death and resurrection of Jesus, Satan had control of the earth, except when men by faith in God would exercise their God-given, Holy Spirit endowed authority. Evidence of that authority is provided during the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4:8-10.
Matthew 4:8-10 (NIV)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Jesus identified his tempter as Satan, who could not have offered the kingdoms of the world to Jesus in exchange for His worship if he did not have the authority to give them. Otherwise, Jesus would not have been tempted. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan is described as the “god of this world,” which also implies this same authority.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (TLB)
Satan, who is the god of this evil world, has made him blind, unable to see the glorious light of the Gospel that is shining upon him or to understand the amazing message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is God.
The third calamity in Job 1:17 came at the hands of another warring faction, the Chaldeans. Similarly, the servants were killed, and the livestock and camels were taken. Finally, Job 1:19 describes another “natural” disaster, a great wind. It toppled the house in which Job’s sons and daughters were feasting. The narrative states that the young men were killed, but a servant claimed to be the only one to have escaped alive. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Job’s daughters were also killed in the tragedy.
The interchange between God and Satan did not include any specific discussion of authority over Job’s children. However, Job continually interceded for his seven sons and three daughters. Logically speaking, he must have felt that there was cause for his concern. It would, therefore, seem rational to assume that his ten children had also opened the door to Satan’s direct authority over their persons. Otherwise, God would have informed Satan that he had no power over their lives. Job was understandably quite distressed about this devastating and unimaginable turn of events as we see in the continuation of the account in Job 1:20-22.
Job 1:20-22 (ERV)
When Job heard this, he got up, tore his clothes, and shaved his head to show his sadness. Then he fell to the ground to bow down before God and said, “When I was born into this world, I was naked and had nothing. When I die and leave this world, I will be naked and have nothing. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord!” Even after all this, Job did not sin. He did not accuse God of doing anything wrong.
It is hard to even comprehend that all of this devastation could occur so rapidly in the life of a person. However, in spite of it all, by his reaction, Job actually proved Satan wrong. Rather than curse God to His face as Satan had predicted, Job actually humbled himself and worshiped God.
Although we do not have any indication of Satan’s reaction from the narrative, this certainly must have really annoyed him.
We now have a little more perspective on the circumstances and activities presented up to this point. Let’s turn our attention back to the statement by Job that started this chapter, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” This statement, as we have seen, is truly stated, but it is not entirely a statement of truth. The Lord did give to Job. He was the source of the blessings that Job enjoyed as a result of his obedience to the principles of God. There was no written law to observe at this point in time, so we cannot say that Job observed and performed it. However, what we can say is that Job displayed a reverential fear and gave wholehearted worship to God. Job’s faith in God is what brought His blessings and wealth to him.
It is equally obvious that the Lord did not “take away” as Job declared. Satan did. Job knew only of God. He did not know of any other spiritual entity besides God, in this case, Satan. Therefore, Job assumed that God was both the giver and the taker, and he made his decree to that effect. However, Job did not sin because he was not falsely accusing God. He was only acting on the assumptions that he made from his limited perspective based on his understanding. This was Job’s point of reference or his experiential truth.
Job’s perspective might be comparable to that of the ping pong player or the stationary motorist discussed in the examples of relativity in Ideolatry, Chapter 6, page 47. Both both the player and the train station observer were witnessing the same activity; however, both were aware of different levels of truth. The train station observer had a more complete view of the activity, and the player who was closer to the situation actually had less information. In this way, a more complete picture of the actual truth of the interchange between God and Satan, and Satan as the causative agent was not within Job’s perspective or understanding. Job’s conclusions are, therefore, understandable, based on his limited information and his observational perspective.
This perspective is part of the reason that Job was described as good and faithful. So what gave Satan the right to cause all of this destruction? Was God testing Job just to see how he would react as many have claimed about this narrative? Was God playing a sick cosmic game with Job, his family, and his possessions? Certainly not! The narrative clearly states that God was not inflicting the destruction. Satan had authority over these aspects of Job’s life and was pouring out this devastation upon him.
However, why would all that Job had possessed be in Satan’s power? Perhaps Job’s own actions and words will give us some clues… for more purchase Ideolatry the book available in hard back or in digital formats.
Jesus will set you free if you let Him !
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
To learn more about this subject read,
Chapter 11, “TRIALS AND TESTING - WHAT'S UP WITH JOB?" and
Chapter 6, “OUR UNIVERSE, RELATIVE OR ABSOLUTE"
In Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem, The Character and Nature of God, now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders.
Now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders
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