Job is one of the most illuminating characters in the Bible. Scholars agree that the events in the book of Job occurred before Moses and the law, probably before Abraham, for there is no mention made of either the law or the promises. That would place him not long after the flood and well before 2000 BC (the time of Abraham). This is provocative, because Job demonstrates more faith than anyone in the Bible. Without revelation from God, by just following his reason and yielding to that intuitive knowledge of God inherent in every man, Job developed a rather sophisticated theology and personal relationship with God.
We are told right at the outset that Job “was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3), and that he “feared God, and eschewed [shunned] evil” (Job 1:1). His life is an indictment on any who would plead ignorance due to a lack of Scripture.
Job was a wealthy man with a large family of ten children and a number of grandchildren. The happy families were spread out over the landscape, all living within walking distance of each other.
Job’s very existence must have been an embarrassment and a threat to Satan’s agenda. For to one of the scheduled councils in heaven, when the sons of God (angels) came to present themselves to his Holiness, ruler of all kingdoms in the universe—except the one that had defaulted to the serpent—Satan also came to present himself to God on this most prestigious occasion.
When the fallen cherub had an opportunity to stand before his Majesty, he didn’t bow or worship. He stood and glared in defiance. God, ever the gentleman, in keeping with routine court protocol, said to his enemy, “Whence comest thou?” (Job 1:7). Satan answered that he had been traveling throughout the earth, viewing conditions. And then God took a little dig at the devil: “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?” (Job 1:8). It is fascinating that God would inquire as to how Satan felt about Job’s faithfulness. It was certainly a repudiation of the devil’s faith-less-ness.
This was, no doubt, the leading topic of the proceedings. In accord with his eternal program, God had at least one man on earth who lived in complete faith toward his Creator. Satan already knew about Job and would have done him harm, but he was not allowed. The devil is like a bad dog on a chain: he can bite only when his master “lets” out the chain (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
Heaven must have stood in silence as all observed this exchange with the leader of the insurrection, this father of lies and rebel with a dastardly cause. All niceties aside, Satan, knowing Job full well, threw out his challenge: “Doth Job fear God for nought? 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. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:9–11). Wow, that was coming on strong! He admits Job is blessed by God and protected. Sounds good to me; I like that relationship. If God would put a hedge of protection around a pre-testament character, how much more those of us who are partakers of the Holy Spirit and heirs to the kingdom?
But it greatly disturbed Satan that one man reverenced and honored God. Satan rebelled on the conviction that God is not worthy of devotion and respect. As long as this man worshipped God, Satan was exposed as a fraud. If he could get Job to fall into unbelief, Satan would feel vindicated. It would prove his point that God is not worthy to be Lord of anyone, and it would lower the curve, proving it is impossible for anyone to believe and obey.
God pulled a surprise on everyone. In essence, he said, “Okay, you think he worships me because I have bought him off with blessings; go on, do your worst. Everything goes, but you can’t touch him. Take everything he loves, and we will see if his love is for me or for my blessings.” God had faith in Job!
So Satan set up a foreign adversary to invade the elder brother’s farm at a time when many of Job’s family had gathered to celebrate a special occasion. All the people and animals were killed or carried away into captivity. At the same time, in another location, lightening killed all the servants and sheep. And yet another invading force killed his servants and stole all his camels. And the remaining children were also gathered at one of the family homes when a tornado leveled it and killed everyone. All his family, cattle, and wealth were stolen or destroyed, except his wife. Job was left in poverty with nothing but a wife Satan could have killed (but didn’t) because he intended to use her to tempt Job to curse God and then commit suicide.
Satan had done his best with four tragedies occurring on the same day. Such selective coordination of destruction could only be attributed to the supernatural. Job would assume, as any of us would, that it was the judgment of God on him. So how would Job respond?
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:20–22). Job believed God did it, but he continued in faith and humility. That must have been an embarrassment for the devil. We should all live so as to embarrass the “accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10).
On a side note: The Scriptures commend Job, saying, “nor charged God foolishly.” The opposite of faith is blaming God for the ills that befall us. When anyone questions God’s governance, they are sharing Satan’s perspective—the very opposite of faith.
At the next assembly of heavenly beings, God again challenged Satan, “And the LORD said unto 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? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). God must have been holding back a grin, thrilled that Job had kept faith; for Job’s faith was vindicating to God—as is all true faith.
Satan, disgruntled by his failure, in anger spat out, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:4–5). Satan got a little emotional in his defeat. But this does reveal that Satan doesn’t know the future.
God wasted no time in responding with confidence, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6). God was risking his reputation in heaven and on earth on this one contest of faith. Think about it. God had faith in Job! God knew Job’s heart, that he loved God more than all his possessions, his family, his wife, his health, and even his life, if it came to that.
God had faith Job would overcome; Satan had faith Job would lose his faith. You preachers could get a good sermon out of that. Satan has faith that you guys will look at pornography. He has faith that you will get angry and torment your wife and children. Satan has faith that you will give in to alcohol and drugs, you will fornicate, lie, cheat, and deceive. Satan has faith that you will be a semi-successful hypocrite. Will you prove him right or wrong?
Not wasting any time, “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes [ashes contain lye and are a disinfectant, and keep away flies]. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” It appears that his integrity had been a source of irritation to her long before these events. “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:7–10).
Job’s response reveals that there are many professing Christians today who believe God, but do not have faith in him. How many times have we heard Christians respond to a great personal loss with, “I can’t understand why God would let this happen”? When trying times come and people “lose their faith,” what they actually lose is just the pretense of faith—the comfort of a life without trials.
This affliction went on for months, maybe years, but Job continued to maintain faith in God. God had faith in Job, and Job had faith in God. Job was of one accord with the Godhead and all the holy angels. In the midst of untold suffering, he was living in the beautiful matrix of faith.
After a period of time in which Job’s religious friends tempted him in various ways and tried his patience, God gave Job an A+ and opened the windows of heaven, restoring all that he had, two times over—twice as many children, twice as many sheep, and twice as many cattle, but the same contentious wife, just to keep him humble.
Satan slinked off into the darkness defeated, but more determined than ever to thwart God’s plan to call out a people of faith with whom he can share his oneness for eternity.
The devil continues to show up at heavenly assemblies to tell God that he has been roaming the earth, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The time has come when in desperation he has pulled out all the stops and is pouring out “great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12). But rest assured, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death [decapitation after starvation]” (Revelation 6:9; 12:11).