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Friday, November 4, 2011

Facing trials: Job [3]

Job is a righteous, although not perfect, man. God brags about Job. Satan clearly agrees with God about Job's goodness, but he questions the "Why" of Job's behavior.

He feels that the motivation is worldly. Satan thinks that Job only trusts God because God has blessed him. "But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!" (Job 1:11).

For many of us, this would not be too far off the mark. It is absolutely easy to be good and kind and generous and forgiving when everything is moving in your favor.

But, what Satan is asking here is, what about those times when things aren't so good. When you are down on your luck, short of cash, watching life pass you by...how good and generous are you then? Can you still be righteous when you are feeling like crap and you are caught in a storm of your own? Can you?

Anyway the devil knows that there are many who appear to follow God, but whose motivation and attitude are wrong. Jesus rebuked such would-be disciples: "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loves (provided by Christ) and have your fill." (John 6:26).

Many have come to look to the Christian faith merely as a road to success in this life, the "Prosperity gospel." We hear a lot about "successful living" or "the radiant life" through Christ, as if the Bible were nothing but a deluxe manual on how to win friends, influence people and get mo' money. We have tried to turn God into some magnanimous slot machine. I give God "x" and God will give me "y."

Of course, making God into a great provider is hardly the sum and substance of true faith. Yet Satan tries to insinuate that Job is just this kind of "believer.”

The deeds of Satan are described throughout the Bible, but the scripture only records his voice three times:

  • Here in Job 1 and 2
  • Genesis 3 where he led Adam and Eve into sin
  • Matthew 4, the Gospel record of Christ’s temptation
In all these passages the devil's words seem to be singing the same tune. The devil always tries to undermine what God says.

The Lord has just finished speaking of Job's faithfulness. Satan comes right back and ascribes such devotion to false motives. This is the nature of Satan, whose name means "the adversary.”


God is in charge of the meeting between Himself and Satan. So, Satan complains that the Lord has placed a protective "hedge" (Job 1:10) around Job. He is saying that God hasn't allowed Satan to properly test Job. "The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:12)

The Lord allows Satan to do what he will with Job's family and possessions. But he cannot harm Job. Later God lets the devil go a little farther. He can do whatever he wants to Job, but he must not take his life. “The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” (Job 2:6)

Just as it is evident that Satan can do nothing without God's permission, it is equally clear that the devil's power is vastly superior to our own. The Adversary is able to manipulate raiding parties. He can send down the ''fire of God” (Job 1:16) upon job's sheep to consume them.

From Job's perspective, as his life begins to unravel, all he can really ask is, "Why?"


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