GETTING THE MESSAGE/Job 1:6-12
In this passage we see the veil pulled back from the spiritual arena, and we are given a window into God's court. The surprising thing is that the evil angel Satan appears before the Lord (verse 6). Satan is a powerful spirit who rebelled against God, and who wars against God's people. In other places in Scripture, he is called the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, the great dragon, and a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.
Satan deceived Adam, bringing sin and death into the world. In verse 7 we read he goes to and fro on the earth. It is for no good purpose he wanders about all over the earth. He is entirely evil, obsessed with destruction. His great malice and power is a fearful combination.
Satan's name means accuser. We see him practicing that in our passage. The Lord asks him if he has considered Job, because Job fears God and shuns evil. Satan accuses God of purchasing Job's loyalty by placing a hedge around him and giving Job great abundance (verse 10). Plainly, if not for God's protection, Satan would have been afflicting Job. He resents God's protective hand.
He also accuses Job of not having any real affection for God; that, given the right circumstances, Job would curse God to his face. Satan's goal is to persuade men to curse God. Not simply curse with words, but from the heart. He is against all light and good. The Lord Jesus called him a liar and a murderer. He uses subtle methods, disguising himself as an angel of light to deceive men. Other times, he incites persecution, division, and uses all manner of temptations.
We should understand that there is an ongoing spiritual battle in this world, unseen to the eye. The apostle Paul teaches Christians that we were delivered from the power of the devil and the realm of darkness into the kingdom of God's beloved Son (Colossians 1). Christ destroyed the works of the devil on the cross and in his resurrection.
There is a scene in Zechariah 3 where the high priest Joshua is standing before the throne of God, and Satan is accusing him because he has on filthy rags in the presence of God. Satan's accusation is that if the high priest is contaminated with sin then how can he make atonement for sin? The angel of the Lord replaced Joshua's filthy rags with pure, clean vestments.
The scene is prophetic of Jesus being the high priest, the servant of the Lord who will take away the sins of his people. The power of the devil is broken in the work of Christ. Sin is taken away and death is swallowed up. The devil is still a fearsome enemy to be on guard against. In Ephesians 6, Paul instructs Christians to wear the armor of the gospel truth.
Nevertheless, our passage in Job teaches us that God is sovereign over the devil. His appearing before the Lord, complaining about the protection of Job, and the subsequent condition the Lord puts on Satan afflicting Job, all teach us Satan cannot act outside God. He cannot pursue his malicious designs to whatever extent he chooses. Satan's power is a limited power.
It is God who brings Job into the front lines of the battle. He delivers Job into the devil's hands, but restricts the devil. God is allowing his righteous servant to be subjected to a full frontal attack from the devil. But Job is never out of God's hands.
Job's story is unique in some ways, but the pattern is familiar. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, unjustly enslaved and imprisoned. In the end he was exalted to a high position and became the savior of his family.
The apostle Paul knew his thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan. He also knew the Lord allowed it. It was so bad, Paul repeatedly asked for it to be removed. The Lord replied that his grace was sufficient. The Lord uses Satan for his own purposes. In that case it was to keep his beloved apostle from conceit.
We don't know the Lord's purposes in all the providence we encounter. We know that Satan is a terrible enemy, whom we are to be aware of. We know Satan wants us to doubt God's goodness. And we know that those who believe in Christ will overcome him, because God has promised it will be so.