Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Job 1.5: Introduction to the Enemy

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

One interesting thought to consider as we continue, that of why Satan is allowed among the sons of God at this muster is that by the definition as we’ve seen it, Satan is a son of God. This may seem just a provocative statement at first, but if you think of this ’presentation’ of the sons and that obviously no one can barge into God’s throne room, the odd truth is that Satan was supposed to be there because he was one of them.

This strikes me as very expressive of the total authority of God. We often give Satan too much credit. While I would not deny his power or pretend that he was of any insiginificance, God clearly does not treat him as we would treat enemies.

Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Do you hear the tone of this conversation? This setting? If I had the power to destroy an enemy without hinderance or cost to me, I would do so. But God does not, and it should make us consider this.

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We are commanded to love, bless, and pray for our enemies. Why? So that we may be the children of our Father. Why? Because He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on them both. Why should we treat our enemies this way? Because our Father does.

This is the example of God to Satan. Here we have the most vile, seditious being in all time, and our Father shows him love. Invites him into his presence, into his home. Think about that, there are people we avoid in life because in our eyes they aren’t worth saving; aren’t worth the time and effort to show them love; aren’t worth our time. But whose time is worth more than God’s? And who is less deserving of love than Satan? And yet HaElyon does not in anyway attack or neglect this creature. Though scripture does not ever mention it, from these few passages I would be surprised if God has not made a way of salvation offered even to the fallen angels that we are not privy to.

Continuing in the throne room, having been summoned to be among his brethren, Satan is asked where he’s been. This is perhaps the first of the oddities of Job.

Like with Adam and Eve, God asks a question to which he must know the answer. Well if he’s not asking to get information, what is the purpose of the question? To offer his creation a choice and by making them consider the truth of their standing. Think about another implication, a question is a desire for dialogue. God asks because he wants to have a conversation, he wants to have a relationship with his creation.

Satan considers and apparently chooses to be honest and relays that he’s been walking to and fro. Whether or not Satan was literally striding on legs is unclear, but what this does demonstrate is that Satan is finite. He is bound by both space and time, he cannot be in two places at the same time.

Job 1:8 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?

If Job could hear this conversation you could imagine him saying "Don’t bring my name into this!" God knows what’s about to transpire so in essence he’s picking a fight for his servant Job. But firstly, think how highly God puts Job "there is none like him in the Earth…" Not only this, but this further reveals something about the relationship between God and Satan.

Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 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.

God says look at this guy he’s hot stuff in my book, and Satan says yeah he’s hot stuff because of what he gets from you. It’s as if there’s an unspoken or previously voiced sentiment that no one will love God for who he is. Man will not worship and serve without tangible exchange. In other words, it’s not love. It’s commerce, exchange. Two questions are being suggested, will anyone love God without getting something in return? Or is Man so unflawed that he won’t worship God without exchange?

If you think about it, this is the same premise that Satan used in the Garden of Eden. In Eden, he called doubt upon the truthfulness of God’s word. Which in reality, is calling doubt upon the character of God. Is God good? Or is he just someone whose really rich and buys our admiration, our friendship, love, and fear? Would or should God get our worship if not for the position he put us in? In fact it’s a valid question to ask ourselves, do we only love God because he gives us prosperity in our life and the promise of a New Heaven and New Earth, or do we love God just for who he is?

Switching gears a bit, we’ve been pretty loose with our wording. But the Devil is not. Consider that he is ’the’ Adversary as his very name means. He is our best enemy. Not God’s because there is no comparison. So we must approach him as such. A strong Adversary knows his opponent; his strengths and weaknesses. This means that the area he devotes his attack to, reveals his understanding of our weaknesses.

Remember God identified Job as being perfect, upright, fearing God, refusing evil. How do we evaluate those qualities? Among the four, which is most important? Well, being content sounds good. Certainly being upright. Isn’t doing the right thing the most important? Or not committing evil, not breaking, being edifying in everything isn’t that very important? Those are all very good, but the Adversary’s chief concern is with fearing God.

This is very provocative considering what we’ve seen of the nature of godly fear. Modern understanding has taken the trembling out of it and reduced it to contemplative awe, and yet it is the beginning of wisdom to have it. And it is this quality that the Adversary considers as the lynch pin. He could have said is he content, it’s obvious since you’ve given him everything. That would have been the way I’d have approached it. But he shows that the hedge God put up, explains his fear more importantly than his contendedness or conduct. Why is this true?

He should be content because God has given him everything and he is the greatest in substance—material, familial, and spiritual—of all the men of the east. But if he has that because God protects him, than he should fear God all the more because He can take it away. The higher God builds us the farther we can fall, and the more we should realize that we are dependent on him.

So the Devil makes his proposition, his wager. Job won’t praise God if his substance, the bribe, is removed. Instead, he will curse God. If this is hard to understand, think of some blessing in your life, or some blessing that you are earnestly praying for. What would happen if it was taken from you or the door was forever shut? We depend on God, and to an unconscious degree we do fear him because often when we pray, we’re really praying that God will see it our way because we know he’s in control and are afraid that he’ll do something evil.

A personal example, there have been times that I have looked around and seen all my friends getting married and starting families, having children, and it reminded me that there was nothing on this Earth that I wanted more than to have that same blessing. But God has not granted it to me. And there was a time that I began to lower my standards to try and make something happen. I knew for example that it was unwise to pursue someone whose understanding of scripture excluded torah or to change physical boundaries to try and seal the deal. But I did, and it didn’t work out. Afterwards, I realized how far I’d slipped. I was ashamed of my weakness, though God had been gracious and his Spirit intervened to salvage me. Afterwards, he lead me to understand the source of my weakness.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God would provide me with wife and family that I would like or in my time. It was that I hadn’t accepted that God might never give me one. What if God denied me the one thing that I had always wanted? What if I went the rest of a long life not having the one thing that I wanted? If I wouldn’t accept that answer from God, then I really wasn’t accepting God. I was saying "No, you’re not good enough alone. You have to give me this thing or I won’t love you."

What if God took your one thing?

The Devil says we’d curse him.

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