August 24, 2009

God vs. the Devil

Sometimes we give the devil too much credit. When something bad happens, we automatically assume that he must have done it, and that somehow he must have slipped under God’s radar to do so. We act as though Satan were not on God’s leash. We speak as though Satan can attack, harm, or discourage us without God’s permission. But it’s just not true. All of Satan’s activity … even the most horrific … is under God’s control, and is worked, by God, for the good of His people and the glory of Christ!

That’s what the book of Job is all about. The man Job suffered like none of us have ever suffered … all at the hands of Satan. And Satan was malicious in all that he did, to be sure. But when you read the book carefully, you find that, even more important and decisive that Satan’s evil intents and actions, was a good and loving God who had merciful plans for His servant Job. God allowed Job suffer. And God was merciful in doing it. Let me give you some reasons why I say this (all italics are mine, meant to help you see God’s role in Job’s suffering)…

·God, not Satan, was the one who began the conversation with Satan that led to the suffering of Job. “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?’” (Job 1.8, 2.3).

·Satan believed that the suffering of Job would, ultimately, be under God’s control. “Put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to your face” (Job 1.11). “Put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to your face” (Job 2.5).

·Job’s servants believed that Job’ suffering was under God’s control. “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants” (Job 1.16).

·Job’s friends, although wrong about the purpose of Job’s affliction, believed it was under God’s control. This is why they proceed to clumsily defend God’s actions in chapters 4-37. Consider, for example, Job 5.18: “For He [God] inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds and His hands also heal.”

·Job’s wife, though she didn’t like it, believed Job’s affliction was under God’s control. This is why she told him to “curse God (not the devil) and die” (Job 2.9).

·Job believed his affliction was God’s doing. “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1.21). “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2.10). And Job got it right (see Job 1.22 and 2.10).

·God Himself demonstrates that Job’s suffering, though carried out by Satanic means, was ultimately under His own control. He was the one who gave permission for the affliction (Job 1.12 and Job 2.6). And He even speaks about Himself as, in some way, bringing about Job’s calamity (Job 2.3).

It’s clear that God was sovereign over Job’s calamity – and even used Satan as His rod of instruction. And even though Satan’s motivations were bad –God’s were good. Job learned how to rely on God like never before … and so have countless others from his story. I hope you and I will be among them.

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