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by Rosco Brong

Satan Against Job
Job 1:1-3, 6-11; 2:3-10

Job is the classic example of a genuine saint patiently suffering affliction as a trial or test of faith, not as chastisement for sin. Various attempts have been made to explain and solve the problem of suffering of the righteous, but we may as well admit that in this life we can find no better answers than are found in the book of Job.

This lesson is taken from the first two chapters of the book. Another lesson will be from later and closing chapters. It will be impossible to present adequately the message of this great book, perhaps the earliest written book of the Bible. Space permits only a brief treatment of the lesson text. Outline follows:

1. Substance, Job 1:1-3.
a. Job's faith, 1.
b. Job's family, 2.
c. Job's flocks, 3.
2. Sovereignty, Job 1:6-8.
a. Authority asserted, 6.
b. Authority admitted, 7.
c. Authority accepted, 8.
3. Slander, Job 1:9-11.
a. Devilish disdain, 9-10.
b. Devilish depredation, 11.
4. Sanction, Job 2:3-6.
a. Perished belongings, 3-4.
b. Perishing body, 5-6.
5. Sanctification, Job 2:7-10.
a. Suffering in patience, 7-8.
b. Sanctified in patience, 9-10.
SUBSTANCE, Job 1:1-3.
No doubt the sufferings of the poor and miserable who have never known affluence or comfort are as real as any. Nevertheless the contrast in experience makes poverty seem especially cruel to those who have enjoyed great wealth, just as mental or physical misery must seem especially painful to those accustomed to luxurious pleasure and good health.

We are therefore introduced to Job as a man of great substance spiritually, socially, and financially, that we may better understand the extent and intensity of his sufferings.

Job's Faith, 1.
"Perfect and upright" men, since the fall of Adam, are those who live by faith, who fear God, and eschew evil. How well this description fitted Job becomes more apparent as we read through the book.

Job's Family, 2.
Blessed with a large family, Job was a kind, loving, and faithful father, as appears in context [verse 5]. Ties of family affection must have been extraordinarily strong, so that the loss of only one of his ten children would have been a sore trial.

Job's Flocks, 3.
In the society of his time and region, wealth was measured mostly in terms of flocks and herds of livestock. The ex- tent of Job's wealth is summed up in the statement that he was "the greatest of all the men of the east." It is as if we were to speak of someone as the richest man in the country.

Here we are given a rare glimpse of the unseen world, with Jehovah as sovereign Ruler over all the powers of heaven and earth. It is true that most people are unaware of this sovereign rule, but their ignorance cannot make the fact any less real.

Authority Asserted, 6.
"Sons of God" here evidently means created son; that is, angels, good and bad. Among them was Satan, chief of the fallen angels. All "came to present themselves before the Lord." Clearly we have asserted here the sovereign authority of God, with the mighty angels coming before Him to report on their doings and to receive orders for further activities.

Authority Admitted, 7.
Satan himself, the oldest of all rebels, must admit and bow before the superior authority and power of his Creator. Restlessly persistent in his evil efforts to make trouble, Satan still goes to and fro and up and down in the earth, "seeking whom he may devour" [II Peter 5:8].

Authority Accepted, 8.
But while evil powers reluctantly admit and submit to divine authority, holy angels and righteous men joyfully accept it. And God is pleased with such acceptance, so that here we find Him pointing out to Satan the character of Job as "a perfect and an upright man."

SLANDER, Job 1:9-11.
"Devil," meaning slanderer, is another name of Satan. He is "the accuser of our brethren" [Revelation 12:10], and he has been at it a long time. Job, of course, had no way of knowing that the devil was the source of all his troubles.

Devilish Disdain, 9-10.
Liar that he is himself, Satan seems unable or unwilling to recognize simple truth. The original cynic, he assumes that all creatures must be "motivated wholly by self-interest," to quote Webster. So he disdainfully accused Job of serving God only for the sake of personal gain.

Devilish Depredation, 11.
Issuing what we might call a sort of challenge, the devil obtained permission from Jehovah to ravage and despoil like an evil beast of prey. "All that he hath is in thy power," we read in the next verse, "only upon himself put not forth thine hand." There is great comfort in knowing that Satan is limited to what God permits.

SANCTION, Job 2:3-6.
At this point in the story, the devil has done his worst within the prescribed limits. Disaster has followed disaster until Job is reduced from wealth to poverty and bereaved of all his children. Only his wife is left to him, apparently because Satan intended to use her in the ultimate temptation. But now the devil must get further sanction from God before he can go any further.

Perished Belongings, 3-4.
Once more we are given a glimpse of the continuing controversy between God and Satan. God Himself declares here that is was Satan who moved Him "to destroy him" (that is, his possessions and family) "without cause"; yet there are befuddled preachers who keep trying to find or invent a cause in the conduct or character of Job for all these afflict- ions. Let us simply take God at His Word.

Having failed to affect Job's integrity through his belongings, Satan came up with an alibi. "Skin for skin," he said. Evidently, he thought, Job must be concerned mostly for his own person.

Perishing Body, 5-6.
"Touch his bone and flesh," said the devil to God, "and he will curse thee to thy face."

Repeatedly, it seems, (we know not how often) God responds to such challenges of Satan with renewed demonstrations of the sufficiency of His sustaining grace. But note again that the devil could go only as far as God permitted.

Maybe there are times when God permits His children to be unjustly afflicted that they may grow in sanctification, and become more and more like our Savior, separate and apart from sinners. Dear God, may we learn from Job to pray, if we must suffer, let it be for this purpose rather than for need of chastisement.

Suffering in Patience, 7-8.
Undoubtedly Satan made Job suffer as much as a man could suffer without dying. This was God's limitation; and just as we can be sure the devil could not pass that limit, we can be sure that he went as far as he could. It is a sorry picture that we get of Job sitting "among the ashes," and imagination must fall far short of getting a grasp on his suffering; but his suffering in patience and his patience in suffering have become proverbial.

Sanctified in Patience, 9-10.
Exactly in his weakest moment there came to Job the most cruel wound of all. The companion of his bosom, the mother of those much loved children that were gone, became the instrument of Satan to tempt him to seek death through blasphemy against God. But the terrible suggestion served only to stir his soul to soar in the heights of sublime faith:

"What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Quite conservatively, the inspired writer comments" "In all this did not Job sin with his lips."

CONCLUSION [Job 12:13]
Worldly wisdom is foolishness, and all the strength of men is weakness, compared to the wisdom and strength of God. Human counselors too often give bad advice, and even our best friends fail to understand us; but God always tells us what is right, and He understands us better than we can understand ourselves. Let us therefore seek from Him the help we need.

[From Ashland Avenue Baptist newspaper, December 2, 1977, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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