“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)
Many under the umbrella of Christianity today believe in the Fatherhood of God. However, at The Fall (Genesis 3) man’s position as child of God (by way of creation) was altered to the fatherhood of the devil. We learn of this through Jesus’s encounter with the religious of His day.
“You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” (John 8:41-44)
Every person must be transferred from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son. (Colossians 1:13) Only then do we become children of God and can take the words of the Apostle John to refer to us from our opening verse; “We know that we are of God…”
Spiritual warfare is not a popular topic today except for fringe groups that see it as another means of feeling important. It becomes almost a game for them to think they have power over the devil because they are Christian and endowed with special spiritual gifts. Spiritual warfare in reality is not a game at all, but is the most serious business the true Christian will ever face.
The greatest Bible story on this subject can be found in the book of Job. This book, as all the books of poetry, is placed in the center or at the heart of the Bible. It is here where issues of the heart are dealt with in poetic form.
We are told by the author that Job was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. (Job 1:1) We are further told that Job would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of all his children. “For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:5) Cursing God in the heart becomes a prominent theme in the book of Job.
We are then placed in the throne room of God, where the angels come to appear before Him, and with them came Satan. The name Satan means accuser or adversary. He accuses God and His people, and by nature he is their adversary.
God spoke to Satan and said to him, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Satan went right to work and said to God,
“Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” (Job 1:10, 11)
God’s integrity was impugned before all the angels of heaven. For in effect Satan said, Job could not possibly love, honor and follow you because you are worthy of love and honor but only because of what you do for him. Otherwise, he will curse you to your face. The contest as to who was right was on, and God allowed Satan to do what he would with Job, but only he was not to kill him.
Today there are mostly only two extreme views regarding Satan. On the one side men believe that he is behind every evil thing that takes place or he has been beaten by God at the cross and he is no longer of any concern. Satan is the father of lies and he loves extremes. In the extremes there is error. The fact remains that the New Testament is full of talk about Satan and his kingdom, but it is approached with discernment, discretion, humility, and the right kind of faith.
When Satan attacked Job He used Sabeans, “fire from heaven” as it was called by the messengers, and Chaldeans. The casual on looker would not have seen Satan but the means he used to accomplish his dastardly deeds. It takes spiritual discernment to separate the Christian from the non Christian, and the works of the devil from the works of God. The bulk of the book of job is based around conversations that reveal whose who in the kingdoms of God and Satan.
After the events of chapter one we read of Job, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:20-22)
After the events of chapter two, which were repeats of chapter one, Satan was allowed to attack Job’s body. Job responded to his wife who said that he should curse God and die. “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)
In Job’s immediate responses we see his true heart for God. His wife is often beat up for her response but let us consider carefully Job’s response. He said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women. I take that to mean she did not always speak in such a foolish manner. Let us remember that apart from the loss of wealth the much greater loss was that of their children and servants. People always matter much more than things, especially to the godly. Job’s wife carried her children in her body, and as a woman made by God her emotions dominate in her heart. Both Job’s wife and Job himself were entering into a time of great sorrow. Chapter two ends with this very truth as it describes what Job’s three friends saw. “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
It is at this place that understanding the organization of the book and its events are very important. The first two chapters is a historical account of Job’s normal affairs, his integrity, the tragedy that followed, the dealings of God and Satan, and Job’s initial responses to the tragedy. The following 23 chapters turn into a debate between Job and his three friends. Job’s character is attacked, as they believe that the evil that comes upon men is always caused by the evil that men do. As an example Eliphaz said to Job, “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed?” (Job 4:7) In today’s terms they preached a health and wealth gospel.
When Job speaks in chapter four by cursing the day of his birth, he was speaking from the hurt he was feeling. The heart of Job became hardened toward God by reason of his sufferings and his lack of understanding of God, Satan, and their dealings with each other. No doubt that for seven days Job was accosted by the devil with accusations of injustice. Job thinking they were all his own thoughts became twisted and hardened in heart.
What a difference the right knowledge can make in the heart of a believer. Paul suffered horribly by the accusations of the Corinthians, which church he was instrumental in founding. And yet we read the account of how he viewed his circumstances in this way.
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn (an impaling spear) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, emphasis added)
Paul responded to his trial, suffering as it was, with gladness. Why? Because he understood Satan, God, and the most important reasons behind it all. God was good and righteous and in this Paul could be glad. In all the words spoken by these four men there is never a mention of Satan.
The average length of a chapter is about twenty-five verses, but chapter twenty-five is six verses. After the sixth verse Job cuts off Bildad; he is done with hearing their condemnation in the midst of his suffering. Mostly they spoke for two chapters apiece. Then beginning in chapter 26 Job spoke for 6 chapters and then we read, in chapter 32.
“Then these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.” (Job 32:1) Job’s three friends represent the philosophy of the world, which is to say that God blesses the good and punishes the wicked. Such thinking is much different than what Jesus taught about God the Father, “…For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) God is unlike men who show partiality. God has transcendent purposes for all that He does.
The following six chapters are the thoughts of Job’s fourth friend. We learn about Elihu beginning in verse 2. “But the anger of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram burned; against Job his anger burned because he justified himself before God. And his anger burned against his three friends because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.” (Job 32:2 3)
Elihu was a passionate man, and he became angry over what was said. The meaning of his name is “He is my God.” Elihu was passionate for God because God had become personal to him. Elihu did not want to hear Job claiming to be righteous apart from God. Job defended his own righteousness before the friends that accused him for the deaths of his children and servants. God allowed Job’s suffering for his good and a higher purpose, but He did not cause it – Satan did. A point easily missed.
Elihu’s anger burned against Job’s three friends because they condemned Job without just cause. This they did because of their fundamental philosophy of life and their lack of empathy. To judge is easy; to discern right from wrong is difficult.
It is very doubtful that Job’s three friends were saved men for three reasons. First, because of the perspective from which they spoke. While Job’s view of God may have become distorted because of the intensity of his suffering, agitation from unfeeling friends who unjustly condemned him, but his normal view was God glorifying. Second, God points to what Eliphaz was by reason of his name – “God is fine gold.” He was the friend that harped on Job’s misuse of his money without proof.
Third, in scripture God never speaks of those whom He forgives in terms of wrath as He did Job’s friends. God’s view of Job’s friends was not accepting.
“…the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. “Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-9)
God’s wrath was kindled. Job’s friends did not speak of God the way Job did, and this fact is mentioned twice in two verses. Jesus does not speak well of those who do not speak well of God, as in the parable of the talents. “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed …‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:24, 26, & 30)
Because Job did not speak of God as his friends had, God heard his prayers and did not do with his friends according to their folly.
Job deviated from his normal manner of humility, repentance, fear of God, and repentance, but when he heard God speak he returned to his regular manner of life, and with even more reverence and understanding than he had before.
“Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42;1-6)
Angels are mentioned one time by God Himself. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4 & 7) The sons of God that presented themselves to God were present at the foundation of the earth, or when it was being created. Apart from God making this truth known, all other participating parties in this drama were silent about their reality.
In the final analysis, Job was blameless before God, his accusers were found guilty by Him and would have been dealt with as such had it not been for Job’s prayers. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, the hater and adversary of God. God worked for the highest purpose of making Job into His own image and His glory. God alone is sovereign, good, righteous, honorable, and worthy of all praise.