John T. Willis

Monday, August 31, 2009

Satan--Part 2

It is fundamental to try to understand how the author of the Book of Job portrays [the] Satan.

Careful study of the Bible leads the examiner or investigator or pursuer to encounter stern realities. Stated simply:
1. The Bible SAYS certain things. A properly trained individual arrives at WHAT the text SAYS.
2. All biblical texts omit "unsaid" statements. THEN, the examiner MUST attempt to "fill in" the missing blanks in the biblical material.
3. One well-meaning committed person of God will reach one conclusion, and another well-meaning committed person of God will reach a different conclusion. The REASON for this is NOT what the text SAYS, but what the examiner MUST INFER or READ IN BETWEEN the lines of what the text SAYS.
4. We all HAVE to do this, but often we are unaware that we are "deducing" our conclusions from what the text SAYS.
This is the situation in trying to understanding the role of [the] Satan in the Book of Job [Job 1-2]. As best as I am able, I will be as "honest" as possible about my inferences from this issue. I trust others will do as well.

I. What the text SAYS. Follow Job 1:6-12 [which is almost identical to Job 2:1-6].
1. The heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. Job 1:6; 2:1.
2. The Lord spoke to Satan directly: Where have you come from? Satan replied, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Job 1:7; 2:2.
3. The Lord said to Satan directly: Have you considered my servant Job? Job is a godly servant of God=one who fears God and turns away from evil. Job 1:8; 2:3a.
4. Satan replies directly to the Lord: "Does Job fear God FOR NOTHING?" Job 1:9.
5. Satan continues, speaking directly to the Lord: YOU [the Lord] protect Job in every way, but if YOU [the Lord] "touch" all Job has [his possessions], he [Job] will curse YOU [the Lord]. Job 1:10-11.
6. The Lord responds: All that Job has is in YOUR [(the) Satan's] power is in YOUR [Satan's] power, BUT I will not allow YOU [Satan] to "stretch out YOUR [Satan's] hand against him [Job]." Job 1:12ab.
7. At this point, Satan goes out from the presence of the Lord.

II. What MAY infer from this. [Here, I would imagine that different thinkers will make different inferences from this text. SO, I openly admit that the following ideas are inferences--not WHAT the text SAYS--of my own. But remember--any other commentator will behave in this same way].
1. Satan comes among the heavenly beings before the Lord--Job 1:6. Notice that 2:1 says in addition that "Satan also came among them to present themselves BEFORE THE LORD," a statement that does not appear in Job 1:6. On this point, I INFER that Satan was ONE OF "the heavenly beings." To me, this is important for at least two reasons:
a. "Heavenly beings" in the Bible are ALL heavenly personalities [whether the Bible calls them "gods," "spirits," "angels," "demons," etc.]; they are CREATED BEINGS living in the universe who are invisible to human beings. I assume that God created all these beings IN THE HOPE that they would ALL be faithful to God, BUT God gives these creatures FREE WILL to decide whether they will serve God faithfully or not, just as I assume that God gives human beings FREE WILL to decide whether they will serve God faithfully or not. ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, some of these heavenly personalities decide to serve God faithfully, and some decide to rebel against God. IN my feeble thinking, this is WHY Satan and his angels [this is biblical--see Matthew 25:41], or "the cosmic powers of this present darkness," "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" [this is biblical--see Ephesians 6:12]. Biblically, I think God REQUIRES that ALL of these heavenly personality appear before the Lord even if they are AGAINST the Lord's desire.
b. ALL of God's heavenly creatures MAY function FREELY--BUT within the LIMITS that God SETS. This is just a fact--for human beings AND for heavenly beings. As an example of human beings--A human being CANNOT fly like a bird--OR live like a fish constantly under the water in the ocean--OR survive for 1000 years of life on earth. God has SET LIMITS on his creatures. In the same way, God SETS LIMITS on his heavenly creatures, whether these creatures serve God or not. SO, Satan CANNOT function unless and until God ALLOWS Satan to act. In my opinion, Satan realizes or knows this, and THUS, FIRST Satan must RECEIVE God's PERMISSION to act. Accordingly, God allowed Satan to destroy Job's possession, but NOT Job's physical life. Now, I THINK Job 1:12 SAYS THIS. Check me out. Am I right or wrong. How do YOU read Job 1:12?

2. I infer from Job 1:7 that God REQUIRES Satan [and I would conjecture ALL his heavenly creatures] to tell God what Satan has been doing. And Satan says that he has been walking up and down on the earth. [Here, I think of the vision of the man riding on a red horse and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses "patroling the whole earth" in Zechariah 1:8-11, but this is NOT SATAN!!!]. But WHAT has Satan been doing? The Bible DOES NOT SAY. So here we are. We HAVE to guess. FROM THE PRESENT CONTEXT, I infer that Satan is trying to find human beings whom Satan intends to turn away from God to Satan. Now, that is a bold assertion or inference, and I am sure others will differ from me on this. But this is my inference. What do you think? Why?

3. God SAYS to Satan: Have YOU [Satan] considered my servant Job? Job is a godly person. I infer from God's question to Satan and Satan's reply in verses 9-11 that Satan has already indeed "considered" Job, but up to this point, Satan has not pursued "considering" Job BECAUSE Satan KNOWS that God is protecting Job, and THUS Satan cannot "consider" JOB. Now, what does the word "consider" mean in this context?
[Right here, I will stop, and continue this line of thought in the next blog].

What are YOUR thoughts thus far? This is long and tedious? Are you [we, I] getting anywhere? Give me your ideas. Share with others.

John Willis


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