John T. Willis

Friday, September 04, 2009

Satan--Part 5

The composer presents the story of Job as a TRIANGLE between God--Job--Satan. One way to look at this is that Job is "caught" in a situation between God and Satan. [Obviously, there are other ways to look at this story. But in this blog, we will talk about this way of looking at Job].

I will divide this into two segments.
I. A. What are God and Satan trying to accomplish? Job has no choice about his situation. Surely, Job would like to continue his life and enjoy his wealth, health, and wisdom [fearing God]. But God and Satan are preparing to change all this. Without even mentioning Job, God and Satan proceed to making decisions about Job's life, Job's fate, Job's future. This is just not right. At least, that is the way it seems.
B. Does the book of Job teach that God CAUSED Job to suffer or that God ALLOWED Job to suffer? It SEEMS that it would be "harsher" to think God CAUSED Job to suffer than to think God ALLOWED Job to suffer. This DIRECTLY raises an important issue about GOD: Is God a GOOD God, a LOVING God, IF God CAUSES or ALLOWS a human being to suffer. This comes right to the heart of a tremendous human problem--and human beings have struggled with this issue throughout the centuries. This is WHY many people cannot BELIEVE IN a God. Surely, there is NO GOD. This SEEMS very rational, very logical.
C. IF God CAUSES or ALLOWS Job to suffer, WHY would God do such a thing? We human beings naturally respond: suffering is HARMFUL; suffering is PAINFUL--THEREFORE, it is BAD, EVIL, WRONG, UNGODLY. Is that correct? What do YOU think?
D. WHY would [the] Satan CAUSE Job to suffer? From the book of Job, in my opinion, the answer here is pretty clear. [The] Satan wants to harm or shame or overthrow of destroy Job's trust in [fear of] God. Carol Newsom says succinctly [The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume 4, pages 348-349: "[ . . .] One can assume that the satan has been patrolling the earth LOOKING FOR DISLOYALTY OR SINFUL BEHAVIOR to indict before Yahweh."
Now, such questions are these lead to the second suggestion in this blog.

II. Could it be that God and Satan are working IN THE SAME EVENT [or set of events] with DIFFERENT INTENTIONS and for DIFFERENT PURPOSES? It seems to me that the Bible offers at least FIVE examples of just this kind of situation. Here they are briefly:

A. 2 Samuel 24:1 says THE LORD "incited David" against Israel, and 1 Chronicles 21:1 says SATAN "incited David" against Israel. IF these two texts are correct, God and Satan are both working in the same event. Is God's intention of doing this the SAME as Satan's? In my opinion--NO. ONE way to understand this enigma is that God wanted to emphasize what God had done for David, while Satan wanted to emphasize that David had become proud for all David's achievements.
B. Zechariah 3:1-2 says THE LORD rebuked SATAN who stood at the right hand of Joshua to high priest to accuse him. God and Satan are both working in the same event. Is God attempting to do the same thing that Satan is attempting to do in this situation? In my opinion--NO. Joshua had become proud, and God is rebuking him, but is not destroying Joshua, as Satan would like to accomplish.
C. Matthew 4:1 says that Jesus was led up BY THE SPIRIT [God] into the wildernes to be tempted by THE DEVIL. Is the Holy Spirit's [God's] intention to harm or destroy or shame or overpower Jesus Christ?--But the devil intends to do this.
D. Paul says that his "thorn in the flesh" was GIVEN him by THE LORD, whom he besought three times that it would leave him, but he also identifies THAT THORN as a MESSENGER OF SATAN--2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Does God WISH to do the same thing that Satan WISHES to do in this series of events relating to Paul?
E. John 13:2 says THE DEVIL put it into the heart of Judah to betray Jesus--hence, Satan was ACTIVE in putting Jesus Christ on the cross. But Peter declares on Pentecost in Jerusalem that Jesus Christ was delivered up and crucified "according to the DEFINITIVE PLAN AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD"--Acts 2:23. Now, WHO put Jesus Christ on the cross--Satan? or God? --According to the Bible. Would a student of the Bible conclude from this that Satan put Jesus Christ on the cross--THEREFORE, SATAN is responsible for SAVING LOST HUMANITY as a result of Jesus' death on the cross? Does it not seem obvious that God and Satan are working in the same event--but for different reasons and intentions?

Now, here is my point. Like these five examples, I believe that the Book of Job presents a picture of God and Satan working in the same event [or series of events] pertaining to Job, BUT FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. It seems clear that Satan DESIRES to overthrow, destroy, harm, shame Job for his trust in or fear of God. Does God have the same desire as Satan's desire? In my opinion, NOT SO. I think the book of Job makes clear that God is working in Job's life in these ways as described in the book of Job for an entirely different reason. This will become clear as we work through this marvelous book.

What are YOUR insights? YOUR problems? YOUR misgivings? YOUR solutions? Share your thoughts with others. Please help me understand the Bible better.

John Willis


  • John, I love your five specific examples of God and the satan working in the same event for different reasons. That's VERY helpful!

    Jesus talks of a "winnowing fork" that separates the wheat from the chaff. I think the Adversary's attacks/accusations "winnow" people out--there are those who respond like children of God, and those who curse God and die.

    Satan's REASON for attacking God's children is NOT to do them good--but, in the grand scheme of things, all things work together for the good of those who love God.

    By Blogger A Future Metaphysician, at 5:28 AM  

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