“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” (Excerpt 41)
Satan Tempts Job for the First Time (His Livestock Is Stolen and Calamity Befalls His Children)
a. The Words Spoken by God
(Job 1:8) And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
(Job 1:12) And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah.
b. Satan’s Reply
(Job 1:9–11) Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not You made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.
God Permits Satan to Tempt Job so That Job’s Faith Will Be Made Perfect
Job 1:8 is the first record that we see in the Bible of an exchange between Jehovah God and Satan. And what did God say? The original text provides the following account: “And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” This was God’s assessment of Job before Satan; God said that he was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil. Prior to these words between God and Satan, God had resolved that He would use Satan to tempt Job—that He would hand Job over to Satan. In one respect, this would prove that God’s observation and evaluation of Job were accurate and without error, and would cause Satan to be shamed through Job’s testimony; in another, it would make perfect Job’sand fear of God. Thus, when Satan came before God, God did not equivocate. He cut straight to the point and asked Satan: “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” In God’s question there is the following meaning: God knew that Satan had roamed all places, and had often spied upon Job, who was God’s servant. It had often tempted and attacked him, trying to find a way of bringing ruin upon Job in order to prove that Job’s faith in God and fear of God could not hold firm. Satan also readily sought opportunities to devastate Job, that Job might renounce God and allow Satan to seize him from the hands of God. Yet God looked within Job’s heart and saw that he was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil. God used a question to tell Satan that Job was a perfect and an upright man who feared God and shunned evil, that Job would never renounce God and follow Satan. Having heard God’s appraisal of Job, in Satan there came a rage born of humiliation, and it became more angry, and more impatient to snatch Job away, for Satan had never believed that someone could be perfect and upright, or that they could fear God and shun evil. At the same time, Satan also loathed the perfection and uprightness in man, and hated people that could fear God and shun evil. And so it is written in Job 1:9–11 that “Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not You made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.” God was intimately acquainted with Satan’s malicious nature, and knew full well that Satan had long planned to bring ruin upon Job, and so in this God wished, through telling Satan once more that Job was perfect and upright and that he feared God and shunned evil, to bring Satan into line, to make Satan reveal its true face and attack and tempt Job. In other words, God deliberately emphasized that Job was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil, and by this means He made Satan attack Job because of Satan’s hatred and ire toward how Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil. As a result, God would bring shame upon Satan through the fact that Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil, and Satan would be left utterly humiliated and defeated. After that, Satan would no longer doubt or make accusations about Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, or shunning of evil. In this way, God’s trial and Satan’s temptation was almost inevitable. The only one able to withstand God’s trial and Satan’s temptation was Job. Following this exchange, Satan was granted permission to tempt Job. Thus began Satan’s first round of attacks. The target of these attacks was Job’s property, for Satan had made the following accusation against Job: “Does Job fear God for nothing? … You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” As a result, God permitted Satan to take all that Job had—which was the very purpose why God talked with Satan. Nevertheless, God made one demand of Satan: “all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand” (Job 1:12). This was the condition that God made after He permitted Satan to tempt Job and placed Job into the hands of Satan, and was the limit He set for Satan: He ordered Satan not to harm Job. Because God recognized that Job was perfect and upright, and He had faith that Job’s perfection and uprightness before Him were beyond doubt, and could withstand being put to the test; thus, God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but imposed a restriction on Satan: Satan was permitted to take all of Job’s property, but it could not lay a finger on him. What does this mean? It means that God did not give Job completely to Satan then. Satan could tempt Job by whatever means it wanted, but it could not hurt Job himself, not even one hair on his head, because everything of man is controlled by God, whether man lives or dies is decided by God, and Satan does not have such license. After God said these words to Satan, Satan couldn’t wait to begin. It used every means to tempt Job, and before long Job had lost a mountainful of sheep and oxen and all of the property given unto him by God…. Thus God’s trials came to him.
Though the Bible tells us of the origins of Job’s temptation, was Job himself, the one subjected to these temptations, aware of what was going on? Job was just a mortal man; of course he knew nothing of the story unfolding behind him. Nevertheless, his fear of God, and his perfection and uprightness, made him realize that the trials of God had come upon him. He did not know what had occurred in the spiritual realm, nor what the intentions of God were behind these trials. But he did know that regardless of what happened to him, he should hold true to his perfection and uprightness, and should abide by the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Job’s attitude and reaction to these matters were clearly beheld by God. And what did God see? He saw Job’s heart that feared God, because from the beginning right through until when Job was tried, Job’s heart remained open to God, it was laid before God, and Job did not renounce his perfection or uprightness, nor did he cast away or turn from the way of fearing God and shunning evil—and nothing was more gratifying to God.
Excerpted from The Word Appears in the Flesh