Lessons in the Book of Job (1)
- Be aware of our enemy Satan
Satan is the chief of fallen spirits, the enemy of God and man. In the Book of Job, Satan plans the scheme to put Job under temptation. Satan is a key figure in the story and is the cause of Job’s sufferings. It is supposed that without the plot of Satan, the story of Job would not exist. On the other hand, as God’s servant, Job does not have any knowledge of Satan nor his plot behind the scene. If Job knew his suffering was caused by Satan, he would not have lost his faith. In the beginning of the story, Job defeated Satan two times. Although he lost every thing including his children, and he himself had leprosy, he never lost his faith in God. Job could endure any sufferings for the reason of religion; however he could not allow anyone to misinterpret his mind. That is the problem of Job and the reason of his failure. Job finally lost his patience and became an angry complainer. Satan could not defeat Job until Job’s weakness provided an opportunity for Satan to attack. It is an important lesson for us to recognize our spiritual enemy, Satan. The more we know Satan, the more we have a chance to escape his temptation.
Satan’s power and limitation
Satan is an evil spirit and he has great power and ability to destroy men’s souls. In the Book of Job, Satan is restlessly “roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” (1:7) He is always looking for someone to become his prey. Satan appears among the angels and has conversations with the Lord. We may be surprised by this situation. How could Satan become visible in front of God? As “the father of lies (John 8: 44), and “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), Satan should not dare to go near the most holy God. But sometimes Satan has to stand there because of God’s command. On that very day, in the story of Job, Satan is required to give an account of his conduct before God’s throne. From this picture we see that both in heaven and on the earth, God is the King of kings and the Lord and lords. Nothing can escape from the controlling of God. God knows Satan’s mind and his plans. Satan challenges the authority of God by putting God’s servant Job under persuasion. Satan was once very confident in his plans and believed that Job would be defeated in his suffering. Satan said to God twice, “He will surely curse you to your face” (1:11; 2:5) However Job did not sin from what he did and what he said. This fact shows that Satan has no ability to read men’s hearts. God permits Satan to test Job but He makes a boundary on his plan. God forbids Satan from walking farther. Satan could afflict Job but he could not touch Job’s life.
Satan’s cheating and purpose
If Satan appears with an awful image, few of us would be cheated. On the contrary, Satan appears like a beautiful angel with reasonable speaking. In chapter three of Genesis, Satan appears as a serpent before Eve. We should keep in mind that in the Garden of Eden, even the serpent may be good-looking because he has not yet been punished to crawl on his belly. In order to deceive people, Satan pretends to be kind to people. In Genesis, Satan “kindly” persuades Eve to eat the fruit of forbidding, so that she “will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). In the story of Job, Satan employs Job’s wife as an “advisor” to let Job make a choice between cursing God and dying. Later, Satan used Job’s three friends as “comforters” to invoke Job’s anger and doubt for God. In the New Testament, Satan appears mostly with “kindness.” One example was when Satan tempted the Lord Jesus. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. Satan appeared to Jesus and tested him to change stone to bread, so the weakness of Jesus’ flesh would be satisfied. Then Satan persuaded Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple, so the glory of the Son of God would be revealed immediately. Finally, Satan promised Jesus that he will give him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, if Jesus bow down and worship him. Satan’s temptation was completely defeated because the Lord Jesus knew Satan’s purpose. Satan may appear to God’s people in different ways, but his purpose will never change. Satan works hard to make God’s people rebel against God.
The way to escape from Satan
No one can overcome the temptation of Satan unless one abides in Jesus Christ. The Lord taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt. 6:13). There are two precious teachings in Lord’s Prayer. First, we should avoid giving any opportunity to Satan to make us fall into temptation. Second, if we fall into the hand of Satan, we must pray immediately to the Lord for his delivery.
Satan cannot read our minds, but he can discover our minds by observing our action. Satan is interested in any flaws of ours and uses them as a chance to attack us. In the beginning, Job did not fall into the hand of Satan even in his painful disaster. However, after seven days’ of silence, Job lost patience. He began to curse the day of his birth which was a blessing of God. That was the real start of Job’s failure. Job’s language of complaints is a symptom of his weak heart. Job was too confident in his righteousness and he strongly desired the understanding of others. He tried to protect his reputation from wickedness and sinfulness. He could bear the sufferings from losing everything including his children but could not bear the loss of his name of righteous. Job’s self-righteousness became an opportunity for Satan. Subsequently, Job’s friends were invoked by Satan to “comfort” Job in an unacceptable way. As a consequence, Job became more and more angry and doubted God even more. Likewise, in the New Testament, Apostle Peter was a man of self-righteousness and his flaw was also used by Satan to deny the Lord Jesus. Before Peter’s denial, the Lord Jesus warned him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22: 31). How wonderful is the grace of our Lord Jesus! Without His prayer in heaven, who can survive from the temptation of Satan?