Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible
Read Job 1:1-12
The year Job celebrated his 60th birthday, he became the subject of a conversation between God and Satan. That conversation resulted in tremendous suffering for Job. Job’s suffering produced a long discussion about injustice and human suffering that failed to address the injustices God has suffered.
From the beginning of my currently short journey through the Chronological Bible, God has been treated unjustly. Satan questioned God’s judgment and sought to exalt himself, causing a disaster of epic proportions. God restored order, created a man and woman in his image, and made them rulers of the earth. The rulers listened to a serpent slander God and believed it without giving God the opportunity to face his accuser. When God confronted them, no one acknowledged their guilt. The man blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the serpent.
Self-justification gave us a world filled with violence. Cain murdered his brother and then complained God’s judgment was too harsh. The evil humanity did to one another broke God’s heart and filled him with regret that he had made them. He washed the earth of its filth and started over with one family. That family rejected him as their shepherd by putting their trust in a city they could build. If God had not intervened, the city would have given evil people the ability to do the impossible.
As God perceives time, two hours after he scattered humanity, he directed Satan’s attention to Job. God saw the good in Job, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”i God’s observation is puzzling. This story ends with Job’s repentance.
Satan saw evil in Job. He complained, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.”ii Then Satan threw down the gauntlet. “But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”iii
God’s response can be difficult to interpret. “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”iv Did God put Job in Satan’s power? There is evidence God only pointed out the obvious. Job was already spiritually dead and in Satan’s power.
The Bible compares the devil to a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.v Lions can’t afford to roar when hunting live prey, because they are not very fast. By contrast, the animals they hunt are some of the fastest on the planet. Lions hide in bushes and rely on the element of surprise when hunting live prey. Lions are also scavengers that eat almost anything dead. One reason they roar is to drive away prey other predators have killed.vi If the devil is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, he is seeking someone already dead. God pointed to Job.
Job had the same problem the church of Sardis had. His reputation of being a good man blinded him to the spiritual decay within.vii Job’s obsession with perfection had alienated his family and made him arrogant. His sons invited their sisters to family celebrations but not their father. When the party ended Job would “send for them in order to cleanse them from sin.”viii His “holier than thou attitude” was a stench in God’s nostrils.ix Job, who thought he could keep the hearts of his children pure before God could not see the impurity in his own heart until he suffered.
Whether God put Job in Satan’s power or Job was already in Satan’s power is debatable. But there is one thing that is not debatable. God limited what Satan could do to Job when he said, “on the man himself do not lay a finger.”