13 ¶ And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: 14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: 19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Job gets hit with three disasters in one day; the theft of his animal wealth with the murder of many servants at the same time, the “fire of God,” a supernatural event, killing more of his beasts and more servants, and a strong wind storm that caused the house where his children were feasting to fall on them, killing them. This death, we presume, included the daughters, although the text doesn’t specifically say the daughters.
As we know by other passages, men alone are often counted and women and children often excluded in the count.
Matthew 14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
We might presume this custom originated in the need to count the men one had capable of bearing arms in war.
Numbers 1:3 From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies.
In any event, I am operating under the presumption that the daughters of Job were also killed.
Here, we see Satan controlling the behavior of wicked men who are murderers and thieves. We see him controlling catastrophic weather events. We see him using a supernatural event; what the servants call the “fire of God.” That is seen elsewhere.
Numbers 11:1 And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
1Kings18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
2Kings 1:12 And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
God has allowed this to prove Job’s faith to Satan. He clearly unleashes Satan for purposes of judgment and testing at other times. God’s purposes are not always known to mankind. Is suffering a judgment, a test, or something that is naturally a consequence of living in a fallen world? How do you know in any individual situation which it is? That’s going to be important later in Job.
With regard to the Chaldeans and the Sabeans we are told that men are permitted to act out their violent and wicked impulses as a part of the judgment against them, to prove them guilty of what is in their heart.
Genesis 15:12 ¶ And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
2Thessalonians 1:5 ¶ Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
It is a very dangerous thing to presume that you have some special understanding of why a disaster has come upon an individual. Oh, clearly he is sick because he was called to be a missionary and resisted the call or she must be crippled with arthritis because of some wicked unconfessed sin in her life are your opinions and may have no bearing on the truth. Clearly, Satan would gladly attack any person who was righteous before God, if he could get God’s permission, working under the constraints placed on him. Clearly, people do suffer as a consequence of their sin. As well, people suffer as a consequence of the sins of others and because we live in fallen, dying bodies in a fallen world.
Human beings like certainty. We like to think we’ve got it all figured out. But we clearly don’t and won’t, as God eventually tells Job Himself. If we would focus on what we do know and what is clear in the Bible we would be in far better shape than if we kept speculating on things of which we aren’t certain.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Spiritually and prophetically there is a lot that can be said about these verses with regard to the significance of numbers, the elder brother, the messengers which is the same word used for “angels” elsewhere, but I don’t want to speculate and take away from my focus which is the mystery of suffering.
Next, we have Job’s immediate response.