4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
A question arises, “Why is God speaking to Satan? Aren’t they enemies?”
Satan speaks to God and is spoken to by God on other occasions. Here in Zechariah, the Lord’s appearance, the angel of His presence (Isaiah 63:9), calls on the Lord to rebuke Satan as an example to us who should never challenge him directly.
Zechariah 3:1 ¶ And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
(Jude, verse 8 ¶ Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.)
Here, Jesus, God in the flesh, is tested by Satan and they carry on a conversation.
Luke 4:1 ¶ And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. 5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
And Satan stands now before God, similar to Job’s time, accusing us all of our wicked sins.
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
…and our defense?
1John 2:1 ¶ My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
As said previously Satan is not God’s equal. That myth came from the Persian religion, and was adopted by the state church at Rome and Constantinople, where there were two opposing but equal, uncreated, and eternal entities existing under one god, one good force and one destructive. Satan was, in reality, created by God and is under God’s power and God can unleash him knowing he will destroy whom he can. God did this with heathen nations, under Satan’s authority, against Israel, allowing them to be built up for the express purpose of bringing judgment on Israel.
Simply here, Satan insists that, while Job has remained faithful so far in all of this tragedy, he will break if his own person is attacked. God gives Satan permission to do what he will, only he must spare Job’s life.
Remember that Satan’s purpose is to get Job to curse God, to speak evil or maliciously toward his Creator. We are completely dependent upon God’s mercy and grace. We can be turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. This shocking idea is an affront to humanism because the very idea that God is our sovereign and that we are dependent upon Him, not Him upon us, is a horrifying idea to the humanist or the carnal Christian.
If a Christian suffers persecution because he or she is a witness for the gospel it is because the world hates Christ and we understand that. If a Christian suffers tribulation because of their sin (smoking resulting in lung cancer, etc.) we understand that. If a Christian suffers as they age because in our fallen state all can grow old and die we understand that although we don’t understand how a person can live to be a hundred and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and someone just be around second-hand smoke and get cancer as a young person. We get confused when things start to not make sense by our sense of order and appear to be happening randomly. The Book of Job attacks the concept of randomness but underscores the idea of the unknowability of the reason behind some events.
I want to help you here understand in your heart that teachers and preachers who proclaim that they know the reason for all things, for all suffering, and for all tribulation in your life don’t necessarily know beans about anything. How dare they misrepresent God? Misrepresenting Him is the worst type of cursing Him. A person who is swallowed up in grief might be excused for being angry with God in their heart but how can you justify continually misrepresenting God and God’s words for control over your congregation or for political influence? We will see this misrepresentation underscored later in our study in Job.
Here is a further example of someone being turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.
1Corinthians 5:1 ¶ It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
We learn later that this destruction was of an emotional nature for your thoughts and feelings are part of your flesh (Ephesians 2:3), removing him from the congregation temporarily.
2Corinthians 2:5 ¶ But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Paul admonished the church not to give Satan too much influence in this man’s misery and repentance as discouragement caused by an unforgiving attitude when an offender is truly repentant is one method by which he draws Christians away. Here is another example;
1Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Of course in today’s consumer driven Christianity where the church has given the care of its members over to the government, and where church membership is simply a matter of showing up enough times, church discipline results in you simply finding a church body that doesn’t know how wicked you can be. The man in Corinth, who had sexual relations with his step-mother, would have probably just changed churches or even denominations today as he was welcomed in his search for a “seeker-friendly,” church.
At this point, Job’s health, but not his life, is in Satan’s hands.