Job 2:1-2 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it.”
What an important warning is contained in these verses for us today! It has been said that, at the end of the 19th and into the 20th Century, the world in its ‘wisdom’ got rid of the concept of a personal devil, ‘Satan’, and it has been going through ‘hell’ ever since. Satan’s most effective weapon is to get us to think he doesn’t exist. CS Lewis makes this point very cogently and strongly in “Screwtape Letters”.
The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthian Church that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). So here we find him, at the beginning of the account of Job’s experience, lining up among all the (unfallen) angels in the LORD’s presence, no doubt trying to give the appearance that he was still one of them!
But, as we see the story of Job unfolding, we realise that belief in the reality of Satan’s proactive existence is the key to a proper understanding of God’s providence. Job had to learn to trust the sovereignty of an all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient) God through all the trials and tribulations he experienced.
In both Hebrew and Greek, the verb to ‘tempt’ is the same as the verb to ‘test’. What Satan does to tempt us, God uses to test us. Behind all our life experiences there is a (normally unseen and undisclosed) spiritual battle going on in the presence of God. A good way to understand what the Apostle James is talking about in James 1:12-18 is to think of the scientific ‘testing’ of materials: Specimens are put under intense pressure so that observations can be made that will help improve their qualities. The same intense pressure can be used to crush and destroy the specimen.
Likewise, the same difficult circumstances or ‘trials’ in our lives by which Satan hopes to destroy us, God is using to make us stronger (cf Romans 5:3-5). This is what is going on throughout Job.
Let us keep all this in mind as we face life’s challenges, knowing that Satan is a very real spiritual person. And let us heed the Apostle Peter’s warning, and take firm hold of its attendant promise: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:8-10).
– Bruce Christian