Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: Meet Satan

The book of Job is believed by many to have occurred around the same time Abraham (our next section in Genesis). So in order to keep the Patriarch’s story together while maintaining basic chronology, we will be taking the next few weeks to look at the story of Job.

Scripture: Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6

Job was truly a good man, following God’s commands and avoiding all kinds of evil. As a result, God blessed him greatly in every area of his life. However, an evil being called Satan (literally “Accuser” or “Adversary”) didn’t like this and challenged God to test the true faithfulness of Job.

Observations: This is the first chronological reference to Satan by that name. As a result, this passage reveals several things about our adversary:

1. Satan is a supernatural being (Job 1:6, 2:1). The sons of God, or what we typically call angels, came to present themselves before God. Satan was among them, implying he was of their kind.

2. Satan roams the earth freely (Job 1:7, 2:2). We might not be able to see him or recognize him, but he spends at least some of his time walking among us, watching us.

3. Satan is an accuser (Job 1:9-11, 2:4-5). Satan is a master of twisting circumstances to suit himself and find something at which to point a finger. These passages exemplify this well: he advocates that Job serves God purely out of selfishness to gain prosperity.

4. Satan is a divider (Job 1:11, 2:5). When God praises Job, Satan immediately sets out to put a barrier between God and Job. First he tries to turn God against Job (“put forth Your hand”), a trap God eludes by refusing to act against Job, instead laying that responsibility on Satan’s shoulders. Then Satan tries to turn Job against God through a series of horrendous afflictions (see 1:13-22 and 2:7-10).

5. Satan is limited (Job 1:10, 12, 2:6). Satan could not afflict Job directly. In fact, this was part of Satan’s complaint; God had placed a hedge around Job so that Satan could not get to him. And even when God gave Satan permission to hurt Job, Satan still had restrictions—lines which he could not cross.

Significance: Satan is a master of lies, and over the centuries he has cloaked himself in numerous myths in order disguise his true form and methods. This is why passages like the first two chapters of Job are so vital: We are able to see Satan for who he really is.

We see that Satan is real and that he is here. Satan is no fairytale villain, created by some writer’s imagination. He exists as much as you or I do. Moreover, he isn’t off roaming some distant edge of the universe or restricted to some dark abyss. He walks the earth, watching, observing, acting among us now. To believe otherwise is to place ourselves in grave danger, as such a belief allows him free rein to act without detection.

We also see that Satan is powerful but limited. As we will look at later, Satan has some pretty powerful abilities. He is, after all, a supernatural being with all kinds of capabilities which far exceed what man can do. But although powerful, he is not all-powerful. He cannot do whatever he wants whenever he wants however he wants. He is not omnipresent either. He might be able to move rapidly through space, and he may have many others reporting to him. But Satan himself can only be at one place at a time. By remembering this, we should be able to view Satan with a balanced perspective: Although we should not treat him or his influence/abilities lightly (which is why we must be on our guard against him), neither do we need to fear him.

Finally, we see Satan’s strategy is simple (though powerful): divide and conquer. Satan knows that on our own we cannot withstand him. So he will take every opportunity he can to drive a wedge between us and God first, then among ourselves. Divisions, quarrels, jealousy, accusations that create division—these things are his handiwork. Therefore, when we see such things arise, we must point them out as such. Likewise, we must exert every effort to walk in humble dependence on God and to maintain the unity of the bond of peace among our fellow Christians. It limits the tools Satan can use against us (although as the story Job shows, he can always find something to use), and denies him victory.

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