Who is keeping Satan out of our hair?

MEASURING GOD’S PERFORMANCE

It is not a new idea for humans to sit in judgment over God. The human mind is capable of concocting the absurd. It thinks, it can measure the immensity of an energy that is invisible. How can a creature be evaluated by a colony of ants, when the creature itself is not able to create an ant? Especially, when the creature regards himself as worthless or mere dust, and that he/she needs to prove him/herself by eliminating others in order to please a higher being. Who can keep such behavior in check? Job is an example of what Satan’s work is all about and that a just man can outlast the worst the devil can do. Like Job, man thinks God is targeting him/her. The general conception was and still is that God was either disciplining or punishing Job for having overstepped his bounds. The author of the Book of Job introduced a concept that contradicts our human perception on what God is about when misery overwhelms and defeats humans. Like Jesus, 17 centuries later, the author assigned human suffering to Satan (Job 1-2; Lk.13: 16).

The author of the Book of Job chose four of the wisest in his day to give us their version of what God was doing to Job. It is, after all, man in misery that wants to know why God is not doing His job. It does not dawn on him that, in spite of the abnormalities man creates or the rebellion of nature, does not throw off course the harmony of the planets or the survival of mankind. It should be of interest to us that God did not endorse the four wise men defending Him. Instead, He spoke to the one, they were accusing of being guilty of deserving divine punishment. In fact, God used the storm or the situation Satan had created to answer Job. In chapters 38 to 41, the Creator highlights the things in His protection that evil forces headed by Satan are trying to disintegrate.

The four friends, that were so eager to sentence Job, were unaware that they were doing Satan’s work. God had not sent them to lay more guilt on Job nor did He need them to speak for Him. These four men were no doubt sincere in their convictions that God was punishing their friend for some sin he was not willing to admit. But the purpose of the writer was to show how wrong sincere people could be when they analyze God’s performance. The four do deserve credit for not finding fault with God, but they certainly were on the wrong side when they blamed their friend for his misfortune and suffering. Instead of bearing each other’s burden, they became an additional burden. Here the saying holds, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

God, too, demanded an answer why He is being blamed for the bad things that happen to mankind when He made everything good (Gen. 1). How can God be both, good and evil (Ja.1: 17)? Job was receiving bad counseling; but, refused to assign blame to God. He, like his friends, persisted in their belief that God was behind it. They differed in the reason for Job’s losses and suffering. To his friends he was a bad misguided sinner; but to himself, he was a righteous person. That is why his friends could not understand why Job kept on demanding that God should give him a direct answer or a reason for allowing him to continue his miserable life. To the surprise of his friends, God did speak and left everyone speechless. “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without wisdom? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38: 2-7).

The accounting of God’s performance continued and Job admitted that he had no right to demand an answer. “I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer – twice, but I say no more” (Job 40: 4-5). Then again, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42: 1-6). It is Job that had to atone for his friends that had dared to speak for God in their ignorance.

Job was unaware of what was at stake. God knew that a righteous man could be trusted and that he would endure the harshest tests Satan can use to disgrace God. To Job, his relationship with God was worth more than all his earthly goods, his family and his own earthly life. And that is why God kept tabs on Satan from taking Job’s soul. He did not let him be tempted beyond his ability to endure (I Cor.10: 13). Satan is in everyone’s hair that seeks to obey God’s ways. Ever since man (Adam or earthman) has listened to Satan and his agents, God has been busy keeping man out of hell or total annihilation (Gen. 3). In Jesus Christ, God provided an escape for man (Jn.3: 16) and with His Spirit, He restrains the evil one from getting the upper hand (II Thes.2: 7). God, the Creator, does not endorse what humans do to each other. However, He cannot interfere with their free will until they submit to His Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill!” How did Jesus put it or what is the worst the followers of Satan can do? “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt.10: 28). Who do we think is keeping Satan out of our hair?