When we read in Job 1-2 about the sons of God (bene Elohim) coming to present themselves before Him, we see an interesting dynamic. First, we must understand that these are spiritual beings. They gather before their creator in His divine throne room into an assembly known as the Divine Council. Every entity in God’s realm above has access to Him in one form or another. There are very high ranking sons who are princes and generals in the host of heaven. Angels, cherubim, and seraphim are among those gathered. It is from this body that some rebelled against Yahweh. These are the sons of God noted in Genesis 6:1-4 and also those which He placed over the nations after the Tower of Babel incident, but who likewise disobeyed Him (Deuteronomy 32:8 – ESV; Psalm 82).
Satan, who comes before God in the two scenes in Job (Job 1:6; 2:1), seems to be doing his assigned duties. Apparently one of these tasks is to roam the earth, find those who sin, and accuse them for God to act as He will. In fact, the name we use – Satan – isn’t actually a formal, given name in the Hebrew; rather it is haś·śā·ṭān, which means the satan. He is the adversary, the accuser of man.
In the case of Job, Satan appears discontented that he can’t actually find anything wrong with the human. The text tells us that he was blameless and upright (Job 1:1). This wasn’t good enough for Satan. We don’t know this definitively from Scripture, but if Satan is also the nachash – the serpent – from Genesis 3, it’s obvious he has issues with mankind and what God intends as the redemption of man. This episode in Job is one more piece of evidence that points to his attempt to corrupt and destroy we who are created in God’s image.
In the absence of blatant sin in Job’s life, Satan has to make things up to do his dirty work. Initially he accuses Job of being dedicated to Yahweh simply because of the blessings God has bestowed on him. If these disappear, he’ll certainly turn away. Later, Satan cites the fact that Job hasn’t suffered any personal, physical harm. Surely this will cause the man’s apostasy.
Consider how the disasters fell upon Job. Satan had to gain God’s permission first in order to bring them. He could do nothing against Job on his own because of the fact that Job had not sinned. As Satan put it in Job 1:10:
“Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”
This hedge of protection kept Satan from touching Job until God enabled him to do so. Once God removed the hedge, only then could Satan act. Once he was in the position to come against Job, he had many tools at his disposal. Because he riled up two separate groups – the Sabeans and the Chaldeans – to raid, take, and destroy what Job owned, this is obviously one of the major capabilities Satan has. These people groups, like all men, were sinful. This opened the door for Satan to provoke them so they would do what he wanted. We also see that Satan had powers to generate physical or natural disasters. He brought the fire of God, presumably lightning, as well as a great wind to tear down that which was Job’s. With God’s permission, Satan had access to supernatural means, as well as the entry into men’s minds to convince them that Job was a ripe target.
When none of this worked and Satan came back for his second try, God boasted of Job’s continued faithfulness in the face of adversity, saying in Job 2:3:
“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
In one sense, God was telling Satan that He wouldn’t have allowed all this disaster to come upon Job in the first place without the adversary inciting Him. However, God was so confident of Job that He allowed Satan a free hand to bring his worst, knowing Job might bend but never break.
Once Satan brought the physical distress on Job through the loathsome boils, his hope was that the man would curse God, but none of these things caused him to speak against the One he revered. Nothing could change his core faith in the Lord.
This is what God wants from us. The phrase I like to describe this is believing loyalty. It is the heart toward God and the mindset that says “No matter what comes my way, I will always be faithful to God, and to Him alone.” Believing loyalty is what David had; it’s the reason he’s described as a man after God’s own heart. David revered only Yahweh; there was nothing that would make him turn to, or put his faith and trust in, any other god.
Of course, the way we do this now is through Christ Jesus, but it’s exactly the same now as in the past. When we walk blameless and upright through our faith in Christ, God protects us. He places a hedge of protection around us. If we don’t open the door to sin and thus to Satan, he cannot touch us. Only with God’s permission can satan do anything that might bring us harm, and only then to the extent that God allows. “Only against him, do not stretch out your hand.” (Job 1:12). “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” (Job 2:6)
In contrast, the Sabeans and Chladeans whom Satan could manipulate, had no such protections because they walked in sin. The same is true for those today who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, or even those who do, yet deliberately sin. Sin is an open door. It can allow Satan to incite people or it can enable him to cause distress in their lives in one form or another.
The whole idea of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is that we emulate Job. We are blameless and upright. When we walk in this manner before God, we can be assured that He will keep us and protect us, and always be with us in the midst of any troubles we might encounter.