5-4-1 The Satan In Job: A Fellow Worshipper?
Such a strong case can be made for the satan being a fellow worshipper that
there simply must be some truth in it. " There was a day [a set feast]
when the sons of God [the believers- 1 Jn. 3:1; Mt. 5:9] came to present themselves
before Yahweh [before a priest, or other representative of Yahweh, probably
at an altar, Dt. 19:17; Ps. 42:2], and Satan came also among them" . Here
we have a picture of an early ecclesia; scattered believers coming together
for a special meeting, the forerunner of our breaking of bread service. As we
walk, drive, ride on train or bus, to our memorial meetings, we are repeating
what in principle has been done by the sons of God from earliest times. The
Satan says he has been " going to and from in the earth, and from walking
up and down in it" (1:7). There is good reason, linguistically and theologically,
to think that the events of Job occurred early in spiritual history (compare
the mentions of " Jobab" and some of the friends in 1 Chron. 5). There
are also many links with the early chapters of Genesis. We should therefore
see Satan's description of himself as being in the context of Gen. 4:12-14,
where Cain is made a wanderer in the earth because of his bitter jealousy against
his righteous brother. So the satan may have been another believer who was in
some sense 'out of fellowship', and yet still came to the gatherings of the
believers to express his envy of Job. The reference to the sons of God coming
together in worship before a priest or altar comes straight after the record
of Job's children holding rather riotous birthday parties (1:4). " All
the days" , each day, they did this, Job offered sacrifice for them (1:5
AVmg.); but then " there was a day" when the sons of God came to keep
a feast to Yahweh. It seems that we are led to connect the keeping of days.
It could be that the sons of God were in fact Job's children. They came together
to party and kill their fatted calves, and then they came together to kill their
sacrifices; but the difference was, that then they allowed the satan to come
in among them. Young preachers, take your lesson.
It must be noted that the satan never occurs again, under that name. The real
adversary of Job was his " friends" ; and in God's final judgment,
it is they who are condemned, not 'satan'. It is therefore reasonable to see
a connection between the satan and the 'friends' of Job; they too walked to
and fro in the earth in order to come to him, as it seems satan did at the beginning.
And we pause here for another lesson. The great satan / adversary of Job turned
out to be those he thought were his friends in the ecclesia. And so it has been,
time and again, in our experience: our sorest trials often come from the words
of our brethren. Without underestimating the physical affliction of Job, his
real adversary was his brethren. Rather than bemoaning his physical affliction,
he commented how his friends had become his satans (19:19) And so with the Lord
Jesus, whom Job so accurately typified. Again, without minimizing the material
agony of His flesh, the essential piercing was from His rejection at the hands
of those He died for.
Consider the following hints that the friends were in fact the satan:
- There are several passages where Job speaks as if the friends were responsible
for his physical persecution (e.g. 19:22,28); as if they had brought the calamity
which the opening chapters make satan responsible for. He associates his deceitful
brethren with the troops of Tema and the companies of Sheba which had fallen
upon his cattle at satan's behest (6:19). Job knew that the friends had power
over his persecutors (6:24). They, Job said, had caused calamity to fall upon
him, and thereby overwhelmed their one-time friend (6:27 AV mg.). They thought,
as Satan did, that Job's spirituality was only a sham (6:28).
- Job makes several references to the arguments of the satan in his replies
to the friends; as if they were in fact the satan, and as if he knew perfectly
well what they had said to Yahweh. Thus he tells the friends that those who
provoke God are secure (12:6), whereas the satan had suggested that Job would
provoke God to His face if his security was taken away. Job says that such people
who provoke God have all things given into their hand by Yahweh; and it is hard
not to see in this a reference to the satan, into whose hand Job had been delivered.
It was as if Job was saying to them: 'You are the ones who have provoked God,
you are the ones into whose hand God has delivered me; so actually you are the
wicked, not me'.
- The words of the friends suggest that their view was in fact that of the
satan in the prologue. Satan obviously quibbled with God's pronunciation of
Job as perfect and upright (1:8). And Bildad likewise seems to allude to this
when he comments concerning Job's downfall: " If thou wert pure and upright;
surely now he would awake for thee" (8:6).
- There is reason to think that Eliphaz, the leader of the friends, may have
been the specific individual referred to as 'satan' in the prologue. God singles
him out for especial condemnation at the end (42:7). After one of Eliphaz's
speeches, Job responds with what appears to be a comment upon him, rather than
God: " He hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. And
thou hast filled me with wrinkles...he teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me
(surely Job speaks here about Eliphaz, not God): he gnasheth upon me...mine
enemy (satan) sharpeneth his eyes upon me. They (the astonished friends?) have
gaped upon me with their mouth, they have smitten me...they have gathered themselves
together (as the friends did to Job) against me" (16:9-11). Eliphaz was
a Temanite, from where Job's afflictors came (6:19).