We are given a rare glimpse into the courts of eternity in the opening chapter of Job, and an occurrence that I could scarcely get my head round in the past; only recently has it begun to make any sense to me. That is a meeting chaired (so to speak) by God Himself with Satan amongst the attendees. Then there’s the seemingly genial dialogue: you can read it for yourself (Job1:7) it seems almost flippant to relate it here. Yet it speaks of a mystery that is essential to grasp if one is to comprehend some of the concepts covered in my book, namely that arrangements exist between two cosmic enemies in order that their Facilitator may fulfil His extraordinary purposes for His creation, more especially humankind. Of course, it is a one-sided affair for these are no equal opponents: the One is the Creator, the other an immensely powerful but corrupted creature entirely at His mercy. That was affirmed in the Eden incident where Satan in the form of a serpent was placed under the curse of destruction. Nevertheless, in the meantime he fulfils a purpose and is allowed, as it were, to be himself for that very end.

In the case of Job, Satan was given authority to inflict misery upon him but within set boundaries. It was primarily to test Job and prove his faith; centuries later he would be employed to test a far greater Man, again to no avail, but he would be instrumental in bringing about His betrayal and death (cf. Luke22:3). Yet although this spirit of evil has no inherent rights whatsoever over God’s property (I.e. everything), his impact goes beyond merely testing man; he has been granted authority to sift him, own him and destroy the very seed of his humanity under certain circumstances. In the Apostle Peter’s language Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  All (apart from One) may have at some time fallen for his wiles, but it is something else to be devoured, owned  and utilized by the devil as was Cain, the prototype of those who willingly succumb to his mastery (Gen4:7KJV; Jud1:11).

Yet even this is for an entirely good end as St Paul for one well understood (Rom8:20-21; 9:22-23). It is one of the more surprising aspects of what the apostle refers to as “the multi-faceted nature of God’s wisdom”; the other being  what in the same passage (Eph3:9-11) he  described as “the fellowship of the secret  hidden in God through the ages” which I explain in my book* pertains to the constitution  of the people of God and their role within a vastly more benign providence than has been traditionally understood by the churches.

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