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. It concerns a meeting chaired (so to speak) by God Himself with Satan amongst the attendees. Note the seemingly genial opening remarks (Job1:7). You can read the minutes of the meeting for yourself (vv7-12).
This extraordinary narrative speaks of a mystery that is essential to grasp if one is to comprehend some of the concepts covered in my book. That is that an arrangement exists between two cosmic enemies. That is in order that its Facilitator may fulfil His extraordinary purposes for His creation, more especially those beings made in His own image.
Of course, it is a one-sided affair. 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 the devil would be employed to test a far greater Man. Again it was to no avail, but he would be instrumental in bringing about His betrayal and death (cf. Luke22:3). Yet although this evil spirit has no inherent rights whatsoever over God’s property, 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 that is not the same as being devoured, owned and (effectively) employed by the devil. Such was Cain, the prototype of those who of their own free will succumb to the devil’s mastery (Gen4:7KJV; Jud1:11). [As the Little Book of Providence carefully sets out, this is not referring to “the unsaved” but a small sub-category within them – aka “children of the devil” or “vessels fitted for destruction” – Rom9].
Yet even this phenomenon shall work out providentially for the good, as St Paul for one understood (Rom8:20-21; 9:22-23). It is one of the most 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 secret (plan) hidden in God through the ages”. I explain in my book this 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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Related post: patience of Job