Passage: Job 1:6-12
1:6 Now the day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord—and Satan also arrived among them. 1:7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” And Satan answered the Lord, “From roving about on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it.” 1:8 So the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.”
1:9 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? 1:10 Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land. 1:11 But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!”
1:12 So the Lord said to Satan, “All right then, everything he has is in your power. Only do not extend your hand against the man himself!” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
Soul Search Essay
So, does God saying, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” constitute setting Job up for a fall? (Which would be a moral charge against God that many would make in the heat of deep loss and perhaps after.) No. It is not a set up and ironically, it is Satan that testifies to this.
“Is it for nothing that Job fears God? 1:10 Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land.” Satan makes the charge that Job’s loyalty and love of God is nothing more significant than good business. Satan charges that Job enjoys a sweet deal (perhaps a special deal) in accepting the “good life” and therefore the loss of the good life will end the loyalty and the love (which would be a sham love if it ended for this reason).
So, was what Job had before Satan took action a sweet and special deal? For that to be true, there would have to be favoritism or a quid pro quo business transaction. God would have to show preferential treatment toward Job or God would need to owe Job for something Job did. There are numerous scripture passages that make it clear that God does not play favorites, which eliminates favoritism.
There are passages, however, in the Old Testament that promise blessings for Israel following God’s law and catastrophe for Israel disregarding it. In these promises through Moses, what is stated are not payments for compliance, but consequences. The consequences followed the decisions and actions of the nation Israel. The promises were to a nation not specific individuals. Did YHWH honor individual decisions? Yes. Could individuals enjoy the positive consequences? Absolutely. Did this confer a special right to the good life? Absolutely not. Grace is not quid pro quo.
So, why would Satan make this charge of a special &/or a sweet deal to a God who does not do this? Satan knows this is not true. So why use it? Simple. It works! It will not work with YHWH. It will work with humans.
Millions turn from Yahweh due to his perceived “failures” to prevent painful loss or “failures” to deliver the good, comfortable life we think we have earned. We cry out, “Why didn’t God stop…!!!” Also, we cry out, “God should…!” Millions of non-believers and believers alike turn away from God because whether aware or not, they presume they are owed a good life or at least a reasonably good life. This particular tactic of Satan’s quite simply works and works very well against humans.
Why didn’t it work on Job?
Why? Job understands the nugget of truth in Satan’s charge without even hearing the charge being made (WOW!). What is that truth?
“Have you not made a hedge….” “You have blessed….” Satan charges Yahweh with extending grace in the form of protection and material, tangible blessings as a means of gaining loyalty. He goes on to charge that withdrawing the grace would force Job to curse God. The loyalty would end. There is the “sweet deal” logic exposed. Satan supposes that Job must, must feel entitled after all of these years (probably decades) of receiving blessing and after blessing. Business has been phenomenal!! Family growth has been great!
It did not work, because Job knew that what he had for decades was grace given by God, not human earned obligations nor a sweet deal with God. Grace does not give entitlement. Ever. Job knew this.
God knew what Job believed, what Job knew. Also, both Job and Yahweh knew the only one entitled to remove the protection and blessing was the giver, the creator of the person and the blessings. Satan presumed Yahweh bought loyalty, rather than extending grace as the creator. Yahweh removing the grace was not God’s moral failure. It was an action he was entitled to take (even in our lives). God is an agent of choice. God chooses.
The fact that we fear this kind of power and entitlement in God’s choices does not make it immoral for him to choose anything. We are only owed what God promises to us (which is a phenomenal amount). What we presume we are owed does not line up without deep understanding of who God is and what he promised to Christians (vs. Israel). The only immoral choice Yahweh can make is to violate his own character and morality. He does not do that.
Yahweh’s capacity to choose means that everything in our lives depends on the character of Yahweh. Everything. Job understood that everything depended on God and his character despite Job being successful. Job was that rare, rare person that truly was honorable and God-centered despite success! So, yes, a human can be phenomenally successful and avoid all the traps of success. It is possible to be godly and successful, but that requires tremendous awareness, ferocious intent and deep, deep participation with God.
If you think success has not changed you or that you are also one of these rare people, then have you considered yourself against Job?