From the earth in verses 1-51There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.3His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.4His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.5When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings [according to] the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. we now go to heaven (verse 66Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.; cf. 1Kgs 22:1919Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.; Isa 6:11In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.). In Job 1-2 we find several times a change of scenery. One time we are on earth, the next time we are in heaven. Because we are allowed a glimpse into heaven - that is, into the part of heaven where satan still has access – we learn that the suffering of Job – and of believers in general – is related to a battle in the heavenly places. We are made partakers of a conversation in heaven between the LORD and satan about Job, in which the LORD allows satan to test Job. Job himself knows nothing of this whole conversation.
We, Christians, know from the New Testament that since the ascension of the Lord Jesus we have an opened heaven (see for example the letter to the Hebrews). This conversation gives us light about events on earth that would otherwise remain a mystery to us. It makes it clear to us what the background is to everything that happens on earth, whether it concerns the life of a human being or whether it concerns nations. What happens on earth is governed by heaven. Heaven decides what happens on earth. The friends of Job and Job himself wander because they do not know the heart of God. They try to explain what is happening on earth without knowledge of its heavenly origin.
One day “the sons of God” come to the LORD. Satan is in their midst. We see here that satan has access to the throne room of God. Satan is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:22in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.), of the fallen angels. When he is in the throne room, he is always there as “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:1010Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.; Zec 3:11Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.). The angels here are called “sons of God” (e.g. Septuagint, Job 38:77When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?; Gen 6:1-21Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.), for God is “the Father of spirits” (Heb 12:99Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?), which means that He created them; they came forth from Him. These angels come “to present themselves before the LORD”. They come because they have been summoned by Him to account to Him for their activities. They are there as subordinates (cf. 1Kgs 22:19-2219Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.20The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that.21Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’22The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice [him] and also prevail. Go and do so.’; Dan 7:9-149“I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took [His] seat;
His vesture [was] like white snow
And the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne [was] ablaze with flames,
Its wheels [were] a burning fire.
10“A river of fire was flowing
And coming out from before Him;
Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,
And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;
The court sat,
And the books were opened.
11Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.13“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.; Psa 89:77A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
And awesome above all those who are around Him?
). The servants must stand (1Kgs 22:1919Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.), an attitude that indicates that they are ready to serve.
Further this is about the LORD and satan. The angels are the setting. They stand there and must listen. The LORD begins to speak, not satan. Whoever he calls to Himself must respectfully wait until He speaks. The LORD asks satan where he comes from (verse 77The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”). It is clear that it is not a discussion between equal persons. Satan must answer, simply because the LORD asks him something. He is completely subject to Him, just as the whole universe is subject to Him and must obey Him. And like men, they cannot see Him fully, for no one can ever see God (1Tim 6:1616who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him [be] honor and eternal dominion! Amen.). Even the seraphs cover their faces when they call out the Name of the three times holy God (Isa 6:2-32Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Satan hates God, but must nevertheless do what God says and answer. God knows the answer, but He wants us to know it too. With the question “from where do you come?”, God commands satan to account for his activities. The answer shows that satan is a restless roamer, which also indicates that he is not omnipresent, which God is. His roaming about on the earth does not imply anything good. He roams the earth to see who he can hurt. The believer may know that the eyes of the Lord also move to and fro throughout the earth, but then to strongly support him (2Chr 16:99For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”; Zec 4:1010For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—[these are] the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.”).
Satan is here by way of exception introduced speaking. This does not happen very often in the Bible, although we do read a lot about him. Three times we read that he says something: here in Job to the LORD, in Genesis 3 to Eve in paradise (Gen 3:1-51Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!5For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”) and in Matthew 4, and in the parallel place in Luke 4, to the Lord Jesus in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-3,6,91Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”; Lk 4:1-3,6,9-111Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.3And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”6And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.9And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here;10for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
In the speaking of satan to Eve in paradise and to the Lord Jesus in the wilderness, we see that these are extremely important situations. With Eve he has had success, through which sin has come into the world. With the Lord Jesus he had no success, through which the work of redemption could be accomplished. Against this background it becomes clear what enormous interests are at stake if he is also introduced into the history of Job. Will he succeed in making Job curse God, or not?
Not satan, but the LORD then directs satan’s attention to Job: “Have you considered My servant Job?” (verse 88The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”). The initiative for everything that happens to Job comes from God and not from satan. God knows what His servant Job needs. If He asks satan whether he has also considered Job, it is because He Himself has considered Job. And His testimony is even greater than what is written in verse 11There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.. God says here of Job that “there is no one like him on the earth”. This is not to praise Job, but is the result of His connection with God. Surely it must have made Job a special target of satan.
Satan cannot bring anything against God’s testimony about Job. God gives that testimony with a purpose. He also wants to use satan to achieve that purpose. Satan – who is very cunning, but knows nothing of God’s intentions – is only an instrument to fulfill the intentions of God’s grace. God keeps everything under His control, nothing gets out of hand. Everything goes according to His plan. That can be a comfort to us in all circumstances in which we feel a plaything of the evil one. God is at the beginning of it, not the evil one. He also determines the end and not the evil one. Between the beginning and the end is a path that is also determined by God and not by the evil one.
Job is a servant of the LORD. He does not belong to the covenant people of God, but he has his own unique ‘covenant’, his own relationship, with the LORD, and the LORD with him. Twice the LORD calls Job “My servant” (Job 1:88The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”; 2:33The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”). And at the end of the book He still calls him thus (Job 42:7-87It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.8Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you [according to your] folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”). Whatever happens between the beginning and the end, Job appears at the end as a faithful servant.