Perhaps one of the earliest mentions of Satan in the Bible is The Book of Job.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them. And the 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.’ Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Hast thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on very side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hand, and possessions have increased in the land. But put for Thy had now and touch all that he has, he will surely curse Thee to Thy Face” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold all that he has is in your power only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan parted from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:7-12 NAS)
So here we have a situation where the Lord gives permission for Satan to try or test Job. First, his oxen and donkeys were taken by the Sabeans who put his servants to the sword except the one who reported the happening to Job. At this time, another servant arrived reporting ” ‘The Fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them’. Then, another relayed the Chaldeans took his camels and slew his servants. And lastly one brought news that a great wind struck his eldest sons house that collapsed and killed all his children who were there were eating and drinking. Job tore his cloths, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshiped, “‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:14-22 NAS)
So by the end of Chapter 1, Job, “greatest of all men of the east” (Job 1:3 NAS), was robbed of his flocks and his seven sons, three daughters and servants were all dead. And yet, he did not sin nor blame God and worshiped Him.
The sons of God, including Satan, presented themselves before the Lord. “And the 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 Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Thy hand, now, and touch his bond and his flesh; he will curse Thee to Thy face.’ So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a potsherd from to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we inded accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Now, when Job’s three friends heard all this adversity that hod come upon him.” (Job 2:1-13 NAS)
The first two chapters give us the set-up. Satan was given leave by God to sorely test a righteous man and leaves his wife to nag and further tempts him to “Curse God and die!” In the following chapters, his friends admonish the good are rewarded and the evil punished suggesting he has been smitten because of his unrighteousness trying to pry a confession out of him. But he continues on in his misery and righteousness and adheres to God.
By Chapter 19, Job has enough: “Then job responded, ‘How long will you torment me and crush me with word? These ten time you have insulted me. You are not ashamed to wrong me. Even if I truly erred. My error lodges with me. If indeed you vaunt yourselves against me. And prove my disgrace to me, Know then that God has wronged me, and closed His net around me.'” (Job 19: 1-6 NAS)
Finally God rebukes Job. “Then the Lord said to Job, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.’ Then Job answered the Lord and said, ‘Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add not more. Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said, ‘Now gird up you loins like a man; I will ask you and you instruct Me. Will you really annul My judgement? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?'” (Job 40:1-9)
Job repents, “‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; But not my eye sees Thee; Therefore I retract and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6 NAS)
Then the Lord turns to Eliphaz the Temanit, one of Job’s three friends, “‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoke of Me what is right as My servant Job has…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.’ So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job. And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends and the Loard increased all that Job had twofold.”(Job 42:7-10 NAS)
What are we to make of this story and the devil. Satan is counted among the sons of God and roams about the earth. He does nothing to Job that God has not allowed. When Job questions God and his fate, God rebukes him with who are you to condemn my judgement to justify yourself?
When he is at the end of his rope, his wife is there to try him to the limit. Has this ever been more true? Don’t our spouses, family and friends try us as much as our enemies. Should we turn on any of them or even our enemies? Are they not all our “special relationships” proving grounds for our souls?
If there is a God would He allow children to suffer with cancer? When you learn to walk, ride a bike or roller skate, don’t we fall and tear holes and our cloths that end up being cut-off, patched or discarded all together. If God cures us of cancer we bless and praise Him. When it returns, we curse Him. When we sin, which is curious, as its meaning is “missing the mark”, we blame the devil saying the “Devil made me do it.” But can the devil really make us do anything that isn’t in our own heart. True, the devil tempts us as God allows. But we are told, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what your are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” (Corinthians I 10:13 NAS) God allows us to be tempted. But never more than we can bear and he provides an escape.
This physical realm in which we abide is but a school for the soul. We are tried and tested to see if we pass the test. And if we fail, we have to redo the lesson or grade until we get it right. We are here to be perfected in love. We miss the mark or target when we let the ego dictate our words and actions. As Jesus says, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders and adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceeds from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23 NAS) The problem isn’t with the devil. The problem is our own egos and source of negative thoughts about ourselves and those around us, our spouses, family, friends and enemies. Guard your thoughts as you guard all you value. Negative thoughts don’t bless us. They are a curse that tempts us with false thinking that pollutes us emotionally, breaks down our relationships and leaves us feeling angry, alone, isolated and depressed.
Seems like Satan has been given a bad wrap. Instead of placing responsibility for all the worlds problems on ourselves, we blame the devil who is really more like a school master who makes up and gives us our test. If we don’t pass, is it his fault or ours?