A Dialogue with the Devil
“Again, there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 4 And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:1-6).
The curtain rises on Act II in the dramatic narrative of The Sufferings of Job. Act I ended with the tragic news being delivered by devastated servants their master had lost everything. During one dark day Job lost his financial resources, his faithful servants, and all of his children. The curtain came down with Job on his face crying out, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Act II, Scene 1 now comes into view. The setting has shifted from earth to heaven. We read that, “There came a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord” (2:1).
Any angelic convocation must be impressive for the angels of God are as numerous as the stars in the sky. As the massive assembly is considered, a distinction is noticed among the sons of God. Some of the angels are Seraphim, and some are Cherubim. Other angels are called Living Creatures. All of them are described in terms that sound strange and fantastic. Take for example, the cherubim (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:18-20; Ezek. 1:4-28; 10:1-22).
The Bible says many things about cherubim. For example, we are told that each cherubim has four faces. The face in front is as a man. The face on the right is as a lion. The face on the left is as an ox. The face in back is as an eagle. Each cherubim has two pairs of wings. One pair spreads out from the middle of the back. The other pair is used to cover the body. The wings of the cherubim make a noise like waves crashing upon the seashore. The Cherubim have the legs of men, but their feet are cloven like calves’ feet, which shine like burnished brass. They have four human hands, with one located under each wing. The Cherubim travel in groups of four. The outstretched wings of each one touches those of the remaining three companions, so that they form a square. When they move, they move as a group without turning their bodies.
There are the Seraphim (Isa. 6:1-7). The Hebrew word for seraphim means, “burning ones”, and probably speaks of the burning devotion to God on the part of these angelic beings. They are described in Scripture. The Seraphim have six wings. Two are used t cover their faces, two to cover their feet, and two are used to fly. They proclaim in a great chorus the majesty of God, crying out: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). The awesome sound of the mighty praises of the Seraphim shakes the foundation of the heavenly temple.
There are the Living Creatures (Rev. 4:6-9; 5:8; 6:1,3,5,7). These special heavenly beings are similar to both the cherubim and the seraphim. John saw four Living Creatures standing before the shining crystal sea in heaven surrounding God’s throne. The Living Creatures are covered with eyes, both in front and behind. Each of the four Living Creatures has a different face. One has the face of a man. One has the face of an ox. One has the face of a lion. One has the face of an eagle. Each Living Creature has six wings. Without ceasing, day or night, they proclaim God’s praise, saying, “HOLY! HOLY! HOLY! Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).
In addition to the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the Living Creatures, the Bible reveals the existence of Ruling Angels (Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16; 2:10; and 1 Pet. 3:22). They are highly organized into principalities, powers, thrones, authorities, dominions and might. What these terms precisely mean is unclear, but they do speak of a complex organization in the angelic sphere of existence.
Finally, there are Guardian Angels. Jesus spoke of these angels in Matthew 18:10. “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. “Paul wrote of guardian angels when he asked rhetorically, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Heb. 1:14). What a precious thought it is to believe that Guardian Angels really do exist for children and for all who are the heirs of salvation.
Have you ever seen an angel?
Dr. S. W. Mitchell thought he had. Dr. Mitchell was a well-known neurologist in Philadelphia during the days when doctors still made house calls. After one very exhausting day, he went to bed early only to be awakened by a persistent knocking at the door. It was a little girl, poorly dressed and deeply upset. She told him that her mother was very sick and needed his help. Even though it was a bitterly cold, snowy night and he was tired, Dr. Mitchell dressed and followed the girl. He found the mother desperately ill with pneumonia. After treating her, Dr. Mitchell complimented the woman on the courage and persistence of her daughter. The woman gave him a strange look and said, “Dr. Mitchell, my daughter died a month ago. Her shoes and coat are in the closet there.” Dr. Mitchell went to the closet and opened the door. There hung the coat worn by the little girl who had been at his front door. The coat was warm and dry and could not possibly have been out in the snowy nights.
Have you ever seen an angel?
John G. Paton believes he has. While he was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed all that night. At dawn they were amazed to see the attackers just turn and leave. A year later the chief of that very tribe was converted to Christianity. Paton was able to ask him what had kept everyone from burning down the house and killing them that night. The chief asked Paton a return question. “Who were all those men you had with you there?” Paton told him there had been no one in the house except his wife and himself, but the chief insisted that they had seen hundreds of men standing guard—big men in shining garments with drawn swords.
Have you ever seen an angel?
There came a day when these forms and figures of the Sons of God entered into the throne room of heaven to present themselves to their Sovereign, and Satan came also. “And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord Said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fearth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
We have in these words the Judge of the Universe acting on behalf of the Accused and pleading his cause. The question is presented to the Satanic Prosecutor who is also the Accuser of Mankind, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?”
One would have expected Satan to come and confess his malice against Job and his mistake concerning him. One would have expected Satan to cry, “I have done wrong! I have spoken falsely against Job when God has spoken well of him. I am sorry!” (Matthew Henry).
But Satan does not say he is sorry. He never has and he never will. Neither will his children. What Satan will do is attack and attack again. The sworn Enemy of God will strike another mighty blow against the Lord’s faithful servant. Satan will continue to hate him whom God loves. He will do all that he can to separate the soul of the saint from his Sovereign. Satan will urge Job to turn against his Creator and to curse Him. Satan stills has a single point to make and he will press it to the ultimate end.
It is Satan’s contention that men love God for the advantages they have in expressing such sentiments (1:10-11). It is Satan’s position that men do not love God because He is intrinsically worthy of adoration (1:9ff). They only pretend to be pleased with Him.
Such a charge against the Lord is not only cruel; it is serious, for it strikes at the essence of God. The practical problem is this. “How can such a satanic slander be proved, or disproved? How can the true love of the heart of man for God be revealed in a convincing manner? What objective evidence is there that can be offered, one way or another, to settle the issue as to the ultimate cause of man’s devotion for God?”
Before an answer can be provided there should be some understanding as to why Satan was willing to make such a terrible accusation. Isaiah 14:12-14 provides an insight into the situation of slander against the Sovereign.
Satan wanted to be like God. Sometime in eternity past Lucifer decided that he wanted to be like the Most High in every way possible. Five times he said, “I will…be like the Most High.” But how can Satan be like the Lord? There is only one way, and that is to make God out to be less than God. Satan had to find a way to attack the credibility of the Lord. Lucifer thought he had found a way through the instrument of slander. Satan conceived of the idea of suggesting that men delight in the Lord because it is prudent to do so. The expression of this terrible thought presented a direct challenge to God.
“Would God be willing to see if man really loves Him apart from the gifts He gives?” He would. The Lord agreed to let a single case settle the matter. And so it was that Job was selected as the subject to be tested. God would permit all that Job had to be taken from him in order to discover the root or ground of Job’s love.
The sufferings of Job began as the angles—called the sons of God –looked on. They too were asking, “If Job was severely afflicted would he still praise the Lord?”
In this testing of Job, if Satan was wrong, he had nothing to lose really. But if he was right, he had much to gain, and God had something to lose. “What would God lose?” The answer is this. God would lose His right to rule. God would lose His power. God would lose His wisdom. In summary, God would lose His right to be God and Satan could then claim to be like the Most High in this way.
From His eternal Godhead, creation sprang into existence. The universe and all that is in it reflects the power, the majesty, the splendor of God. It also reflects the Lord’s wisdom and purpose. Ephesians 1:12 says plainly that the eternal purpose of God is, “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
God purposed to create men in such a way that they freely want to praise Him. God purposed to create individuals to love Him for Himself. If that Divine purpose can be compromised or fail, all is lost. If men only love God for the benefits of that relationship than the purpose of creation is frustrated. God will have decreed something that did not come to pass. Satan understood that if he could only demonstrate a single portion of the glorious plan of God has not been achieved, then he has also demonstrated that God is not sovereign after all.
In the sufferings of Job, God was meeting the challenge to His Divine essence. If Job failed the test, and proved Satan’s original contention, then Divine sovereignty would be lost.
It was a serious thing the Lord was willing to do in this cosmic conflict. God was entrusting His own personage into the hands of a suffering saint. To Lucifer God in essence said, “Satan, smite Job if you want. The reaction Job has to his sufferings will vindicate, or vilify Me. But if Job accepts his suffering, then you, Satan, are wrong, and my sovereignty remains intact for all to see. I have created man to love me freely…. and he does.”
What do we read? “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). I hope you understand. When the heart of any person remains loyal to the Lord God regardless of pain and suffering, then there is tangible evidence that God is loved for Himself and His eternal purposes are established.
Is pain good? No.
Is the loss of property good? No
Is the loss of children good? No.
Is the loss of friendship good? No.
Is the loss of health good? No.
But God is good.
So says the Psalmist.
So says our hearts.
And so said Job.
Of course, Satan was not, and is not satisfied. Therefore, as Act II and Scene 1 continue, we read that Satan pretends he is not convinced.
“I have something more to say on this subject,” he shouted. “I want to re-issue the original challenge in a different way and for this reason. Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.” Act II, Scene 2 will tell us if continual slander against the Sovereign is correct.
By way of conclusion to this part of the drama, it can be noted that, from time to time, another question arises, but this time from the heart of man. The question comes: “Lord, do you truly love men? If you do, what tangible proof is there?” Such a question reverses the situation found in the sufferings of Job. What tangible evidence could God ever provide that He loves men in and of themselves? Perhaps God only loves men for the praise they give, and the prayers they offer. What could God ever do to demonstrate for all time that He really does love the world? The answer is the Cross of Calvary. If the suffering of Job proves that God is loved for Himself, then the sufferings of Christ at Calvary prove to man that he is loved in turn for himself. Satan is silenced, and the angels are left to wonder in amazement at those who are the heirs of salvation.