“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, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, “when the Sabeans raided them and took them away–indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, “and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”” Job 1:6-19, NKJV.
This is such an important passage. There are many things we could focus on:
- There are days in heaven?
- Satan hangs around in heaven?
- God doesn’t know where Satan has been?
- Satan walks around on the earth, and knows details about people!
- Does righteousness make you a target? Wouldn’t it be easier to be normal
We are not going to look at these questions directly now, because the bigger question is this: how does the life of Job instruct us about grace?
We notice that Job has a lot of behavioral righteousness going on. He is distinguished from everyone else on earth, in that he is blameless and upright, and shuns evil. This is the assessment of GOD. Satan agrees. God brought it up! God is saying, Satan, you must not be all that effectual with whatever you are doing on the earth, because it hasn’t affected Job!
Satan counters with the argument that it is easy, because the grace and material blessing and protection of God produced Job’s righteousness – anyone could do it! Satan sees clearly what legalists cannot – grace and favor produce righteousness.
So, here is the crux. God, acts out of respect for Job, out of a gracious desire to prove Job’s authenticity of faith. Satan accuses Job of having a false righteousness, not based on trust in God’s goodness but based on the immediate evidence of material blessing. He says, in effect, sure, Job is upright, as long as everything is going his way. Let’s see if he is really upright!
What’s amazing is, God seems to care that Satan’s accusations do not stand. Even in this there is grace. Superficially, there is the grace that God puts strict boundaries on the kind of access he will let Satan have to Job – “only, do not lay a hand on his person.” However, more deeply, we see that God trusts that Job is the real deal, that his righteousness will indeed withstand the test. God in His grace let’s circumstances fall that let Job prove his muster, and this is as much grace as the material favor and protection he had before. In effect, we see that God lives dangerously, he believes in Job.
From Job’s example, it is true that God protects and blesses the upright. There is no reason to oppose this, it is biblical. If we suppose that we want to be the subject of heaven’s conversations, that we want to be exceptionally upright, we must expect that there will be opposition. We must also know not only that we trust God, but that God trusts us, and that all that happens to us may not be explained this side of heaven.