By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Quotation For Consideration
“Those schemes affect everyone. They are orchestrated in order to tempt us, deceive us, draw us away from God, fill our hearts with half-truths and untruths, and lure us into pursuing good things in the wrong way, at the wrong time, or with the wrong person. The English word strategies is derived from the Greek word Paul uses that is translated “schemes.” That means our temptations are not random. The false perspectives we encounter do not come at us haphazardly. The lies we hear, the conflicts we have with others, the cravings that consume us when we are at our weakest points—they are all part of a plan to make us casualties in the invisible war. They are organized, below-the-belt assaults designed to neutralize the very people God has filled with his awesome power.” (Chip Ingram, The Invisible War: What Every Believer Needs To Know About Satan, Demons, And Spiritual Warfare, 27 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Throughout the Book of Job, we see Job’s friends did not provide much comfort to the suffering man of God. For example, we read:
Job 12:4-“I am one mocked by his friends, Who called on God, and He answered him, The just and blameless who is ridiculed.
Job 16:2-“I have heard many such things; Miserable comforters are you all!
Job 16:10-They gape at me with their mouth, They strike me reproachfully on the cheek, They gather together against me.
Job 19:14-My relatives have failed, And my close friends have forgotten me.
Job 19:19-All my close friends abhor me, And those whom I love have turned against me.
Why were Job’s friends such miserable comforters?
Undoubtedly, one of the reasons Job’s friends did such a poor job in in comforting Job is because they were unwitting pawns of Satan.
The Spiritual Warfare In The Book Of Job
Many students of the Book of Job forget that much of what happens in the Book of Job is due to a conflict that took place in Heaven among God and Satan. We are told twice about how Satan attempted to accuse God of not truly being good throughout the heavenly encounters (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10). These were the same accusations that Satan used to deceive Eve, i.e., the notion that God is not truly good.
Speaking of the similarities of these accounts, Wiley has well written:
“There is another Scriptural account which confirms that the root of the conflict in heaven is the ancient slander against the character of God by Satan. It occurs in the conflict between God and Satan over a man named Job. We have seen how the serpent’s temptation of Eve focused not on the desirability of the forbidden fruit, but on sabotaging her faith in the character of God. In the Book of Job we see the pattern repeated. The motivation behind Satan’s vicious assault on Job was his desire to indict God’s character. The book of Job records two occasions when Satan appeared before God. While the fallen angels who joined Satan in rebellion are now apparently forcibly banished from heaven and confined to the earthly regions (Rev. 12:4), Satan himself evidently still has, or had, access to the presence of God (see also Zechariah 3:1 feet). The Satanic visits recorded in Job further illustrate the true nature of the conflict between God and Satan. The Book of Job is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, book in the Bible. The heavenly encounters between God and Satan recorded in the Book of Job took place after the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, but probably before much of the rest of the Bible was written…Apparently Satan had seen Job, and was none too happy that this one man on earth maintained devotion to God. However, the important point to observe in Satan’s response to God is how Satan characterized Job’s relationship to God. Once again, Satan indicted God’s character. According to Satan, the only reason that Job served God is because God bribed him. Satan charged that God, by blessing and protecting Job, had given Job an ulterior motive for serving God and remaining blameless in his behavior. In essence, Satan asserted that the only reason a person would serve God would be because God bribed that person…However, Satan, in in his clash with God over Job, clearly implied that God and Job colluded in a nefarious bargain. God needed someone to appear loyal to Him on Earth, and Job wanted to be blessed materially, so God bribed Job and Job agreed to go through the motions of loyalty to God. Satan could not afford to admit that Job worshipped God because Job genuinely loved God and had faith in God’s goodness. It is very important to observe that Satan’s accusation against God about Job took place in ‘public’ in heaven. These confrontations took place in front of the other ‘sons of God,’ who were also present. These were undoubtedly righteous, unfallen angels. Perhaps this visit took place on a special ‘day’ of some kind in heaven. The second visit of Satan to the throne of God recorded in the Book of Job occurred on another of these ‘days.’ If the ‘sons of God’ were righteous angels, then clearly there was a great multitude of the heavenly host present on both occasions recorded in Job when Satan impugned the chapter of God in Heaven. From the account in the Book of Job, we can see that not only did Satan indict the character of God to Eve on earth in the Garden of Eden, but he also impugned and indicted the character of God’s heaven in full view of the heavenly host. Both in the Garden of Eden and in heaven, Satan charged that God is really only looking out for Himself. It is Satan’s indictment of the character of God-his accusations against God-that are at the heart of both the larger, ancient war in heaven and the conflict on earth.” (Michael A. Wiley, The Salvation Of Angels: Understanding The Heavenly Impact Of Jesus Christ, 37-40; Xulon Press)
Thus, what took place between Satan and Job was actually a “contest” of sorts, where the angels of God were being allowed to examine the question: Is God Really Good?
The Warfare ConnectionWith Job’s Friends
Elishaz tells Job of an encounter he had with a “spirit,” shortly before the three friends came to “comfort” Job. We read:
Job 4:12-21- 12 “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it.
13 In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up.
16 It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence; Then I heard a voice saying:
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If He puts no trust in His servants, If He charges His angels with error,
19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before a moth?
20 They are broken in pieces from morning till evening; They perish forever, with no one regarding.
21 Does not their own excellence go away? They die, even without wisdom.’
Who was this spirit that Elishaz encountered? By careful study, we are able to see that it must have been an agent of Satan.
Henry Morris informs us:
“This mysterious spirit was not God’s Holy Spirit speaking words of divine inspiration. God later rebuked all the counsel of Eliphaz and his friends, which was largely based on the revelation received from this spirit. For the same reason, it was not one of God’s holy angels either. Although angels appeared to men on occasion during biblical days, their appearances and messages were never like this. We conclude therefore, that this was an evil spirit, speaking words of apparent piety and partial truth. In reality, however, they were deceptive and misleading words, for this is how Satan works. He can appear as “an angel of light” and his angelic servants as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Perhaps this night visitor was Satan himself, in view of the importance of the mission, or at least one of his “principalities and powers,” not a run-of-the mill demon; the latter seem to be more useful in terrifying than in deceiving. But why would he come to Eliphaz at this time? The reason must be connected somehow with the pending visit of Eliphaz to Job. Satan, knowing that Eliphaz was Job’s respected friend and counselor, may have decided this was the best way to get to Job and to cause him to lose his faith and renounce the Lord.” (Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Record Of Job: The Ancient Wisdom, Scientific Accuracy, & Life-Changing Message Of The Amazing Book, 998-1018 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)
Why did the spirit visit Eliphaz? What was he trying to accomplish?
By carefully analyzing the message of this spirit, we see that it was trying to convince Eliphaz that Job must have been guilty of some terrible evil-that God was punishing Job. When Job would be confronted with this message, he would know it was not true-and what conclusion would he draw?
That God was not truly good, and was therefore unworthy of praise and adoration.
The Lessons For Us
There are, of course, several lessons for us in learning to be good friends to those who suffer.
First, Satan wants to use us to try and hurt others. He can sometimes accomplish this, even through our good intentions. This reminds us of the destructive goals of the wicked one:
1 Peter 5:8-Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Ephesians 6:16-above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
The fiery darts were designed not only to destroy one’s enemies, but to inflict suffering upon them.
Second, the devil can use spiritual apparitions and visions to try and deceive the people of God. Paul reminds us:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15-13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
If Satan and his servants can appear as an angel of light and ministers of righteousness, how careful must be to carefully examine anything and everything by the Word of God! Indeed, Satan is the father of lies and he knows how to use deception:
John 8:44-You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
When our friends are hurting, one of the best things that we can do is offer them comfort from the Word of God:
1 Thessalonians 4:18-Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Third, we are reminded from these experiences that Job’s suffering served very important purposes. Through his faithful endurance in suffering, Job was able to help expose the lies of Satan. He was able to demonstrate the goodness of God. The angels were able to witness that God is, indeed, good!
Sometimes we feel as if our suffering is pointless, that we are just the playthings of an uncaring and cruel universe (or maybe even an unkind God). Yet what we learn from Job is that our suffering is allowed by God to bring about good, even good that we cannot see at the moment. In this knowledge, we are able to find solace and comfort as we face the difficulties before us.
Finally, one of the mistakes of Job’s friends in these matters was that they incorrectly believed that Job was being punished because of some sin in Job’s life. They had allowed themselves to be deceived by the lies of the devil, which was bad enough. Yet even worse, they had allowed their hearts to become hardened to Job and to reach out and further his torment with their words. Job himself declared this important fact to them:
Job 6:14-14 “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
May the Lord help us in attempting to become better friends to those who are suffering.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
What was the lie of Satan in the Garden of Eden? ________________________________________________________________________________________
List some of the descriptions that Job applied to his friends. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What was the accusation that Satan made against God in the presence of the angels? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Who sent the spirit to Eliohaz, and what lie did it try and persuade him of? ___________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Job 6:14-14 “To him who is __________________, _____________________ should be shown by his ____________, Even though he __________________ the ________ of the Almighty.
For Prayer Partners
1. Discuss the ways that Satan deceived grieving people today. What are some of the popular lies hat he wants to tell them? Consider especially the lie that was used brought Job, that God punished such and such for sin. What can we do to combat such deceptions? How can we show our friends that God has higher goals in allowing our suffering? Consider Isaiah 19:19–25 26:9; lamentations 3:22-33.