The majority of the book of Job focuses on Job’s dialogue with his friends about God and the nature of suffering. But the first two chapters describe a dialogue between God and Satan, which sets Job’s great trial in motion. This exchange is one of the most detailed portraits of Satan found in Scripture. It depicts Satan as a personal being who joins the angels as they assemble in the presence of the Lord. He is portrayed as one of their number but also as one who is apart from them (Job 1:6). This reflects Satan’s status as a fallen angel (Luke 10:18). He is an intruder in the presence of God and is the accuser of believers (Rev. 12:10; cf. Zech. 3:1).
Satan’s two conversations with God also reveal that he is subject to divine authority. Although he is in rebellion against God, Satan must answer to God. For example, when he is asked, Satan must give an account of his actions (Job 1:7; 2:2). Satan can do nothing to Job without divine permission. When Satan is given permission to interfere in Job’s life, the boundaries of his authority are clearly defined. Satan does not have the power to go beyond the limits that God sets for him (Job 1:12; 2:6). The conflict between God and Satan is not a battle between two equals. God’s power is far greater than Satan’s.
God’s superior authority in this contest is demonstrated by the fact that it was the Lord who drew Satan’s attention to Job. God was not a passive and unwitting responder to Satan’s evil scheme but the one who initiated Job’s test. God was not being manipulated by Satan in this exchange. God is completely in charge. In Job’s story, Satan is merely a bit player. We often think that the aim of trials is to teach us something about God, but the purpose of this particular trial was to teach Satan (and probably the host of heaven) something about Job.
Jesus characterized Satan as a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). Satan is still at work in the world today, promoting his agenda through those who are disobedient to the gospel. He blinds the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot embrace the gospel’s truth (2 Cor. 4:4). He seeks to further his evil agenda by working through those who are disobedient (Eph. 2:2). But the good news is that Satan has already been defeated. Satan’s plans were thwarted by the obedience, death, and resurrection of Christ. Satan’s destiny is destruction (Heb. 2:14). At the end of time he will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the fallen angels who serve him (Rev. 20:10).
FOR FURTHER STUDY
To be more aware of Satan’s schemes, read Satan by Lewis Sperry Chafer (Bottom of the Hill Publishing).