A Cord of Three Strands

What God allows from our Enemy

Posted by David Staff on

Job 1:10-12

[Satan] “Have You not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Really?

I find myself asking so many questions in response to what is found here. You too? We get it that Satan is frustrated when God protects us, provides us with resources, and even guards those for whom we pray. Isn’t that the way it should be? So why does Satan have a say in this arrangement? Why would the Lord entertain any suggestion from the one who seeks our destruction? And, what does Satan mean when he suggests that the Lord Himself “stretch out [His] hand and ‘touch’ all that [Job] has…”? Why would the Lord have any interest in doing anything to His servant which might evoke a cursing, embittered response?

And…why in the world would the Lord agree to anything that even comes close to what Satan is suggesting? Stunning. Sobering. Satan is given permission to destroy what Job has. It appears, however, that Job is not given any forewarning. The arrangement is made in the heavenlies; its impact is felt in the experience of gaining, then losing, on the earth.

We take some comfort that the Lord our God is capable of protecting us “on every side” (vs. 10). He never relinquishes His sovereign control. But God does permit things into our lives which we do not see coming, and which can be extraordinarily taxing. Notice that God’s “stretching out His hand” is the permission granted to Satan, while the destruction itself which explodes in Job’s life is (by the Lord’s description) Satan’s “stretching out your hand.”

Because our Lord sees ultimate benefit for us in any permission He grants to Satan, we should be heart-ready for losses, even unforeseen ones.

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