Sunday, August 10, 2008

When God Boasts In His Servants

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." And 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, who fears God and turns away from evil?"
Job 1:6-8
And this was the beginning of Job's walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

I have often thought that Satan looks for the most influential and fruitful followers of Christ to make his targets of ambush because if he can make them fall, not only will he derail them, but the ripple effect will be great in negatively affecting the faith of the many who they influence. This is one reason why leaders in the Church are usually the most vulnerable to spiritual attack and should be the most vigilant.

But notice in these verses that Satan is NOT the one who takes initiative in seeking someone to torment. Who is? God Himself.

When the sons of God (not really sure who these are) come to present themselves before God (as it seems like they did on some sort of regular basis), it just so happens that Satan comes along with them on this particular occasion. And from the text, we don't know anything about Satan's agenda. All we know is that he's been walking up and down the earth, going to and fro. Of all the things that God could have said to Satan, what did He choose to say? He chose to call attention to one of His servants:
"Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth , a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?"
Job 1:8
What is God doing? He is presenting before Satan one of His trophies of grace. He is boasting before Satan. I wonder what tone of voice God said this with. I can't help but to believe that His soul was beaming with delight as He took pleasure in His servant Job.

"In spite of what you did in the Garden to turn all of humanity against Me, here is one who still walks in My ways. And there is nothing you can do about it."

And, of course, Satan wasn't happy. And he wanted to prove God wrong. The rest of the book unfolds his plan for trying to do so. But we know that, in the end, he fails.

When God first told Satan about Job, He didn't do so in ignorance. He knew that the name Satan means adversary. He knew that Satan would want to oppose Job because Job had aligned himself with the only One that Satan has set himself against. So He was, in effect, placing Job in the path of opposition. He was placing Job in the path of suffering. He was placing Job in the path of pain.

So why did He do it? Because He was angry at Job? Because Job had sinned against Him? Because He wanted to discipline Job? Contrary to what Job's friends would tell him, God didn't do what He did for any of these reasons. According to these verses, one conclusion we could arrive at is that God did what He did to Job because He was pleased with Job.

Satan's aim in the lives of human beings is to cause them to turn from God. Therefore, Satan doesn't care to bother with those who aren't wholly turned from evil. Satan doesn't care to bother with those who don't cultivate in their hearts a trembling fear of God. He is satisfied with them the way they are. And God wouldn't call Satan's attention to them because it would be reason for Satan to boast rather than God.

But when there is one who trembles with fear before the Lord and is ceaselessly laboring to turn away from all evil, here is one that Satan is unhappy with. And, therefore, here is one that God is happy with. Here is one that God can boast in. And God loves to boast because He is the only One who is qualified to do so. He is the only One whose boasting is not a gross distortion of reality.

What, then, are some of the implications?

1) May we beware the prosperity gospel that tells us that when God is pleased with us, things go well for us in this life. In other words, we prosper. The message of Job seems to be the opposite. When God is pleased with us, He boasts in us and this leads to our suffering.

2) May our sufferings, if we have a clear conscience before the Lord, cause us to walk in the radiance of His smile upon us so that we would joyfully strive all the more to give God more reason to boast and have pleasure in spite of all that Satan tries to do to cause us to doubt Him.

3) May we strive to know God more fully according to His Word so that we wouldn't be mistaken in our thinking about Him or His motivations in the midst of the things we experience.

4) As we grow in godliness, may we daily heed the words of our apostle Peter:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4:12
Father, please make me a a man who validates your pleasure in me rather than reacting to trials in such a way that would prove it unfounded. Continue to so transform me so that I would live with a greater awareness of the fact that my life is ultimately about Your pleasure and not mine. And in this, may you enable me to make this, Your pleasure in me, the basis of rejoicing in my sufferings, which otherwise feels impossible. For Jesus' sake I pray, Amen.

1 comment:

Mel said...

I have thought about this post several times since I first read it, and have re-read portions of it several times. I used parts of it to illustrate some points with my husband reagarding some of the challenges our family has been facing lately.

Your prayer echoes the desire of my heart. Oh, that I may be someone that God can and will boast in, and that when adversity strikes because of it, God will be glorified in my reactions. :)