I hope everyone was able to read through Job this week. This week’s readings took us from Job 20 through Psalms 5. We are in the midst of Hebrew poetry sections of scripture. Hebrew poetry has it’s own style. The most common feature is parallelism where the first line is either reworded, or contrasted, or magnified or minimized by the second line. At times this parallelism occurs with three or more lines. The Jews loved to repeat themselves. And did I tell you that they like to say the same thing twice or more using different words? This is particularly clear in the Proverbs, but also in Job, Psalms and Ecclesiastes (and other books).
But enough on grammar, let’s look at a point in the story of Job now.
We know that the first two chapters and the last chapter of the book of Job tell the story. What happens between these are a series of speeches in Hebrew poetic language by Job, his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and lastly Elihu, and then God Himself. It is curious that everyone in this major section of the book follows Hebrew poetic style, but they do. What I’d like us to focus on in our lesson today is found in the first two chapters before the poetry begins. It’s a puzzle, and a bit of a scary one at that, that God and Satan have a conversation about Job and Satan gets to do what He does best (or worst) and that is to devastate Job’s very existence.
I’m entitling this message: Satan’s Hands. The Hebrew word for hand here occurs 1617 times in the Old Testament, often meaning power, authority, or control. What you have in your hands is under your care or power.
Job 1:12 and 2:6 give us the eery words that brooch this subject: Here’s a literal Hebrew translation of 1:12 The Lord said to Satan, “Behold, ALL HE HAS is in your hand, but on him, do not put your hand.” So, all Job has is placed in Satan’s hands. Not Job himself, but everything that is his. What do you think about that? And then it gets even worse in 2:6 where God tells Satan, “Behold, HE is in your hand, but spare his life.” Now, Job himself is in Satan’s hands! And only one thing is not allowed. Satan can’t kill Job. God has to say that because Satan would do just that otherwise.
What is it like to be handed over to Satan? What is it like to fall into Satan’s hands? Job gives us a clear picture, does it not? We might wish this was just an Old Testament story leaving us in a safer place, but that’s not what the rest of the Bible tells us. Let’s move to the New Testament to see what we find.
We all know of Jesus being tempted by Satan after Jesus was baptized. Much more is added during Jesus’ ministry, then look at the very end:
Luke 22:31-32. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and after you have turned back, strengthen your brethren.”
In the gospels Jesus refers to Satan as the father of lies, a murderer, a wolf, a thief, a destroyer, a deceiver, a tempter and “the evil one.” Scripture throughout has nothing but bad things to say about Satan. Yet, Satan, is still under God’s authority and is limited by God’s power and authority. Don’t forget who is King and Creator of all. God is. This means Satan himself had to have been created by God, not as he is, but as one allowed to become what he is. His name means, “Accuser” but that probably wasn’t his original name. Now as God’s enemy, his work runs deeper than mere accusation. He also desires, and works for, the ruin and destruction of those he accuses.
Even so, God still uses Satan to accomplish God’s will. Look at some passages with me on this: 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 tell of a Christian man who has turned to gross immorality and Paul gives the church these words. (Read). Similarly, 1 Timothy 1:20. Also, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 tells about how Paul himself is kept from falling into pride through receiving a messenger of Satan.
On the other hand, we see how Satan works against Christian faith and mission: 2 Thessalonians 2:18, 3:5.
Romans 1:18-32 give us the most complete spiritual map into Satan’s clutches. Though his name is never mentioned in this passage, his hand prints are all over it.
Finally, the gospel of Christ gives us power to escape from Satan’s powers. Acts 26:15-18 Jesus is speaking to Saul of Tarsus, as Saul is going to Damascus to arrest Christians, and who later becomes the Apostle Paul, as he is here telling how he met Jesus.
Did you know that this church exists because of what Jesus said here?
It’s hard to over appreciate the rescue mission of God to deliver us from Satan’s hands, Satan’s power, so that we have forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are being sanctified.
Two final passages and the lesson is yours:
2 Timothy 1:8-12, 1 John 3:7-10
Satan’s hands or God’s hands. Which do you prefer to be in?
That’s the entire point of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! It is the only place of escape from the kingdom of darkness and death which reside in the hands of Satan. One day Satan will be cast into hell, along with all who enjoy his way and are employed in his works. One day God will call home all who rejoice in His will and follow where His hand guides.
God’s hands or Satan’s hands, there are no other options. May God hold us all in the palm of His hand.