The Book of Job is to be treasured above all others in respect of the Cosmic Chess Game. No matter if theological criticism tries to destroy the credibility of the book, it remains as the only clear portrayal of what goes on “behind the scenes” in respect to cosmic warfare. In this number we shall first of all make a list of the lessons to be learned, mainly from the first two chapters of the book, and then ask ourselves what the book as a whole represents in terms of Cameo.
1. Obviously there are periodic occasions when the host of heaven presents itself before the Lord. “There was a day . . .” (1:6) “Again there was a day . . .” (2:1) No further information is given as to the frequency of such visits, but in view of some of the hints the Lord has given us over the years, we should like to make a suggestion – that it happens at each New Moon. The Lord once told us, “Sow at the New Moon and reap at the Full.”This was in respect of special prayer requests to be made at the time of the New Moon. Certainly the New Moon was a special occasion within the Mosaic legislation, a time of rejoicing. One further clue may be found at the end of Isaiah, where we read, “From New Moon to New Moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord.” (66:23) The human gathering may be an earthly parallel to theangelic gathering.
2. “Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.” (2:1) The language suggests that he didn’t always do so, and therefore he may have had some special purpose in mind on these two occasions.
3. “Whence have you come?” asks the Lord on both occasions, and Satan says, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” This is indicative of his state. It reminds us of Cain, to whom the Lord said, “You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” (Gen.4:12) And like Cain, Satan had been “a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) Both had been subject to an exclusion sentence.
4. The Lord speaks well of Job. “Have you considered my servant Job. There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil?” (1:8 & 2:3) The Lord loves to speak well of those who look to Him, love Him, and enjoy dwelling within the confines of His law.
5. But Satan had obviously been watching Job carefully, and furthermore, complains that he can do nothing to disturb Job’s peace and tranquillity. “Does Job fear God for naught? Haven’t You put a hedge about him, about his house, and all that is his? Haven’t You blessed his work, and increased his possessions?” (1:9-10) No doubt Job had prayed for God’s protection, and it had been granted. A more recent example comes to mind, that of General Gordon of Khartoum. (1833-1885) Whilst camping in the desert, he had been awakened one night by a tribal chieftain standing over his bed. “Why have you left your tent unguarded?” he said. “Every night until now you have surrounded your camp by a ring of warriors.” Gordon sat up and said, “It is my fault. I failed tonight to ask God for protection before sleeping.” The two men conversed together, and although Gordon had never seen these “warriors”, the Lord had opened the eyes of the marauding band to their existence. And so in the life of Job Satan expresses a somewhat sour and embittered complaint to the Lord, and uses his wiles to seek a method of undermining Job’s fear of the Lord.
6. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Ps.34:7) “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and no torment will touch them.” (Wisdom 3:1) From texts such as these we get the clear impression that God’s elect experience and enjoy special protection from the Lord. But the story of Job also shows that sometimes the Lord allows this shield to be removed. However, the story also shows that when such events transpire they produce (a) a double blessing from the Lord when the trial is over, and (b) the Lord’s servant is exercised for good during the trial, so that he becomes a more mature person as a result. Hence, when Satan desires to wreck God’s children, all his efforts backfire. What amazes me is that he never seems to learn the lesson from this. However, we know that he defiled his wisdom in the beginning, so that whenever he uses it now, it manifests itself as subtlety, cunning craftiness, and deception.
7. If Satan is allowed to attack one of God’s elect, limits are always placed on his activity. “Thus far and no further, and here shall your proud waves be stayed,” the Lord said to Job concerning the ocean waves, and it could be a poetic way of describing the limits He places on Satan’s attacks. (Job.38:11)
As a result of this we learn that Dualism cannot be ascribed to the warfare between God and the Enemy. God is the uncreated Designer and Creator of man and the angels, whereas Satan is just one of those whom He created, no matter how high and wonderful he may have been initially. God may allow Satan to move his pieces on the Cosmic Chess Board, but God’s wisdom is undefiled, whereas Satan’s is defiled, so that he cannot win, whatever he essays to do.
8. When Satan’s attacks on Job begin, we learn that he is able to stir up the minds of adjacent tribes, (such as the Sabeans and Chaldeans) to attack Job’s livestock and servants. How many other times in the world’s history has he likewise caused national leaders to turn their thoughts against others, and begin wars, with plunder, and rapine?
9. Following this, we learn that he is able to send down fire out of the sky to destroy man and beast. What form this takes is difficult to imagine. Could it be what the Psalmist described as “hailstones and coals of fire”?(Psalm 18: 12-13) If this imagery was ascribed to God in this psalm, perhaps Satan could copy it to a limited extent. Job’s servant said, “The fire of God fell from heaven . . .” (Job.1:16) But such language was frequently used to describe happenings of an unusual and dramatic nature. It didn’t mean that God sent it. The servant simply meant “a great fire fell from heaven.”
10. Finally, Satan sent a devastating wind, perhaps akin to a tornado, which caused a house to collapse, killing all Job’s children. In chapter 38, “the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind.” Once again we learn that Satan copies God, or putting it another way, his power is always limited by God, he cannot devise anything outside divine parameters.
11. When Satan sees his failure to make Job curse God the first time round, he seeks permission to cause a second punishment. But this “double punishment” is reversed in the final issue, when God rewards Job with a “double blessing.” (Job 42:10) This appears to be a basic Biblical lesson, because we learn from Isaiah 40:1-2,“Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and say to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” And again, “Instead of your shame you shall have a double portion, instead of dishonour you shall rejoice in your lot; therefore in your land you shall possess a double portion; yours shall be everlasting joy.” (Isa.61:7) And again, “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zech.9:12) However, those who have been responsible for causing double punishments to God’s elect will not be allowed to get off scot free. See what the Lord reveals to John in Rev.18:6 about the fate of Babylon. “Her sins are heaped as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her as she has rendered, repay her double for her deeds, double unto her double in the cup that she mixed.” “Double unto her double” suggests a “fourfold” punishment, does it not?
12. The Lord takes responsibility for all that happened to Job. “You have moved me against Job to destroy him without cause.” (2:3) This ultimate responsibility speaks of God’s sovereignty, as Paul Fox so eloquently told us in his article. And God is proud of His servants who are able to say under duress, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” And “Even though He should slay me, yet I will trust Him.” (1:21 & 13:15) The Book of Job is therefore a very great help and assistance to us when we suddenly find ourselves under intense attack. If the natural man is inclined to say “God has deserted me”, and “Why all this suffering?” the New Man in Christ is given the strength to say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being killed all day long, and regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom.8:35-37, with a quote from Psalm 44:22) Thousands of years ago Job was enabled to understand that. He was a man who had spent years getting to know the Lord God whom he could trust even unto death.
13. Satan’s second attack was on Job’s person, and from this we learn that he is able to produce illness, disease, and bodily suffering.
14. Job’s affliction was speedily removed at the end of his trials, which has not always been the case with other of God’s children. But Job was used as a cameo, and therefore he became a living lesson of God’s ways with man, and the limited ability of the Adversary to afflict the righteous.
15. Finally we have to realise that whilst the trial lasts, there is always a sense of perplexity, a cry of “What is happening to me?” This is all part of the Divine Will, whereby the endured suffering does its full and blessed work. It may sound easy to write these words as a result of studying the Book of Job, but I can testify that the experience is not easy, and in the past and even at this present time, our perplexity was and is painful and lasting. Therefore I do not speak glibly about God’s trials. They are never easy, but by God’s grace they always produce stronger and more refined characters, whereby we know that our change has not resulted from our own efforts.
So much for the wonderful lessons that can be learned from these first two chapters of Job. Each of these 15 points is helpful in understanding what C.S.Lewis called “The Problem of Pain”, in his book of that title. We now complete this study by asking the question, was Job a Cameo, and if so, to what did his suffering point in history?
I would like to suggest that Job lived in the same region and time-slot as Moses during his years in Midian. And that he (Moses) could well have been a witness to Job’s suffering, or at least that he learned about it first-hand afterwards. One must remember that the four main characters in the story were men of high position and standing amongst their contemporaries, and although we read of them seated around Job, they were not alone. There must have been others present, and in particular, their “secretaries”, men who would be recording all the conversations for posterity, inscribing their clay tablets with cuneiform characters. It is my own persuasion that Moses used all this written evidence to re-write the story in metrical verse, during his years with Jethro.
Having said that, we can now see the amazing parallel between Job and the nation of Israel in Egypt, of whom God said, “Israel is my firstborn. Let my son go.” Pharaoh, the type of Satan, produced a double punishment on the nation, first by causing them rigorous hard labour, even denying them straw to make their bricks, and then causing the death of their sons by drowning. Moses spoke of Israel in those days as Jeshurun (“the upright one”) in order to portray him as the ideal son, the ideal nation. (See Deut.32:15, 33:5,26, and Isa.44:2) The final outcome was a miraculous deliverance out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.
The Lord had listened to all Job’s complaints in his misery. At the end He addressed Eliphaz , saying, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (42:7) Even though Job had said some pretty provocative things to God concerning his condition, the Lord never held it against him. Likewise, the Lord heard all the complaints of His people Israel in Egypt. “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 3:7-8) Likewise I am assured the Lord overlooks and understands our many questions and complaints whilst enduring trials. He knows of what we are made. Jesus has been this way Himself. He knows all about it.
Did Job suffer on behalf of the nation of Israel? Was his affliction a type of the affliction in Egypt? Was Moses enabled to fulfil the task God set him as a result of the sufferings of Job? I will leave this with my readers to ponder.
In the next, and last, of this series, I should like to draw the various strands of evidence together to see what it all means.