Monday, August 29, 2016

Accusations (1) Job

The book of Job explains that Satan was the cause of the sickness that Job suffered. However, there are different views about why Satan was able to afflict Job with such terrible pain. Some say that Job let down his “hedge of protection”. Others say that Job succumbed to fear. Neither makes sense, because the book is clear that Job was not sick because he sinned.

A key message of the book is that his sickness was caused by the spiritual powers of evil. The reason why Job becomes sick is that Satan is an accuser. The name is a Hebrew word meaning accuser or adversary. Satan is a prosecutor who attacks God’s people by making accusations against them.

Satan accused Job of serving God with impure motives. He did not really love God, but loved the stuff that God had given him. If God took his wealth away, his true motives would be revealed. Satan accused Job of serving God for what he could get out of it. He claimed Job’s love of God was really selfishness.

By making this accusation, Satan forced God to take away Job’s wealth and health. How was he able to do this? He is a liar, but he knew better than to lie to God. So what evidence did he have to present against Job? He must have had testimonies from people who knew Job well and had influence in his life.

The answer becomes clear when we look at what Jobs friends said to comfort him. At first, they were kind, but when he refused to admit that he deserved what had happened to him, they got frustrated and revealed their true thoughts about him. They said he was greedy and deceitful.

Here is Eliphaz,

Your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty (Job 15:5).
Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land (Job 22:5-9).
Zophar agreed,
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure (Job 20:19-20).
Bildad was quieter, but pursued the same theme.
The steps of his strength are shortened,
And his own counsel casts him down.
For he is cast into a net by his own feet,
And he walks into a snare (Job 18:7-9).
People so not change their opinions about other people. If Job’s friends believed these things after he had suffered, they would have believed them while he was prosperous. They might have not accused Job to his face, but they would have spoken their accusations to each other, while gossiping about him. They would have said these things to other people when they asked about Job.

When Satan appeared before God, he accused Job of impure motives. He said that Job was deceitful and greedy. This is exactly what Job’ friends said when he was suffering, and would have said earlier when he was still prosperous.

Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad were Job’s fiends. They knew him well and had influence in his lives. This gave weight to their testimonies. Their accusations against Job, allowed Satan to make the same accusation about Job to God. Satan was able to claim it was true, because these men knew Job well and they agreed that he was greedy and deceitful.

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