If God is a God of Blessings, What About Job?

By Nolan Lewallen Published on August 15, 2023

The first time I picked up a Bible to read it I went down the list of books, and the one that jumped out at me was Job. I thought it was a book about a person’s job, as in work. That would be something useful, I thought. It was quite different than I expected and probably wasn’t the greatest first impression of the Bible. If you’re trying to win over a friend to country music, you’d probably start with a good crossover song like Dolly’s 9 to 5 instead of Ernest Tubb’s Waltz Across Texas. Despite that first impression, though, and by a miracle of God, I gave my life to Jesus a few years later.

The book of Job has an altogether different meaning to me now. While many focus on the suffering of Job, I see it as an incredible story of restoration. Not to downplay the horrific trial Job went through, but it appears that the entire trial lasted months not years. Job said in 7:3, “I have been allotted months of futility.” That Hebrew word is used in the Old Testament seven times as “months” (plural) and six times as “month” (singular). So, it’s even possible it only lasted about a month.

Through raiders, fire, and a great wind, Job lost his servants, livestock, and even his seven sons and three daughters in a single day (1:15-19). Then, Job’s health failed; his body was smitten with boils “from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:7).

But God blessed him with twice as much in the end (42:10). And God also blessed him with more children. Yeah, you guessed it … exactly seven sons and three daughters.

Who’s the Culprit Here?

So, what are the main take-aways from this story? First, we must realize that Satan did those horrific things to Job, not God. The same was true with Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). It clearly says “a messenger of Satan” gave it to him. Jesus said it’s the thief who steals, kills, and destroys, but He came to give us a more abundant life (John 10:10). We can debate whether “the thief” is the devil or false teachers (which would indirectly be the devil), but the main point is that Jesus does not steal, kill, and destroy. And He said if we’ve seen Him, we’ve seen the Father (John 14:9).

Second, God rebuked Job’s friends for their erroneous rhetoric (42:7). So, many verses in Job must be “taken with a grain of salt.” We are to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

God is not in cahoots with Satan either, albeit I realize in Job Chapter 1, it kind of appears that way. But 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 asks, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?” God didn’t wink and nod at the devil as a signal to do His dirty work.

Backstage Dialogue

So, what was all that chatter between God and Satan about? I think God is giving us a glimpse of “backstage” and how that impacts the acting out of the play “onstage.” In this metaphor, backstage represents the realm of the spirit, and onstage represents the physical realm.

As the conversation between God and Satan ensued, a great deal had already taken place. Satan acknowledged that God had “made a hedge around him [Job], around his household, and around all that he has on every side” (verse 10). That was God’s will for Job’s life. But God acknowledges to Satan the right to penetrate that hedge (He’s a God of justice) saying, “All that he has is in your power.” So, how did Satan gain that power?

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Since Ephesians 4:27 admonishes us to “give no place to the devil,” that means we can give place to the devil. In Job’s case, perhaps it was his fear, or a perverted “faith” that something bad was going to happen. He continually offered burnt sacrifices for his children and said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (1:5). Saying “It may be” indicates he only feared that would happen. In verse 3:25 he admitted, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.” There could have been other shortcomings in Job’s life.

But even given Job’s fears, notice that Satan had boundaries in place. God said, “Only do not lay a hand on his person” (1:12). God drew a line in the sand and laid down some restrictions as to what Satan did and did not have a right to do, namely laying a hand on Job himself. Evidently, that meant he couldn’t kill Job or harm him permanently because he obviously was able to put boils all over his body.

My Personal Testimony

I touched on this testimony in The Stream once before, but I think it’s quite relevant to this discussion on Satan being able to penetrate our “hedge” in one area but not another. I’ve added a map this time to grasp the full weight of it. In the early 90s I had an accident on Highway 377 near Cresson, Texas while driving home from DFW airport. I reached for a cassette tape that had slid onto the floor (yeah, I know … dumb!) as the car in front of me suddenly stopped, and I ran into him. This came at a time when I was trying to get hired as a pilot by a major airline, and for obvious reasons, I didn’t need a violation on my otherwise “squeaky clean” record.

I went to the J.P.’s office to pay the ticket and discovered the accident occurred in a tiny sliver of Highway 377 that barely cuts the corner of Johnson County (see map below). Johnson County was the only county on my route (through four counties) that had a “deferred adjudication” option. That enabled me to keep it off my record.

I’m convinced there was something going on in the “spiritual courtroom” that day. It would be too freaky otherwise. Whether through some sin and/or my carelessness, Satan apparently had a green light to work destruction in some areas but was restricted from hurting other areas (i.e. my driving record, thus jeopardizing my airline career).

Regarding Job, some say, “But God chastises us.” True. But if you had the power, would you ever chastise your child by putting boils all over their body? (If so, you should go to jail.) Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Jesus promised that in the world we will have tribulations (John 16:33). That’s not one we typically stick on our refrigerators. But He went on to clarify that it’s the world that produces the tribulations, not Him. He added, Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

 

Nolan Lewallen is a retired pilot of a major airline and lives near Stephenville, Texas, with his wife, Kim. Nolan’s two greatest passions are the Bible and politics. His latest book, The Integration of Church & State: How We Transform “In God We Trust” From Motto to Reality, brings the two together.

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