Some Considerations regarding Trial and Testing
By Al Stoner
Job’s First Test, and Its Source
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
The Revelation of the Hedge and God’s Blessing
Satan’s Awareness of a Hedge. “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?"
We do well to consider that seasons of testing and trouble are to be interpreted in connection with God momentarily lifting the hedge of protection that He Himself has placed around His dear children. The hedge, in those times, is only removed in measure. God deals with His children "in all wisdom and prudence", as Paul declared to the Ephesians. And likewise seasons of uplifting, satisfaction, and bliss are to be attributed to the hedge being firmly in place.
Satan’s Awareness of Divine Protection and Blessing. “Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”
God has blessed us in similar manner, but in much greater measure. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. He has raised us up to sit in heavenly places in Christ.
Divine Limitations. In the first trial and testing Satan was only permitted to “touch” what Job had, and no more. And to be more precise, the “touching” was done by God Himself by means of Satan’s evil workings. [Incidently, does God still work in this manner today? Paul, spoke of his thorn in the flesh as “the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (II Cor. 12:7)].
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD” (Job 1:6-12).
- An important observation at this point is that, since sins have been put away by the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan no longer comes into the Presence of the Lord, as he did before. He has been cast out of Heaven. Whereas he formerly made accusation to God regarding His people, the Devil can only accuse men in their consciences regarding their sins. Revelation chapter 12 vividly portrays the casting of Satan out of Heaven, no place being found for him there any more, now that the of the world has been put away by the Lord Jesus Christ.
- God declared that Job was upright before any affliction was permitted by Him to come upon Job. That uprightness had its source, not in Job, but in the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Even though the issue of Job's being accepted of God had become clouded from time to time during his sore and grievous trial, that was never the issue with God, as God was drawing the Devil's attention to this "perfect and upright" man, asking Satan if had considered His righteous servant.
“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
- This is evidencing Satan’s limitations. In the gospel we are given to know that Satan has devices that he regularly employs in his warfare against the saints. Blessed are they who are not ignorant of his devices, such as drawing men away from God’s Presence by appealing to their lusts, and their members which are upon the earth.
- Revelation 12 gives us a further evidencing of this, now that sin has been put away by Christ.
- “And she (the woman, representing Mary, Israel, and the church) brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (Rev. 12:5-6).
- “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:7-11).
- “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (Rev. 12:12-14).
- “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).
God’s Declaration that there was no Cause in Job for Afflicting him. (The cause was rather in what God was purposing to demonstrate.) And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
- This is not the same as where it is over and again declared that God does nothing without cause (see. Ezek. 14:23; Rom. 1:26; I Cor. 11:30; II Th. 2:11; I Tim. 1:16; Heb. 9:15; I Pet. 4:6, etc.).
- “Without cause” in this sense here with regard to Job means that there was no cause, or fault, in Job’s person and character that would require the divine justice to chasten him.
- And, in addition, when we speak of Job being “upright”, or “righteous”, as God confessed him to be, this adds an entirely new dimension to the matter. Job’s trial, from this perspective, is really not about Job, but it is about God, and His righteous dealings with His children, who are accepted of Him by virtue of Another.
- Job’s acceptance with God was not based on the outcome of his trial. God knew from the beginning how Job was going to conduct himself in this very grievous affliction. Job’s acceptance by God was not based on his “uprightness” but rather on the righteousness of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
- Job’s “uprightness” was owing to the “uprightness” or righteousness of Christ. Job’s uprightness evidenced itself in his love for righteousness and hatred of evil, but that love and hatred originated with God Himself.
And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:1-7).
So how is the believer to conduct him- or herself when trials come? A word spoken by Job: "The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger" (Job 17:9). An exhortation spoken by the Apostle Peter: "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (I Pet. 4:19).