In The Sieve Of Satan
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

The book of Job records much suffering, but suffering is not the only thing that we will find in this book. We will learn that God has a concrete interest in the suffering of men. Open your Bibles, please, to Job, chapter 1, and notice verses 6-12:

Job 1:

6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
7And 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.
8And 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?
9Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12And 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.

Note that Satan had attended a council in Heaven, discussing the servants of God among men. God asked him if he had considered Job as a faithful servant. Satan said that Job was only faithful because God had made a hedge around him and had protected him and blessed him. God then gave Satan permission to “put forth his hand and touch all that he had, but not upon Job himself.” There is an important lesson here for us to learn: No evil can come to the child of God unless God's permission is given. Satan cannot go beyond God's permissive will when it comes to God's children. Notice, however, in the case of Job, God gave permission to test Job. Satan began the testing with trials.

In The Sieve Of Satan But At The Permissive Will Of God

Notice verses 13-15, where we read:

Job 1:

13And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
14And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Notice, in the consent of God, Satan was able to bring all this upon Job. First the flocks and then the servants were taken away. Remember though, no evil can come to the child of God unless God permits it. Notice verses 16-17:

Job 1:

16While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Remember, God had given permission to Satan to attack Job, but He had commanded him not to touch Job himself. Notice Job, verse 1, verses 18-19:

Job 1:

18While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
19And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

This seems to be the ultimate. Job's whole family of children were killed. Yet, let us remember that financial reverses, difficulties, opposition, and even death cannot come to the child of God nor to his family without the permission of God. The devil can plague God's children with financial problems, illnesses, etc. Therefore, we cannot dismiss things lightly, and we must realize that they come from Satan, but with the permission of God.

God Is In Control Of All Things

Sometimes we are nonplussed by the freaks of nature. Storms, floods, tornados, etc. come and cause us to wonder. There is an explanation for all these things, and it is the correct explanation. God does use the laws of nature to accomplish His purposes. These things do not always come to us by accident. Sometimes, they are stirred up by the devil, but with the permission of God.

A great whirlwind or tornado had killed all of Job's children. The Hebrew word for great wind here includes all three kinds of storms. Looking only at this chapter, we would say that the devil caused this wind with the permission of God. But let's see if this is consistent with the Word of God. Let us test and see if this is borne out by the rest of the Word of God. Turn to Proverbs, chapter 30, verse 4:

Proverbs 30:

4Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

The answer to this question is, God. Figuratively, God holds the winds in His fist, which indicates that when the winds get out of control, God has opened His hand and released this power. Notice Psalm 135, verse 7:

Psalm 135:

7He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.

This is another figure of speech. God keeps the winds in a treasure chest and releases them for the purposes of good or evil. God releases for both purposes. This indicates that when they are released for good, God is blessing. When they are released for evil, it indicates the chastening hand of God or the attacks of Satan.

Job Mourned For His Children

Let us look at Job's reaction to these trials and testings. Job had been bereft of all his possessions. The final test in this particular group of trials was the death of all his children. He had lost all his possessions and all his children. In Job, chapter 1, notice verses 20-22:

Job 1:

20Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
22In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

When Job received the news that all his possessions and all his children were gone, he prayed this prayer. Job mourned for his children as is indicated by his tearing his mantle and shaving his head. It is natural to mourn, and it is not wrong. To be sorry when death comes to a loved one is not condemned in the Word of God. True, Jesus did rebuke the mourners when Jairus' daughter died, but these mourners were hired, professional mourners. Jesus never condemned sincere mourning. Job mourned, but he also worshipped the God Who permitted the trials and testing. That is where we fail.

So often when we lose a loved one, we allow our grief to turn inward, and this causes all kinds of damage. If we worshipped as Job did, we could cast all our care upon Him. Job was suffering intense grief but he said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither:” This is something we all need to recognize and realize. No man owns anything in this world. If God entrusts property to us, that is good. Use it for Him, but if He takes it, thank Him.

Then Job said also: “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away: blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job worshipped God and yielded to His will even in the midst of his sorrow. Go back to Job, chapter 1, verse 5:

Job's Concern For His Children's Spiritual Welfare

Job 1:

5And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Job loved his children. He taught them of his God. He was burdened for their spiritual life. In deep concern, he continuously prayed for them and offered sacrifices. Are you concerned about your children? Are you continuously bringing them to God in prayer?

In spite of Job's parental concern for his children, both spiritually and otherwise, when he heard that they were killed, he mourned but he did not become bitter. He had taken good care of them with love, but now he thanks God for giving them and for taking them and said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In The Permissive Will Of God

The author of the book of Job makes this comment:

Job 1:

22In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

This is the only place where this word charge is used in the discourse of Elihu (Job 36:3), but it is translated slander. In the light of this particular translation of the Word, how many of us slander God? Yes, we do slander Him, even before the eyes of the world.

“In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job did not accuse God; he worshipped and blessed God. This word foolishly involves the idea of smearing in our modern slang—not literally smearing, but in characterization by telling untruths to cause others to mistrust the person being slandered and to think his character is questionable.

Job did not smear God. He yielded to the fact that all this was in the very will of God—the permissive will, yet in His will. Oh, that we might be so surrendered that we might not smear or accuse our God. Have we ever been guilty of this? Have we ever, in the midst of trial, blamed God? We should, rather, give Him glory, even in the midst of trial. We should glorify and honor Him when we are suffering. When we surrender to His will, He brings good out of suffering. Trials and suffering bring us closer to the Lord if we accept them as from His hand—His loving hand and within His loving care.

The purpose of Satan is to accuse the brethren before the throne of God. He goes “to and fro in the earth, and walks up and down in it” (Job 1:7) for the purpose of observing those who love God. Then he tests them severely to see if he can cause them to turn from God.

God had given Satan permission to test Job concerning his possessions, but He forbade Satan to touch Job himself. With God's permission, Satan took from Job all his children and all his possessions, yet Job remained faithful to God. Satan had said that Job served God because he had been so richly blessed of God. Satan challenged God. Notice Job, chapter 1, verses 9-11:

Job 1:

9Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Job did not curse God, nor did he blame God, and the time came for Satan to give his report to God.

The Second Council In Heaven

Notice Job, chapter 2, verse 1:

Job 2:

1Again 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.

This is the second time in this book that we read of the sons of God presenting themselves before the Lord. Evidently, this was a common practice and was done for the purpose of reporting to God. They did not report because God did not known what had been done; they reported that they might receive further instruction. Look at verses 2-3:

Job 2:

2And 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.
3And 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.

Note the word still. God was observing all that Satan was doing to Job. God knows all that you are passing through under the testing that Satan brings to you. God was looking upon Job in his trial and therefore He declared that Job had remained true, regardless of the testing. In effect, God said to Satan, “You put Job to the test, and you said he would deny Me, but Job proved faithful.”

God continued, “Although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” God knew Satan's purpose. We, too, can rest assured that God knows and cares when we are being tested, when difficult trials come to us. He watches, and He gives more grace when we look to Him for help.

Let us consider some of the underlying factors here. Note that Satan attended the meeting of the angels in Heaven. He had a right to be there. It was his purpose to accuse God's people. This time, he was accusing Job. He had moved God to turn His back on His own child—even Job—just for the purpose of testing him.

God Knows When We Are Tested

Therefore, we can understand that some of our troubles come not because of disobedience or sin or because of man, but some come by Satan directly. God knows us and He trusts us and allows us to be tested by Satan. He trusts us to be faithful through trials and temptations. Note, God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Job?” He pointed out that Job was strong in faith and would not fail by yielding to the temptation of Satan. He permitted Satan to test Job to prove his faith. Turn to I Peter, chapter 1, verse 7:

I Peter 1:

7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Now notice Job, chapter 23, verse 10:

Job 23:

10But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

It was Job himself who said this. God permitted Satan to test Job, and today God permits Satan to test us, His children.

Job had remained faithful to God through all the trials that Satan had brought him. Even in the loss of all his children, he praised God! In the loss of all his possessions, he still praised God. Remember, God had limited the power of Satan. He had forbidden him to touch Job himself. Through it all, God declared that Job still held fast his integrity.

Notice now that Satan asked permission to bring bodily suffering to Job in Job, chapter 2, verses 4-5:

Job 2:

4And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

In other words, Satan said, “The only reason that Job is faithful is that You have put a hedge about him. I can't touch him personally.” Note how God sets the limits of the trial, and God knows best.

God then gave Satan permission to go a little further in the testing of Job. Note the limits that God sets this time in Job, chapter 2, verse 6:

Job 2:

6And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Remember, God had said: “…thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” In other words, “Satan, you made me break down the hedge.” Satan could not force God to do this—he made him only for the reason that Job's faith might be tested. God delights in us when we prove faithful. Many of our trials really come from God, and nothing can happen that God does not permit to happen. If the hedge is broken, it is because God gave permission for it to be broken.

When Satan said, “…all that a man hath will he give for his life,” he was speaking the truth. Sometimes Satan does tell the truth, but usually it is only a partial truth. That is what makes his tempting so effective.

Satan is saying, “You say that Job will trust You no matter what.” To prove Job could be trusted, God gave permission to Satan to touch Job's body, but not to take his life.

At certain intervals in the lives of believers, God gives Satan permission to touch us. Then we must go on for God in blind faith, knowing that if we are faithful, we prove to Satan that we love and trust God regardless of trials or blessings. Remember this and trust God that His purposes might be effective in our lives. Look at Job, chapter 2, verses 7-8:

Satan Attacks Job Physically As Permitted

Job 2:

7So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

Notice physical suffering can come through the devil by the permission of God. There are three forms of physical suffering. It can be a matter of physical weakness of the human body, a matter of the chastening of God or a matter of testing of the faith.

Satan went to his task of torturing Job immediately. He caused him to break out in sore boils “from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” This terrible illness took its toll on the physical life of Job and upon his very appearance. We read in verse 12 that his friends did not even recognize him.

Job 2:

12And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

Reaction Of Job's Wife

Now notice verses 9-10:

Job 2:

9Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Notice that Job's wife came to him and said, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” This was indeed a great problem to Job. Consider Job's wife. She could not understand why Job took all this suffering and loss without fighting back. She could not understand why he took all this lying down so to speak. But Job understood his wife.

Notice Job's answer to his wife: “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil?” In ordinary language, Job said, “I'll wait on God. I don't know the purpose of this testing, and that is why it is so difficult for you. You do not understand the purpose of these problems. But God has a purpose, and it is in His hands. I can do nothing. All we can do is trust God.” The Septuagint records this incident in words similar to these, and the Amplified Old Testament gives a similar version in italics. Job's attitude of trusting in the face of giant problems and great suffering is always a riddle to those of the world or to immature believers.

Without being critical, consider Job's wife. She had great burdens—greater than Job. She had to carry on all the duties and the extra work of caring for Job. All her children had died. No doubt in her complaint to Job, she reminded him of this great sorrow. As given also in the Septuagint, she said, “Your children, who should have continued your line, whom I brought forth for you in pain, have all been taken from you. I have work to do. I must keep going, and I must care for you. You lie here suffering, a foul smell around you, and I must work and worry and care for you alone.”

Much time elapsed in all this, so she continued, “I can't go on much longer. How can you just lie there and suffer so? It's so hard on me to see you suffer and yet be able to do nothing to alleviate your suffering. Give up. Curse God and die.” She probably thought there was no hope for Job's life. Looking at him in such a condition and caring for him in such suffering broke her heart.

Job Retained His Integrity

What a tremendous man Job was! The devil stripped him of all his possessions, and even with that great loss, he did not turn from God. Even his children were taken, yet he blessed God. When the devil appeared before God, he said, “Of course, Job will not turn from you because I have only taken his possessions. If I were to strike him in his body, then he would turn from You.” So God gave the devil permission to attack the body of Job, but warned him not to take his life.

The devil did attack Job physically. He caused him to suffer untold physical agony. Finally, Job's wife, who had great sorrow herself and had to bear the burden of Job's illness as well as the loss of all her children and all their possessions without the help of her very ill husband said, in effect, “If this is what we get because we serve the Lord, why not renounce our stand for the Lord? Why suffer all this?”

Job Visited By His Three Friends

Job 2:

11Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

Three friends of Job came to mourn and to comfort him. He was so marked that they did not know him. They tore their mantles and sprinkled dust upon their heads. Then they sat down upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word unto him. They saw that his grief over his predicament was very great. Think—seven days and nights without a word being spoken.

Then Job began to speak. He let off some steam! I am glad for this, for when we think of Job, we are prone to consider him beyond criticism, beyond human understanding, because of his patience. We think of his suffering without complaint. He did not turn from God, but he did complain.

Job Tells His Friends Of His Misery And Despair

Chapter 3 of Job needs very little comment. Job begins to complain. He begins his complaining, starting with his birth:

Job 3:

1After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
2And Job spake, and said,
3Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
4Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
5Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
6As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
7Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.
8Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
9Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:
10Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.

Job is saying here, “I don't see why I was ever born. Let's not remember my birthday. My troubles began then.”

We think a lot of birthdays. The very young especially enjoy them. We want to do something special and celebrate our birthdays—that is, we do until we get old. But Job said, “Let's forget about the day I was born. Mark it off the calendar. On that day, my troubles began.”

Job Is Somewhat Bitter

Job had had a good life, and he had enjoyed the blessings of God for many years. That was proven when Satan said to God: “Doth Job fear God for nought? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” But it is comforting to know that even this faithful, patient man (the very example of patience, we think) could and did complain. When Job said, “My troubles began the day I was born,” he overlooked all those years of blessing. We, too, are prone to forget blessings when trouble comes.

Job had been held up by God as a trophy of His grace, and we have noticed how he stood true and did not turn from God. He was tested by Satan, but he did not yield; he remained true throughout the testing. Was he above human problems and human circumstances? No. Job did not turn from God and curse Him even when his wife suggested that he do so, but he was human and he expressed himself thus:

Job 3:

11Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the Ghost when I came out of the belly?
12Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
13For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
14With kings and counsellers of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
15Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:

Notice what Job is saying here: “Why did I not die at birth?” Have you not said that at one time or another? Have you not said, “I wish that I had never been born.”? Job is as human as you are in this particular aspect.

Then Job continued, “I wish I had died at birth because I would have been better off. I would have been free of all this trouble. Kings and great men build great mausoleums and sleep and are not troubled. I could have slept and would not have been troubled.”

Sometimes we make the comment that those who have died don't have the troubles we suffer in this world. We don't mean that they are actually sleeping. We do not mean that they are experiencing soul sleep. We mean only that they have changed their place of living and are far from the troubles of this world.

Job Actually Had Become Despondent

Job not only said that it would have been better if he had never been born, but he said that it would have been better if he had been born prematurely. Notice in chapter 3, verses 13-16:

Job 3:

16Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
17There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
18There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
19The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.

Notice particularly what Job is saying here: “I wish that I had been a miscarriage—infants that never see light. I wish that I had not been born into this world of trouble. I wish that I were dead! Those who are dead do not suffer nor experience trouble. The small and the great are on the same level in death.” Job was tremendously human. He expresses that fact by wishing that he had never been born, or that he would have died at birth, or that he had even been a miscarriage.

Job Asks, “Why Did This Happen To Me?”

Again, Job shows his humanity by asking that question that we all ask from time-to-time, especially in times of testing:

Job 3:

20Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
21Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
22Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?
23Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?

Here, in plain words, Job is saying, “Why am I allowed to live when I want to die? Death would be most welcome.” We often see a very elderly person living, sick and old, with no one to care. Then we see a little child who is loved and just beginning his life—a child with tremendous potential—taken. We ask, “Why?” We see an elderly person living alone, just waiting for death, and then we see a lovely, sweet, little child with a beautiful future ahead, taken. Why? Job is troubled about these things.

Yes, Job is troubled with the same things that burden us, and he does not understand the mystery of life any more than we do. But Job came to an understanding later. In order for us to understand Job's attitude, we must understand what kind of a man Job was. Look at Job, chapter 3, verses 24-26:

Job 3:

24For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
25For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
26I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

Job was very ill. At breakfast, it was not pleasant; it was pain. Again in the evening, he had pain. He had no peace from suffering. Job also suffered from emotional problems, and that is as bad as physical suffering. Sometimes, it is even worse. He had imaginary fears and imaginary dangers to face. So he said, “I have no safety.” How often we feel like that. When we are emotionally upset, we cannot face these things. Fears become greater.

Job had no quietness—no rest. It is wonderful to be able to rest from pain, but Job could not do this. He had no modern pain relievers or sleeping pills. Yet, Job would not renounce his faith in God. However, being human, he questioned. How often we who are God's children do question when a time of testing comes to us.

Conclusion

Dear Ones, when difficult times of testing come, don't just whistle in the dark and pretend there are no problems. That does not help. The problems remain even though we don't face them. With God's help, through prayer, face the facts, and let the Lord work in you. Let Him bear your burden. He cares for you. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:17). Let God take over.


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