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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Spiritual Warfare at the Highest Level, Conclusion

The first two chapters of the Book of Job made it clear just how the calamities of Job began and why, but in the fourth chapter, we see that the Adversary enlisted Job’s own friends to be a part of the struggle; they didn’t just happen to stop in along their regular business travels.

Eliphaz was one of Job’s best friends and, in the beginning of his comforting, did offer encouraging words, re-affirming Job’s right-standing with men and with God. Of course, Satan had made other plans for just how Eliphaz might serve his purposes. I hadn’t really noticed this point before studying the Book of Job this past couple of weeks.

As with much of the detail of this story, I don’t have a specific timetable as to when events occurred. However, having lived more than a quarter of a century with the awareness of how the spiritual world collides with the physical world in my own life here in Africa, I am offering the following possibility.

The word of Job’s losses may have traveled to Eliphaz and the other two men by way of the trade route. No email or cell phones at that time. Still, such news would have made the rounds; Job was such an important man in the region. Perhaps, Eliphaz had been thinking about checking up on Job the next time he had reason to go with a caravan down in that direction, but he’d not made any specific plans—until one night when his own sleep was interrupted.

“A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it. Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice:” (Job 4:12-16)

This is a real event happening, while everyone else in the house sleeps. I’ve had this very experience in the middle of the night, though the gliding by of the spirit was not felt on my face but the top of my bare arm, sticking out of my summer nightgown. I’ve seen the form described here more than once, so I assure you this is real and not part of a poetic account of some nightmare.

Before we read what the evil spirit said, let’s remember that it’s part of the adversaries plan. He’s taken all of Job’s possessions and now his physical body is under attack.

But, Satan knows we are more than physical bodies; our emotions are very intricately involved in our lives. The dispatching of this spirit to one of Job’s best friends is to get him to head for Job’s house now, not when he gets around to a scheduled trip for trade purposes. Now, because it’s part of the plan to destroy Job; to get Job to deny his commitment to God

The evil spirit plants some thoughts about Job in Eliphaz’s mind as he speaks to him in the midst of his terrified night awakening.

‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error,
how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever. Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?’
(Job 4:17-21)

The spirit mentions a couple of things that clue us in to the source of the voice. First, we know that what is being said about no one being more righteous or pure than God is true, of course. This is exactly how the enemy works. He begins with statements that we know are true and moves into the lies.

He implies that God can’t trust anyone, even the angels. Well, the fact that this is happening to Job, an innocent man, is clearly proof that God does trust his servants.

The reference to charging his angels with error is another of those truths, but the implication is that God was not acting properly here. This spirit would know, since he is one of the thousands who did rebel against God and was punished for his wrongdoing. He was not only charged with the error, he was convicted and, when he refused to repent of it, was punished for it.

The spirit’s implication is that the powerful angels were above the rules here and well-above mortal man in importance to God. Not so, since God holds all of us to the same standard…obey God, or face the consequences of the rebellion, as the angels did.

The evil spirit says the people die unnoticed, which is never the case, of course. That point has already been made.

Lastly, the spirit implies that the weak mortals will die without wisdom. No one would categorize Job in the “crushed like a moth” level of strength, after all he has endured and still held to his commitment to God. As was discussed in the earlier posts of this series on Job, the fear of the Lord is wisdom. God, Himself, said that Job feared God; therefore, we can conclude that, even if Job died, it wouldn’t have been without wisdom.

We are not weaklings to God; we are His children, able to make a choice for wisdom as we live our lives through each trial presented during our sojourn here on earth.

The fear that gripped Eliphaz this specific night, I believe, may have been the catalyst to his organizing the three men to travel to Job. All in the plan of the enemy to break Job’s resolve to stay in right relationship with God, no matter what happened to him. (The mention of Eliphaz by name when God spoke, may also let us know that God recognized it was to Eliphaz that the spirit came.)

As we read, the three really gave their best at getting Job frustrated with their lack of belief in him. The men just wouldn’t get their eyes off the circumstances, so they fit their words to their own preconceived notions of what the problem must surely be. Unconfessed sin. Period.

His friends contributed the final blows to Job’s agony. He’d suffered loss of absolutely everything; he had pain beyond measure night and day, including terrifying nightmares that prevented any rest at all; and now his friends had added the emotional blows of not having a single person left to believe in his innocence.

However, God knew the truth, and this can also be a comfort to us during such trials of misunderstanding. God knows the truth; that is absolute. If we, truly, have no idea what has caused our troubles and no idea at all what God is wanting us to do, then just rest in the fact that God knows the truth. Hang in there and obey whatever it is you know God wants you to do right now. Job is a good example of that for us.

This life here on earth is but a sojourn to train us. All training includes testing; we don’t learn or grow without testing. But, God is there to strengthen us through it, if He chooses not to intervene or remove it altogether.

Sojourner, are you saying that what we’ve been reading about Job being the battlefield in the good versus evil war is still happening? Are you telling us that Job wasn’t the only guy that went through something like this?

Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I’ll give you a New Testament example of this very same thing in the next post. The story might hit a bit closer to home than Job’s, since most of us would not fall under the category of the wealthiest man in the region.

****The Adversary at Work in One New Testament Life... Next Post

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