It shouldn’t shock anyone by now that I pretty much completely disagree with the way most writers – people who describe themselves as theologians – knock together a vision of God from how he behaves in Job. To Job. To the rest of Job (his family, et al.) To Satan.
God messes with Satan, it seems, because he has some unresolved issues to work out, and hey, who do I have to answer to anyway? It’s a bet. No one really cares. No one is really watching.
It’s my Bible, and I’ll bet if I want to.
Because, like, you know, God and Satan, they’re like *this*. Tight. So just hangin’ is cool.
What’s a bet between friends?
Can we just start with a respectful attitude towards God?
Let’s suppose that we can.
So here’s God. Here’s Satan. And here’s Job.
Satan wants to prove that faithfulness in a human is a relative thing. There is no such thing as absolute faith, says Satan. In my imagination.
You’re wrong, responds God. Always the underspoken setter-of-things-to-right.
No, squeaks Satan. You’re wrong.
(I’ve had children. I know that voice.)
I’ll prove it.
Go. Right. Ahead.
And he does.
Satan goes right ahead and does whatever it takes to prove that Job’s faith is as wavy and as brittle as a potato chip.
No. He. Doesn’t.
So just that right there. Who was right? (Answer: God.)
So who was wrong? (Answer: Satan.)
And who gets to serve God by proving that his faith is absolute? (Answer: each and every one of us. Job is just an example of how our faith, once committed to, becomes absolute.)
Pretty damn cool. As far as I am concerned.
But let’s back up just a bit.
Let’s take a look at Satan. And let’s look at how God works with Satan.
For our benefit.
First of all, Satan gives his hand away fairly quickly in the game. The Game of Proof.
He presumes to know Job. How he will react to stimuli. How he can be forced to change his thoughts, feelings, and actions toward God.
How he can be manipulated.
Man, it seems to Satan, is just a set order of blocks that can be rearranged at will. At anyone’s will. Just move the blue one over here, put the orange one on top, and take out the yellow one altogether, and voilà, we’ve changed a roller derby queen into an astronaut.
Man isn’t so difficult to understand, is he?
A faithful man can be changed into a curmudgeon with no more effort from evil than it takes to bake a cake. And even cakes are harder to make than it is to mess up a man.
Satan knows the truth about man. About his faith in God. What it looks like. What it sounds like. Where it goes ultimately.
Except he doesn’t.
Satan puts on a show of being familiar with Job. With being able to look right through him and understand just exactly how he works.
Satan, according to him anyway, is Job’s best friend. Know him like a brother.
Except he doesn’t.
That’s one thing about evil: it’s inaccurate.
It presume familiarity, but in the end, the complexity of man, the durability of his relationship with God, while it may smash into a tree trunk now and again or fall into a ditch, is beyond the capability of Satan to understand.
Satan really doesn’t know man at all.
There’s another thing about Satan in this story: after a few rounds, he’s nowhere to be seen.
He gets bored. He bugs out. He’s a man, well, unman, with no stamina or endurance.
Another thing about evil: in essence, it is impotent.
We’re the ones that grab onto it and make it grow and grow and grow in our lives. We’re the ones that think it’s the best thing since the ice-cream truck was invented.
Evil might get things rolling. But commitment to a plan is not a reality for this kind of nonreality.
So what we learn about Satan is that he is ignorant and he is faithless.
Ironic, wouldn’t you say?
Satan, the faithless, wants to teach God about faith.
So who gets taught here?
Well, we do.
We get taught that no matter the extent of our suffering, God knows our truth. And God knows that his patience with us and his belief in us (with a rant now and again) is all that we really need to have a relationship with him.
And, most importantly, we get to see that in a set-to between God and evil, God wins.