I have not written a blog post in ages! Maybe I could make a lot of excuses and go ‘blah, blah, blah’ about being busy and all the rest of stuff people say to excuse their laziness and lack of focus. Perhaps I should spare you all of those details and dive right into a fascinating subject I revisited recently.
Last Sunday I began a new sermon series entitled “Spiritual Victory.” The whole goal of the series is to put some emphasis on the very real spiritual battle we are all involved in and also to point out some principles for success in this battle. I am not at all given to over-spiritualisation and neither am I a prosperity/faith/manipulation preacher. The Word of God is my guide for truth.
Which is, of course, what is so fascinating about the title of this post.
Does Twice Make A Habit?
Maybe the title is difficult for some people. “Of course Satan is not in Heaven!” the voices will say.
Not so fast, please.
Consider the book of Job. Satan appears in Heaven before the throne of God twice with the other angels. How many times does Satan have to appear in Heaven before it becomes a pattern? The question is not simple to answer. Is Satan really in Heaven?
Of course one might like to throw away the book of Job or try to consign it to the ‘Mythical Stories’ section of the Bible. However, as far as I know, there is no Mythical Stories section to be found. So we are left with either viewing te book of Job as an allegory (like a story with a point, such as one of Aesop’s Fables) or as a part of actual history. Nothing in the entire rest of the Bible points to Job being a morality tale like one of the stories of Aesop. In fact, Job is quoted in the New Testament quite a few times and Christians are even told to consider the character of Job by James.
So then, Job was a real guy who had a really, really bad day. Consequently, Satan was also present in Heaven at the start of this terrible series of events. Satan appeared twice.
Can He Do It Again?
Can Satan appear in Heaven again? There is nothing in the Bible to specifically answer this question. We live in a period of time during which Satan has a lot of freedom within the government of God to cause a lot of trouble. Satan is not free totally – he is still subject to the authority of God. However Satan has a great deal of freedom right now to act out his evil intentions. After the events in Revelation Satan will no longer be free – he will be bound and cast into the Lake of Burning Fire. Then he will cease to be a problem. But for now…
So if there is nothing in the Bible to suggest an answer any more clearly than the book of Job does, we must rely upon the book of Job for our information.
Please let me insert a little safety warning here:
Do not build your entire life around bits of the Bible which are not very clear.
Satan can appear before God in Heaven. He has done so before and there is nothing to suggest he cannot do so again, at least for now.
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid – Well, Not Really!
We should not actually be afraid. The purpose of this blog is not to produce fear in anyone.
There is a simple point about the appearance of Satan in Heaven which I think is worth considering:
If Satan accused Job when he appeared in Heaven, whom is Satan accusing now?
Could Satan be accusing you? Could God say about your life “This person is blameless and upright.”? What could Satan be accusing you of?
Satan accuses Job first of being greedy – Job had only trusted God for the benefits God brought to Job. This is a powerful accusation! It strikes at the character of Job and also at the relationship God has with people. If Job was truly blameless and upright then Job would have been following God for the sole purpose of worshipping the One who alone is worthy of worship. All other motivations are extra and could even be harmful. If Satan’s accusation was true then Job was not blameless – Job was a liar. Also, God does bless people! God had put a hedge around Job and Satan pointed this out. So Satan’s accusation tries to imply God has been fooled by the greedy Job.
Satan then accuses Job of being selfish. “Skin for skin and a life for a life,” says the devil. The accusation was that Job had only been faithful to God through the trial of losing his wealth and his ten children because Job was willing to sacrifice all of them to save himself. Not only would this have made Job less noble and tainted his worship of God, but it also would have reversed the purpose of Job’s sacrifices for his children. You see, when Job’s children had feasts Job would go afterwards and make sacrifices for them in case something wrong had been done. These sacrifices came at Job’s expense. This was the behaviour of a man who was not selfish. If Satan’s accusation was true then Job’s sacrifices would have been worthless and duplicitous.
Could Satan be accusing you of these two things? Or of some other thing?
To The Kingdom
So the title of this blog is ‘Basileia Theos,’ which means ‘Kingdom of God.’ I think sometimes we who feel safe in the kingdom of God forget about our adversary who accuses people. Job was the best and the brightest, so to speak, and yet was open to the trials of the devil. Are we so good and so bright we are immune where Job was vulnerable?
Let me sketch out three things which can be considered by those inside and outside of God’s kingdom:
- Job was established with a hedge or a wall around all of his belongings and family. Satan knew about this protection because Satan had been roaming about the earth. The Bible says elsewhere we are to be wary of our adversary who prowls about looking for whom he may devour. Are we protected by God from the enemy who would like to devour us?
- Job’s response to his trials is simply amazing. After losing all of his wealth and all ten of his children in a single day the Bible says Job fell to the ground in worship. In Worship! Not in anger, not in fear, not in depression, not in hopelessness. In Worship. What is our response to trials?
- Job’s second response to his trials was to ask this question: “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” When others in the kingdom want to try to eliminate the existence and purpose of suffering through some distortion of the life of faith we should remind them of Job’s question.
So what can we do? I think the answer is simple. God first protected Job because Job was blameless and upright. God restored Job’s wealth and blessed him with ten more children (that’s a total of twenty for those of you who are counting and pitying Job’s wife!) because Job was blameless and upright. We can be protected, blessed and prospered by God when we are blameless and upright.
Even when we are not feeling protected, when the blessings seem to have dried up and when our properity blows away on a cold wind, we can know the correct response is Job’s response. Worship the God who remains in control.