Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that Job has is in your power, only do not put your hand on the man himself.”
Job has been called the oldest Book in the Bible. Yet, in many ways, it is the most difficult to understand. Christians have a hard time comprehending that Satan was allowed access to the Throne of God in order to accuse Job, who the Bible says was "blameless and upright, and one who feared God [with reverence] and abstained from and turned away from evil [because he honored God]." He is also called "the greatest of all the men of the East." So why would God allow Satan to torment this righteous man, and what are we to understand from this famous Book of the Bible?
First of all, let me say that I have a rather unorthodox understanding of the purpose of the Book of Job. Unlike most Christians, I do not think God's inspiration for this book is to teach us how to endure like Job did. Although, Job's constant faith is certainly a model we should follow, I firmly believe that the Book of Job was written to show us how Satan operates and how God controls Satan. It is ultimately a book all about Authority.
The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 5:19, "The whole world is under the rule of the Evil One". So the questions that arise from that statement are the same ones that we ask regarding Job. How much authority does Satan have? Can he do anything he wants to, or are there restrictions placed on him by God?
We know what Satan wants to do ... steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). But the fact that millions of human beings are alive on the planet today, tells us that most of the time, he doesn't get his way. So, it's apparent to me that we, who are alive, are existing because a greater power (God) is protecting us. And that is exactly what our verse today is telling us. It is a very valuable piece of information to have and it is this: Satan's authority is limited by God. And in the case of Job, I think God set very strict limits for Satan; the Enemy was not allowed to take Job's life.
But we also see something else in this verse and the entire Book of Job. Sometimes God grants greater authority to Satan than is ordinarily his. In this instance, Satan requested permission to launch a special attack on Job and it was granted to him. Not only was he allowed to take all of Job's possessions and cause the deaths of all his children, but Satan was given permission to attack Job's health as well. The majority of the Book of Job is an account of the suffering Job endures because of Satan's attacks. But there is one very important fact we need to keep in mind.... God was the One who gave permission for Satan to attack.
So, by now, many people might be asking, "Then does that mean that God has given Satan permission to attack me?" Here's what we need to understand... Satan has been given real authority to harass and, yes, even attack us. But he is only successful when we give him permission to do so. Job didn't have that choice. God, in His sovereignty, chose to allow Job to suffer, without Job doing anything to prompt the attacks.
If Satan is going to be able to exercise the authority he wants to exercise, he needs human cooperation, a human partner. That's what he was trying to accomplish when he tempted Jesus in the desert. Remember, at the time, Jesus was in his human state, and Jesus resisted him.
We need to understand that in reality, the devil has very little, if any, power or authority other than that given to him by us. That's what happened in the Garden of Eden... he was only able to bring about the fall of man because Adam and Eve obeyed his request to partake of the apple. He had no authority to make them do it! They cooperated! That is why James can confidently tell us to "Resist the devil, and he will flee."
We must begin to understand that we have authority from our Father, just as Jesus was a man under authority. We have the power of God's Holy Spirit, which is transferred to us at baptism, just as it was to Jesus when he was baptized in the Jordan River. And Jesus made it clear before His ascension that when He left, He would send the Apostles (and all who would follow in their footsteps) the Holy Spirit -- the One who had empowered Him. They would be able to resist Satan and all his powers to steal, kill, and destroy.
You see, the problem that Job had is not the same as our problem. His particular circumstances were controlled by God, and to show us that Satan's authority is limited by God. He did not have the authority of the Holy Spirit because Christ had not come.
Our problem is that we don't exercise the authority we have been given; or worse yet, we ignore or deny the presence and power that Satan has been given. We need to understand that, just like Jesus, we have been given the right to use our authority to bring about whatever is in accord with the Father's will. In Job's case, it was God's will to allow Satan to attack him. We may never completely understand that Sovereign decision, but we know that Job did not contribute or cooperate with Satan. Now it is time for us to recognize that we are entrusted with Divine Authority passed from the Father to His Son, who conferred it to us.
As noted by Dr. Charles Kraft, president of Deep Healing Ministries, "If we are Christians, we have no choice as to whether or not we possess this authority. It is part of the package given to us with the Holy Spirit. Our only choice is whether we learn how to use this authority and whether we actually make use of it." Job didn't have a choice. Will you exercise yours?