Most biblical scholars and theologians, or at least those that fall within the purview of my knowledge, believe that Job lived after Noah and the great flood, and before Moses. In those days there were no commandments and men and women lived by their own conscience. Then as now, those close to God lived within the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But even within that guidance, there was much about God that they did not understand– again, then as now.
For instance, Job and his ilk believed that God rewarded the good people of the earth and punished the bad. And so, even though Job was a humble man, it made perfect sense to him that he was immensely blessed with children, land and riches; he was a good man in every way that he (and, by extension, we) was able to comprehend goodness.
Satan knew that God favored Job and this incurred the devil’s wrath. He attempted to make a wager with the Lord regarding Job. God allowed him to do so.
Satan bet the Lord that if Job lost all his wealth, his health and the lives of his children, he would curse God. So God allowed Satan to strike Job in all of these torturous ways, but he did not permit him to take Job’s life.
Job suffered immensely, profoundly. But he never cursed God. Though God did not personally strike Job himself, he allowed Satan to do it. Why?
There’s no doubt that Job was an innocent man, that he was a good man. The first two chapters of Job make that clear.
Or do they?
Jesus Christ explained the conundrum this way when a young man knelt in front of him asking, “good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied to him,“why do you call me good? Only God is truly good.” Mark 10: 18-19
And when a woman, caught in the act of adultery, an offense punishable by death under the commandments, was brought to Jesus, to be judged by him, he said to her accusers, “if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:6
So the reality is that Job was as good and as innocent as he could be, which means, in actuality, he was neither. He was human. And though he was the best person in the world at that particular time, he was still a sinner and, as such, is on the same earth with the rest of us–an earth that is susceptible to nature and her wrath, when we are deplorable caretakers and when we are innocent; an earth that is governed by her rules, i.e., only the strong survive, the largest predator is king and everyone and everything is there for betterment of the of the masterful few, until an act of nature levels the playing field so that we start the whole process over and over again.
It didn’t have to be this way. There was a perfect way, in the garden of Eden–a paradise of perfection on earth–with a twist in the mix . Free will.
God gave the prototypes of humanity the ability to reason and to discern, the capacity to choose. In other words, he gave us free will. Why did he do this? Why, when he could have avoided this whole mess, so that we, the offspring of Adam and of Eve, could reside with them and him, in an earthly paradise of perfection forever?
Because he loves us. And he trusts us. Even still. Because he loves us, he doesn’t want us under his thumb. He doesn’t want us to be robots controlled to conform to his will.
And because he loves us, he wants to be loved by us. Truly loved. Purely loved. He wants this, as we do because we were made in his image; because God is love. Genesis 1:27; 1 John 4:8
So then, if he loves us, why didn’t/doesn’t God destroy Satan?
It is my belief that Satan is a fallen angel. (This is somewhat controversial in the Judaeo Christian tradition, though, once again, most–not all–of the theologians that I am familiar with confirm my belief.) Within my purview, Satan too has free will, as do all of the angels.
Satan led a revolt against God in heaven, before the creation of the world. God overthrew the revolt and cast Satan out of heaven along with the other angels who followed him. God cast him into torment, but he is not confined to the flames of hell. He is a spirit of the air and the ruler of the earth, because we–collectively, as the human race–have chosen him to be the ruler. Isaiah 14:12-15; Ephesians 2:2; 2Corinthians 4:4
God did not destroy Satan, though he surely could have. Perhaps he didn’t because he recognized Satan as an agent of free will, though free will in and of itself is neither good or evil. It is choice. In any event God allowed/allows Satan to be the tempter and the adversary.
Some theologians argue that God created Satan to be these things, that Satan was never an angel and that he was never in the realm of heaven; they argue this or some variation of these theories. I have also heard them theorize that there is no good without the counter point of evil.
There is much that I do not know, but I know what I believe–and I do not believe these things.
I believe that good is stronger than evil. I believe this because I know that God is good. I believe that good stands–not on its own–but on the “shoulders” of God. And I believe that God is love. This is the foundation of my faith and my answer to the conundrum of why.