Satan’s Strike; Job’s Justification
Vs. 13 – We shift from the heavenly scene of Satan’s treachery to an earthly one in which there was joy and rejoicing. We know from verse 4 that this was likely one of these occasions at which Job’s children had gathered in celebration of one of their days. It is mentioned that they were eating and drinking wine so as to indicate to us that they were, in fact, joyful regarding their situation and surroundings. It tells us that this calamity was completely and totally unexpected on their part. Not only was the calamity itself part of Satan’s temptation, but the suddenness with which it happened as well. One might very well endure calamity if one is expecting it to come, but when calamity arrives unexpected it seems doubly calamitous.
Vs. 14 – We shift then to the scene of Job’s house where the first messenger arrives with the terrible news. The mention of the oxen and donkey’s activities serve to illustrate that it was, up to the point of the tragedy, a completely uneventful day in which everything seemed to be going well, at least, to that point. We then learn what happened to these animals.
Vs. 15 – Perhaps the Sebeans were descendents of one of Cush’s sons, Seba (Genesis 10:7). Perhaps they were of the Sheba by Jokta (Genesis 10:28) or perhaps children of Abraham through Keturah (Genesis 25:3). It is unknown for certain though some commentators lean toward Abraham’s offspring. Regardless of their origin most tend to agree that they were wandering Arabs who often took such actions against others to increase their own personal wealth (by comparison see Genesis 14 and the events there). These then took Job’s animals and killed his servants, save the one, a messenger left alive by Satan in order that Job may know of the calamity.
Vs. 16 – Almost as if that one announcement were not enough a second servant rushes in to tell Job of an additional loss. This time it’s the sheep and the servants that attend them that are lost. Instead of using an agent (as in the previous case), Satan personally attends to this calamity with fire from heaven. The verse says “the fire of God fell from heaven.” We know, of course, that God was not behind this, but the servant doesn’t know this and any such remarkable display of power is naturally attributed to God, for who else could command such a display? It tells us that Satan, at least at times, had command of remarkable powers. That it fell from “heaven” doesn’t necessarily mean it came from that spiritual place, but rather, from the sky as the word is used to describe it on occasion (Genesis 1:1 etc.). Again, one is left alive to communicate the report.
Vs. 17 – Instead of the Sabeans, this time it was the Chaldeans. Instead of the oxen and donkeys, in this verse it is the camels. The Chaldeans were ancient inhabitants of Babylon. It is unknown why they formed into three bands. Perhaps to manage the 3000 camels? One band for each 1000 camels? We don’t know. It was the best way for Satan to accomplish his nefarious goals. Once again all of the servants are killed but one so that Job may be informed.
Vs. 18-19 – Now it is Job’s children that are directly affected by Satan. The servant briefly mentions what we’ve already come to know from verse 13. That we begun with the situation with Job’s children and now have ended with it in this section signifies the completeness of Satan’s ruin of Job. We’ve now come the proverbial “full circle.”
There is no indication in the text as to what this great wind was. Some have suggested a tornado; others a straight wind. It’s pointless to speculate. Whatever kind of wind it was, it was sufficient to destroy the place in which Job’s children were dwelling and that accomplished Satan’s task. Again, we see Satan having control over elements which God would normally be in control. We ought not to think that control over these elements is Satan’s modus operandi. For the time, God has placed Job’s things in Satan’s hands and so also the means by which Satan may so afflict Job. Given the special circumstances, we should not assume from these passages that Satan has control of these elements on a consistent basis.
The report concerning the death of Job’s children is saved by Satan until the end so as to bring the most painful and difficult blow upon Job after all other things have been known to be lost. One might very well endure the loss of all of his earthly possessions with an ordinary measure of faith, but to endure the loss of all of one’s family in addition to those items required extraordinary faith on Job’s part.
Vs. 20 – The renting of one’s clothes and the shaving of one’s head was an ancient oriental custom observed on many occasions of great sorrow (compare: Genesis 37:29, Joshua 7:6, Jeremiah 41:5, Ezra 9:3).
There is no doubt that Job felt great woe at these calamities. However, he doesn’t allow his anguish to overtake him into self-pity. Remarkably, the text says that Job “worshipped.” Instead of turning to himself and engaging in self-destructive behavior, he turns to God in worship. What a great lesson for us today if we will follow it. Regardless the desperate nature of our situation, we should always turn to God first and acknowledge His ways. When we so do, we are guaranteed to be guided in the right path (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Vs. 21 – To what is it that Job is returning? One may think that the ellipsis here implies that Job is going back to the womb, but such is not the case. He more likely has in mind his state prior to the womb, namely, the naked soul.
Job’s statement is a remarkable. Many a rich man has bemoaned his riches when said riches have been lost. We know from historical accounts of the stock crash of 1929 that many committed suicide at the loss of their wealth. But such is not Job’s attitude here. Instead he turns to God in humility and awe and prostrates himself in praise.
Job first acknowledges the truth of birth and death. When we are born, we come only in our “birthday suit,” that is, with nothing and while we may dress up a corpse with fancy clothes and surround it with a costly crypt, the dead know no ownership of possessions. Job then rightly acknowledges the fact that no man has ever taken his fortunes with him after death. Paul told Timothy, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7).
It appears as if God’s power has been used to afflict Job so, and so Job comments, assuming that is the case. The reader, of course, knows otherwise. God has not been directly responsible for Job’s maladies. While it was true that the Lord gave, it wasn’t technically true that in this case the Lord took away. Even so, Job’s assuming such to be the case isn’t necessarily wrong provided that his attitude toward God remains holy. It may very well be the case that the Lord does take some things away from us in this life for one reason or another. When such occurs we would be wise to mimic Job’s attitude and behavior here. Regardless what happens to us in this life, the Lord’s name is ALWAYS to be blessed! Compare Psalm 41:13, 72:19, 113:2, Daniel 2:20, and 1 Peter 1:3.
Vs. 22 – Job remains innocent of the Devil’s charge, namely, that if God were to remove the hedge then Job would curse God to His face. Job proved God true and Satan a liar.