Coming across these two chapters in our daily reading offers us a good opportunity to stop and look at a question that a lot of people have, but don’t like to talk much about. “Who is Satan?”
From these chapters (and drawing from the full counsel of scripture) we can make some observations about Satan.
1. The word Satan is not a name, it means “the accuser”. In this title we see the only power that the accuser has; to point the finger and cast doubt. In the garden the serpent said, “Did God really say…” and accused God of malicious intent. Here, the accuser points the finger at Job and says, “Does he really love you, God, or is it just because you have given him such nice things?”
2. The Satan is not in Hell. It says he was walking about the Earth. Peter says we have an adversary that prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Hell, as it is depicted in the book of Revelation, is not a present reality, but is an eternal destiny for the accuser after all things have been restored. Today, the accuser is the “prince and the power of the air”, he is the “prince of this age.” We, as Christians, are behind enemy lines, trying to establish outposts of the Kingdom of God in the midst of overwhelming darkness caused by the deceptive influence of the accuser.
3. The Satan is accountable to God, not an equal and opposing force. One of the greatest heresies regarding Satan is the belief that Satan and God are in a cosmic struggle between good and evil. This notion is an eastern one. Perhaps you have seen the black and white, interlocking swooshes, called the yin and yang. These symbols represent the existence of equal and opposing forces in the universe that must both exist in order for balance to be maintained. This observation of the physical universe has been projected into the spiritual world and sparked the belief that “good” and “evil” are equal and opposing forces that will be caught in an eternal struggle for dominance (the idea behind all the Star Wars movies, by the way). This is just not true. The difference between God and the accuser is like the difference between light and dark. Light is a something, dark is the absence of a something. Dark has no substance to snuff out light. Dark is simply the absence of light. Light does not struggle with dark. When it is present, darkness ceases to exist, because it never really existed in the first place. The Satan is simply one of God’s created beings that has freely chosen to reject God’s truth and tries to upset the perfect creation that God established. He has no power that has not been given to him by God. Satan’s wanderings about the Earth are a testing of Man’s heart, under the supervision of God.
4. Ultimately, man is responsible for sin. Notice that, once the accuser inflicted Job with his pain, he dropped out of the picture altogether. Job was left to deal with his “friends” and with God Himself. The accuser is never blamed for the pain, nor is he brought back in at the end. He simply did his job of making the accusation and creating a space of testing for Job.