The story of Job is the complete portrait of the contest, conflict and dispute swirling about us. On one side of the arena is God. He has been, will be and is today the Divine Creator and Governor of all things. Nothing can change that and therefore He has nothing to lose. On the other side of the arena is the Adversary, God’s challenger. He has no legitimate authority and therefore must manipulate to attain the control he vies for. In the end, he has already lost and therefore also has nothing to lose. And in the middle of the arena, are we humans. We have only choices. Authority can be given to us legitimately by God or illegitimately by the Adversary. We have only choices. Because of our existence in middle arena, God’s heart has everything to lose in love and the Adversary knows this. The contest is not over authority. That contest has been settled. The contest is over our human hearts.
As we should know, God plays by completely different rules than His Adversary. It might be properly said that God doesn’t “play” at all. He is serious because He is seriously concerned about our eternal disposition and the salvation of our human spirits. The Creator is careful and precise in His decisions. He doesn’t explode upon the scenes of our lives with manipulation and force to gain our allegiance. He wins us over through pure motives, generous thoughts and trustworthy actions. Things like, keeping His promises even when we fail on our end. Things like, reinstating our positions at the moment that we return from wandering. Things like, feasting and laughing and giving gifts to us. He is personal and pleasurable. It’s not a charming game to catch our fancies. He is honest. It’s not an aggressive terror to paralyze us into compliance. He presents Himself in woundable flesh and blood. He comes to us in these ways and wins our hearts. There are no categories here. Things can get very grey. It’s all about wooing us with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. …any excellence. …anything worthy of praise,” Philippians 4:8.
Now, with God’s heart in mind, perhaps you and I can better understand the messy, forceful game that the Adversary plays. He comes forcefully to mess with our hearts and heads. It’s all about suggestion and accusation. It’s all about dividing our hearts and minds from the Creator who loves us. It’s all about separating us from believing in His pure motives, generous thoughts and trustworthy actions. Our Adversary just wants us to believe that God is not for us. With deceptive charm and aggressive terror, he seduces and forces us to put our trust and hope in him, our Adversary. And every time he wins a human heart he cocks his head and smirks at the God he hates. He has successfully bruised and burned God’s heart. Come on, he thinks, they are horrible unfaithful things. Lash out! Take out your anger on this pathetic creation! It is a wicked game. According to all that is holy, our Adversary can faithfully prove that we deserve the vengeance of God all the time. We are unfaithful. We are often very pathetic. God knows we deserve His vengeance. And for now I simply want to prove that although by all measures of justice the Adversary has the upper hand in this contest, it is the love of God that wins in the end. “For I desire mercy…” Hosea 6:6. “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in the midst, and I will not come in wrath,” Hosea 11:9.
Let us enter the arena….