Out From Under the Umbrella

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Arm-Wrestling with the Devil

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devil-v_-jesus“One Day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.  The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”  Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”  Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?  You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely cure you to your face.”

The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:6-12

Since man has been able to reason he has questioned why bad things happen to good people and the converse.  The best anyone has been able to come up with is that the gods are toying with us.  Even the author of Job, whoever that is, came to this conclusion.  He imagined that his God handed him over to Satan for no other reason than to prove his greatness.  Why would anyone that great need to prove himself in the first place?

His good friends admonished him that he had clearly sinned but, Yahweh himself said, Job was upright and blameless.  He’d done nothing wrong.  The only thing good old Job was guilty of was loving and revering Yahweh.  The thanks he got for his trouble was everything – including his seven sons and three daughters – taken from him.  And when this failed to make him curse Yahweh Satan made a second appeal which Yahweh, without hesitation, obliged:

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” Job 2:1-6

What strikes me in both of these exchanges between Lucy and Yahweh is that in both instances Yahweh pushes Job at Satan.  He taunts Satan with Job’s devotion and offers him up on a silver platter for Satan to do as he wishes, short of killing Job.  Oh, yes, just make him wish he were dead.

Job is allowed to ask his questions of Yahweh, but Yahweh doesn’t answer him. He offers up riddles and platitudes that are so familiar in the Christian vernacular.  It’s a mystery.  Yahweh’s ways are higher than our ways; his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  Is that all Job’s life and his anguish were worth?

Are Yahweh’s ways higher than ours; his thoughts higher than ours?  This reeks of the alpha-male power trip of a maniac.  Is this the same Yahweh who doesn’t tempt us?  Tempting Job?  That’s what this was all about, was it not?  To see how much Job could endure and still remain faithful and praise Yahweh?

Job says:

“I know that you can do all things; that no plan of yours can be thwarted.

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

Indeed, Yahweh’s arm-wrestling match with Satan was a mystery to wonderful for Job to know.

The account does say that Yahweh restored Job and blessed him with even more than he originally had for his blind allegiance.  Can one child be replaced by another?  How about ten children?  Any parent who has lost a child certainly knows that, even though they love their other children, the one or ones they lost cannot be replaced.  That loss would be there until Job died.

In my life-application Bible it says the lesson to be learned is this:  “Don’t draw inward from the pain.  Proclaim your faith in God, know that he cares, and wait patiently for his aid.”

I ask you: would a caring parent throw their faithful, loyal child to the wolves?  And should that child be grateful for that parent swooping in to save him or her from the suffering that the parent, himself, ordained?  Geez, thanks, dad.  Go eff yourself.

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29 thoughts on “Arm-Wrestling with the Devil

  1. As I have mentioned several times, I have lost my first two children in a manner only a sick bastard would have planned/devised it, being already a trainee minister…
    As I have also said, not even the daily sight of my four children can make me forget my first two.
    And as I have also said, if there’s a Heaven and Hell, I’d want to go to Hell, as suffering there would be better than “rejoice” for eternity in the presence of my children’s ruthless assassin!
    I apologise for the voice tone of my pain.

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  2. Stand alone it really is a horrendous story. I like your take on it being a primitive explanation of why bad tings happen to good people, though. The answer is unsatisfactory, but there is no “satisfactory” answer to be had.

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  3. Why would anyone that great need to prove himself in the first place?

    That’s one question that I finally had to ask.

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    • Most humans who are great don’t need to prove it. That they are great people is obvious. What kind of hubris does it take to toy with people’s lives just because you can. In the end, that’s answer Job got, if that is any answer at all.

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  4. Thank you, great inspiring blog, i’m so looking forward to start reading and discovering what you write on here.. 🙂

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  5. It’s weird when you come back to these stories. Thinking they were ever true is mind-numbing – I can’t even understand what that felt like.

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  6. And this seems proof that satan was part of the god’s perfect plan, no?

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    • Of course Satan was part of Yahweh’s perfect plan, else he wouldn’t have been created. Duh!

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      • If the satan is part of the plan, so is the garden incident, original sin, the flood, and torturing souls for eternity in hell. That means the god’s plan from the git-go was to torture as many souls as possible for eternity. When we read the christian bible we see that the god loves him the smell of some burning flesh.

        If you believe in this christian god you’re not right in the head.

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        • I’ve been half-way reading a book entitled The Mind of the Bible Believer. The writing isn’t very engaging for me. It does, however, detail the Arminian thought departure from Calvinism. Basically John Wesley couldn’t stomach the very reality that what you said is exactly so.

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    • And this seems proof that satan was part of the god’s perfect plan, no?

      Evidently, so. Yup, “God” and “evil” are interdependent. Thick with irony, that.

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  7. Ruth this was an excellent post.

    The more I studied the peer-reviewed research about the harm that long-term suffering and lose causes on the physical and psychological well being of humans (and other primates), the more I realized that this god of the Bible knew nothing about ‘his’ creation — humans. He was, after all, someone who apparently had no primary caregiver(s). That explains a lot.

    Given the fact that so many women died in childbirth throughout history, or suffered serious injuries and/or illness because of it, or children’s primary caregivers were killed during war, famine, etc., I see many of these stories written by men who had no nurturing primary caregiver and had symptoms of attachment disorders. Children with attachment disorders like RAD can become psychopaths/sociopaths.

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  8. This was spot on. I always found the story of Job to be disturbing for how God’s longsuffering servant Job is but a tool with which to browbeat Satan. God’s non-answer answer at the end of the book is the icing on the cake.

    Many, many years ago my parents gave me a life application Bible as well and advised me to sit down and read it. This an NIV variant which is essentially the creation of the Evangelicals that papers over the inconsistencies found in the original Greek manuscripts to make the theology more coherent.

    I do still keep it around strictly for reference. I am told the NRSV (new revised standard version) is a more accurate representation, warts and all. I’ll have to get a copy one day and see how much of a difference I notice.

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    • Interesting. I didn’t know that about the NRSV. I think I may have a copy of that around here somewhere among my many. I’ll have to look around and see.

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  9. Yep, not the kind of Pop I’d want to have.

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    • Thanks, but no thanks. A parent would never treat a child this way. If they did we’d call it abuse and try to remove the child from their possession.

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  10. FYI, I found Job really “meaningful” when I was a Christian. Now I just find it hilarious. Why? Because most of the things God challenges Job with are things we have learned how to do ourselves/explain since then.

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