A dear friend recently asked me a question that has baffled so many believers and one which Bible scholars have often avoided answering.
Based on Job chapters one and two, she asked, “Is God merciful to Satan, too?”
Why this question? If you read those two chapters closely, Satan has a unique access and does quickly get the attention of God. Yet, there are so many needy people who seem to be ignored by the same God who listens to Satan. What shall I say of people in dire situations who seem to need urgent help and their moment goes by without any response from God?
So, we echo my friend’s question again, “Is God merciful to Satan, too?” Perhaps, I should expand or exaggerate that question, “Is God much more favourable to Satan than people?” Satan seems to ALWAYS get away with his evils.
As simple as this question looks, it is a very wide subject that demands all the facts of evidence to be examined instead of skimming through the facts on the surface.
We must face up to the fact of the characters in this question – God, Satan, Job (the people or us). Each has to be defined.
For those who do not like the truth, but want a quick answer, “No, God is not merciful or favourable to Satan,” is the shortest answer.
Satan’s end has been written and it will soon take place, he will still end up in the Lake of Fire for his act of pride, arrogance and disobedience to His Creator.
Who Is God?
We must start from the most important fact in all of our answer: Who is God? If we do not know Him, we run the foolishness of misjudging His character and Person. Before we can do this properly, there must be a starting point. This starting point is the Bible. You either believe it wholly or you don’t, there is no sitting on the fence.
Many prominent persons in history have their opinions or views of God, either through some experience or sheer hatred due to the fact that God would not do things by their rules. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The Christian God is a being of terrific character – cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.”¹ Albert Einstein was quoted to say, “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”²
I have witnessed numerous Christians, either from personal trauma, relatives or even the national news, make statements that border on blasphemy, expressing their inner turmoil and concluding that “God is cruel”. Is this true of the Almighty God?
Let God introduce Himself. In Exodus 34:6-7, we have this, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
Additionally, He declares, “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” [Deuteronomy 5:10] Considering this Scripture, can we truly say that Satan loves God? Or can we accept that Job does not love God?
We must be aware that this is who He truly is and cannot depart from this nature. It is the truth of who He is and will always be forever. When we understand this about who God is, of His nature and personality, we would be better equipped to see a different perspective from common opinions.
What about the way He thinks? Can we get an insight as to His thoughts?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:8-9]
“I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.” [Jeremiah 29:11 GW]
Most of the time, people judge God without considering His version of a matter. It is what make us foolish. As they say, “Only a fool listens to one person’s opinion and takes it as evidence.”
Once we are well aware of the way He thinks, it will be easier for us to understand why He does certain things and makes His decisions. We can get to know how He thinks through what He has written in His Book of laws and precepts.
I will conclude this part with Paul’s observation in Hebrews 6:18, “God did this so that we would be encouraged. God cannot lie when he takes an oath or makes a promise. These two things can never be changed. Those of us who have taken refuge in him hold on to the confidence we have been given.”
Who is Satan?
Satan is a name of the adversary of mankind, he is a fallen angel, who was cast down from a high position in the Presence of God (Isaiah 14:12). While the Presence of God is full of joy (Psalm 16:11), but leaving that presence made him to experience the exact opposite – sadness and bitterness. So, he had to hunt for ways to fulfil this lack in his life.
In that Scripture of Isaiah 14:17, we have a further insight, “Who made the world a waste, overturning its towns; who did not let his prisoners loose from the prison-house.” In essence, his victims also become victims of destruction. Jesus describes him as a thief, who steals, kills and destroys (John 10:10).
In fact, Jesus calls him the wicked one in Matthew 13 vs 19, 38. This is probably the best way to describe Satan.
What has God written, signed and sealed about Satan? That should give us an insight about what God thinks of Satan, each time he appears before the Almighty. Let us consider a few passages of Scripture:
Job 18:5 tells us, “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.”
Psalm 7:11 reveals, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”
Proverbs 3:33 also tells us, “The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.”
Proverbs 14:11 adds, “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”
Proverbs 15:8 also says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”
Look at what Proverbs 15:29 points out, “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Consider Proverbs 16:4, which says, “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
In addition, Proverbs 17:15, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.”
Also in Isaiah 3:11 we have this written by the Spirit of God, “Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
Let us stop at Isaiah 48:22, where it says, “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.”
These are just a few passages from what God wrote about Satan. What is the concluding word He has written about Satan?
It is found in Revelation 20:10, “And the devil (Satan) that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
Again, Satan knows the Bible. Jesus was not the only one who knew the Word of God, Satan was quoting it, too. “For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” [Luke 4:10-11]
Like the case of the president, Satan knows that there is a Power and Authority of office attached to Adam’s dominion of the Earth, he also knows that there is a Prestige attached to the office. What he never realised was that there was a Term for the office.
When the President of United States of America was elected to his office, he took an oath, to be bound by the terms, power, prestige of the office. It was like a covenant with the people. If he violates the oath and this proved, then he would have to face the consequences.
Satan knows the rules of the Office and he also knows that God will not change His Word (Titus 1:2).
“So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,” Jesus declared. [Matthew 13:49] There is an END to the world of Adam.
Then Who is Job?
Job was a man who had some knowledge and fear of God. He was a man who was also ignorant of the spiritual world. He was totally oblivious of the fact that God and Satan were having conversations about him. Does that look like you and I?
For this Job, he has some guiding laws by which he lives. These laws have been put together in what you and I know and call the “Holy Bible”, a compendium of 66 Books. While it is advisable to read everything in the Book, you just need to study a few of the Books to know these laws, because all the laws are repeated in diverse and numerous stories, both in real life cases (as in David and Goliath) and parables, such as the Pearl of Great Price.
However, there are spiritual rules, most of which “Job” (the believer) is ignorant of and may not even be bothered about knowing or finding out. Satan knows this and maximizes their usage.
Just as there are laws in natures, either you know them or not, once you walk in them, they are bound to fulfil consequences or results. For example, if you sow an apple’s seed, you will reap an apple and not a pineapple. If man and a woman sleep together, there is a great possibility of getting a baby. If a person ignores the laws of gravity and jumps from a skyscraper, he will either get seriously injured or die. My point is, there are spiritual laws and Satan knows them.
This is one of the reasons why God gave us the Bible. To learn the spiritual laws and apply them to our lives.
Adam was supposed to be the one with the UNLIMITED access that we see Satan exhibit, which you read about in Job 1 and 2. But, through subtlety, Satan stole that right of access from Adam.
Job 9:24 therefore tells us, “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?”
God gave Adam presidency over the Earth, but through the subtlety of Satan; he surrendered it almost effortlessly. So, “the earth is given into the hand of the wicked”.
Adam willingly gave all his robes, staff of office and all that is attached to his position to Satan. So, Satan wears all those things and uses it to gain entrance. You see, it’s like the office of the President of United States, it doesn’t matter who is there; the person is the President of United States – white, black, man or woman, old or young! Wherever s/he goes, s/he would be respected as such.
Thank God for Christ, He has restored that right back to us through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus, God Incarnate, brokered our access to God. It is your right and God encourages that you constantly come into His Presence, too.
You and I are like Adam, but so also is Job. Job is like you and me.
You must know this. Your right of access to God, as His child, is superior to Satan’s access!
So, how do you easily enter God’s Presence? Psalm 100 verse 4 reveals the secret.
How do you maintain being in that awesome place? Psalm 15 reveals the secret.
Satan also knows the spiritual laws of demand. Jesus reveals this secret to us, too. He revealed this in Matthew 7 verse 7. It’s a spiritual law. Satan makes a demand on God, which should have been the things Adam would have been doing. However, Satan is perverted and is always trying to do evil with his demands. Jesus was the opposite, always doing good.
Sad to say, Job was ignorant of what was going on in the spiritual realm, just like you and I, we are often ignorant of what is happening about us spiritually. This does not, however, make God happy.
“Destruction has overtaken my people because they have no knowledge; because you have given up knowledge, I will give you up, so that you will be no priest to me, because you have not kept in mind the law of your God, I will not keep your children in my memory.” [Hosea 4:6]
Who is source of the destruction? Satan (Job 1 vs 6-19). But even with that record of events, most believers still fail to see the source of their destruction.
Destruction was not the original plan of God for Man. God created man and saw him as “very good”, but not perfect. Man was supposed to walk with God to the Tree of Life, pluck from it and eat. Once he eats from that tree, he would attain perfection and live forever. He faltered on the way and was cast out of God’s Presence until Christ restored him.
Towards the end of Job’s life challenges, he said this, “I had heard of you (God) by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” [Job 42:5-6]
The End of Job – Your End?
“So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
…. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations.” [Job 42:12-16]
I will conclude this article with this Scripture that started opening my eyes to the beauty of God’s plan for His children. It says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28]
If you are going through a situation that is as challenging as Job’s, ask yourself this question: “Do I love God?” If you truly do, then you must know that the former part of that verse is just as true. It means God’s mercy is working in your life. As in the conclusion of Albert Einstein in his views, “God is subtle but he is not malicious.”
With that background, we go back to the original question: Is God merciful to Satan? Or my exaggerated question, “Is God much more favourable to Satan than people?”
I would like to add a few more questions to that one:
Does God care about His children?
Does God have a master plan He is executing on behalf of His children?
Is God listening to the prayers of His people?
To help you answer these questions, I will conclude like James the apostle, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11] You may even read my article on “Why Do The Righteous Suffer?”
You be the judge.
¹ Thomas Jefferson’s letter to William Short, from Monticello August 4, 1820. http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/jefferson_jesus.html
² Clark, Ronald W. (1971). Einstein: The Life and Times. New York: World Publishing Company, p. 425.