Everyone loves a good murder mystery. Trying to gather clues to solve the crime. I used to love to play the board game "Clue" when I was younger. The game centered around solving a murder mystery. You had to come up with WHO did it, WHERE they did it and with WHAT weapon. So an accusation would sound something like..."I think it was Professor Plum in the conservatory with the candlestick." The answer was hidden in a little mini manila envelope that wasn't opened till the end of the game. So exciting to see if you were the one that figured the whole thing out.
Now what does this have to do with our friend Job? Well I think the book of Job is written like a murder mystery. We "the audience" know from the beginning who the guilty party is for causing Job's suffering. But the characters(Job, his family and friends) in the play don't. So the whole "play" is these characters trying to figure out who has caused the suffering. All the while we "the audience" know the answer to the mystery. We go through the whole book of Job with God being falsely accused for Job's suffering. This is much to the delight of the guilty party, the Devil, whose name actually means accuser or slanderer. But God states His case towards the end of the "play" and redeems His name. Job and his friends retract all the false accusations against God, and repent for their slander. The Devil is found out, justice is served and Job and his family are restored. Easy huh? Well let's take a closer look at how this all plays out.
Job is an awesome book in the way that it gives us a peak behind the scenes and into the spirit realm. It starts out with Job who is a righteous man that loves the Lord. So the Devil comes along one day to challenge God. Big surprise! God says "where have you come from?" "Oh roaming the earth to and fro" the Devil responds. See when you are out of relationship with God there is no rest and you wander through life. Remember Cain after he kills his brother. Cain says to God "Do not cast me from Your presence...I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer of the earth..." Interesting huh? OK back to Job. So the Devil is in the presence of God via his own freewill and proposes a test for Job and for God. The Devil says that the only reason Job is righteous is because God has put "a hedge of protection around him" Which this is good to know...that when we are in the will of God there is a super natural protection around us...to a certain extent. We are protected more than we would be if we were not in relationship with God, but even with the hedge of protection the freewill of others(in this case Satan) can override that protection. Meaning that even if you are in close relationship with God; you can't walk out in front of a bus and not expect to get hit. Get it?
So back to this little chit chat between God and the Devil. God gives the Devil permission to attack Job. Now keep in mind...the Devil is doing the attacking NOT God. What is also interesting is how the Devil carries out part of his plan. He uses the freewill of man to attack Job. It says in 1:17 that the Chaldean's formed raiding parties and that the Subeans attacked Job. It also looks as though the Devil has some control over nature to cause natural disasters against Job. Remember now that we(man) were given dominion over the earth and we choose to sin. So creation is fallen as well.
Now when it gets to 1:16 it says "The fire of God fell from heaven" Ah Ha...see told you God did it! No not so fast. Remember the players don't know WHO is doing it, they are falsely assuming it is God. The players are unaware of the little chit chat in heaven at this point. Just as in verse 1:21 Job says "the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away." First of all this is present tense meaning Job is saying this in regards to his present situation. He is NOT saying "well this is the way God has always been...He gives and takes away." Job was only talking about his current situation. It goes on to say that Job did NOT sin in making this False accusation. Why? Because Job doesn't know about the chit chat. Also Job is still trusting God in His goodness and not slandering Him therefore he has not sinned. So in the book of Job when anyone of the "players" are accusing God it is a false judgement. We know that because we were in on the chit chat at the beginning of the book! As the book goes on Job begins to doubt God. He begins to doubt His compassion and goodness. At the same time He can not believe that God would be doing this to him. Job is right God isn't doing this to him, the Devil is. But Job continues down the slippery slope and begins to talk himself into thinking that it must be God doing these things to him.
You see God is all-powerful, but the Devil has freewill. So the only way that God can counteract our bad freewill choices is to renew and restore us beyond what the choice took away. He CAN prevent freewill but WON"T because then we wouldn't be free. See the book of Job is the Devil trying to see how much dominion he had in the earth via our freewill and his. The Devil also takes any opportunity to defame God. This is Job's struggle throughout the book. Why is God ALLOWING this to happen to me? or Why is God DOING this to his righteous servant? Job's friends are certainly not helping matters, but Job presses on to solve the mystery.
Then finally at the end of the book God can no longer take the slander. God can see that Job is beginning to question his relationship with God. Job is also questioning the goodness of God. The last 4 chapters of Job is a beautifully written speech of the power of God and his sovereignty. It is God saying to Job that He is all-powerful and He is just. Now God is asking Job the same question "Why would I bring on injustice to a righteous man ?" Job then finally sees the big picture, or more like God says "you've got the wrong guy!" Job responds by repenting for the false accusations he has made against God. God words to the friends are "you have not spoken of me what is right" 42:7 and the friends are made to give a offering of repentance for their part in the slander. God restores to Job what the Devil has stolen and then some. The Devil looses because in the end Job did not allow his suffering to be attached to God and in turn defame Him.
See in the end it is only God who can bring life out of death. That IS the power of God. That IS how He does have power over the enemy. Restoration and reconciliation. But He will not compromise freewill. I believe that whoever wrote the book of Job was trying to show people that there is another power at work in the earth...The Devil. That is why we get to read the little chit chat at the beginning. So people would no longer assume that the "bad" stuff was from God. You see the battle is on and has been since Eden. In the end God will have the victory. But until that time we have to fight for our lives and struggle through the attacks of the enemy.
In our own trials of suffering if we believe that it is from our loving God we play right into the Devil's hand! You begin to resent God for your suffering which in turns breaks intimacy with Him. Our God is a good, loving, restoring God. He seeks wholeness and security for you. He would never do anything to take that away. The Devil is the one that seeks destruction for you. And freewill is his vehicle to do so. That is how the Devil was testing God in the book of Job. The Devil wanted to see if God would compromise freewill and take control over the situation. Now if Job right from the beginning would have recognized that the attack was from the enemy and NOT from God he would have saved himself from all the suffering. Not the suffering from the enemy but the suffering in thinking that God was the cause. He could have counter attacked with help from the almighty God by aligning his will with the will of God. He would have immediately had victory over the scheme of the Devil. Not to say the attack would have ended, but he would have been better equipped to deal with his loss. But we have to make the choice to align with God. Because even when we are making the wrong choice God can not compromise our choice. That is how the Devil gets away with so much in this world! He is doing all the dirty work and we are busy blaming God!
So when you find yourself asking "Why is God allowing this to happen?" The answer is going to always be "God is allowing EVERYTHING to happen." Not because everything is His will but because of our freewill and freedom to choose. If God only allowed all the GOOD things to happen that would be control. Likewise if He only allowed the BAD things to happen that would also be control. In order for there to be true freedom He must allow both. That is not a lack of power on God's part, but we get confused in thinking that because God is all powerful. But that doesn't mean that all good and all bad is from Him. That is Greek philosophical fatalism. Fatalism being the doctrine that all life's events are fixed in advance by God and man is powerless to change them. "What will be, will be" NO, NO, NO! This doctrine is practiced by several eastern religions and has also unfortunately leaked into Christianity. I say "NO, that is not my good, loving God!" Freewill was set into motion by US...WE decided with our dominion that WE wanted to be in control and God let us make that choice.
But God is so awesome in all of this that He has found a loophole. A trump card over the Devil if you will. God can not control that we make the right choices. But when we do make the wrong choices or someone does wrong against us...He can work it for GOOD. He loves to restore and renew because He is a good God who loves you and would NEVER do anything to hurt you.