Scripture: Job 36:1 Elihu continued and said: 2 “Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God’s behalf. 3 I will bring my knowledge from far away, and ascribe righteousness to my Maker. 4 For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you. 5 “Surely God is mighty and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding. 6 He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. 7 He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted. 8 And if they are bound in fetters and caught in the cords of affliction, 9 then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly. 10 He opens their ears to instruction, and commands that they return from iniquity. 11 If they listen, and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness. 12 But if they do not listen, they shall perish by the sword, and die without knowledge.
Observation: Elihu assumes that Job’s sufferings must be the result of his own sinfulness and encourages Job to “return from iniquity” (v.10). It’s the only explanation he can think of, for God wouldn’t bring harm to a righteous person. Yet there is one who would – Satan. Elihu never considers this possibility, assuming that the only two actors are Job and God.
Application: This sort of thing happens in our day all the time. Christians readily acknowledge the presence of God, but ignore the presence of the enemy of God and the enemy of God’s people who is called Satan.
Yes one can go a bit overboard in acknowledging Satan’s presence and activity in the world. There are some Christians who ascribe all of life’s afflictions, large and small, to the enemy. Out of my favorite brand of cereal at the grocery store? Must be the devil.
But the greater danger in our 21st century world, particularly among mainline Christians, is to ignore the enemy altogether. At our peril.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we don’t want to obsess over the enemy, but we don’t want to ignore him either. Give us grace to be aware of the spiritual realities in our midst. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.