Satan then told God, “You have made a hedge around him and his house and all that he has on every side” (Job 1:10). From what Satan said, we learn three great truths. God has put a threefold hedge around a godly man: First around him personally, secondly around his family, and thirdly around his finances and his property. Satan can see into the spiritual realm and knows that. We cannot see those hedges, but they are there.
Satan is a spirit and recognised that he couldn’t get through to attack Job or his family or his possessions. That is a great comfort to me to know that if I live a godly life, there are three hedges around me too. And none of those hedges can be opened up without God’s permission. Here we find in the book of Job, that Satan had to ask God for permission to get through those hedges.
The Lord Jesus told Peter something similar, many years later: “Satan has asked for permission to sift you”(Lk.22:31).
God gave Satan permission to go through one hedge at a time. God didn’t open up all the hedges at the same time. At first, God allowed Satan only to attack Job’s possessions and his family. Later, God permitted Satan to attack Job’s body, but even then He told Satan that he could not touch Job’s life. So Satan could not kill Job. Satan would have liked to kill Job but he couldn’t. He could only give him boils on his body.
When Hedge Number One was opened up, Satan went in and destroyed all of Job’s property. Job’s wealth came down from millions to zero in one day!
Then Hedge Number Two was opened up. Inside this hedge were Job’s wife and children. So Satan killed all of Job’s ten children. He could then have killed Job’s wife too. But he didn’t, because she was more useful to Satan alive than dead! He could use her to nag Job, and irritate him. Wherever you see a nagging wife, you can now understand why Satan had kept her alive! Some people are more useful alive than dead to the devil.
There are a few things we can learn about Satan also from the very first pages of inspired Scripture.
First of all, Satan can only be in one place at one time. God is everywhere. But if Satan is in one place, he cannot be in another, because he is a created being. But he has many demons roaming around on the earth to do his work.
Secondly, Satan cannot see the future. If he could have seen the future, he would have known that Job would finally be far more blessed, and would have left Job alone. If he knew what would result from Christ dying on the cross of Calvary, that he himself would be defeated thereby, do you think he would have urged people to crucify Christ? Certainly not. If Satan knew that Haman himself would hang on those gallows, he would not have helped Haman to construct those gallows. He knows what people are doing all over the world, and can guess (like we can) what the result of those actions will be, but he cannot predict the future.
Fourthly, Satan needs God’s permission to attack God’s children.
It is a great comfort for me to know that this enemy that I am battling does not know anything about the future or of my thoughts and is totally under God’s restraining control. On top of all that, he has also been defeated on the cross now. That takes away all my fear of Satan.
When the second hedge was opened up, Job lost all ten of his children. Don’t ever criticise a godly man if you see his children suffering or facing problems. Pray for them. His children are targets of Satan, in a way that yours may not be – because Satan may be knowing that you are a compromiser, unlike him. Maybe that is why he leaves you and your family alone!
Now see how Job reacted to all this. He heard that everything had been lost. One after the other, his servants came and told him that everything was gone. And Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshipped God (Job 1:20). That’s another thing we see on the very first page of inspired Scripture: A godly man is a worshipper. More than knowing the Bible and more than serving the Lord, a man of God is primarily a worshipper. You must be a worshipper when you have everything, and you must be a worshipper when you have lost everything. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth, and the Father seeks for such worshippers” (John 4:24). To worship God is to give Him everything.
Job said, “`I came from my mother’s womb naked, and I shall return there naked. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Through all this Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:21). Job was probably referring here to Mother Earth from which he came naked and to which he will return as dust, naked. He willingly accepted whatever the Lord permitted in his life.
When I think of Job’s dedication to the Lord, I am amazed. He did not have the example of Jesus and the apostles that we have. He had no examples whatsoever to follow. He did not have the power of the Holy Spirit that we have. He did not have the Bible that we have. He did not have the encouragement or support of fellow-believers or even of his own wife. Job only had God – and God was enough. If Job could come to such a glorious life, why can’t we?