Why is Satan prominent in the beginning of the book of Job, but not mentioned at all in the last few chapters?
Job 38:1 - 41
NKJV - 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 2 Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
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I would say it's due to the fact that, even though it was Satan who had originally challenged the genuineness of Job's faith, and had urged God (in Job 1 and Job 2) to increasingly afflict Job in order to show that Job served God only because God had prospered him and preserved his health, Satan could do nothing to Job without God's permissive will. And, even in afflicting Job, Satan could only go as far as God allowed him to go (as noted in Job 1:12 and Job 2:6). (In questioning Job's faith, Satan was performing the role indicated by his name [which means "accuser"], just as he still does with each believer.) Also, even though God had described Job in very favorable terms at the beginning of the book, and, in fact, had first mentioned Job to Satan (in Job 1:8) as an example of an upright, God-fearing man who avoided evil, Job was not absolutely sinless (just as no human [except Jesus] to this day has been). Job demonstrated this when he kept insisting to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that he had done nothing to deserve his affliction. That was why Elihu was angry with Job, as noted in Job 32:2, because, in response to his afflictions, Job's reaction had been to justify himself, rather than acknowledging God's right to afflict him (just as God would have the right to allow each of us to be afflicted or to punish us because of our sin). In my opinion, Satan is not mentioned at the end of the book (as he was at the beginning), in order to emphasize that, despite Satan's involvement in Job's affliction, he was not acting by his own power or authority; that God is justified both when He allows affliction in the life of a believer, and shows mercy to someone (as He ultimately did with Job, and as He has done to the whole world through Christ); and that it is only by that mercy on the part of God that any of us can avoid the condemnation that we all deserve because of our sin.
Perhaps the Book of Job can be seen as a parable illustrating James 4:7: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." This would explain why Satan was very present at the beginning and completely absent at the end. I've never seen anyone resist the devil as did Job: He didn't even acknowledge his existence, but laid all of his requests and complaints and heartfelt sorrows before his Lord. Even though we know that it was Satan who was attacking him, Job attributes even this to God in several places, for example: "God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me;" (Job 16:9a). It has been a powerful lesson to me that he didn't try to "cast out Satan," but only appealed to his Deliverer. Casting out Satan seems to be a New Testament phenomenon, and practiced by the spiritual Israel once empowered by Christ's presence on earth and also after having received the Holy Spirit. When I'm under spiritual attack, I often remember Job's example of appealing only to the Lord (though sometimes, since living in the Christian age, I still turn to evil thoughts that crop up and command, "Get out! In the name of Jesus Christ!") I marvel that Job didn't even seem to be aware of Satan's existence, but only of God's. He had eyes and heart and room in his thoughts for God only. I really love that about him. Now that I think of it, James didn't, either, say, "Cast out Satan and he will flee from you," but only to resist him. There can be no better way to resist him than to keep your eyes and life focused wholly on God and His goodness, as did Job...and Satan was gone by the end of the book. Thank you for raising this interesting topic.
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