The Accuser

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about not liking the Book of Job. I still don't like it particularly, but I am coming to appreciate it more. When I got to it in my reading this year, I stopped and asked God for insight to understand it better. I saw two big things this year: the character of the accuser and God's boundaries of grace. Boundaries of grace will come up in a future post.

When I was reading Job 1 and 2, I decided to substitute "the accuser" for "Satan." "Satan" actually means "the accuser," so it's legit. It was interesting. The book opens with a basic overview of Job's life and character on earth, and then it zooms out to heaven. The accuser comes in front of God, along with the sons of God, for reasons unsaid. God calls him out, "Where do you come from?" Does God know? Yes. God is omniscient. Saucily, the accuser replies, "From walking around on the earth" (1:7). And then God throws a curveball: "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?"(8). The accuser's reply reveals a lot. What does he know about Job?
  • There's a hedge around him.
  • There's a hedge around his household.
  • There's a hedge around all that he has on every side.
  • God has blessed the works of his hands.
  • His possessions have increased in the land.
Has the accuser considered Job? What has he found out about Job? How did he find those things out? What has he been trying to do?

Generally discussions about Job make it seem as though God brings Job up out of the blue to the accuser, that God is introducing the accuser to someone new. Clearly the accuser has been doing some digging. What's interesting is what God and the accuser have to say about Job. God says:
  • He is My servant.
  • There is no one like him on earth.
  • He is blameless and upright.
  • He fears God and shuns evil.
The accuser says:
  • He fears God because God gives him things.
  • He's getting something he doesn't deserve.
  • He's secretly a traitor.
  • Touch his possessions, and he will curse God to His face.
What does the Bible say about the accuser? In John 8:44, Jesus tells the Pharisees, "You are of your father, the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, because he is a liar and the father of it." In John 10:10a, Jesus says, "The thief does not come except to kill, to steal, and to destroy." Revelation 12:9-10 says, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.'"  Zechariah 3:1 says, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him."

What are some of the accuser's character traits? Murder, lies, accusations. The accuser is a liar, first and foremost. He believes lies about people, tells lies about people, encourages people and God to believe lies. That's what he does to Eve. He believes lies about God and man and lives to destroy relationships and lives through his lies.

In Job 1, God lifts the hedge over Job's life--except that the accuser may not touch the man himself. What does he immediately do (really, within minutes. Read it yourself and check the time this all takes to happen)?

  • The oxen and donkeys are stolen by Sabeans, and the servants attending them killed at sword-edge (500 yoke of oxen, 50 female donkeys, lots of servants).
  • The sheep and the servants devoted to their care are destroyed by "the fire of God" (7000 sheep, lots of servants).
  • The camels are stolen by Chaldeans, who kill the servants attending them (3000 camels, lots of servants).
  • Job's seven sons and three daughters are killed when the house they're partying in collapses under the force of a huge wind (again, lots of servants killed).
The accuser arranges for everything Job has to be stolen, killed, or destroyed. And he adds this: who is typically known for fire from the sky? Who is known for the power of the wind? Why are the oxen, donkeys, and camels (none of which are eligible for sacrifice) stolen by raiders, while the sheep are burned up and the family is destroyed by the wind (what do insurance companies call an unavoidable disaster that has no human cause?)? What is the accuser doing?

He's framing God!

In the next chapter, the scene from heaven unfolds again. The sons of God have assembled in heaven, and the accuser shows up. God asks the same question, receives the same impertinent answer. Then God adds, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, though you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." The accuser answers, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" (2:1-6). So God lifts the hedge again, and the accuser immediately covers Job with painful boils from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet, so that Job is reduced to sitting in an ash pile and scraping himself with broken pottery to deal with the pain and the inflammation. The accuser is nothing if not thorough.

Against all evidence, the accuser continues to believe lies about Job. He continues to try to persuade God to believe lies about Job, and he acts on the basis of the lies he believes. I asked one of the ladies in my discipleship group what happens when we believe lies, and she replied, beautifully, "We live as if they're true." This is exactly what the accuser does. He has no truth in him, so he lives out the lies he believes:
  • God does good for people in order to be feared.
  • God's relationships are based on fear and power.
  • No one relates to God out of love.
  • God is not worth loving for His own self.
God isn't like that. God is love, and God loves truth. He has no lie in Him. He can have real love relationships. 

Two things happen throughout the book of Job: 
  • People wrestle with lies about themselves and about God.
  • God unearths lies and brings truth to bear. 
Chapters and chapters of dialogue in the book reveal the misconceptions about God that Job, his wife, and his friends hold in their hearts. That's part of what makes the book so hard to read and understand--these people are dealing with a real life issue and trying to bring theology to bear on it. They have their own resources--what they've seen, heard, and thought about. At this time they don't have the Bible, don't have their own story, from beginning to end. Another thing that's interesting is that they don't pray with each other once in the whole book. I think that God allowed this to happen to reveal:
  • The accuser is a liar.
  • The accuser lies about God and people.
  • People harbor lies inside throughout their lives--lies about God, about people, about situations.
And the "heavenly bookends" of Job show God revealing truth. In the beginning, He reveals the truth about Job in the face of the accuser's lies, and at the end He reveals the truth about Job and about Himself in the face of one of the world's most painful personal tragedies and in the face of the lies people have believed.

What all of this tells me is:
  • The accuser is still active.
  • He hates us and is actively accusing us before God. He wants to kill us, steal from us, destroy every good thing that God has made and given us.
  • His primary weapons are murder, theft, destruction, but especially lies. He wants to kill us because he cannot kill God. Barring that, he wants to steal our souls and destroy our relationships with God and others. He wants to destroy our view of God and convince us to believe what he does: that God is not loving and is not worth loving on His own.
  • The accuser accuses us to God and to ourselves. He cannot believe anything good of us, and so he tries to convince us of the lies he believes.
Are we harboring lies about God, ourselves, and others? If so, we have been listening to the accuser. I suggest you join with me in asking God to reveal the lies we've believed and to set us right. 

Are we accusing others? I've been watching a great injustice recently involving false accusation. The more I watch and think about it, the more I see that people have chosen to stand in the place of the accuser of the brethren. If you do a quick word search on "accuser" or "accusers" in Scripture, take a look at the passages: are any of those references positive or godly in any way? If we're standing in that place, we need to repent and bring truth to bear.

Are we encouraging others to accuse people? This is exactly what the accuser suggests to God. We need to be people who stand for truth and who courageously rebuke people when they gossip, slander, and accuse. Our words are powerful. Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22 both say, "The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body." A Jewish tradition renders it, "The words of a talebearer are like wounds, and they go down into the inmost body." Our words become part of other peoples' lives. We can control what we say, and we can influence what others say (or don't say). It's time to own up to our power and responsibility for words.

  • I heard from Citizenship and Immigration today: I will be here until December 31! Huge prayer answered!
  • I have finally been able to fill in a sheet on my goals for this coming year.
  • I'm starting to own this musical part of my life that God has created and to feel passionate about it.
  • I got to lead the service yesterday at our Zendeh Church, and I absolutely loved it. 
  • I've finished reading John Eldredge's Waking the Dead, and I believe God is doing some neat things in me--healing my heart and developing my passions and dreams. I'm really excited to see what God does in me--and during this year.
Prayer requests
  • I'm reading Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. Please pray for wisdom in understanding and developing healthy boundaries. The concept of delayed gratification has come up a lot in the past year, and it's something I struggle with and need lots of grace for. Please pray for me to be open to the lessons God wants to teach me. Please pray for my further conformity to the image of Christ.
  • The church we've been talking to about using their building is making a decision on February 5. Please be praying for God's will to be done in this. We believe He's opening the door to be able to meet in this church. Pray for favor with the people and wisdom in developing a partnership with their church.
  • Please pray for volunteers and funding for the Centre. Pray for wisdom and direction for the Centre this year, especially in developing new programs and in reaching out to the community. Pray for creativity and for joy in the work. Pray for open doors with people, and that people will be drawn to the place.
  • Pray for me, for divine appointments and boldness with wisdom to speak the truth of the gospel. Pray that I'd be an out of the box thinker and communicator, and communicate Christ with freshness, even in surprising ways.

Thank you for praying for me!

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