Here is the book believed to have been the first ever written that is included in the Bible. Job includes references to creatures that no longer seem to exist, and the picture of God is primitive and undeveloped. It is a book that gives us a rudimentary understanding of theology.
In this book, we see a description of a man who, in his best effort, served God and was “blameless and upright.” He had seven sons and three daughters, along with possessions of seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household. He was the greatest of all the people of the East. The sons would host feasts in their houses on a rotation basis, inviting their sisters. Job would sanctify them and offer burnt offerings on their behalf, just in case they sinned.
There was a day when the sons of God came before the Lord, and Satan came with them. When God inquired as to where he came from, he simply said that he came from walking to and fro on the earth. God asked if Satan had considered his servant Job. Satan accused Job of fearing God for nothing, that he had no reason not to trust God, because there was a hedge around him. He said that if God took his possessions that Job would curse Him to His face. God gave Satan permission to touch all that he had, but he could not lay a hand on his person. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
While this story seems to give a picture of a God that is manipulative and one that paints God as toying with His servant’s very life, I believe that the real picture here is of the structure of power in the spiritual realm. While Satan does have power, his power is not unfettered. He cannot make unilateral decisions. He is not free to do all that he pleases. Instead, there is a limit and a range of actions that he can perform, and he is basically like a dog on a chain, only able to go as far as the Master will allow him. While it may–on the surface–seem cruel for God to allow Satan to touch Job’s life, especially to the degree that we know he will, it is even more comforting to know that God will not allow Satan to go beyond that which He knows we can handle. God is omnipotent and omniscient. Satan is not. God wins!