In the two opening chapters of Job we read of encounters between God and Satan. The angels appeared before God, both the good and the evil. God challenges Satan with respect to Job. He says in Job 1:8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Satan replies with cynicism. He insinuates that Job is just motivated by self-interest. If the blessings are gone, then Job won’t be so committed to God anymore. God then allows Satan to go out and smite Job.
Someone recently asked me whether that kind of conversation between Satan and God still happens today. Does it happen today that Satan appears before God and God says, “Have you considered my servant x or y?” And Satan says, “Let me have a go at x or y and you’ll see what happens.” Then God lets Satan do that. Might that be happening even at this very moment?
We have to be careful not to follow our own personal opinions. Any answer we give has to be based on what the Bible says. Furthermore, we have to limit ourselves to what the Bible says. Reflecting on this question brought me to the last book of the Bible, to Revelation chapter 12. In Revelation 12, the ascension of Christ into heaven is described with powerful symbolic language. The effects of Christ’s ascension are also described there. When Christ ascended into heaven victorious from his death and resurrection, that had an impact on Satan and the evil angels. It says in Revelation 7:9 that Satan was cast down from heaven, along with the demons. They aren’t permitted in the presence of God in heaven after Christ’s ascension. Revelation 12:10 says Satan is no longer able to accuse believers in the presence of God in heaven.
So based on Revelation 12, we have to say that what happened in Job 1-2 can’t happen today anymore. After Christ’s ascension, Satan doesn’t have that access to God that he once did. Does that mean he’s now unaccountable to God? Does that mean Satan is outside of God’s sovereignty? No, God’s sovereignty is always absolute. Regardless of whether Satan is allowed before God in heaven, God is still sovereign over Satan. Later in Revelation 20, Satan is bound by a chain. God binds him.
What we can say based on Scripture is that the trials we experience today are not the result of a conversation between God and Satan like what was happening behind the scenes in the opening of Job. Christ changes everything. The coming of Christ fulfilled the victory God achieved over Satan in the story of Job. So today, when we go through tough times, it’s not a face-off between God and Satan. Yes, God is still sovereign over our trials. Yes, he ordains our trials and he has a good and wise purpose behind them. But just because you’re experiencing something hard, that doesn’t mean God and Satan had a conversation about it. It doesn’t mean God allowed Satan to bring these hard things to you in order to prove Satan wrong about you. On this point, Job’s experience is not at all a template for our experience as Christians today.