Meditating on the Judgements of God: 2.2 Judgements – involving Satan
Judg 2:12-14 They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
1 Kings 22:19,20 “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, `Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?”
In the previous meditation I spoke of direct and indirect judgments and suggested that indirect ones were those where the Lord Himself did not do it but allowed the sinfulness of mankind to rise up unrestrained so that man would bring judgment on man. But it is often more complex than that so that when we examine it we come to see that Satan was also involved. If it is not Satan, it is certainly the Sin of mankind. Here we are going to examine four instances of this in the Bible.
- In Judges. In the first set of verses above, which are very similar to the ones we considered in the previous meditation from chapter 3 of Judges, if we again focus on the words, “He sold them to their enemies” and, “the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them,” we might ponder on just how this worked. Now did the Lord make the raiders plunder them? No, He simply stepped back and allowed their natural sinful tendencies free rein. It was the sort of thing they normally did and so when the Lord stepped back it gave them opportunity. One might ask how, therefore, would the Lord have restrained them previously and I think it would very simply by Him speaking into their minds negative words that would put them off, without them realizing it.
The question of how the Lord restrains peoples is a key one. Sometimes it is obvious in Scripture that the word spread about what happened and so, for instance, at one point Moses was able to say about the peoples ahead of their invading army in the run-up to the taking of the Promised Land, “They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.” (Num 14:14)
Rahab was able to say to the spies, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Josh 2:8-11) Now in that instance it may have been simply the news coming that made them feel like that or it may be that the Lord spoke doubt and fear into their minds. Both are likely.
- In the story about Job. (see Job 1 & 2) There we find the Lord giving Satan permission to move against Job. Job is about to go through the biggest trial of his life and so Satan is allowed first of all to touch Job’s family and goods. In what follows we first see the Sabeans (Arabs from the south probably) stealing all his oxen and donkeys. The heart of his business was undermined. A while later we hear that the Chaldeans (probably Bedouins from the south) stole all his camels.
Now you might say that God did this because He allowed it. Or you might say that Satan did it because he was given permission to attack Job’s possessions, but the reality is that two different groups of people attacked and stole his goods. We know how Satan was released to do it – because of his conversation with the Lord – but we aren’t told how he stirred up those two groups. I suggest, very simply, as he has always done and still does today, by whispering the temptation into the minds of those people who found their attention focusing on Job’s wealth and then on the possibility of taking it.
- The prophet Micaiah. Now in the second set of verses at the top of this meditation we find reference to a situation where the Lord wanted to bring punishment to ungodly king Ahab. Ahab’s prophets of Baal had been falsely prophesying peace. Jehoshaphat of Judah, who was riding with Ahab, demanded a prophet of God and so they brought in Micaiah who first of all agreed with those prophets but is clearly being derisory, so he is told to prophesy properly! He declares, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, `These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.” (1 Kings 22:17) but he doesn’t stop there; he explains what is going on in the spiritual realms: “I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, `Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?” (1 Kings 22:19,20).
As in the picture in Job 1 where Satan was in the Lord’s presence, Micaiah sees other beings around the throne, including fallen angels who are invited to go and mislead Ahab and lure him into battle where he would be killed. Now we might ask why did the Lord not just strike down this ungodly king Himself? The answer has got to be because He wants us to learn something of the spiritual dynamics that sometimes go on behind the scenes. A lying spirit would go to these false prophets and they in their deceived state would accept the lie that Ahab would be safe. But note what the Lord does: He gives Micaiah this insight and allows him to speak it out so we all see it. Ahab is so foolish that he thinks he can outplay God and so goes into battle disguised but is still killed by a ‘stray’ arrow.
- The Corinthian Sinner. It is this strategy that is behind the apostle Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church in result of a man committing sexual immorality: “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Cor 5:5) i.e. put him outside the protection of the church, leave him to the ways of the world and the enemy until he comes to his senses and repents (which 2 Cor shows us he did).
The thought of the Lord using the enemy for His purposes may surprise or even shock some of us but Scripture is clear that the Lord does use Satan for His purposes. Note, therefore the following way the Lord uses Satan:
- To reveal men’s hearts Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel (1 Chron 21:1) He was to reveal David’s underlying sin of pride
- To bring judgement on unbelievers They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (Rev 9:11 both names mean “Destroyer”)
- To bring discipline to believers hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord, (1 Cor 5:5) by putting this sinful believer out of the church’s protection, it enabled Satan to come against him and humble him and bring him to repentance
- To subjugate unbelievers the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 Jn 5:19b). Satan is allowed to rule where there is unconfessed sin, i.e. over unbelievers
- To maintain humility in our lives I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. (2 Cor. 12:7)
- To develop faith & righteousness in our lives These trials are only to test your faith (1 Peter 1:7) See also 1 Peter 5:8-9 and 2 Peter 1:4-8
- To bring about trials whereby we can be rewarded God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. (James 1:12) These trials, that involve Satan, make us rely upon God, His word and His Spirit and so the outcome of the battles we fight is that we appreciate Him, His word and His Spirit more and more.
- To teach us how to fight These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience) (Judges 3:2). As we face such trials we learn how to overcome
- To demonstrate God’s power over the enemy His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10) We need reminding who is who in the battle. Jesus IS Lord! As we triumph God is glorified in the heavens (observe Mk 1:21-27 Acts 13:6-12)
Thus both judgments and discipline may involve the Lord using Satan or his agents. Get the big picture!