In the story of “The Wizard of Oz,” everyone feared the great and powerful Oz who appeared as a giant disembodied head with a thundering voice, encased in flame and smoke. Because of his superior knowledge and wizardry, a city was built around him, even though its citizens avoided his intimidating presence. It took the bravery of a little dog to pull back a curtain, exposing the scientist feverishly working his amazing machine. The “wizard” was an intelligent, but simple man with no magical powers.
Likewise, fearful, unimaginable, or unexplainable situations are present in our lives, where we believe discovering the source behind the problem will help solve or at least explain it. Who is to blame? We may be contending with an unreasonable boss, a controlling or apathetic spouse, or a system of corporate irresponsibility perpetuated by people’s greed. Issues related to natural disasters are generally accorded to God and/or global warming. Then there is a plethora of things we can blame on ourselves (mostly involving bad decisions): choice of marriage partner or friends, level of education, bad eating/lifestyle habits, trusting someone untrustworthy, etc. But if Ephesians 6:12 is true, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” then we must exclude other people, and our choices become God, Satan, or us. The problem is that we can be fooled by the way things present.
It helps greatly to know the character of the above three, and the book of Job gives some amazing insights. This is the first time we see Satan in a “behind the scenes” interaction with God. Because Job loved and feared God, Satan challenged God to allow him to bring such disaster on Job that he would curse God. As an expert in human frailty and fickleness, Satan brought on devastation beyond what most of us could bear: the loss of ALL Job’s possessions and livelihood, the death of his 10 adult children, a painful physical illness, a snarky wife, and three close friends who blamed/accused him of malice resulting in his plight. Satan was operating in his identity: “The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10)
Job understood the character of God much more than others of his day, and so God was his personal Source, absolute in power, wisdom and love. Job’s good deeds for others flowed from his love and devotion to God. But, because Job could not see what had occurred in the spiritual realm, he didn’t know Satan was his adversary. What was happening to him didn’t line up with Who he knew God to be. Therefore, confusion left him saying things like, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) and, “If it is not He, then who is it?” (Job 9:24) Many of us identify strongly with this position, and like Job, we alternately defend then blame God, while justifying ourselves. (Job 30:21-23).
It was not until Job got his wish of a face-to-face encounter with God that everything came into focus. God addressed Job: “Who is this that darkens My counsel without knowledge? ...Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell Me, if you understand...Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?” (Job 38:2, 4, 33) God plied Job with a barrage of similar questions until Job felt so small in God’s Presence that he had absolutely nothing to say. Job discovered a level of Holiness, Omnipotence, and Wisdom in God that defied human understanding. That reality reduced Job to nothing.
The big reveal was that God loved Job so much that He allowed Satan’s attack to correct Job’s wrong thinking. This “blameless and upright” man had to come to the end of himself...the only path to true humility; complete reliance upon and total need of God. Could God’s greatest blessing be the protection of us from the pride of being ourselves? How successful are we in identifying who’s behind the curtain, and what is really going on?