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Articles

They Have Killed The Servants

They Have Killed The Servants

(Kent Heaton)

 

The story of Job is a canvas filled with pain, suffering, sorrow, doubts and questions of the character of God. It is a sweeping panorama examining the fury of Satan upon a righteous man and the grace of the Lord toward a man who kept his trust in the Lord in the face of insurmountable odds. As the story unfolds Satan presents himself before the Lord and asked if God’s grace is too confining for Job. Granted permission to inflict sorrow upon Job the devil test his lie against the character of an unsuspecting Job. Reading the text we learn how Job lost five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred female donkeys to the Sabeans; seven thousand sheep were burned alive by the “fire of God”; and the Chaldeans stole his three thousand camels. Following these tragic events the children of Job were killed in a storm when the house collapsed around them.

There can be no words to describe the horror of heart Job would feel receiving the news of this destruction of his herds and then the deep grief of digging from rubble the dead bodies of his children. “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22). Lost in the story as focus turns to Job and his wife is the other story of sorrow when the reports of the herds of Job being stolen or destroyed: “indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword” (v15); “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them” (v16); “and killed the servants with the edge of the sword” (v17).

It is unknown how many servants died in the carnage of Satan’s touch but considering the servants needed to care for 11,500 animals it would be a significant number. From this number add the number of families impacted by the death of their loved one. The slaughter of the servants was felt in every family where there was a husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, etc. Death filled the land in a dread that shocked even the friends of Job. The grief of Job was not just for his children but for his servants. A just man mourns the untimely death of those that serve him because he knows the real cause is Satan. Job was unaware of the reason these calamities were coming upon him but he knew in all things Satan would be charged and not God. Death is a penalty from communion with Satan. The stench of death is the fragrance of the devil. As Job surveyed his home and his possessions he clearly saw the working of Satan and would not hold the Lord accountable. How would he comfort the families of the servants lost in death?

The sting of Satan’s fangs never inflicts a small wound. The curse of his touch is widespread. As ripples in a pond the penalty of sin flows over the lives of untold numbers. Eating the forbidden fruit in the garden (Genesis 3) did not hurt only Eve and Adam but the generations of men that followed. Death blackened the world with a grip of hopelessness. Noah witnessed firsthand the reaching consequence of Satan when the Lord destroyed “all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land” (Genesis 7:22). Satan not only destroyed the family of Job he killed the servants of Job. “They have killed the servants” is the plaintive cry of every generation of men as the flood of Satan’s work fills the earth with all “unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31).

The nature of sin today remains the same as it was in the Garden of Eden. Homes broken in divorce sever relationships through children, parents and untold hosts of friends and families. Sexual immorality pervades the hearts of all those touched by its evil curse extending to broken relationships, trust, holiness and examples burned on the waste land of putridity. Anger harbored for years destroys happiness. Covetousness drives the hearts of materialistic pursuits to ruin and consuming passions of greed. Unloving parents bring forth children who are unforgiving and unmerciful. Homes filled with the worldly pleasures create nations who deny God (Psalm 9:17). Satan carves a wide path of destruction and cares nothing for what gets in his way. In seeking to destroy Job the adversary destroyed so many more lives.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Through the merciful love of God we have the answer to Satan’s hand of destruction: Jesus Christ. "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). The impact of Satan’s touch continues in a world filled with sorrow and pain. But Christ came to set man free from the shackles of Satan’s challenge and instill hope in the hearts of all men. There is no victory in death nor sting. Jesus Christ has set us free from that fear and bondage.

The book of Job is more than just a book of suffering. It speaks of victory of faith in the obedient life of a righteous man. The message of Job also reminds us of the far reaching touch of Satan’s power but Job trusted in God’s love to give him strength. As our world continues to spiral into the pits of immorality and decay our hope is still on the same God Job trusted. The same Lord that saw him through his trials and the sorrows felt in the families of the servants. The head of the serpent has been bruised (Genesis 3:15). The judgment of Satan is sure (Matthew 25:41). Our hope is in Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).