A Classic Study:
The Book of Job
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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:6 - The Sons of God, and Satan,
by Joseph Caryl (1666)
6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
Having thus given some light about these six verses in general, I shall open the particulars.
“Now there was a day...”: The Jewish Rabbins trouble themselves much to find out what day this was. They say it was the first day of the year. Others that it was the Sabbath day. But I account it a disadvantage to a clear truth when it is proved by an obscure text. The Sabbath has proof enough before the law, though this be spared. The holy Spirit has told us only that there was a day, or a certain time.
“...when the sons of God…”: In Gen. 6:2, the posterity of Seth (who were the visible Church at the time) are called the sons of God. The unanimous consent of all expositors (I have met with) is, that here the sons of God are the good Angels, so also they are called in Job 38:7 of this book. Some it may be will object against this exposition that of the Apostle in Heb. 1:5: “To which of the Angels said he at any time, thou are my son?” How then do you interpret here, that the sons of God are the Angels, when as the Apostle has expressed, to which of the Angels, etc.
I answer that the Angels are not the sons of God, as the Apostle there expresses, they are not the sons of God, by eternal generation; but they are the sons of God by temporal creation, for so he speaks there, “To which of the Angels said he, ‘thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee’?” They are not the begotten sons of God, but they are the created sons of God. And the Angels are called the sons of God in three respects.
First, because of their great and mighty power, therefore in Eph. 1:21, they are called, Principalities and powers; far above principalities and powers, and might and dominions, that is, far above all Angels. They are called the sons of God, because they are like God in power and dignity.
Then again they are called the sons of God, because they serve God as sons, cheerfully, willingly, readily. They do not obey as slaves, as servants, as the best of servants, they obey better than the best of servants, they obey as children: they go about their work with filial and son-like cheerfulness and delight.
Thirdly, they are called sons, because of the great privilege that God does vouchsafe them, He uses them as His children, as his sons, they are His courtiers, they are near Him, always attending Him, and continually see His face. They have the privilege of sons.
“...came to present themselves before the Lord.”: Not that the Angels are at any time out of the presence of God, for Christ expressed that, “Their Angels do always behold the face of my Father” (Matt. 18:10). But they are then said to come and present themselves before God, when they come upon some special business, or upon some special occasion. As it is with us here upon the Earth, we are never out of the presence of God, for “Whither shall I go from Thy presence?” (Ps. 139). Yet when we come to pray and are in other holy duties we are said to present ourselves before God, and to draw near to God, and God is said to draw near to us at such a time, and yet God is ever with us, and we ever with Him. So when it is said here, that the “Angels came and presented themselves before the Lord”, it notes only this, their readiness, either to give an account of what they had done, or to receive directions from God what to do. The Angels are most willing to go about the service and work of God, and that is all that is here meant by their presenting themselves before the Lord, for otherwise they are ever in His presence, as in Luke 1:19: “The Angel answered and said, ‘I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto Thee.” I am Gabriel that stand, he speaks in the present tense, even now while I am speaking to Thee, I stand in the presence of God. The Angel while he goes into the world, is not absent from God, he beholds the face of God always. The Schoolmen have an odd distinction, they say there are assisting Angels and there are ministering Angels: Those Angels that are assistants stand always before God and never are sent out about the world upon any occasion. Others are ministering spirits, as in Heb. 1:14: “Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation?” This is School doctrine. But there needs no such distinction of some to be assisting or attending and some to be ministering Angels, for wheresoever they are, they are always in the presence of God: and their presenting themselves before God, notes only their preparedness to attend the Lord’s service in whatsoever He shall employ them.
“...and Satan came also among them”: That is, the chief of the evil Angels, as it is conceived. The word Satan signifies an Adversary, and so it is often times applied to men; as concerning Solomon, it is said that while he did walk exactly with God, “there was neither adversary nor evil occurrent” (I Kings 5:4); the word in the original is, “there was no Satan in his kingdom”; and in I Kings 11:14, it is said, “The Lord stirred up Satan an Adversary against Solomon”; and that accusation which those wretches in Ezra 4:6 sent against the building of Jerusalem, is called sitna: “they sent an accusation (sitna)”, or an opposing letter. It comes from the same root; any kind of opposition is called sitna from Satan, who is an opposer. It is sometimes used more generally concerning any opposition, as the Angel that came to oppose Balaam in Num. 22:34: “I knew not (said Baalam) that there was an adversary that stood in the way.”
But how can it be said that Satan should come among the sons of God? I said before that it was but an alluding speech to the dealings of men in their sessions and assemblies, and there is no necessity to make every particular of it hold. We may conceive it thus.
“Satan came also among them”: It is not said that the sons of God and Satan, came and presented themselves before the Lord; Satan did not join himself in with them. Satan did not offer himself for any good service; but thither he came being to ordered by the overruling power of God.
But can Satan come into the presence of God?
No otherwise than a blind man can come into the Sun: he comes into the Sun and the Sun shines upon him, but he sees not the Sun. Satan comes so into the presence of God, that he is always seen of God; he is never so in the presence of God as to see God. It is questioned whether the lapsed Angels ever saw God at all while they stood, because if they had seen God, it is conceived that vision would have been their confirmation. But it is more certain that the lapsed Angels since their fall never saw God, nor ever shall, though it be said here Satan came among the sons of God. You know what the Apostle Jude teaches: “That the devils kept not their place, but are reserved in chains of darkness against the judgement of the great day” (Jude 1:6). We shall open that afterward, when we come to speak of his compassing the earth, how he does compass the earth, and yet is reserved in chains of darkness. But I say there is his seat, there is his place, and all that is spoken of him in this does not infer any the least glimpse or fruition of God or communion with the Angels. In regard of his nature, he is full spirit; but in regard of his sin, he is a miserable spirit; he has lost his excellency, though he has not lost his nature. And being a spirit, he has power to pass and repass, to go up and down the world, to ascend and descend at his pleasure (as good Angels may and can) when God does permit him.
We see here the good Angels are called the sons of God; in this learn the privilege of believers: they partake with the Angels in this title; the Apostle says: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath showed that we should be called the sons of God” (I John 3:1). If you would know what manner of love it is, it is as great as the Angels in Heaven have. Christ took not upon Him the nature of Angels but has given us the honor of Angels. Fallen Angels could not share with us in the benefit of redemption, but we share with the Angels that stand in the privilege of Son-ship. We are the sons of God as well as they, and in somewhat beyond them: they are created sons, but we are adopted sons.
“...came and presented themselves before God”: This should teach us to imitate Angels. This we pray for, “That the will of God should be done on Earth, as it is done in Heaven.” The Angels always present themselves; they always stand before God, ready to do His will. We should be ever in the presence of God in this sense, that is, presenting ourselves, standing as in the presence of God, ready to take and receive instruction, to do His will, whatever it is, like Paul: “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). This is the presenting of the soul before God.
Then consider here, who Satan was. Satan was as good in his Creation, as any of those who are called the sons of God. They are called the sons of God, and he is now called nothing but Satan, an adversary. His condition was once as good as theirs.
Note hence, There is no created excellency, but if it be left to itself, will quickly undo itself.
These Angels were as good at the first as any of those that were here called the sons of God. They were not confirmed, they stood upon their own bottom; they fell and had no tempter at all; they turned about upon the freedom of their own will, and “left their habitation” (Jude 1:6). There is no trusting to any estate out of Christ.
Further note this, what was the difference between those sons of God and this Satan? Only sin: one was as good as the other in the creation; nothing else made an Angel a Devil, but only sin. Sin despoils the creature of all its comfort and honor at once.
Again note this, the Angel falling and becoming sinful has his name presently changed. He is called Satan, an Adversary: an adversary to God; an adversary to man.
He that is wicked himself will quickly be an adversary, an opposer of all goodness: no sooner a sinner, but a Satan.
Lastly, note this: To be an opposer of good is to be conformable to the devil.
The devil is the Adversary, the Satan, and so proportionably as anyone is an opposer of good, so much of Satan, so much of the devil he has in him. Therefore Christ said to a chief Apostle, when he did oppose him in that greatest good of all, the working out of our redemption in dying for us, “Get thee behind me Satan” (Matt. 16:23). All opposition of goodness is a spice of the devil. So the Apostle Paul, in Acts 13:10, when he speaks to Elymas the sorcerer, said: “O thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all goodness.” To be an enemy of goodness is to be the child of the devil; it is the very character of the devil. He is a Satan in respect of all goodness and good persons.
And surely (my brothers) if this be a character of the devil, and to be conformable unto Satan, how conspicuous is that conformity in this age? How many thousands bear this mark of the devil, not only in their hands closely, but in their foreheads openly? How many visible walking Satans are there among us, enemies of all goodness, oppressors of all righteousness, opposers of our peace, opposers of our liberty, opposers of the Gospel, opposers of Christ? These are all as so many Satans in the world, so many enemies. Now is a time that Satans are let loose in the world; the devil now if ever works mightily in the hearts and spirits, in the hands and tongues of these children of disobedience. It becomes us then, that as there are many adversaries and opposers of goodness, to show ourselves friends and patrons of goodness. Christ has many challengers, let Him find some Champions. Now it is time to raise your spirits, not only to love the truth, but to maintain the truth; as it is the height of wickedness, not only to do evil, but to oppose good, so it is the height of holiness, not only to do good, but to oppose evil. This is just to be on the contrary point to Satan, he does wickedness and opposes good, let us do good and oppose all evil. To be a Satan against Satan, is the glory of a Christian. Now set yourselves against the satans, be adversaries to the Adversary and all his adherents, so shall you approve yourselves the friends of Christ.
This article is taken from: Caryl, Joseph. Job: Exposition with Practical Applications, vol. 1, 1666. A PDF file of this book can be downloaded, free of charge, at http://www.ClassicChristianLibrary.com