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In Job Chapter 1:12 The Lord gave Satan the power to do anything he wanted to get Job to curse the Lord without touching him.

12: And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

In verses 15, 16, 17, 19. People were slain for the purpose of proving that job is loyal.

15: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

16: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

17: ...slain the servants with the edge of the sword

19: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Why would The Lord allow Satan to have the power to take other lives just for the purpose of proving that Job is a loyal servant?

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This is a philosophical question, not really a textual one. The question fundamentally boils down to "Why did God..." which is largely opinion-based and not answerable from the text in many cases. –  Dan Apr 29 at 15:35
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@Daи: I do agree there is a more "philosophical" bent to the question, but as my answer I believe demonstrates, even the "why" can at times be answered directly from the text and/or context of that text. –  ScottS May 1 at 15:52
    
@ScottS in this case it's awesome that this question attracted a pearl, but usually that's not the case (as evidenced by the other two answers). Check out this SE blog post. –  Dan May 1 at 18:09

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Differentiating between "Purpose" and "Grounds"

You ask:

Why would The Lord allow Satan to have the power to take other lives just for the purpose of proving that Job is a loyal servant?

The short answer is that God's "grounds" for having those people die is their own sin, not Job's testing. God allowed it to happen when and how it did for the "purpose" of testing Job, but the "why" is upon themselves.

We see this from the Book of Job. That all people are deserving of death is a topic in the book. A few specific places to note:

  • Job 4, Eliphaz understands that people are not just before God (v.17; cf. 15:14-15 where he notes they are so from birth), and die for it (v.20-21).
  • Job 8, Bildad understands one's own sin is what one pays for (v.4), and later acknowledges a person's unrighteousness before God (25:2-6).
  • Job 9, Job acknowledges he is not inherently righteous (v.15), and that death comes even to those "perfect" (KJV)/"guiltless" (NASB)/"blameless" (NIV/ESV) (v.22-23).
  • Job 11, Zophar knows Job is not wholly blameless (v.4-5).
  • Job 34, Elihu affirms a person's work is rendered back to him/her (v.11), and that God has the right to kill all people (v.14-15), even those deemed the best (v.19-20).

The discussion between Job and his friends revolves around accusations that Job, based on God's apparent judgment against him, must be more than merely unrighteous as all men, but holding some secret sins making him in line with the wicked. Job is defending that he is not, but in so doing, his friends are interpreting him to say he is wholly righteous (which is putting words into Job's mouth, as Job 9:15 acknowledged he was not so).

Conclusion

In short, people die because (the grounds) they are sinful and unrighteous both inherently from birth and in their actual deeds (which matches the language of other Scriptures: Ps 14; 53; 143:2; Rom 3:10; 5:12)1, so the grounds for God allowing the deaths of these people "related" in some way to Job is their own sins. The occasion for when/how God brings that judgment of death, in this case, was used for God's purpose of testing Job (and Satan).


NOTES

1 I follow a hermeneutic that deems all Scripture to be unified, a product of God's authorship through human agents. Therefore, I offer these other Scripture verses to show that unity with Job.

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God allows millions of innocent people to die today, probably at the hands of Satan either directly or indirectly (not that those who died were innocent, only that they died NOT because of their sins). So I think the real rub of the question is, "... just to prove that Job is loyal." So perhaps you agree that God allows millions to die at Satan's hands.

I disagree with your summary of Job 1, that God is trying "to prove that Job is loyal." Instead, I would say that Job is tested to prove that a righteous man worships God without regard to his circumstances. This was done, and recorded, for us to learn. Why do we worship God? Is it only because of favorable circumstances? Is it possible to be true to God when things are terrible? A cynic, a person without faith, such as Satan, finds it impossible. Today cynics are the same, saying "Religious beliefs are only held because it is convenient." But Job powerfully disproves that.

And I suppose it was worth it for us to know that. Why are our hearts so hard that we require such a demonstration to understand this?

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Martin Luther answered this question well, but in a very general way:

"Behold, God governs the external affairs of the world in such a way that if you regard and follow the judgment of human reason you are forced to say either that there is no God, or that God is unjust." (from "On the Bondage of the Will" published 1525)

The deaths of Job's sons and daughters, evaluated according to the judgment of human reason, generate such a response. Why give Satan a free ticket to kill a good man's children, children who are evidently guilty of no particular offence, just to serve as a trial of that man's faith? Those ten siblings had even been the beneficiaries of Job's continual intercessory burnt offerings, just in case they had sinned:

Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them [his ten children], and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Even so, God allows Satan to destroy them with a cyclone, and Job's servants and livestock with a bolt of lightening, and by acts of terrorism! How do we reconcile "God is love" with a God who purposely opens the door to all this unprovoked and seemingly unwarranted violence and bloodshed?

Paul agrees with Luther. His answer is the exclamation of Romans 11:33, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" So believers must be content to believe God is love even when appearances declare the opposite. His ways are past finding out, beyond human reason, well out of reach until the world to come.

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Thank You for this answer and the cross reference to Martin Luther. –  The Tokenizer Apr 29 at 15:44

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