Forgotten Witnesses

by Doug Batchelor & Steven Winn

They were watching. They watched him roll over as the early morning sun peeked over the horizon and brightened his bedroom. They watched as he climbed out of bed and prepared for the day. They watched him as he led the household in worship, ate his simple breakfast, and as he gave instructions to his chief steward. They watched as he donned his outer robe and strode out to the pasture where his 7,000 sheep were grazing. They heard him compliment his shepherds on their fine work, and they heard him tell them about the new field he just purchased. They saw him make the trip to the stalls where his 3,000 camels stayed. They watched as he paid the camel caretakers bonuses for their months of faithful service. They watched as he completed his daily activities, and as he sat at the evening meal. They watched as he knelt by the family altar to pray for his children.

Job-A Faithful Servant
Every time Job spoke a word of kindness, they beamed with heavenly smiles. Every earnest prayer he prayed for his children brought a tender twinkle to their celestial faces. "Praise God," one would whisper, leaning forward as he watched Job refuse the flirtatious advances of a merchant woman.

Heavenly angels were not the only beings observing Job day in and day out. The same kind words that brought smiles to the lips of celestial beings disgusted Satan's angels. With every faithful act, every obedient deed rendered to God, those sinister faces grew darker, brows more furrowed, and fists clenched tighter.

Why was Job being watched so closely? He didn't know it, but his life was the current subject of an ancient debate. This debate took place, not in a university classroom, or in the august confines of a national government auditorium. Far above Earth's atmosphere, beyond a billion stars and a thousand galaxies, a debate took place in a heavenly conference room, a debate between the Supreme Creator and the Arch Destroyer.

A select group of representatives gathered in the Almighty's heavenly conference room that day-not earthly ambassadors, not human politicians, but sons of God. The Bible tells us the purpose of the meeting in Job 1:6: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord … and Satan also came among them" (Job 1:6, NKJV).

Who's Who?
We know who God is-Creator of the universe and all that is in it; and we know who Satan is-the adversary, and the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), but just who are these "sons of God" that filled the celestial conference room that day? The Bible identifies three groups as being sons of God.

First, we read in 1 John 3:1, "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." You and I are adopted into the family of God by virtue of Jesus and salvation; therefore, we are sons of God.

Second, Job 38:7 describes the sons of God as shouting for joy when God laid the foundations of Earth. Since human beings had not been created when God began creating Earth, it is logical to conclude that God's angels are the second group of the sons of God.

Third, we can assume that the final group must be leaders of other worlds, who, like Adam, were created to have dominion over their respective planets. For instance, Seth is called the son of Adam, but Adam is called the son of God (Luke 3:38). We've already looked at Job 1:6, which tells us that on a certain day, the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. This group must have included beings other than God's angels, because, according to Isaiah 6:1-2, angels are always before God's throne, day in and day out!

The Challenge
This heavenly meeting was well underway when a dark, powerful creature with narrowed eyes and a twisted smirk appeared uninvited. The hushed ambassadors had not long to wait to find out. "From where do you come?" It was the clear, ringing voice of God Himself. Every eye was riveted on the intruder as the answer came from the back of the room. "I am Satan, and I have come from going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it" (see Job 1:7). Since Adam and Eve had abdicated the dominion of our world to the devil through disobedience, Satan claimed the Earth as his. God answered, "Ah, if you're from the earth, you must know about my friend Job. Have you considered him, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil?"

As God spoke of Job, His face beamed with satisfaction. God was challenging the devil's claim to planet Earth because some of the inhabitants of Earth were still loyal to Jehovah. Satan was not impressed. "Yes, I know the creature," he snarled, "but the only reason he serves You is because You've placed a hedge around him and his household. You've given him so much and prospered everything he does. You've babied him." Now Satan's eyes squinted and his voice lowered to a disrespectful sneer. "Job serves you because you have insulated him from harm. Remove that protection, eliminate all his blessings, and I guarantee that Your precious Job will curse You!" His threatening voice had now almost risen to a scream. But even Satan was painfully aware of his limitations in the presence of the Almighty. Unshaken by this outburst, God calmly replied, "Okay, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." With a sudden roaring laugh, Satan spun around and flew out, leaving a dark vacuum behind him.

Same Old Story
This cosmic exchange was merely a repetition of the debate that caused war in heaven at the beginning of time as we know it. Satan, then Lucifer, charged God as being unfair. These accusations didn't go unnoticed from the heavenly residents. Some of God's angels embraced Satan's charges and sided with the rebellious cherub. It was most likely a slow process, but eventually one third of them made the decision to echo Lucifer's claims that God, Creator and Leader, was unfair, that His law was arbitrary and exacting and limited their freedom. It must have broken the heart of God to watch a third of His heavenly host drift away from paradise-and not just walk out of heaven, but to abandon confidence in His love and faith that He had their best interest in mind.

Trying once again to prove his point through Job, the devil said, "Nobody can obey You. You're not fair. You're arbitrary. You're exacting. You've made these creatures, they're almost universally sinful, and here You're going to punish them for their behavior-and nobody's really capable of obeying You anyway. You're asking the impossible!"

And now, here was Job, the unsuspecting "Exhibit A" in this great controversy. Satan wanted desperately to prove that Job was obedient only because God sheltered him, and that his faith would crumble when God's protection was taken away. If he was successful, the argument he originally made in heaven would be strengthened. The whole watching universe would be more inclined to believe that it is indeed impossible for humans to be faithful to God at all times, especially in the face of adversity. If Job, a righteous and upright man, could not maintain his allegiance, then what chance would the rest of the world have?

Satan wasted no time in acting on the reluctant permission God had given him to test Job. Can you imagine the look of diabolical delight in his evil eyes as he planned what he would do to Job?

The Ultimate Test
As Job sat at his dining room table for the noon meal, one of his servants, breathless and sweating from his long run in from the fields, charged into the house. "Sir…I'm…sorry to bother…you, but…but I have most…distressing news." Gulping for air, he continued. "I was plowing in the east field with your other servants, when the Sabeans ambushed us, and took all the oxen and nearby donkeys. They killed all the servants, and I barely…" He was interrupted by the sound of another voice calling, "Master, Master!" One of Job's shepherds rushed into the house and stumbled up to Job with his own tragic news: "Sir, you're not going to believe this, but I just saw fire come down from heaven and burn up all your sheep-as well as the shepherds! Only I managed to…" This frazzled servant didn't have a chance to finish his news when the front door again burst open, shaking the pictures on the living room wall. Still another servant, looking disheveled and petrified, cried, "Sir, the Chaldeans have just raided your camels and killed their caretakers with…" He wasn't even close to finishing before yet another servant came sprinting into the house. "Master…" he paused, glancing quickly at all the other servants gathered around Job at the table. "Sir, your sons and daughters were in your oldest son's house celebrating a birthday, when a tornado hit the house and it collapsed." He paused and looked down at the floor. "Sir, all your children are dead."

For a few moments Job sat stiffly, staring blankly at his half-finished plate of food, absolutely stunned by the sudden loss of his property and children.

If Job was being watched before, he was being observed even more intensely now. His surviving servants lingered, watching to see how the patriarch would respond to this blitzkrieg of calamity. Throughout the unfallen universe, the question was on everyone's lips, "Will Job crack under Satan's pressure, give up his faith and curse God? With the terrible loss of his possessions, children, and God's protection, will he give up on serving God? Or will he remain true to his Creator despite his circumstances?"

The Bible records Job's calm reaction. "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:20-21). In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. The angels of God cheered this unyielding demonstration of loyalty. Then later, after Satan was allowed to attack Job's body and strike him with painful boils, Job remained faithful, trusting God in spite of tremendous physical and material adversity.

We Are Soldiers
Things have not changed much since the day Lucifer first attacked God's character. To this day, as we enter the seventh millennium, Satan is hurling the same accusations at God's government. "God, You're unfair. You expect your creatures to obey You when it's impossible to do so. You don't really love them." The game is the same. The battlefield still rings with the sound of war. Only the players have changed. Only the soldiers are different. And we, friends, are the players. We are soldiers, whether we like it or not, in the battle between good and evil, between God's angels and the angels of Satan. There's no draft-dodging and no cease fire-no neutral country where we can flee for asylum. The whole universe is watching us, as it watched Job, to see whether our faith will falter under fire. They are watching to see how we react when things go wrong, when unexplainable suffering enters our lives. Satan laughs, "He'll crumble. She'll curse You, God. You can't count on him. She'll let you down."

Too often, we live from moment to moment, indifferent and oblivious to the spiritual battles raging in the spirit realm all around us. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost a dimension. Before sin, Adam and Eve lived not only in the three dimensions we now occupy, but also in another fourth dimension-the spirit world. They used to talk to God face to face in the garden of Eden. They could see and talk to the angels. But sin blinded us to that dimension, and today we can't see the angels intensely wrestling over our attention and our spiritual state of mind. The very same angels that observed Job so closely are watching you and me. They're the silent, forgotten witnesses.

People With Two Faces
If we were constantly aware of God's angels watching us, wouldn't it change our behavior? Have you noticed that we behave differently when we know that people are watching and listening to us than when we think nobody's around? Most of us have two images, a public image and a private image. We always want to make a good impression when we know there's a lot of people watching us, but when we think no one's looking, we can change into completely different people!

One of technology's recent contributions to 20th century society is the lipstick camera. Hardly bigger than your index finger, these cameras were originally made for the FBI and CIA. Now you can buy them over the counter, and anyone can purchase one. They are used for security purposes in department store dressing rooms, hotel managers use them in their rooms, and some use them in ways they shouldn't be used. How would you behave if you knew a lipstick camera were focused on you all day long-as you drive to work, as you go grocery shopping, and as you interact with your family?

A small church in northern California was home to a very primitive sound system. The cables going from the amplifier to the speakers were not shielded, and, apparently, because they were just the right length, they acted like an antenna. During the church service, right in the middle of a message, you could hear ambulance drivers, airplane pilots, and police officers communicating with each other! Sometimes it was a lot more interesting than the sermon that day. But if those ambulance drivers had known that their conversation was being broadcast in a church, you can bet they would have been a lot more careful about what they were saying! "There are invisible agencies observing every word and deed of human beings. In every assembly for business or pleasure, in every gathering for worship, there are more listeners than can be seen with the natural sight" (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 176).

A prominent Christian recording artist related this story to me. He was staying at a hotel in a major city. With some extra time on his hands, he wandered into a video store. He soon found himself drift into the adult video section. He had never seen an adult movie, and thinking no one would recognize him in this city so far from home he impulsively decided to rent one. Pulling it off the shelf, he walked to the cashier. As he was about to pay for the video, someone tapped him on the shoulder. "Hi! I've seen you on TV. Aren't you Brother so-and-so?" He quickly crammed the video under his arm and nervously replied, "Yeah, hey, good to see you. Keep us in your prayers." As soon as the person walked away, he left the forbidden video on the counter and dashed out of the store as quickly as possible. "I was healed," he told me. "I was never tempted to do that again." It may have been an angel who tapped him on the shoulder. Sometimes they do very drastic things to keep us from sin. They're watching! They're trying to save us and encourage us to do the right thing. "When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing our words for us, and influencing our actions" (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 341, 342).

God Needs Us, Too
Jesus says in Revelation 3:5 that, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." And again in Luke 12:8, 9 Jesus says, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." Jesus wants more than anything to confess your name before His angels. He wants to say, "Have you considered my servant, Sally, that there is none like her on the earth, a blameless and upright woman, one who fears God and shuns evil?" He longs to demonstrate before His angels that you are faithful, that you believe and trust in Him, no matter what the circumstances might be.

Do you realize that God not only wants to confess your name before the angels, but that He needs you? Well, think about it-would you die to save something you don't need? But even beyond needing our love God needs us to vindicate His name in this confused world. When Satan charged God with being unfair, God didn't just strike him dead to shut him up. He didn't hire a hit man to "ice" Lucifer so that his lies would not be registered. Instead, He gave the traitor an opportunity to be heard. He gave the devil a chance to prove his claims in the court of human behavior. God needs you to prove that Satan's claims are not accurate, that it is possible to serve God faithfully despite the circumstances. God wants us to exonerate His name through obedience. He needs you to prove before the angels that He is fair, that it is possible to keep His law, through His strength. He needs you, and they're still watching. The silent, forgotten witnesses.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God has provided a bridge, a ladder between heaven and earth. He opened a pathway, or more like a thousand-lane interstate. And if our eyes could be opened right now, we would see a pipeline, a mass, a flood of angels going and coming between heaven and earth, bringing our petitions, intervening for our safety, and taking reports. We too easily forget that these angels who are always around us are watching and recording. We too easily forget that there's a war raging, a great controversy between good and evil. We too easily forget that we are soldiers in this war, whether we like it or not. We too easily forget that we can either bring glory to God or shame His name through our behavior.

As you go throughout your day, remember that you are not alone. Not only is Jesus present through His Spirit but angels that excel in strength are there protecting, watching, and recording every word and deed. Remember that every daily occurrence, large or small, represents an opportunity for you to glorify God's name, and for Jesus to confess your name before His Father and unfallen beings.


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