Such a strong case can be made for the Satan being a fellow worshipper that
there simply must be some truth in it. “There was a day [a set feast] when the
sons of God [the believers – 1 Jn. 3:1; Mt. 5:9] came to present themselves
before Yahweh [before a priest, or other representative of Yahweh, probably at
an altar, Dt. 19:17; Ps. 42:2], and Satan came also among them”. Here we have a
picture of an early ecclesia; scattered believers coming together for a special
meeting, the forerunner of our breaking of bread service. As we walk, drive,
ride on train or bus, to our memorial meetings, we are repeating what in
principle has been done by the sons of God from earliest times. The Satan says
he has been “going to and from in the earth, and from walking up and down in it”
(1:7). There is good reason, linguistically and theologically, to think that the
events of Job occurred early in spiritual history (compare the mentions of
“Jobab” and some of the friends in 1 Chron. 5). There are also many links with
the early chapters of Genesis. We should therefore see Satan’s description of
himself as being in the context of Gen. 4:12–14, where Cain is made a wanderer
in the earth because of his bitter jealousy against his righteous brother. So
the Satan may have been another believer who was in some sense ‘out of
fellowship’, and yet still came to the gatherings of the believers to express
his envy of Job. The reference to the sons of God coming together in worship
before a priest or altar comes straight after the record of Job’s children
holding rather riotous birthday parties (1:4). “All the days”, each day, they
did this, Job offered sacrifice for them (1:5 AV mg.); but then “there was a
day” when the sons of God came to keep a feast to Yahweh. It seems that we are
led to connect the keeping of days. It could be that the sons of God were in
fact Job’s children. They came together to party and kill their fatted calves,
and then they came together to kill their sacrifices; but the difference was,
that then they allowed the Satan to come in among them.
It must be noted that the Satan never occurs again, under that name. The real adversary of Job was his “friends”; and in God’s final judgment, it is they who are condemned, not ‘Satan’. It is therefore reasonable to see a connection between the Satan and the ‘friends’ of Job; they too walked to and fro in the earth in order to come to him, as it seems Satan did at the beginning. And we pause here for another lesson. The great Satan / adversary of Job turned out to be those he thought were his friends in the ecclesia / assembly. And so it has been, time and again, in our experience: our sorest trials often come from the words of our brethren. Without underestimating the physical affliction of Job, his real adversary was his brethren. Rather than bemoaning his physical affliction, he commented how his friends had become his satans (19:19). And so with the Lord Jesus, whom Job so accurately typified. Again, without minimizing the material agony of His flesh, the essential piercing was from His rejection at the hands of those He died for.
Consider the following hints that the friends were in fact the Satan:
– There are several passages where Job speaks as if the friends were responsible for his physical persecution (e.g. 19:22,28); as if they had brought the calamity which the opening chapters make Satan responsible for. He associates his deceitful brethren with the troops of Tema and the companies of Sheba which had fallen upon his cattle at Satan’s behest (6:19). Job knew that the friends had power over his persecutors (6:24). They, Job said, had caused calamity to fall upon him, and thereby overwhelmed their one–time friend (6:27 AV mg.). They thought, as Satan did, that Job’s spirituality was only a sham (6:28).
– Job makes several references to the arguments of the Satan in his replies to the friends; as if they were in fact the Satan, and as if he knew perfectly well what they had said to Yahweh. Thus he tells the friends that those who provoke God are secure (12:6), whereas the Satan had suggested that Job would provoke God to His face if his security was taken away. Job says that such people who provoke God have all things given into their hand by Yahweh; and it is hard not to see in this a reference to the Satan, into whose hand Job had been delivered. It was as if Job was saying to them: ‘You are the ones who have provoked God, you are the ones into whose hand God has delivered me; so actually you are the wicked, not me’.
– The words of the friends suggest that their view was in fact that of the Satan in the prologue. Satan obviously quibbled with God’s pronunciation of Job as perfect and upright (1:8). And Bildad likewise seems to allude to this when he comments concerning Job’s downfall: “If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee” (8:6).
– There is reason to think that Eliphaz, the leader of the friends, may have been the specific individual referred to as ‘Satan’ in the prologue. God singles him out for especial condemnation at the end (42:7). After one of Eliphaz’s speeches, Job responds with what appears to be a comment upon him, rather than God: “He hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. And thou hast filled me with wrinkles... he teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me (surely Job speaks here about Eliphaz, not God): he gnasheth upon me... mine enemy (Satan) sharpeneth his eyes upon me. They (the astonished friends?) have gaped upon me with their mouth, they have smitten me... they have gathered themselves together (as the friends did to Job) against me” (16:9–11). Eliphaz was a Temanite, from where Job’s afflicters came (6:19).