If you were attempting to single-handedly discredit and depose a king you wished to replace (with yourself), what would you say, and to whom, in order to accomplish your goal? If an article were written recounting the things you said, either in conversations with the king or his subjects, what quotes would make it to press? What elements of the king’s policies or character would you attack?
We can read in the two oldest books of the Bible about someone who was (and is) trying to accomplish such a goal, and Genesis and Job (of which Job is considered by most scholars to be the oldest) we can learn very quickly what the “Adversary” (that’s what “Satan” means in Hebrew) deems to be the most important aspects of his enemy to attack. In the military we use the term “Centers of Gravity,” or “COGs,” to describe targets that are high on the priority list because they are significant to the survival of the enemy’s military and population, such as nuclear sites and capabilities, infrastructure and networks. So, what does Satan see at God’s COGs?
The first deliberate attack comes in the Garden of Eden where Satan attacks God’s character, specifically His goodness and trustworthiness. Satan does this by telling Adam and Eve that God was only withholding the fruit from the “tree in the middle of the garden” because He knew His creation would gain knowledge from eating it. In other words, Satan said, “This God of yours is trying to keep you ignorant and limited. How can He possibly be good?”
At some point later in the narrative of man’s history “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1) After describing Job, the author of this ancient book gives us a glimpse into the spiritual, heavenly realm where some of God’s created beings, to include Satan, were presenting themselves before the LORD. When asked by the Almighty where he had been and what he had been up to, Satan replied, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” While this may not seem like much of a statement at first, think about what God used to do amongst His perfect creation in Eden before the Fall of Man – He walked to and fro on the earth, enjoying fellowship with His creation, which Satan had since defiled. In other words, this is Satan attacking God’s authority and power. It’s as if Satan was saying, “Hey, God, remember that beautiful creation you used to enjoy walking in? Well, it’s mine now.”
The final COG of God’s that I will highlight here is the very Gospel of Jesus Christ. After God grants Satan permission to torment and test Job (there was basically a bet between them about whether or not Job would curse God if all his health, wealth and prosperity were taken from him), some of Job’s friends come to mourn with him. After a week of silence together, Eliphaz speaks in Job chapter four, and part of his discourse includes a description of a vision of a “spirit” that spoke to him. It’s clear from what the spirit said it was not from God. In fact, I believe it was none other than the Adversary himself, and do you know what the very first thing he did was? Attack the Gospel. He said, “Can a mortal man be right before God? Can a man be pure before his maker?” Long before Jesus was hung on a cross and died to atone for the sins of His creation, Satan was attacking the whole premise of the Gospel – that a man can in fact be made right and pure before his maker, not because of his own righteousness, but because of what the “snake crusher” – Jesus Christ – has done. If you any doubt this “spirit” was Satan, look at what he goes on to say in the following verse: “Even in his servants He puts no trust, and his angels He charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is dust, who are crushed like the moth.” (vv18-19) This was spoken by the chief angel who was “charged with error” and cast out of heaven – Lucifer himself.
As much power as Satan may be granted (for a time), we know especially from Job that he can only act within the scope of what God allows. He knows this, too, yet he will continue to attack God’s character, laws and Gospel until he is finally and completely vanquished in the Lake of Fire at the end of the age. Don’t be fooled or discouraged! Trust always in the goodness and trustworthiness of God and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is our only hope in life and death! Job suffered greatly at the hands of the Adversary (yet, with the permission of God) and did not curse God, but worshiped Him and said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” May we also trust in the unfailing goodness and sovereignty of God, even, and especially, when the skies darken and it seems the pain we’re experiencing is pointless and endless. We must cling to the hope God is in fact “working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” and will help us see and rejoice in this “good” in this life and/or the next. In the meantime, may the cry of our hearts be, “Come, Lord Jesus! Blessed be the name of the Lord.”