"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' So Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.' Job 1:6-7 (NKJV).
The episode described in verses 6 to 22 of the first chapter of Job gives us an insight of the centre of the spiritual world, in the presence of God Himself. We don't know how it was revealed to the person who describes it to us, but, like all the books of the Bible, it was by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.
Job and the other characters mentioned in the book were unaware of it, or of what follows in chapter 2, verses 1 to 7. But these scenes have allowed readers over the centuries, including us, to understand and to interpret some of the uncommon things which happen to the people of God.
We learn that on that occasion, some millennia ago, the "sons of God", intelligent spiritual beings created by Him, came before the LORD. The expression "sons of God" is also used in the Bible for those of the human race who are of a godly, righteous nature, and those who are born again of God through the Holy Spirit by their faith in His Son (John 1:12).
But these were created spirits, angels, called sons of God in the Hebrew Scriptures because they were made by Him. They are responsible and accountable to the LORD for their actions, and they came to report to Him on this occasion.
Among them was Satan (meaning adversary, accuser) and he was required to explain where he had come from. Of course the LORD already knew perfectly well, nevertheless Satan must explain himself. He gave a rather vague answer: "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."
Though they don't have physical bodies, all spiritual creatures except for creator God, are still limited in time and space like us. Many people ignore this fact and assume they have Divine attributes.
Another wrong assumption people make, and which is buried in Medieval folklore, is that Satan and his angels have their abode in hell. They aren't there yet, nor for a long time to come until they are thrown there, the "lake of fire and brimstone". Many demons are held in another place called the "abyss", or "bottomless pit" (Luke 8:31, Revelation 9:2).
Satan is now the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2) and has command over a huge army of rebel angels who serve him and carry out his orders. They are as free to move about the earth as we are, and even more so as they don't depend on means of physical transport.
The Word of God warns us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is still able to go before God to accuse His people. Hell, the lake of fire and brimstone, is the place prepared for the Devil and his angels, but neither they nor anyone else is there yet.
Hell, also as a result of these medieval fables, is frequently used as a representative of the powers and influences of evil. It will be their destiny one day, but it is a place and does not have a personality of its own. There are no hellish powers!
In older translations into English, the Hebrew word "Sheol" is translated as hell, when it really means "sepulchre, depths, powder or death". This has caused misunderstandings, for example, when the Lord Jesus said to Peter: "… and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18 - KJV).
The original Greek "Hades", equivalent of "Sheol", was here translated incorrectly as "hell". It is death which will not prevail against the church, a reference by the Lord to the resurrection of the dead when He comes to receive His church in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Returning to our initial scene, we see Satan showing his character as adversary and accuser of Job, a man of integrity, upright, God-fearing and who shunned evil. Satan implied that the only reason Job had this good character was that in return the LORD had protected his family and given him prosperity. In his opinion Job would curse the LORD to His face if all was taken away from him.
Satan knew that he couldn't touch Job without the permission of God because "there was a hedge about him". It is a comfort to know that there is a "hedge" around every believer today, and Satan cannot touch us unless the LORD permits it. And if the LORD permits it, it will be for His good purpose and for our welfare, as happened to Job, even though he wasn't aware of the benefits which would be coming to him. We know that it will bring us patience, and in time perfection and completeness, lacking nothing, and the crown of life (James 1:3-4,12 - NKJV)
Satan knew very well why many people pretend to be godly when all is well and they seek God's blessings. Adversity shows up their false religiosity, just as it strengthens real faith by causing believers to enjoy the victory they attain.
God alone knows our hearts and how strong our faith is. He will never allow any of His own to be tested beyond endurance. On the other hand, the LORD sometimes permits Satan to take away from us those things that we lean on. It is when we feel unsecure, incapable and lost in this world that we resort to God's help and experience His strong hand in our lives.
This episode also shows that the LORD is sovereign over our lives and Satan's influence is under His control. In fact the evil which Satan may bring about is part of the LORD's design to prepare for Himself a people which has come to fear, to love and to worship Him from experience. While we may not understand why the LORD is sometimes allowing us to suffer, He is never caught by surprise by our troubles and He loves us, never leaves us and is always compassionate.
Satan and his angels will be expelled from heaven and be cast to earth when they are beaten in a decisive battle in heaven in the middle of the tribulation period, as we read in Revelation 12:7 to 9. Thereafter he will no longer be able to accuse the brethren before God.
Three and a half years later, he will be bound, shut up and sealed in the bottomless pit during the millennium (Revelation 20:1-3), at the end of which he will be released to deceive the nations. There will follow a final battle, when the Lord Jesus Christ will defeat him and all those who follow him, and he will be cast into hell, the "lake of fire and brimstone", forever and ever, with his angels.