Everyone is a target of Satan. But among all the billions of people he pursued, only 5 were targeted specifically and personally by the old devil himself. I thought a quick review would be interesting.
Adam & Eve Were Targeted By Satan
It’s not surprising that Satan would appear after creation. At the end of the creation week, God had declared his entire work “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There was nothing in it our about it that was bad. But soon, Satan, working through the serpent, tempted the first couple. They sinned. Death followed and we all today suffer the influence of that sin.
Why Adam and Eve? Perhaps because they represented the purity and goodness of God. Maybe because they were the Creator’s prized creation. Whatever the reason, Adam and Eve were important enough to fall directly into Satan’s cross hairs – and they failed.
Job Was Targeted By Satan
The next(1) to draw Satan’s attention was actually put there by God. Job is described as being “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). The New Testament describes him as patient or steadfast (James 5:11). What is so curcious about Job is that God appears to be bragging on Job to the devil.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8)
Give some thought to what it must mean to be such a fine and upright man that God would single you out for your righteousness. It’s pretty amazing. Job did not have the chance to glory in that comment because he didn’t know about it. It happened behind closed doors. All Job knew was that he suddenly found himself without his children,without his servants, without his wealth and without his health. He was left with a wife and friends who all gave him bad advice.
Satan was given permission by God to do almost anything to Job. Only Job’s life was protected (Job 2:6). Remember that God maintained absolute control and protection over Job. Satan could do nothing to Job except through God’s permission. God knew how strong Job was and he allowed Satan to test him sorely. Unlike Adam and Eve, Job was victorious. Satan is not heard from again in the 42 chapters of Job after this conversation in Job 2.
Joshua Was Targeted By Satan
Joshua the High Priest, not Joshua the Israelite leader after Moses, was targeted by Satan. They story is revealed in Zechariah 3:1-10. Joshua was one of the priests who worked with Ezra to re-establish the sacrifices in Jerusalem after the return from exile.
Zechariah’s image has Joshua appearing before the Lord in dirty clothes. Satan is there too rebuking Joshua for some untold error. The Lord however rebukes Satan and orders that Joshua be given clean clothes. He promises blessings upon Joshua if he obeys the Lord.
The Lord’s rapid protection of Joshua against Satan’s charges is encouraging. No claim can stand against God’s people.
Jesus Was Targeted By Satan
Satan didn’t get it. He was soundly defeated in Eden when God announced his gracious plan for a redeemer. He was beaten when Job would not cave into his horrible pressures and tortures and his plans backfired when he tried to accuse Joshua before the Lord. But Satan is nothing if not persistent.
Satan faced Jesus in the wilderness. Sent by the Holy Spirit Jesus faced Satan only after 40 days and nights of fasting. The devil brought three temptations to Jesus and in every case Jesus was triumphant. Satan appealed to his physical needs, his pride and even his divinity but our Lord defeated every one of them.
The importance of this moment is in two parts. First, we learn that Jesus faced the same struggles we face. The writer of Hebrews was correct that Jesus was tempted in all ways just like us (Hebrews 4:15). But this moment was especially critical for the plan of salvation. Only the innocent blood of Jesus could save from sins and if Jesus succumbed to those temptations he would no longer be innocent. He would own the guilt just as sure as we do. Theredemption of all mankind hung in the balance. Failure here and we would all be lost.
Jesus won and salvation is offered to all.
Peter Was Targeted By Satan
With overtones of Job’s temptation we see Jesus telling Peter that Satan wanted him. Jesus said to Peter, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32). This must have been a sobering moment. Satan wants me, Peter must have thought.
Peter was an important piece of the coming church, the body of Christ. Peter was part of those to whom the Lord promised a central role in unveiling the new doctrine that would mark out deep differences between the Mosaic faith and that of Christ. Peter was the one who would speak the first recorded gospel sermon in Acts 2:14. It would be Peter who carries the gospel to the Gentiles in Acts 10:34. Peter was part of the “hub” of the church which remained in Jerusalem during the terrible days of persecution. Peter would have been a prime target for Satan.
But notice that the personal interest of Satan brought the personal prayer of Jesus. True enough, Peter stumbled but in the end he gained the victory.
Am I Targeted By Satan
Satan wants us all and will stop at nothing to get us. His power is limited however and like Job and Peter he is restrained by God. But make no mistake: Satan is after you. This little trip through the Bible is not meant to imply that he wants you any less. It’s just a review of some of the people he went up against and failed. Even the one apparent success against Adam and Eve is mitigated by the coming of Jesus.
It is at the very time that we think we have arrived, that Satan attacks. Remember, “Pride before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)_____
- Chronology involving Job is especially difficult since we don’t really know where to place him. I believe he lived prior to the coming of Israel so I deal with him here.(↩)