My family and others have felt the loss of a man we have known for 15 years, who died this week. He was a very good coach of our 2 older sons and influenced hundreds of young people over the past 30 years. He was the kind of man you really enjoyed being around, that you respected, and loved.

This week there have been many tributes and appreciations expressed toward him, myself included in that group. But one particular piece that was written caught my attention, that, while seeking to honor our departed friend, someone wrote the following:

Our friend died as the result of a bounty placed on his head by Satan. That is not a typo; I believe Satan placed an enormous bounty on his head and collected. Unfortunately for Satan, his bounty backfired because he is now with the Lord and the tormenting has stopped. Why did Satan have a bounty on his head? Because he mattered. He was a mentor and leader and Satan understands the public relations value of a target like that. . . . . Satan knows that if he can cause the greatest among us to fall that he will reap many souls, not just one. Satan spent years circling the wall, looking for the slightest crack. . . . . I cannot imagine the resources and tools Satan used to attack my brother.

Such are the views of many professing Christians when another person, either unbeliever or believer, suddenly dies. The devil did it. Only he would do it or could do it. God is not involved in such deaths. God is too loving, too much “for us” to directly bring about the death of a much-loved brother or sister. So we know that it was Satan. Satan put a bounty on him and did this.

Is this a biblical view? Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is much more cruel to imply that God is not reigning over a death than to say that He is involved. As Leonard Ravenhill used to say, “Are our lives only a football, for the devil to kick around when he wants?” No, God is absolutely in control of our lives, even the details of our death. Our times, as Scripture says, are “in his hands.”

Can Satan ever be involved in attacking and killing Christians? Yes and No.

First, He is at time allowed to be used in attacking believers, just as he was with Job. But only with the express permission of God and only to the extent that God has willed. No more and no further than God wills for our good.

Secondly, can Satan ever kill professing Christians? According to Paul, professing believers, as in 1 Corinthians, can be “turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved.” Whatever this all may mean, it certainly tells us that some who profess the name of Christ can become the special target for Satanic attack as a judgment, even to the point of their physical life being taken.

That being said, and not enough said for sure, it is still true that Satan does not have freedom to do whatever he wants with Christians. He is not a free roaming bad dog. He is a bad dog on a long leash, as someone has said, and God controls the leash all the time. He could do nothing to Job except what he had express and specific permission to do, directly from the Lord.

So our brother above who expresses the bounty illustration of a bounty being put on a Christian and that bounty being paid is very far from what Scripture teaches. It sounds touching and emotional, but is very far from what the Bible teaches. Such a view also is a man’s effort to come to terms with how a dear man’s sudden and tragic death can be explained.

If we don’t want God to be the one who takes those we love in death, then we have to blame someone. Since we don’t want to ever blame the departed person and we sure don’t want to blame God, then the only one left to blame is Satan. But Satan does not rule in the affairs of professing Christians or in any affair for that matter, especially the means and timing of death. To God alone belong the issues of death.

Satan may have hated or attacked the deceased friend, but he did not take him. God, in his wisdom and love, took the man. It was his time to go. And this truth alone gives comfort, truth, and reality to such a loss. No other theory is either comforting or gives us reality.

God rules and we rest in that.

– Mack Tomlinson

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