To and Fro and Up and Down – Job 1:7, 8


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.” Then 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, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

  • Job 1:7, 8 (NKJV)


  1. What did Satan mean by the phrase “going To-and-Fro” and up and “Walking down in the Earth?”
  2. Why did God have to mention Job’s name at all? What did he have to do with anything?


Principle: Let the Bible interpret itself

The Context

Job lived most likely during the time of Abraham. It is believed by many scholars that Moses wrote the commentary on both men. Job was a very wealthy man – the richest in the East, that is, the Mesopotamian region of what is known as the Ancient Near East, modern day Iraq.

So Job lived in a time in which the nation of Israel was not yet established. You will recall that Israel was formed by God as a nation to bring back the light of truth into the world after sin had engulfed the entire human race. After the Fall, sin led to the Flood, but after Noah people did not turn fully to God. The truths about God and His character that were revealed to Adam and Eve in the garden were fast fading out of human consciousness. God had to call out a man called Abraham to bring forth a new generation he could once again reveal Himself to. So this is the climate in which Job’s story comes to us; he lives in a world filled with sin and lacking in the knowledge of God. Yet he is a shining light of righteousness in the East.


The Text

Now let’s look at our text. The Bible says there came a day when the “Sons of God” came to present themselves before God. The phrase the “Sons of God” simply refers to the first creation of God in all the worlds He has created. How do we know this?

  • We know that God created other worlds from Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3
  • In the genealogy of Jesus Adam is called “the son of God” by virtue of creation. Until Christ, Adam was the firstborn of our race by divine Creation.

From the text it appears that just like God gave Adam control and dominion over this Earth, the other sons of God had similar authority in their own worlds. Each of them came to this meeting as the leader of their people and their worlds. So what was Satan doing there? In appearing at this meeting Satan was staking his claim as the rightful ruler and leader of the planet Earth and its human beings.


“To and Fro”

This is what he meant when he said I have come from going to and fro and up and down in the Earth. In the Bible the phrase “to and fro” often denotes freedom of movement; the kind of freedom a house or land owner enjoys in his house, or on his land.

  • In 2Kings 4:35 Elisha walks “to and fro” in the house of the great woman of Shunem before finally raising her child from death. In doing so Elisha was stating that God was in control of that space.
  • In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we are told that God’s eyes run “to and fro” throughout the whole Earth. Again, God can scan the whole Earth because no part of it is hidden from Him or beyond his control.
  • Similarly, Up and down connotes the same idea. “To-and-fro and Up and down” may be taken for North and west and east and west – that is, the whole place – indeed the whole world!

Genesis 28:14:

“Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

In that text God promised Abraham he would bless the whole world by spreading his seed across the whole world: east and west, north and south. The same idea is expressed in Genesis 13:14, 15.

  • Another similar phrase is length and breadth: “Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” – Genesis 13:17

So clearly, by to and fro and up and down Satan is claiming to be the unchallenged Lord of all the Earth. This is why God brings up Job. Was Satan sure that he truly ruled and controlled the entire world? Was there not still a man who only served the God of Heaven? How could Satan claim to have conquered all the world when he could not get Job to surrender to his rule? As long as there is even one person in the world who holds on to the truth of God and his law, the Devil will never be able to say he has conquered humanity.

God has promised:

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” – Matthew 24:35

For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever. – Psalm 117:2

 Will you be a latter day Job for God? We live in a similar world as Job did, full of sin and submission to the enemy. Will you stand out for God as a shining light in the East? When everyone else bows to deception and pleasure will you bear the banner of the cross of Christ? When the Devil says I have come from walking up and down and to and fro the earth, across its length and breadth, north, south, east and west, Can the Lord name you among his remaining loyals? Can God say, “No, Satan; you have not yet conquered my servant Akua, Lamisi, Kwasi, Elikem, Quaye?


More Difficult Passages Explained Here

Until next time, keep studying the word. Prove all things, and hold fast what is good!

mm aims to provide just such a critical examination of the ethics, customs, philosophies and theologies of our day, and not only do so on a theoretical level, but on a practical one. The aim is to provide tools for a more intelligent approach to faith and religion in a sea of popular confusion and error.