The Book of Job-Chapter Forty-One:
"From the Dark Waters"

God has a final wonder for Job to consider:

Verses 1-2: "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?"

The picture that has accompanied each one of our studies since chapter 27 is one that I took years ago out in the middle of Lake Champlain while on vacation with my family in New England. At its lowest point the lake bottom is 400 feet away from the surface you see here. It makes the water appear to be black (at least it was when I was there). It was shocking, something I had never seen before, and more than a little eerie as I leaned over the deck rail of a small ferry boat to snap this image.  I wasn't totally sure why I chose to be sharing it with you other than on a whim...but suddenly it seems so fitting.

The Behemoth from our previous chapter study was mysterious and awesome but (at least) it remained generally in full view on the land. But now Leviathan is being presented as a creature from the depths of the sea. You might, on a rare chance, get a glimpse of it, say, peering down from some boat as I was when I took this picture. But your imagination, possibly running wild at that moment, would have to fill in the rest:

Verses 3-4: "Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?"

Forget about a net, you can't even wrap your mind around Leviathan. I still can't. Yet, this creature purrs like a kitten before our Lord, its Creator! That is a further and perhaps ultimate indication of the real Majesty and Power of Almighty God.

Verses 5-6: "Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?"

If you ever get near Leviath
an you should, in fact, be humbled. Whatever this thing  is, you KNOW it won't ever be subjected to being a family pet or harvested for food or profit as many animals are. . .the real profit is just to survive to tell the tale of your encounter.

Verses 7-8: "Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?"

Would you want to fight this thing? What if somehow you fell off that boat? Then the beast could suddenly get at you. What if you had to touch it? All your instincts might say to flee...but who could hold his nerves together enough to accomplish anything? Flailing in panic and staring with terror into that dark water? Searching for something you can't fully know about. No person could, except One:

Verses 10-13: "None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?"

To all mankind Leviathan is an unconquerable monster:

Verse 14: "Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about."

Was it some hideous toothed whale or fish? Or maybe something we know nothing of at all in living flesh now;  a sea-dwelling dinosaur of the past or, to use a very Biblical term, some kind of Dragon?

Verses 15-17: "His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.

Let's explore, for a moment, this Dragon theory:

Verses 18-19: "By his neesings (snort) a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out."

The reality of Leviathan was certainly intended as an object lesson for Job and for us, just like the other animals God has recently mentioned. But this particular animal is also, in my opinion, useful as a metaphor for Satan and his part in Job's ordeal. The word dragon , in the Scriptures, seems to often refer to animals, but can represent other beings in a derogatory way in other contexts. In Ezekiel 29 an Egyptian Pharaoh is identified as a "dragon." In the Book of Revelation, Satan seems to be called "dragon" over and over again.

Job's struggle from way back in chapter 1 has been one of a man helplessly ravaged by an unknowable and unseen force. And we know that it was Satan attacking Job!  Job fell off the boat, beloved, and he's been flailing and suffering ever since. And just like as we are being told it is with the actual Leviathan, notice that only the LORD could restrain Satan and keep him from obliterating Job. 

And we've seen in our past study that when Job scanned those "dark waters" he was now in, he became confused. And with no Scriptures to which he could refer for Truth (remember Job was the FIRST Book of the Bible to be recorded in writing), he thought he saw God attacking him. But we all do this, don't we? In the modern Church, even with all our study aides, structured times of prayer, praise, and worship and a full time clergy...are we really much better off or better than Job? Have you ever mistaken God for the monster when the really tough times arrive in your life? I have. It can sneak up on you. Even as a believer in Christ, you may say? Sure. And before you know it you are struggling to love and worship One you now see as, at least partially, as a dragon instead of a Father and Savior.

To illustrate how this misidentification of the Lord can happen to anyone with problems let's take a look at King David who lived under the Mosaic Law in an era long after Job's. David uses some really strange language to describe his God in II Samuel 22 and this is recorded again in his 18th Psalm. Like Job, David was under a lot of pressure. But his problems were those of a soldier. He was a king, but also a battlefield general being attacked ferociously by the Philistines and others armies at the time. For a while, as you may know, he was even attacked by the armies of Israel when they were ruled by King Saul. That was a lot of physical danger with arrows and bloody swords and guys that wanted to kill him and his men and maybe their families too if they could get at them. And after surviving much of this and reflecting on it David wrote a song of praise. Many modern Gospel songs quote Psalm 18. You can hardly read through it without starting to sing one of them (at least I can't).

But none of the songs I've ever heard quote verse 8 of that Psalm where David describes the Lord with these words "There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it." Compare that to the next description of Leviathan that God presents to Job in our study:

Verses 20-21: "Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth."

So was David seeing God as a dragon or a Leviathan? You can decide for yourself. Through verse 14 of that Psalm David images God for us as shooting lightning arrows from a sky in which he is surrounded by thick clouds and "dark waters."  Now, does that justify my assuming a relationship between David's battle fatigue and Job's intense grief? I could be wrong about it, but I do see a connection here between the two men and potentially to all of us who may cry out to God in distress at some points in our lives. Later on in verses 20-27 of Psalm 18 David begins with these words: "The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness..." and what follows (read it for yourself if you like) is VERY reminiscent of the works for rewards theology and self righteousness that Job (at times) and his friends (all the time) have been espousing in this Book of Job. I say this not in any way to disdain either of these men, for David is clearly listed among the heroes of the faith in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, and in this very study I've been careful to point out Job's strengths and growing courage and have myself referred to him as a hero. He certainly is a hero to me. And that is actually the point. This confusion about the true identity of God, this seeing Him as a monster when life turns sour CAN happen to anyone, including you and me. So we should be aware of it. God is as strong as any monster we must ever face, but that doesn't mean that He, Himself is a monster.

Let's get back to the actual monster, Leviathan:

Verses 22-25: "In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves."

Why are even the mightiest afraid of this creature?

Verses 26-29: "The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear."

It's because no one can get "at" him. We just can't stop him or even impede him in any way. Not with our bare hands and not with our weapons. That kind of resistance wears you down in a hurry. In a physical fight, there is also a mental battle that rages. And Leviathan seems to know well how to win that contest too:

Verses 30-34: "Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride."

Sometimes in this life we must face adversity so strong that we are totally humbled or actually, God forbid, humiliated by the very experience of the battle. And when it comes, it may come with a temptation to see God more like a Godzilla. If you are a fan of some of the old Japanese Sci Fi films you will know what I mean when I say that this fictional Godzilla did really only one thing well and that was mayhem! He sort of didn't seem to care who it was directed at or how it served any higher level strategy. But that doesn't represent our God. Not in the ancient days of Job or the Old Testament times of King David, not ever, and certainly not today.

No matter what you have to battle in your life, no matter what you have believed in your life or how you may have lived in the past, turn boldly now and always to Our God for help. And don't seek His face in that of a monster. Look at Jesus, God in the flesh. He is a Gift to our generation. He is the reason we should never be tempted to revert to works for rewards and self righteousness. He came as the "express image" of God's true Person (see Hebrews 1:3) with the power to cover all of us who believe in him with HIS righteousness. And yes, it will humble anybody to be near the True Power of Almighty God, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But He will never humiliate you. He has all that Power, all the power ever needed for all time, but He also loves YOU. Godzilla did really only one thing well...but of Christ it was rightly said in Mark 7:37, "He hath done all things well."

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