No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor ? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud. – Job 41:12-34
OK I must admit I am a little perplexed by the diversion that God is taking in describing these interesting, and scary, creatures like the behemoth of yesterday’s passage and the leviathan of today’s passage. How did we get from God speaking in response to Elihu, Job’s friends, and Job to this almost clinical description of large scary creatures.
The beginning of this description of Leviathan starts out like it could be referring to a large alligator or caiman, but then toward the middle of passage it get’s a bit mythical and surreal…”Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.” This sounds very much like a cross between Smaug from the Hobbit and the Loch Ness Monster…I am perplexed.
How in the world did we get from God describing Himself as the Father of the Rain to a fire breathing dragon? Who or what is the Leviathan? Is it meant as a metaphor for something or someone? If so who or what? This is one of those passages that I will have to continue to pray about and perhaps some time down the river I will be able to look back with increased understanding. At the moment this and the last passage almost seem to be grafted onto God’s response from the storm for Job.
The only possible meaning I can take away from this passage is that perhaps God is trying to get across the reality that the earth is a big and scary place with “creatures” far too resilient and dangerous to battle with our puny earthly weapons. If we are not able stand against Leviathan how much less can we stand against the God.
I am reminded of a scene from Lord of the Rings when Bilbo Baggins accuses Gandalf of trying to take his ring. Gandalf transforms into a very scary wizard for a short time and says “Bilbo Baggins! Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks! I am not trying to rob you! I’m trying to help you” In a way perhaps God is doing something similar here. He wants Elihu, Job’s friends, and Job to understand that He is incredibly powerful and He is trying to help them at the same time.
Prayer: God this is one of those passages that I do not fully understand. Help me to pass through this rapid and continue on the journey with the confidence that one day I will understand.