Leviathan, Tannin, and Rahav – Part 2
2 Samuel 7:18–29; Psalm 89:10
Samuel Lesson #175
June 18, 2019
“Father, we are so grateful we can come together to focus upon Your Word. We live in a world that is dark. We live in a world where, as we focus on the news, there is the constant promise of some sort of apocalypse or collapse or doomsday and continuous threats. Sometimes they’re a little more evident than other times. We now have some overt threats from Iran. We pray that You would give the President and our leaders wisdom to see the situation for what it is, to understand it accurately and to make wise decisions in regard to that, that we might protect our nation, protect our nation’s interests overseas, and that we may do it wisely.
“Father, we pray for us as believers, that as we live in the midst of this sinful perverse world, we are to shine forth as lights and we do that by walking in the light. We do that by knowing your Word, by developing our relationship with God the Son, Who is the light of the world. We illuminate the truth by our testimony.
“Father, give us the courage, the spiritual courage, the fortitude, and the wisdom to do that, and to be steadfast in our application of Your Word in our lives.
“We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”
All right, today I got an update. I’m not going mention who or how or anything like that, because that’s not really important. What’s important is the truth. But just a little update on what’s going on in the Middle East. Just so you won’t sleep tonight.
Right now, as you know, if you pay any attention to what goes on in the Middle East, that Israel has two basic enemies. They have Hezbollah on the north, coming out of both Syria and Lebanon.
Then, in the southwest, they have Hamas. Hamas is a radical terrorist organization, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are constantly doing things to disrupt Israel, everything from firebombing through kites and sending missiles. They’ve also built a number of tunnels. I think they discovered some twenty-two tunnels. The same thing is happening in the north, coming down from Lebanon and Syria, that Hezbollah has built a number of tunnels.
I don’t know what you imagine when you think of a tunnel. Maybe you think of the Great Escape [film], and you think of these little tunnels not much larger than a human being, and they just sort of scoot around on their belly on some sort of a rail system. Or maybe you think of a mining tunnel, something like this.
The person that briefed us this morning had just been there. He walked into a tunnel that was a state-of-the-art tunnel. It was twenty-two stories. That’s about 220 to 230 feet below land level. That’s pretty deep. It was enormous. It was fully provided for in terms of all of the latest technology. They had Wi-Fi, Internet, big-screen TVs, everything that you can imagine.
You can drive enormous trucks through there … all kinds of things. You can put several thousand armed troops into these tunnels. These are dug under the border to come up into villages and kibbutzim in Israel. This is the same kind of thing that’s going on down with Hamas. This is an ever-present problem.
Israel, of course, always has to be one step ahead of the enemy in terms of their own technology. They’re using everything at their disposal, from listening devices to very sensitive seismic equipment to get the vibrations from down below as to when any kind of activity is taking place. But that is a constant threat.
Of course, if you’re thinking in terms of the north, you’re thinking in terms of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is just a front organization for Iran. And Iran is pouring millions and millions of dollars into Hezbollah. They are spending millions of dollars constructing these tunnels, $5–10 million per tunnel.
I hope that just blows your mind as to what is actually going on over there, because our pathetic news media never gives us any kind of information quite like this.
The other thing that’s going on here, talking about Hezbollah and Iran, is that Iran is and has, for the last decade at least, been constantly working through various terrorist organizations, and tools, and people to completely destabilize the region.
They are increasing that. They are sending missiles now, moving missiles into Yemen, not just short-range missiles that they’ve been using. In fact, last week there was an attack from Yemen, a missile attack, on a Saudi airport. Y’all read about that in the news, right? Dozens and dozens of civilians were killed in that attack. We all get that from NBC, don’t we? Anyway, that went on just last week.
Well, not only are the Iranians moving the short-range missiles into places like Yemen and into Western Iraq so that they can fire at Israel, but they’re moving long-range missiles in. The recent attacks that occurred three or four weeks ago where Hamas was firing a large number of missiles into the Negev, into Israel, was funded by Iran.
Its purpose is to test the capacity of Iron Dome, the short-range defense missile system that Israel has. By the way, the US is now purchasing that from Israel. There are always some Americans, and some conservatives, who complain ignorantly about the fact that we give money to Israel. They don’t want us to give money to anybody, so they don’t want us to give money to Israel.
But all of the money that we have used and given to Israel for the development of Iron Dome, is an investment. So much of that comes back to the US. I think it’s 70% or 75% of what we give Israel must be spent in the US. So it comes back to us.
When we develop aircraft like the F-35, before that the F-16, Israel gets it and tears it apart, puts it back together, rebuilds all the computer stuff, and we get the benefit. They field test everything for us. They are sort of the R&D for our military equipment over there on the front line. So we get a huge return on that investment.
Well, what Iran wanted to do was test the capacities of Iron Dome to see if they were firing seventy, eighty, one hundred missiles at one time, if that would overwhelm the capacities of Iron Dome, which it did in a couple of occasions.
Of course, the Israelis are trying to get out ahead of this. But Iran is really thumping the war drums right now, and we have seen that by the attacks on a couple of tankers in the Persian Gulf and some other things. They’re really ramping it up against Israel. So, you need to be in prayer for that.
Now, if you are thinking about going to Israel next year, remember … Somebody told me the other day that they listen to a pastor who says that we need to learn to trust the Lord. Wonder who that was?
We need to trust the Lord. I can’t tell you how many people, over the last ten or fifteen years I have been leading trips, that say, “Well, a war is going to break out.” Right. It may or may not, but are you trusting the Lord or not? Do you understand that God has determined the time, the manner and the place of your death, and it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, God’s going to override that and you’re going to die.
If God’s plan for you is to die on a certain date and if you’re in Israel, great. But if you say, “Oh, no, I’m not going to go to Israel,” then youwill be a traffic statistic in the city of Houston or somewhere else.
You have to learn to just trust God and not give in to fears. Never take counsel of your fears. This is a dangerous time. It’s a dangerous time in the world, but it’s always a dangerous time in the world.
One other comment that was made was a lengthy discussion on the tremendous business climate in Israel, and how the tech developments that have been going on there for the last ten, fifteen, twenty years are just going into overdrive. One example was given of three companies that were sold this last year for several billion dollars. It doesn’t even get reported in the news anymore over there because this has become so commonplace.
Many high-tech companies—not just in the US but in India, China, and many other places—are purchasing things from Israel, developing business relationships with Israel, in order to get into the cutting edge of the technology business, the security business and technology, all of these different things. It’s just a sign of how Israel is blessing the world in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Those are just some insights as to what is going on over there and some ways you can pray for our nation and the security of our nation, the security of Israel and wisdom of leaders because there’s a lot shaping up. How that exactly is going to shape up in terms of end-time prophecy … You’ll find a lot of people making prognostications but we’re all ignorant.
We don’t know when the end times are going to come. We don’t know when the Rapture is going to come. We don’t know how things are going to look when the Rapture comes. And anybody who thinks they do needs to spend a lot more time in the Word of God.
Speaking of the Word of God, let’s open our Bibles to Job 1. We have been studying in reference to our look at the Davidic Covenant. We have been studying these three—in addition, a couple of others, but basically these three—what is sometimes referred to collectively as “sea creatures” or “sea monsters”: leviathan, the tannin (sometimes translated serpent, sometimes translated in other ways), and rahav.
Slides 3 and 4
Rahav is a term that is often misunderstood because rahav is translated or transliterated as it is in Psalm 89:10.
For those of you who have forgotten, that’s our passage that we’re studying. But we got into this mention of rahav here and decided, well, we need to find out exactly what this means. That opened up the door to some further investigations on these sea monsters. What we’re going to learn from that is that this actually is an allusion, ultimately, to the angelic conflict and to Satan.
The name rahav here isn’t Rahab, the proper name,=, That’s the second listing here in the box below. It is spelled differently. It’s a hey and a qametz as opposed to a chet and a pathach. Here we have the name here, Rachav as opposed to rahav.
I have tried to spell it this way with the bet at the end. The “b” sound is a soft “b”. If it had a dot in the middle it would be hard “b,” so it’s transliterated as a “v”.
So we have a reference to God having “broken Rahab in pieces, as one who is slain.” (Psalm 89:10) What does that mean? That’s why we are investigating all of these different things.
The term for rahav occurs in several places. We’re going to investigate some of these in Job and others tonight. But the basic meaning of the noun, if it has the article in front of it, is “the arrogant one.”
We know that, in Scripture, the most arrogant of all of God’s creatures is Satan. Satan is “the arrogant one.” He is the one leading an angelic rebellion, and now has co-opted humanity into that struggle against God.
So last time we just looked at some quick things. We’ll just summarize these.
First of all, God created all living things, including Rahav, leviathan, behemoth, the sea, and the tannin. When we read these references, we need to understand that they’re talking about creatures God created. They are not mythical. They’re not mythological. They are terms related to creatures from God’s original creation.
Second, that God in His omniscience designed all these things. In His omniscience, He knew that they would be co-opted into images expressing pagan mythology. But He also knew that He was designing them a certain way so that He could use them as visual aids in teaching certain things. They would also be representative of some things.
So, He understood how they would be used as symbols, both in terms of actual history and in terms of the mythological representations.
I talked about the fact that He knew that they would be used as metaphors for describing Satan and the demons. And I talked about the fact that, as God designed all of these creatures, He used various forms … Long before He ever created the animals in Genesis 1, and yet they had these forms and functions.
I talked about the seraphim who had wings, and yet no birds had been created yet. So, God has these forms long before He creates the creatures we’re familiar with.
In Ezekiel, it’s talking about the cherubim and their description that they have wings, they have legs like calves’ feet. No calves had been created yet in Genesis 1. They have something like the hands of man under these wings on the four sides.
They have the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle. But men and oxen and eagles and lions haven’t been created yet. So God is aware of all these things, how they are used and they are part of His creation in the angelic realm long before you have the human creation.
You have the same references to the living beings in Revelation 4. There they look like a calf, a man, an eagle, and have wings. So all of these morphological features are there.
We also know that the angels appear like flames of fire. They seem to be able to morph themselves into different things. This helps explain why the sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6, which is debated by some. That phrase bene ha elohim in the Hebrew always refers to God’s angelic creation, both to fallen angels as well as to elect angels.
They are all the sons of God, because God directly created all of them.
But some of them rebelled against God and followed Satan. That’s what we see manifested in Genesis 6:3, some of those who left their first estate, as Jude puts it (Jude 6), and committed sexual sin like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. That identifies just exactly what’s going into that. We’re in 2 Peter on Thursday night and we’ll get there in chapter 3. It goes through the same basic material.
In the Old Testament you have the use of certain phrases and terms—creatures that have a dominant role in pagan mythology. You have the Yam, which is the salt sea. You have the Tannin, usually translated “sea monster”, sometimes translated “dragons” and other terms for the Tannin. You have the term Leviathan, and Rahav, which we talked about already. Then another creature, Behemoth.
Now we are not going to talk about all of these. These are the primary ones. There are a couple of other minor ones, but this is strong enough for us.
As we ended last time, I had this chart to give you an idea of how to think about these things in terms of God’s global plan that’s in His mind, in His omniscience.
When He created the angels, long before He created the earth and all that is in them in those six days of Creation in Genesis 1, God created the angels. They had shapes and forms and functions. They could do different things and some of their forms were used again when God created the creatures of our present world.
But He created all of these creatures. He created the salt sea, the Yam. He created Leviathan—we’ll see that in what was studying this evening.
He created behemoth. We’re not exactly sure what behemoth is. Behemoth is only mentioned in Job, but we’re not going to get into those passages.
The tannin, the sea creatures or the sea serpents … Rahav.
All of those were designed to look a certain way. They are designed for a purpose. Part of that purpose is how they would be used later, both in terms of biblical imagery and in pagan mythological imagery.
When the Bible refers to them (so we go on this left side of the slide) in terms of actual biblical historical Creation, God created them as actual historical creatures. When they’re referred to initially in Scripture, they’re referred to as actual creatures.
But God also created them with a view to how man would use them in his suppression of truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), worshiping the creature rather than the Creator; worshiping the animals. And how they would assign various mythological connotations to them in order to explain the origin of all things.
So, in the right column, you have these mythological origin stories, these stories about how the earth came into being. Usually they start off with some sort of a sexual liaison between a couple of the gods, but they’re already in existence. Then maybe one dies and their bodies are used and cut up to make the universe. Those bodies have some sort of mass and matter and they’re already in existence.
So it’s not unlike modern evolutionary myths that see the eternality of matter. God just comes on the scene and makes something from that matter … Or other gods come on the scene and make something from that matter.
In the development of these mythological deities, the significance of these creatures made by God are sort of retooled. They now represent a pagan deity, so that the sea becomes a deity. This creature, the Leviathan, becomes a deity. The sea monsters become associated with deities. All of these things now become part and parcel of the mythology.
They enter into the culture in such a way that people refer to them in terms of this sort of cultural baggage. Last time, as I was ending, I said that we have a lot of instances of that, even in our literature, where you have people, Christian writers, who don’t believe Greek or Roman mythology. But they will use those Roman deities or Greek deities in order to communicate something, because that has entered into the sort of cultural idiom where those deities represent certain things.
So you have for example in Shakespeare, it talks about something as “bright as Apollo’s lute strung with his hair.” That doesn’t mean that Shakespeare believed that Apollo was real or that he had an actual lute, but that the mythology is so well known within English culture that it has an idiomatic meaning without attributing to it any sort of historical veracity.
Also, you have people like Milton, “calling upon Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph that liv’st unseen within thy airy shell.” Well, he doesn’t believe in the existence of these mythological creatures of the nymphs, but he’s using that as a literary metaphor to talk about what he is describing.
There are innumerable examples of this kind of thing taking place. And that’s important to understand. I pointed out a couple places in Job where I think that’s what Job is doing. He is using one of these mythological creatures.
He’s not affirming the mythology. He’s not borrowing from the mythology. It’s so well known by his readers that they understand the metaphorical significance of that allusion.
But what we have today, and I have to constantly tell you this and warn you about this, is the insertion into evangelical scholarship of a lot of men in the language departments, especially in the Old Testament, who take a very different view. They are supposed to be conservative theologians, conservative scholars, and yet they are taking positions to indicate that “Well, Moses got a lot of his ideas from the Egyptians and the Babylonians …”
At the best case, they are minimizing the significance of God’s original Creation. In a worst-case scenario, they’re basically saying the writers were not really inspired by God, they’re just borrowing ideas that were popular in the culture at that time.
This has led to a lot of problems. It led to the collapse of Princeton Seminary, back in the 1920s. When Princeton went liberal, it started in their Old Testament department. Someone has quipped that, “when the devil fell, he fell into the choir loft, but he bounced into the Old Testament department”.
A lot has come out of that, a lot of liberalism. You can see in a lot of the strong evangelical schools—from forty, fifty, sixty years ago—that they have had problems in their Old Testament departments. Often this is not dealt with adequately.
With all of that by way of introduction, let’s get into Job. As we get into Job, what we need to do is get a little framework for understanding what is going on in Job. We have to always understand the context.
So let’s turn to Job 1. Job is, I believe, and many, many scholars believe, that Job was the first Book written in the Old Testament. Even if it was not written until a little later, the story was well known and the historical events. The person of Job, lived early. He lived about the same time as the Patriarchs.
Probably about the same time as Isaac or Jacob, in that timeframe, because there is a man named Uz in the genealogies that’s about that same time. And Job lived in the land of the Uz. That is the timeframe there.
And there is no mentioned of Jerusalem, no mention of Israel, no mention of Abraham, no mention of Moses, no mention of the Torah, no mention of anything related to the Hebrew aspects of the Old Testament.
So, Job was more than likely a Gentile believer in the land of Uz. It is set in the context of God’s questioning of Satan.
We read at the very beginning: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) That is a full statement there.
The idea that he is “blameless and upright” is very important because that is the first of three times that God assesses Job as a man who is “blameless and upright.” It’s also repeated in Job 1:8, and it is repeated again in Job 2:3. Along with the phrase “blameless and upright” is “one who fears God and shuns evil.”
This is a high recommendation from God.
That he is a man who is experientially righteous. He’s spiritually mature, and he is not engaged in idolatry or other overt sins … Not that he is sinless or perfect, that’s not the sense there.
The first word “blameless” indicates that this is a man who’s just, he’s honest, he’s peaceful, he’s healthy, he’s complete. Those are the ideas in that word tam that is translated as “blameless.”
That’s the idea: you can’t assign blame to this guy. He’s certainly not blameworthy, and his behavior has not brought about what happens to him. That’s the point in these three statements.
The second word that is used, he’s blameless and he’s upright. This is a Hebrew word that indicates something close to righteousness. He is upright, he stands firm and that God has approved of him.
The word here is yashar and it means that he’s a moral man. He’s a man of integrity. He’s a man that you can count on, you can trust, he’s worthy of respect.
The word yashar is often used of a man who is a leader and is following God. David’s life is mentioned and described by this verb as well. We know that David sinned, so it’s not a word that means sinlessness. It is a description of a man who basically has integrity.
That may challenge some of our notions today, because we have such a problem with sin. Leftists have such a problem with this. They are so self-righteous. I mean they are the modern-day Pharisees. It’s just aggravating to see them accuse everybody else of things that they’re doing in spades.
But that’s typical of the arrogance of the sin nature. When you don’t have a doctrine of sin, then you have a real problem explaining or dealing with sin. That’s where we are as a culture. It’s self-destructive because, at the same time that you can’t deal with sin, it leads to further sin and arrogance and just total inward collapse.
A man of integrity is not a man who doesn’t sin. A man of integrity is a man who understands that he is sinning, and he is not operating on arrogance, and he is not operating in idolatry against God.
When he sins, he deals with it before God. He’s not in licentiousness and justifying his sinfulness. He’s not using grace as an excuse to sin. But we all know that we all sin. And so we have to deal with that, with everybody, from a framework of grace.
That’s what God is saying. Here’s a man who is trying to do everything right. He’s walking with the Lord. He takes care of his children. God has blessed him greatly, and he loves the Lord and glorifies Him. This is the set up and this is what causes the problem that develops for Job’s life.
We read down in Job 1:6 that a day came “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord …” So here we have another use of that term. This means all of the angelic host are present before God: fallen angels and elect angels. They are all before God, and there’s this convocation and Satan came with them.
The Lord then is engaged in this conversation. This is a formal assembly before God. Satan is the accuser. That’s the meaning of the term Satan in Hebrew. He is the accuser, the adversary.
And so the Lord asked him “From where do you come?” (Job 1:7) and Satan says, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
That sounds a lot like 1 Peter 5:8, where we are told, Satan goes “about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
He is still doing that. He is still engaged on this. Satan goes around the earth evaluating his battle plans, his campaigns against mankind, and to use mankind against God. He is involved.
But remember, Satan is not omniscient. He is not omnipresent. He is not omnipotent. So Satan has to use all of his forces.
I think in a lot of places, when we read (not here, but in other places) when we see Satan mentioned, possibly in 1 Peter 5:8, Satan goes about like a roaring lion. That’s not exclusive of his demons. That’s his intelligence corps. They are out there giving intelligence reports back to Satan. It’s not just a reference to him personally, but everything that he is engaged in. He is the head of this angelic rebellion, but he is also dependent upon all of the demons to give him information about what is going on.
God then asks the question, “Have you considered My servant Job…” (Job 1:8) The Hebrew there is an idiom. It is based on the Hebrew word leb, which is the word for heart. The heart is seen primarily as the seat of thinking and reasoning in the Scripture. Basically the idiom means “have you thought about this? Have you examined this intellectually, mentally?” So it comes to mean the idea of “have you looked at, examined, and thought about” My servant Job?
Right there when He called Job His servant, this is a high compliment because God looks at certain people in distinct roles in terms of their service to Him. We have “My servant Moses,” “My servant David.” We have, of course, the Messiah who is called the “Servant of God.” There are few others who are key people in history who are referred to as God’s servant, but it is a title that indicates someone who usually, in this context, is very mature spiritually.
It says “Have you considered [looked at, examined] my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth … [This guy’s the most spiritual guy on the planet. God is saying] he’s a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom, so that indicates he is a very wise person. He shuns evil. He doesn’t make bad decisions. He doesn’t give into his sin nature all the time. Again, there’s a great compliment.
Satan replies and says, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9) He says the only reason Job fears You is because You give him everything. He is the richest man on earth. He’s got a great family. He’s got all these kids. He’s got a wonderful wife. He’s got a house. All these things are his. He’s got all these cattle. He’s wealthy. He is the wealthiest guy on the planet. That’s the reason Job worships You.
And then he expands on that. He says You put this protection around him. Of course, he’s going to worship you.
The idea there is that Satan is accusing Job of just pandering to God because he gets a lot out of it. That is his approach. He says I can’t attack him because you put this hedge around him.
So, God says okay, I’ll give you give you a shot. This is God’s permissive will. He is not morally responsible for what Satan is going to do because there’s a reason and a purpose for this. God gives him limited access to take things away from Job.
We learn certain things about this. We learn that Satan is going about the planet. He’s watching us. If he’s not the immediate source of suffering, he is the ultimate source of suffering on the planet, because of his attempts to get people away from the Lord and to create chaos.
This is a major result of sin. It’s always chaos and destruction.
Another thing we learned about this is, that Satan can’t do anything to anyone without God’s permission. God is still sovereign and God’s foreknowledge, God’s omniscience … understand exactly what can happen and will happen. God only gives permission in order to test believers. We are tested in order to demonstrate God’s grace and various other factors.
So God gives permission for a higher end. That is, to provide evidence that His grace is sufficient, to provide evidence that God can sustain us in times of difficulty, and to provide evidence that Satan’s way is the way of chaos and collapse.
We also see that Satan blames God for Job’s obedience. Satan blames God for our obedience, by application. And Satan wants to attack us in the same way that he tested Job.
The last thing I want to observe is that the passage sets up a much-missed point.
The opening narrative (the rest of the book is poetry, but the first part is narrative) sets up a trial-type scenario where God is pointing to Job as someone who’s going to provide evidence through his life, how he responds to the testing, that is going to teach something about God’s character, about the way God sustains people, and the importance of trusting in God even when we don’t understand what is going on.
This legal context, this trial context, has been observed by a lot of people. In the 19th century, one English Hebrew scholar by the name of A. B. Davidson … (Towards the end of his life he became influenced by liberal theology, but he was a great Hebrew scholar.) He wrote at an advanced grammar on Hebrew which was a textbook that I used when I was taking second- and third-year Hebrew when I was in seminary. He understood this framework.
In the mid-20th century, a dispensational Presbyterian pastor, very well-known radio pastor, by the name of Donald Gray Barnhouse, also understood this in this framework of a legal trial, a legal examination, as did Pastor Thieme, who many of us are familiar with. So this isn’t an idea that was unique to him. It’s one that is out there in the literature, but very few people recognize it or exploit it or develop it to be a framework for understanding a lot of human history. But there have been those who understand that.
As we look at this passage, we come to the second episode which is Job 2, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.”
There’s a very formal aspect to this terminology of present[ing] themselves before the LORD.” It shows that Satan the accuser is still under the authority of the sovereignty of God.
Again the Lord asked him where he’s been. He says, “I’ve been going around the earth looking for someone to devour.” And we see the second test.
At the end of the first test, Job loses his possessions, he loses his children, he loses their homes, he loses his livestock. At the end of that, he passes the test. “And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:21–22)
So he passes that first test. All of his children have been killed. The home that they were meeting in for having a family celebration was completely destroyed by some sort of a windstorm. The Sabeans and Chaldeans had raided all of his livestock and stolen and killed all of his servants. He’s lost everything he has, except his wife and his health.
Everything is gone and he refuses to curse God. He says “The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
In this second test, Satan comes forward and says “Well, he still has his health. You won’t let me touch him. Let me touch him and he’ll curse you.” So God gives His permission and Satan strikes Job with this horrible disease, a skin disease. He’s just absolutely miserable, just scraping at his skin with broken potsherds. The itching is just horrendous.
He’s just physically miserable, but he does not curse God. In fact, his wife, who is now fed up with him, down in Job 2:9 says, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity?—Are you still going to trust God? Then she says—Curse God and die!”
Job rebukes her. “But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)
What happens after this is Job is sitting outside the city gate. That’s where business would take place. He is sitting there and his three friends (with friends like this, we don’t need enemies) … Each one presents a different fake view of why there is suffering in the world. Ultimately, it’s Job’s fault: if he were really upright, then none of this would have happened to him. They sat there for a week “and no one spoke a word” and “his grief was very great.” (Job 2:13)
Then we come to Job 3. Job starts off in Job 3:1, “After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” What is interesting here is some of the words that are used for “cursing”.
He uses the word qalal which is used in Genesis 12:3 about those who curse Israel, God will curse. And those who curse Israel, the word there is qalal and it means “to treat lightly, to treat with disrespect.”
That’s what Job is saying. He opened his mouth and he’s saying my birthday should be forgotten. That’s what he saying. It’s worthless. It’s meaningless. We should just forget what it means, and it has no value. So we need to just forget it.
Then he goes on in Job 3:2–9 explaining why it should be cursed and treated lightly. He talks about cursing the night that he was conceived and the day should be darkness.
Then he comes to Job 3:8 and he says, “May those curse it [that is, the day he was born] who curse the day, those who are ready to arouse Leviathan.”
Who is Leviathan here? This is the first time Leviathan is mentioned. It is mentioned twice in Job: here and in Job 41:1.
Job 41:1, we’ll look at that, treats Leviathan as an actual historical creature that men cannot control. We’ll come back to that in just a minute.
He says “May those curse it who curse the day.” Now this is a verse … That first word qabab indicates a harsh curse, but it indicates a curse that often refers to people who are sorcerers or into some kind of magic, incantations, good luck charms, or bad luck charms, or bad omens and things like that. They’re going to cast a spell on the day. This says, “those who are the spell casters, let them treat the day with respect” and “those who are ready to arouse Leviathan.”
By that he means that they are foolishly engaged in things they don’t understand, and their arrogance is such that they would go out and wake up this sleeping monster.
That word “to arouse” means to wake up or to excite someone. This is the idea that there is a force out there. It’s talking about Leviathan as a literal historical creature that man cannot control (we’ll see that when we get to Job 41). And in arrogance they would go out and wake up Leviathan.
I went out and did little search on images for Leviathan and most of them relate to Leviathan as some sort of dragon-type creature. This is just one example of many. I thought it was interesting that in this portrayal Leviathan is a creature of the sea, and in the Scripture, it is associated with the sea.
The sea is the Hebrew word yam. This refers to the salt sea. In pagan mythology, yam was there in the primordial past when the universe is just chaos. And chaos fights against the gods who use it or who wish to bring order and productivity into the world. There’s this conflict that takes place.
But there’s no hint here that Job is talking about Leviathan as a mythical creature. He is talking about Leviathan as an actual historical creature.
Another thing that we should point out, that I want to skip to, is Job 41. The whole chapter of Job 41 talks about Leviathan. So, let’s turn over there and point out a few things that we can learn from Job 41.
I think one of the most important things that we can learn is to go to the very last verse of the chapter. Talking about Leviathan, he says “He beholds every high thing; he is king over all the children of pride.” (Job 41:34)
After 33 verses describing how man is completely incapable of doing anything against this sea creature, he concludes by talking about his significance in terms of how he’s going to fit with in this biblical cosmology. This literal creature is a representation of the one who is “king over all the children of pride”.
“The children of pride” is just a Hebrew idiom for all those who are proud, and he’s the king of the proud ones.
So now who does that describe? It doesn’t use the word rahav here, but it uses a different word for pride. But it’s still representing the same thing. So here Leviathan is equated to the arrogant one.
Now if we go back and we look at this whole chapter, it’s kind of interesting how things are translated … I just wanted to bring out a few points in looking at some of the verses.
It’s a series of rhetorical questions. This is in the last part of Job. After Job and his three friends have had their debates back and forth as to why Job has suffered so much, then God comes along and God begins to ask Job a series of questions.
Job has said I just wish God would come and contend with me. I want to ask Him why He’s done all these things and allowed all this to happen in my life. And so the Lord comes along in Job 38:1 and answers Job out of the whirlwind.
What God does is He asks a whole series of questions to show Job’s complete inability to understand and know what is really going on in the universe: he can’t comprehend creation, he can’t comprehend all that God has done, he can’t comprehend God’s power …
There is an example here of how Leviathan is a literal creature that men cannot control. The emphasis is on this creature that is beyond man’s power to control. This is a creature that is going to be characterized by arrogance.
So God is taking a literal creature that He created and is using this as a picture of arrogance, and the fact that man cannot control this “king of the arrogant ones.”
In the New King James, the first verse is translated “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with the line which you lower?” Job 41:1
Can you catch him? Can you go fishing for him? Are you going to be able to control him? Absolutely not.
The NIV translates it a little differently. “Can you pull the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with the rope?”
Then the NET translates it “Can you pull in Leviathan with a hook, and tie down its tongue with the rope?”
All of these indicate the same thing. There’s a little bit of language difference in how they are handling the Hebrew. But the point is, man is incapable of handling this incredible monster.
If you skip down to Job 41:10 … After these various rhetorical questions, verse 10 says “No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.”
This is stating a hard principle. God is making the point that no one can stand up against Leviathan: “I can control Leviathan. So who’s able to stand up against Me?”
God is stating His control over Leviathan, and man cannot.
In Job 41:11 He makes his point. He says, “Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.”
This is clear statement of God’s sovereignty. This is what Job is going to come to recognize in his final response to God in Job 42:2. “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.”
Then I want to skip down to Job 41:31–32. Verse 31 is describing Leviathan again. The King James says “He makes the deep boil like a pot; He makes the sea [yam] like a pot of ointment. He leaves a shining wake behind him; One would think the deep [tehom] had white hair.”
That’s the foam that comes from the waves created by this creature. So He treats the creature as a literal historical creature. This is a creature that God created, and He’s describing him as a creature.
“He leaves a shining wake … One would think the deep had white hair.”
That’s interesting because “He makes the sea [yam] like a pot of ointment.” So there’s this reference to the sea in parallel with the term the deep in verse 32, tehom.
This is where the Scripture is using the sea as borrowing that imagery from pagan mythology, that the sea is something distinct from Leviathan, and he churns it up.
Now where I’m going to go with this is that the sea, the yam, represents the corporate entity of the demonic forces at Satan’s disposal. So he’s keeping all of this all churned up.
And the tehom there, that also relates often to yam. So, there’s sort of an imagery borrowed from this cultural knowledge that he’s creating this chaos in the sea.
So when we talk about Leviathan … He’s seen as a sea creature in Job 41:12. He’s got incredible power. God says, “I will not conceal his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions.” So, he has great power.
His skin is described as armor in Job 41:13. “Who can remove his outer coat? Who can approach him with a double bridle?” No one can approach him. No one can control him.
In Job 41:18–19, there’s a reference that “His sneezings flash forth light, And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lights; Sparks of fire shoot out.” Now there’s debate over this. There is not a lot of information.
If you think about the legends related to dragons … Dragons breathe fire. The implication is that perhaps this was a capability of this creature. This is not something that is just made up in mythology, but there were actual creatures God created who had this ability.
On a much, much, much smaller scale, there is a beetle called a bombardier beetle. He’s got three holes at his rear that are not used for the disposal of waste. And when some creature is trying to bite him, he excretes a gas that he can ignite.
It’s like this little beetle has a little flamethrower in his rear end, and if somebody tries to come up and attack him, he burns them!
ICR (Institute for Creation Research) had a book out called Bomby the Bombardier Beetle which was a great little book for children that was all about the bombardier beetle and how it had this ability to create fire.
But I have this one book I read probably twenty years ago called After the Flood by Bill Cooper. This is still in print.
His main thrust seems to be tracing back the history of the Britons, of the British, back all the way to the Flood and to the ark.
But one of the interesting aspects of this book, as he goes through and looks at the chronicles, the legends of the ancient Britons and the Anglo-Saxon kings, is there are numerous stories about them fighting dragons. They’ve even uncovered an early Middle Age tomb in a churchyard, in Britain, where there is engraved in it a picture of this individual fighting a dragon.
He traces many of these myths about dragon-slayers to periods in the last 2,000 years in the early part of that time, with the thesis that if you look at pictures of dragons and you look at pictures of some dinosaurs then you’re going to see a tremendous similarity.
These stories about dragon-slayers are actually stories about dinosaurs that continued to live in certain environments and were fought and killed. They threatened villages, they threatened crops, and they were taken out by some hero.
It is a fascinating read because it’s not a thesis or story that fits the framework that most of us were taught in school. There have been other studies similar to this that have come out.
So this is an historical creature. It is a creature that is causing tremendous problems, has tremendous power and is arrogant.
So there is clearly a connection, according to Job 41:34, between this creature and Satan.
In fact, the verse that precedes Job 41:34 says, “On earth there is nothing like him, which is made without fear” (Job 41:33) indicating the uniqueness of this particular creature in God’s creation.
And that “He is king over all the children of pride.” (Job 41:34)
Now outside of Job, Leviathan is mentioned in Psalm 74:13–14. Let’s turn over there to Psalm 74. We’ll just touch on this a minute before we are going to be forced to end. There’s just such a tremendous amount of material here.
Psalm 74:13 mentions Leviathan and says, “You divided the sea by Your strength;” talking to God and dividing yam, dividing the sea, the chaos, shows God’s control over the sea.
So if you’re a pagan and you’re reading this, yam is not something to fear if you believe in Yahweh, because Yahweh controls the sea.
This is using the sea here as a metaphor derived from the mythology, but a metaphor for chaos.
The second line says, “You broke the heads of the sea serpents [tannin] in the waters.”
So if the sea represents the corporate evil of the demons, then the sea serpents, the tannin, would possibly represent the demons.
Now the thing is about this is that you can’t say, “Well here the tannin represent the demons, and over here it’s tannin so it must represent the demons.” You have to look at each context, in and of itself.
The dividing of the sea, the control of the sea, is then connected to breaking “the heads of the sea serpents in the waters.” And then in Psalm 74:14, “You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces and gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.”
Now if we look at Psalm 74 and pick up the context, a part of what is going on here is an encouragement to God’s people of God’s control over these forces of evil. It’s a reference back to the fact that God is in control of these things, and it goes back to even the Creation.
If you look at just that second verse, “You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.” In the NET Bible, it has almost the same thing. “You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you fed him to the people who live along the coast.” (Psalm 74:14) That’s the NET translation.
The NASB95 says “You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.”
So here my main point is that this is an historical creature, but used as a picture of the enemy of God that God destroys and kills.
Now when we come back next time, I’ll review that just a little bit and we’ll go right into Psalm 104.
From there we go into Isaiah 27:1, which helps to tie all of this together. And then we’ll start seeing how this fits into the angelic conflict.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to look at these things and to study these things and to realize that Your Word gives us insights into a global, actually cosmic, battle that You were engaged in before the Creation as described in Genesis 1 … A cosmic battle between You and the forces of evil, headed up by Satan.
“And that in this figurative language that we have, it depicts for us still, Your absolute sovereignty over the forces of evil, and a time in the past when you brought a level of defeat against Leviathan and the tannin, which fits with the scenario of a pre-Genesis 1 creation of the angels, and angelic rebellion.
“This helps us to understand so much about human history and our own role within that history.
“So, Father, help us to be able think these things through in Scripture and connect the dots. Even though there aren’t very many to connect, we can understand the significance of this for our own spiritual life.
“And we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”