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Job 41:1-11 – Humans Are Helpless before the Ferocity of Leviathan

Summary

Humans cannot survive if they attempt to resist cosmic evil on their own without God's help.

Analysis

In chapters 40 and 41, God talks about two different beasts, Behemoth and Leviathan. Their descriptions sound like a hippopotamus and a crocodile. As ugly and terrifying as these two animals can be, they serve here as symbols for the enormity of cosmic evil. The author takes two extremely frightening animals that are known and expands the picture to imagine a terrifying menace that exists in the world, against which mere mortals would quickly succumb.

This imagery is meant to convey the reality that there is evil in the world, that humans are helpless in confronting it on their own, and that only with God's help can we prevail against such horror. It is, of course, a mystery why evil or Satan or the devil exists and continues to work harm in the world. In the end time, the dragon will finally be slain once and for all (see the end of the book of Revelation). In the meantime, we have help. As powerful as the forces of evil may be, God is more powerful. Though evil is still at work, it is certain that God will gain the final victory.

With regard to Job's suffering, the presence of cosmic evil raises another important perspective. Job and his friends had been concentrating on whether or not Job is guilty and whether God is just. Perhaps there is a third party involved in causing pain and suffering. Maybe it has nothing to do with human sin or God's justice, but is rather the work of an evil power that intends to hurt us.

Job 41:1-11

41*‘Can you draw out Leviathan* with a fish-hook,
   or press down its tongue with a cord?
2 Can you put a rope in its nose,
   or pierce its jaw with a hook?
3 Will it make many supplications to you?
   Will it speak soft words to you?
4 Will it make a covenant with you
   to be taken as your servant for ever?
5 Will you play with it as with a bird,
   or will you put it on a leash for your girls?
6 Will traders bargain over it?
   Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its skin with harpoons,
   or its head with fishing-spears?
8 Lay hands on it;
   think of the battle; you will not do it again!
9 *Any hope of capturing it* will be disappointed;
   were not even the gods* overwhelmed at the sight of it?
10 No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.
   Who can stand before it?*
11 Who can confront it* and be safe?*
   —under the whole heaven, who?*

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10 February 2011

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