by: Jeff Schrage
As I was preparing for the Christingle service, I came across the mention of “Leviathan” in Psalm 104. The word “Leviathan” is most often a reference to whales. In Job 41 we see a thorough description of Leviathan through the eyes of a person in the Old Testament. Think about the technological shortcomings of an Old Testament fisherman coming upon a whale. The whale has its footing. The whale has homefield advantage. The fisherman is in a foreign land, in a ship made of wood, with comparatively miniscule weapons. Listen to the description of the whale and consider it’s reality for the fisherman or traveler that happens upon this magnificent creature.
The whale has great strength! Job 41:12–13 says, “I will not keep silence concerning his limbs, or his mighty strength, or his goodly frame. Who can strip off his outer garment? Who would come near him with a bridle?” And further Job 41:27 says, “He counts iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood.” And Job 41:22 reads, “In his neck abides strength, and terror dances before him.”
The whale has the toughest skin! Job 41:15 says, “His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal.” Job 41:23 says, “The folds of his flesh stick together, firmly cast on him and immovable.” And Job 41:26 says, “Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.”
Whales travel in groups! Job 41:16–17 reads, “One is so near to another that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another; they clasp each other and cannot be separated.”
Whales are fearful to even observe! Job 41:18–21 says, “His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.” Job 41:25 further states, “When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid; at the crashing they are beside themselves.”
Whales have no concern for others! Job 41:24 says, “His heart is hard as a stone, hard as the lower millstone. Perhaps my favorite description is found in verse 29, “Clubs are counted as stubble; he laughs at the rattle of javelins.”
As we look at this massive beast and the technological differences of that age, we see the immense power of the whale. Ships, swords, and javelins are like brittle wood and twigs. This amazing animal becomes a fitting illustration of those who have no fear in this life. And so, over the next few months, I am going to consider the application of this truth by looking at how the whale informs our understanding of this world. Then we will look at how this truth can be illustrated and applied to the church. And finally we will look at how this whale concept applies to us personally as we seek to glorify the Lord in all we think, say, and do. Please take some time to read Job 41 and contemplate this beautiful portrait of strength and power, but also consider what the attainment of such strength and power means. Read it multiple times over the next few months and write down those things that strike you. This will be a good exercise and engagement in the Word of God in a unique way.