Friday, December 22, 2023

The Power of the Leviathan (Job 41:1-11)

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook …?” (Job 41:1).

In the classic tale of Moby Dick, Captain Ahab becomes obsessed with catching a great white whale—the majestic and powerful creature that continues to elude him. The imagery of man trying to grasp the infinite glory of God is inescapable, but the basic lesson of man’s inability to control nature is just as relevant—especially when read in light of Job 41 where God taunts Job with his impotency in trying to master the greatest creature in the world, much less the One who made it.

There is much debate over what is meant by the Leviathan. It was certainly a poetic expression used in the legends of the day. Some say it was a whale from the sea; others a crocodile which populated the Nile. Matthew Henry argues that it was probably the whale, which was a larger and more noble animal and, in the history of the creation, one that was singled out among all other species of animals (Gen. 1:21). God also speaks of the Leviathan as inhabiting the sea; because the crocodile lived in the rivers, the reference is more likely to whales.

Whatever the animal, one thing is certain: it was the most noble, powerful, and extraordinary of all God’s creatures. Man could not capture it or control it. Anyone who has seen a whale rise from the depths of the ocean then plummet again into the crashing waves can testify to its power. If we are so taken, so humbled by the strength of a creature such as the whale, or of any other creature that we are unable to stand against on our own, imagine our frailty compared to the power of God. This was the message God wanted to impress upon the heart and mind of Job, who in the depths of his suffering had forgotten the power of God. He had spoken of it well enough in his earlier discourses, but it did not humble him as it ought to have.

By describing man’s weakness to stand against such an awesome creature as the Leviathan, God reminds all of us that we are nothing, a wisp of the wind, grass that burns in the heat of the sun, compared to the infinite power of God. Such high and lofty thoughts of God should humble us and cause us to praise Him who is greater than the Leviathan.

Why is it easy for man to forget his helplessness before God? Describe some situations from the news this week that remind mankind of its weakness before the forces of nature, and thus before God Himself. Spend some time praising God for His power over you and the creation.