Satan rages against God and against God’s people and plans. We need to be aware of that. God is good, but sometimes he allows Satan to strike with all his evil intent within the limitations God places on him, though God will use it for his glory and our good even if we never know what that is. We need to learn to live by what has been revealed to us not what we can see or work out. God is sovereign even when we suffer. And he is more powerful than we can possibly imagine.
What God does next in Job comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s like God is writing the script for a horror film as he unveils two terrifying beasts and describes in detail their power and menace.
Before we get into the descriptions there are two different ways people interpret these descriptions, some suggest that they’re descriptions of the hippo and the crocodile or of dinosaurs. But as we read through we’ll see why that doesn’t fit. Firstly the descriptions don’t quite work, but secondly the emphasis on both is that they were uncatchable by man and yet ancient civilisations did catch and kill the hippo and the crocodile – so what God says, the questions he asks in v1-7 would have no punch, in fact they would fall totally flat! Thirdly, given that God has just used his creation to move Job to withdraw one protest, how would yet more descriptions of yet more animals move Job to repent? Fourthly most who go down that path place great emphasis on that fact God created these, but God also created the angels and cherubim and seraphim, being created doesn’t limit them to being animals. And finally how would a crocodile or hippo or dinosaur challenge Job’s discrediting of God’s justice, how would they help Job understand evil and God’s sovereignty? It wouldn’t.
Instead I think both these terrifying beasts are representations of evil and chaos at work in the world. God is teaching Job that there are more forces at work in the world that just what we can see and God. He hasn’t struck Job these malignant forces have, though God is sovereign over them. So lets look at these terrifying monsters so we see God in his even greater glory and sovereignty.
Behemoth is described(40v15-24) , he’s a created being, he feeds on grass, but has phenomenal strength(16-18) one of God’s greatest creations, yet God can approach it with his sword. Nothing scares it, nothing can stop it, it lurks hidden and menacing, and no one can capture it or trap it or tame it.
This is beast so formidable that only God can bring his sword against it. Only God can defeat it. And the name is significant. Whereas in chapter 39 God named the beasts, the lion, raven, ostrich and so on, here it’s a give a plural name, behemoth doesn’t mean ‘a beast’, it means ‘beasts’ or ‘superbeast’. It’s behemoth not as one animal but as a symbolic terrifying lurking untameable threat. A supernatural symbol of evil, maybe even of death itself as humans are often described as being like grass.
Even more is said in describing the second beast, menacing descriptions pile up in describing Leviathan. As Job pictures this creature it would be terrifying. (41v1-11)Leviathan is uncatchable, untameable, and wild. Harpoons and spears are useless against it, if you fought it you would never do it again(8), there’s no hope of ever subduing it(9), just looking at it is enough to terrify. No one is fierce enough, strong enough, powerful enough to rouse it.
(10-11)If no one can stand against this beasts, which belongs to God as everything does because he made it, then how much more can we not take on our, and its, creator?
But God isn’t done with his description. Leviathan (12-24)is designed for war, it’s strong and moves gracefully, thickly covered with impenetrable armour all over, it has no weaknesses. And it is equipped to destroy, it’s mouth is ringed with fearsome teeth(14), it shoots fire from its mouth(18-20), when it rises even the mighty are terrified(25). The sword, sword, spear, dart and javelin are like straw or rotten wood. Arrows, slingstones, clubs and lance just make it laugh because they can’t touch it, it’s as if it just tickles it(26-29). It doesn’t have a soft underbelly you can strike at; it is utterly invulnerable and invincible. The greatest weapons man has made don’t even leave a mark.
And it lives in the chaos of the surging seas, the seas that are so proud and powerful in ch 38, are its home, it stirs them up and makes them seethe churning up a wake behind him.