Lessons From The Whirlwind (Nine)

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It is written:

Job 38:1-Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

In Job 40-41, God wants Job to know that He is preparing to go to war. His enemies are stated for us: behemoth and leviathan. We have learned that these two creatures are dinosaurs.

However, that raises still more questions.

Why would God be boing to war against dinosaurs?

How does God’s war against dinosaurs make any sense in the context of the Book of Job? In other words, what does God’s dealings with dinosaurs have to do with showing Job about God’s goodness in a world that has suffering?

The answers to these questions may be quite surprising.

Basically, behemoth and leviathan are used as symbols for Satan and false gods that bring chaos and suffering into the world.

In order to demonstrate this, we need to notice several things.

First, quite often in the Bible, supernatural forces are depicted as animals. This is because there are characteristics of certain animals that in someways exhibit characteristics of these supernatural forces.

For example:

Isaiah 13:20-22-It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. 21  But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches will dwell there, And wild goats will caper there. 22  The hyenas will howl in their citadels, And jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, And her days will not be prolonged.”

Isaiah the Prophet is here describing the downfall of the nation of Babylon. Look at how verses 21 and 22 are rendered in the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament):

Isaiah 13:20-22 (Brenton)-It shall never be inhabited, neither shall any enter into it for many generations: neither shall the Arabians pass through it; nor shall shepherds at all rest in it. 21  But wild beasts shall rest there; and the houses shall be filled with howling; and monsters (ostriches) shall rest there, and devils (wild goats) shall dance there, 22  and satyrs (hyenas) shall dwell there; and hedgehogs (jackals) shall make their nests in their houses. It will come soon, and will not tarry.

Do you see how the Greek Old Testament shows similarities between these animals and demonic creatures?

Later, the Apostle John quotes this passage in Revelation. Notice how he renders it:

Revelation 18:2-And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!

We see another example later in Isaiah:

Isaiah 34:14-The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals, And the wild goat shall bleat to its companion; Also the night creature shall rest there, And find for herself a place of rest.

Look at how this is rendered in the Greek Old Testament:

Isaiah 34:14 (Brenton)-And devils shall meet with satyrs, and they shall cry one to the other: there shall satyrs rest, having found for themselves a place of rest.

Indeed, the Contemporary English Version translates this passage quite nicely:

Isaiah 34:14 (CEV)-Wildcats and hyenas will hunt together, demons will scream to demons, and creatures of the night will live among the ruins.

The ancient Hebrews saw a connection between animals and the spirit world. Indeed, to notice that more than animals are meant in this passage, we need to only look at the Book of Revelation, where John references this passage to describe the “Babylon” of his day and age (i.e., Rome):

Heiser has well pointed out:

“2. “Howling Creature” ( ʾiyyîm ); “Wild Beasts” ( ṣiyyîm ); “Lilith” ( lı̂lı̂t ) The terminology of this section will no doubt be unfamiliar and strange. 72 But to a culture that held the desert wilderness to be a place of frightful beings associated with the underworld, “the desert [was] populated by phantom-like creatures.” 73 Frey-Anthes summarizes the association of wild, deserted places with perceived dark powers: 74 The concept of a subdivided world which is present in the Old Testament texts leads to the idea of animals and not clearly definable creatures, who are the inhabitants of a counterworld to human civilisation. Included among the eerie and dangerous animals who haunt deserted places.… The following are mostly called “desert-demons”: Those who live in the ruins … As the name of the [ ṣiyyîm ] explains where they dwell (“those who belong to the dry landscape/desert dwellers”), the expression [ ʾiyyîm ] has rather got an onomatopoeic nature, it defines a howling creature (“howler”).… The pair [ ʾiyyîm ] and [ ṣiyyîm ] belongs to the description of a destroyed city in Isa 13:21f.; Isa 34:14 and Jer 50:39.… The texts, however, speak of ghosts living at the periphery but they avoid a clear identification, which would be needed for an incantation, to identify the evil forces it wants to drive away. The creatures are described ambiguously in order to underline the vagueness of the peripheral counterworld. 75 Two of the passages noted above deserve some attention. In Isaiah 13:21–22, a description of the impending devastation of Babylon, the terms ṣiyyîm and ʾiyyîm occur in tandem with the śĕʿı̂rı̂m (Isa 13:21) associated with illegitimate sacrifices in Leviticus 17:7 (cf. Deut 32:12). The same grouping is present in Isaiah 34:14, a passage that adds lı̂lı̂t to the assemblage—the Hebrew spelling of the well-known Mesopotamian demon-goddess Lilith: 76 The “wind-demoness” Lilith, who can already be found in the Sumerian Epos “Gilgames, Enkidu and the Underworld” does not seem to have had any special importance outside Mesopotamia. Interpretations of supposed findings from Ugarit and Phoenicia are very uncertain. It is astonishing, however, that, according to Isa 34:14, Lilith belongs to the inhabitants of the counter world together with owls and other birds of prey, ostrich, jackals, snakes, desert dwellers, howlers and he-goats. The description of the ruins of Edom in Isa 34:11–15 is a subtly composed literary text with close connections to Isa 13:21f. and Jer 50:39, which are similar descriptions of the deserted Babylon. Isa 34:11–15 intensifies the descriptions of Isa 13:21f. and Jer 50:39 by listing the inhabitants of the periphery in a detailed way and by introducing Lilith. 77 As Janowski notes, these terms could very naturally speak of “zoologically definable animals, i.e. nocturnal consumers of carrion, who appear in pairs or in packs,” but “their association with theriomorphic demons … and the demon Lilith, is intended to place the aspect of the counterhuman world in the foreground.” 78”. (Michael S. Heiser, Demons: What the Bible Really Says About the Powers of Darkness, 629-662 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, Wa; Lexham Press)

So often in the Bible, animals and supernatural forces are used synonymously.

Second, there are clear indications in Job that behemoth and leviathan are understood to be representing Satan and false gods.

For example, look at how we are told that angels are in fear of leviathan.

Job 41:25-When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid; Because of his crashings they are beside themselves.

Look at that word translated as “mighty” in our text It is a Hebrew word that often has reference to angels.

“But it also refers to subordinate divine beings in Pss 29: 1 and 89: 7, making ‘gods’ or ‘divine beings’ an acceptable translation here. Although the point will be developed below, it is worth mentioning that in the Enuma Elish the gods cower before the chaos monster Tiamat before Marduk comes to rescue them (see Pope 1973: 286 for discussion and other references).” (Eric Ortlund, Piercing Leviathan: God’s Defeat of Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 56), 187 Footnote 37 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Downers Grove, IL; InterVarsity Press)


“Verse 17 (Eng. v. 25) in particular calls for comment. I think that here we have a reference to the fear that Satan instils even among other supernatural beings. 12 The early versions support the NIV translation ‘the mighty’, and my own translation of ‘the angels’ is supported by the Vulgate. The ēlîm are probably members of the heavenly court, and the fear aroused among these ‘sons of God’ or angels is evidence of the great conflict raging in the heavenly realms.” (Robert Fyall, Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 12), 165-166 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic)

In fact, we see angels referred to as “mighty” numerous times in the Old Testament:

Psalm 29:1-Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength.

Psalm 89:6-7-For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD? 7  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.

Psalm 103:20-Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

It makes no sense that angels would be terrified of dinosaurs; but if dinosaurs here represent Satan and other fallen a angels, then this characterization makes perfect sense.

Consider another example.

Throughout the Old Testament, Satan is sometimes directly related to and referred to as leviathan!

Isaiah 26:19-27:1-Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. 20  Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. 21  For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain. 27:1. In that day the LORD with His severe sword, great and strong, Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.

Here, Isaiah describes the end of the world. Notice that we have: the resurrection of the dead which will occur at the end of the world (Isaiah 26:19; cf. John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15); the period of hardship and suffering in the world (Isaiah 26:20, the “Great Tribulation” which began in the first century-Revelation 1:9-and which will increase as we approach the end of time-2 Timothy 3:1-9); God’s judgment upon the world (Isaiah 26:21-cf. John 12:48; Revelation 20:11-15); and finally God’s punishment of the “fleeing serpent” or “that twisted serpent, the “reptile that is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1).

Who is this serpent?

Revelation 12:9-So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Notice also that John describes the “serpent” being cast down-not only to the Earth-but to the Sea!

Revelation 12:12-Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The Bible equates “Satan” with “leviathan.”

Third, ANE (ancient near eastern) literature at the time of Job shows a connection between “behemoth” and the god known as “Mot.”

“I would submit, then, that these contextual, linguistic and structural considerations make the identification of Behemoth with Mot, the god of death, a very strong probability. If, as I shall argue, Leviathan is the power of evil, the Satan, then who but the figure of death could provide a parallel?” (Robert Fyall, Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 12), 137 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic)

Mot is often identified in texts in the ANE literature in connection with Baal (who is, interestingly enough, the most prominently mentioned god in the Old Testament, second only in occurrence to Yahweh).

And who exactly is Baal?

This god, of course, is known by many names.

“Let’s start with a bit of explanation about where this book is going. It’s my belief that the entity known to us as the Roman god Saturn or his Greek equivalent Kronos has gone by many names over the centuries. We can trace his origins much farther in history, however, than the classical era—farther even than Greece’s Archaic period, which began around the time that Isaiah was called to prophesy in the middle of the eighth century BC. In this book, when you see any of these names: Saturn, Kronos, Baal Hammon, El, Milcom (and its variant, Molech), Dagan, Assur, Enlil, Kumarbi, and Shemihazah, please remember that they all refer to the same entity. It’s the same god who’s used different identities as times, places, and people changed.” (Derek P. Gilbert, The Second Coming of Saturn: The Great Conjunction, America’s Temple, and the Return of the Watchers, 12 (Kindle Edition); Crane, MO; Defender Publishing)

Baal is also referred to the god, Zeus.

“In later days Baal, in his incarnation as Baalshamen, or Baal Shamim, was identified with the god Zeus, head of the Greek pantheon. An ancient Nabatean text says this: …they regarded as god the lord of heaven, calling him Beelsamen, which is in the Phoenician language “lord of heaven,” and in Greek “Zeus.” 2 Syriac writers referred to Baalshamin as Zeus Olympios. Both gods appeared as idols standing in the same position, with arms lifted up and ready to hurl a thunderbolt to the earth. Zeus was presented as Zeus Belus, and Jupiter as Jupiter Belus, which could be translated respectively as “Zeus Baal” and “Jupiter Baal.”” (Jonathan Cahn, The Return of the Gods, 33 (Kindle Edition); Lake Mary, FL; FrontLine)

So in the ancient world, behemoth (a dinosaur creature) would have been associated with this pagan god, Mot.

Fourth, there are strong indicators linking Satan with leviathan in the ANE literature.

“The evidence is much stronger when it comes to Leviathan, since the monster is mentioned (with a different spelling) in the Baal Epic and serpentine sea monsters are common elsewhere in ANE literature. With regard to the Baal Epic, Mot, the god of death, makes reference to a prior victory of Baal over Lotan (claiming it will not help Baal when he fights with Death). 118 Mot describes Lotan, the ‘fleeing’ and ‘twisting’ serpent (brḥ and ʿqltn); the identical description of yhwh’s eschatological enemy in Isaiah 27: 1 prevents any confusion about the identity of Leviathan in the Old Testament. Further afield, the Mesopotamian gods Ninurta and Tishpak defeat dragons that live in the sea; in the case of Ninurta, his opponent is even said to have seven heads (cf. Ps. 74: 14). 119 A seal from Tell Asmar, from the city of Eshnunna, also portrays a deity piercing a seven-headed monster. 120 And of course mention should be made of Marduk’s defeat of Tiamat in Enuma Elish, the latter sometimes being portrayed as a serpent or dragon. 121 All of this is to say that there is significant evidence from the ANE that ancient Semites, when hearing about a serpentine, sea-dwelling creature of the name ‘Leviathan’, would have understood it as a symbol for cosmic chaos. Modern Westerners do not think about evil and chaos this way, of course, but ancient Semites did not turn to abstract or analytical categories when addressing the problem of evil, and yhwh is addressing one such Semite in the book of Job. Although not decisive for how we read the end of the book, ancient Israelites would arguably have understood Behemoth and Leviathan in the same way they are presented elsewhere in the ANE unless it were clearly signalled that these creatures were only ordinary animals.” (Eric Ortlund, Piercing Leviathan: God’s Defeat of Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 56), 137-138 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Downers Grove, IL; InterVarsity Press)

God is going to war against Satan and the other fallen angels who have throughout deception and treachery usurped control of the Creation.

In our last study on this topic, we will consider what all of this means for us as God speaks from the whirlwind

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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