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Most versions of the Holy Scriptures, contain footnotes that reduce Leviathan to a mere crocodile, even though the context itself refutes this. Why don't most Bible translators and commentators, question their interpretation of Job chapter 41. Why would a description of a reptile would be inserted into a book whose sole purpose in being written was for exposing a spiritual attack on a God fearing man?
Regardless, it is certain Leviathan is not a crocodile.
Leviathan is portrayed as a deep sea creature. Crocodiles are not deep sea creatures, nor do they make the water churn with the speed of their swimming.
Job 41 portrays a powerful spirit being that can destroy property and lives. It can ruin health and cause extreme physical and emotional pain. It abuses in any way it can, through anyone it can. It is a shape-shifter, that is very good at hiding from those it oppresses.
Without revelation from God, Leviathan (or any other spiritual oppressor) cannot be detected and defeated. Fortunately, God, in his love and mercy, has provided us with everything we need to identify and defeat this powerful enemy.
In Job 41, we read about how this terrible being was effectively used by Satan to destroy the life of a good man. We also read about the means by which Leviathan was ultimately defeated.
Leviathan can pose as a servant--a helper--to those who are oppressed by him (Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever [Job 41:4]?)
Isn't that amazing? His victims do not even realize they are being victimized! Instead they depend on the help of a vicious destroyer to cope and survive emotionally. But this same verse tells us that he cannot be depended upon, for although his victims place their trust in him, he makes no covenant with them.
Leviathan provides a false hiding place, and he is guaranteed to disappoint his victims. He comes around only when he chooses--not when his victim chooses (Behold the hope of him is in vain...[Job 41:4,9]).
Job 41:8,10, tells us Leviathan is a fierce fighter. He is not to be engaged carelessly, taken lightly, or underestimated (None is so fierce that dare to stir him up. But who can withstand ME?).
This is where the Christian finds recourse.
Instructions are given in Job, chapters 41-42, on how to defeat this awesome foe. Even though the fierce are reluctant to engage him, even the fearsome Leviathan cannot stand before the power of Almighty God. The scriptures declare that everything under Heaven belongs to God.
This is critical information--especially for those who happen to encounter this formidable creature.
Job 41:10-11, makes it clear that Leviathan can be defeated, but only in a very specific way.
Who can expose Leviathan? Who can uncover and reveal everything about him? The Lord is telling Job (and us, in Job 41:11-14), that HE can!
They who have ears to hear, let them hear....
Job 41:12 refers to Leviathan's "comely proportions," or perceived attractiveness. That means he can manifest in whatever form or abstract idea that is attractive to his prey.
Job 41:13, makes reference to a double bridle. This creature is so ferocious that God, in his mercy, will not allow him to exercise his full power against us, but in spite of a double jaw restraint--he remains a daunting and lethal foe.
Job is given one warning and description after another of the ferocity and deadliness of Leviathan. Leviathan's armor, he is told, is extremely effective with no visible vulnerability. In fact, The Lord God himself tells us, that there is no vulnerability in Leviathan's armor. This is not a deceptive appearance (Job 41:15-17).
Is God trying to dissuade us from taking on Leviathan? Absolutely...if we won't fight HIS way.
In his mercy, he gives us the facts. This enemy is so devious and so dangerous, our Lord in his infinite kindness, informs us of exactly what we will be up against. He lets us know that we had better not try and face this foe unless we know exactly how to do it. He is leading up to the finale where he reveals the key to Leviathan's defeat.
He is saying to Job, listen....
During Job's discourse with his friends, the Lord pointed out the answer to his dilemma, if he would only pay very close attention to every word....
It was not agreed that the Lord could tell Job plainly that his woes were part of a horrific spiritual attack. Shockingly, the attack on Job, was agreed to by God, ostensibly to test his loyalty. But this writer believes God agreed to the test for a far greater purpose than simply the one stated. God knew in advance that Satan's challenge was coming, and prepared a great good to come of it. God doesn't always reveal every detail of his intentions up front. Remember the crucifixion? Had the princes of this world known what they were doing, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory.
But they did. And through an evil choice on their part (which God had planned from before the foundation of the world), God brought salvation to all who will receive it, by faith in his risen son.
It was the same with Job.
God permitted a violent and deadly attack on Job, and allowed it to be recorded in [what most scholars agree is] the oldest book of the Bible. Because of that, believers have been equipped for thousands of years, with a fool-proof defense plan against an enemy intent on physically killing, at the very least grievously afflicting, anyone he can.
In addition to the physical devastation and mental anguish caused by his attacks, Leviathan causes confusion in his victims (the phrase "they purify themselves," can also mean, "they are confused." Job 41:25).
Leviathan is implacable and indestructible by any of the commonly used weapons of war, or by any other earthly means (Job 41:24-30).
He is a powerful fast moving foe. This is illustrated by the sudden devastating losses experienced by Job when Leviathan struck with lightning speed, as well as by the picture of his churning of the deep, and the wake he leaves behind as he speeds through the waters ([Job 41:13-22, 41:31-32].
Anyone who lives in locales where crocodiles or alligators thrive, know this cannot be a description of reptiles that are known to be silent, invisible, swimmers. Crocodiles or alligators cause no churning of the waters, nor do they leave wakes trailing behind as they swim. And, as previously stated, they are not deep sea creatures.
God makes a clear statement about the fearlessness of Leviathan. He is afraid of nothing (Job 41:33). God himself describes Leviathan as the most vicious, implacable, fearsome, and fearless creature under Heaven (Job 41:10,24-25,33).
Wouldn't it make sense that Satan would pull out his most vicious weapon against Job, since he had just challenged God concerning him? He was not going to take any chances that Job would retain his integrity.
That Satan used a powerful spirit being to try and cause Job to curse God is evident, as the Lord God himself described this being to Job (why would He do that?)...and gave him the key to defeating him (what else would have been relevant at this point in the text?).
As the Lord God subtly revealed this enemy to Job, giving him the key to its defeat, Job was listening.
Job 41:34, tells us that Leviathan's stronghold, is pride.
What defeats pride?
Humility? Can it really be that simple? Yes. In Job chapter 42, we see Leviathan, the King over all the children of pride, soundly defeated by a simple act of humility and obedience to God.
We read of Job humbling himself, and repenting publicly for speaking about things he knew nothing of (Job 42:3-6).
We read of his proud friends admitting they were wrong and asking Job to pray for them, as God had commanded them to do. And we read of Job graciously forgiving his miserable comforters (abusers) and praying for all of them (Job 42:10).
Leviathan's power was then broken over Job's life.
His devastating circumstances were turned around in a miraculous way, and all through simple humility and obedience.
The scriptures say that only through pride comes contention (Proverbs 13:10). If there is contention and strife in our lives, then there is pride. If there is pride, then Leviathan is present. He is king over all the children of pride (Job 41:34), and he is a predator, always hunting for prey.
Consider Job. Look at the devastation, loss of life, health, and fortune that Leviathan's presence caused in the life of a perfect and upright man.
Leviathan, who was viciously manifesting throughout Job's ordeal (through murdering his children, stealing his property and his health, through excruciating physical and emotional anguish, through verbal abuse from friends and family) had to go, before healing and restoration could come.
It is possible that, in the form of Leviathan, two separate identities are revealed in this passage (as is done when Lucifer is also portrayed in the passages that speak of the king of Babylon and the Prince of Tyre [Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28]), one a spiritual being and the other a physical creature. But the physical would not cancel out the spiritual, and, without doubt, the physical sea creature, in Job chapter 41, if real, cannot possibly refer to a simple reptile such as a crocodile (verses 31-32).
Jocelyn Andersen, is Founder and Pastor of Hungry Hearts Ministries. She ministers in preaching and teaching as well as in writing, and through her 24/7 Bible Talk Radio station, HungryHeartsRadio.com. She is the author of several Christian books, including the short but powerful booklet entitled, Jesus, God of the Burning Bush: Eternal Father & Beloved Son. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.