August 13: Haunted by Leviathan
Isaiah 27:1–28:29; Luke 9:28–62; Job 6:14–30
Indiana Jones isn’t afraid of anything—until a snake shows up on the scene. Then we hear him mutter, “I hate snakes” and “Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?” Everyone is afraid of something. Even now your greatest fear is probably creeping through your mind—something completely irrational, like heights, spiders or dolls.
Like Indy and like us, the ancients had fears as well: They hated snakes. In ancient literature the serpent Leviathan was a symbol of chaos—a great monster to be subdued. When a god subdued Leviathan in the ancient stories, it showed his supremacy.
Isaiah uses the same metaphor to proclaim that Yahweh can destroy all fears: “On that day, Yahweh will punish with his cruel, great and strong sword Leviathan, the fleeing serpent, and Leviathan, the twisting serpent, and he will kill the sea monster that is in the sea” (Isa 27:1). Yahweh Himself mentions Leviathan when He responds to Job, who had suffered the loss of all he had: “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Or can you tie down its mouth with a cord?” (Job 41:1).
When we struggle, it’s easy to focus on the Leviathans in our life, but God wants us to focus on His majesty. God can provide what we need. He can bring goodness in the midst of heartbreak (Isa 27:6). Perhaps this is why Jesus allowed Peter, James and John to see Him in His glory (Luke 9:28–35). He knew that they needed to understand that His glory was more powerful than anything they feared. Perhaps this is also why Jesus repeatedly pushed back the powers of darkness in front of His followers (e.g., Luke 9:37–43); He showed them that He could subdue anything He encountered.
When the Lord of the universe, who crushes the head of the great Leviathan, is in our corner, we have nothing to fear. All powers of darkness should tremble, for He is creating a great vineyard for us out of the chaos (Isa 27:2). If only Indy had known.
What goodness is God making out of the fear in your life?
JOHN D. BARRY
- In that day the Lord with his sore and great and mighty sword shall visit Leviathan, that piercing serpent, even Leviathan, that crooked serpent, and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. In that day sing of the vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it: I will water it every moment: lest any assail it, I will keep it night and day. Anger is not in me: who would set the briers and the thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or will he feel my strength, that he may make peace with me, and be at one with me? Hereafter Jacob shall take root: Israel shall flourish and grow: and the world shall be filled with fruit. Hath he smitten him, as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that were slain by him? In measure in the branches thereof wilt thou contend with it, when he bloweth with his rough wind in the day of the East wind. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, the taking away of his sin: when he shall make all the stones of the altars, as chalk stones broken in pieces, that the groves and images may not stand up. Yet the defensed city shall be desolate, and the habitation shall be forsaken, and left like a wilderness. There shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie and consume the branches thereof. When the boughs of it are dry, they shall be broken: the women come and set them on fire: for it is a people of none understanding: therefore he made them shall not have compassion of them, shall have no mercy on them. And in that day shall the Lord thresh from the channel of the river unto the river of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered, one by one, O children of Israel. In that day also shall the great trumpet be blown, and they shall come, which perished in the land of Assyria, and they that were chased into the land of Egypt, and they shall worship the Lord in the holy Mount at Jerusalem. Woe to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim: for his glorious beauty shall be a fading flower, which is upon the head of the valley of them that be fat, and are overcome with wine. Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong host like a tempest of hail, and a whirlwind that overthroweth, like a tempest of mighty waters that overflow, which throw to the ground mightily. They shall be trodden under foot, even the crown and the pride of the drunkards of Ephraim. For his glorious beauty shall be a fading flower, which is upon the head of the valley of them that be fat, and as the hasty fruit afore Summer, which when he hath looketh upon it, seeth it, while it is in his hand, he eateth it. In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of his people: And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength unto them that turn away the battle to the gate. But they have erred because of wine, and are out of the way by strong drink: the Priest and the prophet have erred by strong drink: they are swallowed up with wine: they have gone astray through strong drink: they fail in vision: they stumble in judgment. For all their tables are full of filthy vomiting: no place is clean. Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand the things that he heareth? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line unto line, there a little, and there a little. For with a stammering tongue, and with a strange language shall he speak unto this people. Unto whom he said, This is the rest: give rest unto him that is weary, and this is the refreshing, but they would not hear. Therefore shall the word of the Lord be unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line unto line, line unto line, there a little and there a little: that they may go and fall backward, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people, which is at Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement: though a scourge run over, and pass through, it shall not come at us: for we have made falsehood our refuge, and under vanity are we hid, Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lay in Zion a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. He that believeth, shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the rule, and righteousness to the balance, and the hail shall sweep away the vain confidence, and the waters shall overflow the secret place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand: when a scourge shall run over and pass through, then shall ye be trodden down by it. When it passeth over, it shall take you away: for it shall pass through every morning in the day and in the night, and there shall be only fear, to make you to understand the healing. For the bed is strait, that it cannot suffice, and the covering narrow, that one cannot wrap himself. For the Lord shall stand as in mount Perazim: he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Now therefore be no mockers, lest your bonds increase: for I have heard of the Lord of hosts a consumption, even determine upon the whole earth. Hearken ye, and hear my voice: hearken ye, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all the day, to sow? doth he open, and break the clots of his ground? When he hath made it plain, will he not then sow the fitches, and sow cumin, and cast in wheat by measure, and the appointed barley and rye in their place? For his God doth instinct him to have discretion, and doth reach him. For fitches shall not be threshed with a threshing instrument, neither shall a cartwheel be turned about upon the cumin: but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and cumin with a rod. Bread corn when it is threshed, he doth not always thresh it, neither doth the wheel of his cart still make a noise, neither will he break it with the teeth thereof. This also cometh from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in words. Isaiah 27:1–28:29
- And it came to pass about an eight days after those words, that he took Peter and John, and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was changed, and his garment was white and glistered. And behold, two men talked with him, which were Moses and Elijah: Which appeared in glory, and told of his departing, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him, were heavy with sleep, and when they awoke, they saw his glory, and the two men standing with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: let us therefore make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah, and wist not what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud and overshadowed them, and they feared when they were entering into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is that my beloved Son, hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone: and they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. And it came to pass on the next day, as they came down from the mountain, much people met him. And behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, behold my son: for he is all that I have. And lo, a spirit taketh him, and suddenly he crieth, and he teareth him, that he foameth, and hardly departeth from him, when he hath bruised him. Now I have besought thy disciples to cast him out, but they could not. Then Jesus answered and said, O generation faithless, and crooked, how long now shall I be with you, and suffer you? bring thy son hither. And while he was yet coming, the devil rent him, and tore him: and Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him to his father. And the were all amazed at the mighty power of God: and while they all wondered at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples, Mark these words diligently: for it shall come to pass, that the son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not that word: for it was hid from them, so that they could not perceive it: and they feared to ask him of that word. Then there arose a disputation among them, which of them should be the greatest. When Jesus saw the thoughts of their hearts, he took a little child, and set him by him. And said unto them, Whosoever receiveth this little child in my Name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, he shall be great. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy Name, and we forbade him, because he followeth thee not with us. Then Jesus said unto him, Forbid ye him not: for he that is not against us, is with us. And it came to pass, when the days were accomplished, that he should be received up, he settled himself fully to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before him: and they went and entered into a town of the Samaritans, to prepare him lodging. But they would not receive him, because his behavior was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples, James and John saw it, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command, that fire come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But Jesus turned about, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not of what spirit ye are. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. Then they went to another town. And it came to pass that as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, I will follow thee, Lord, whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven nests, but the Son of man hath not whereon to lay his head. But he said unto another, Follow me. And the same said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. And Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou, and preach the kingdom of God. Then another said, I will follow thee, Lord: but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at mine house. And Jesus said unto them, No man putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is apt of the kingdom of God. Luke 9:28–62
- He that is in misery, ought to be comforted of his neighbor: but men have forsaken the fear of the Almighty. My brethren have deceived me as a brook, and as the rising of the rivers they pass away. Which are blackish with ice, and wherein the snow is hid. But in time they are dried up with heat and are consumed: and when it is hot they fail out of their places, Or they depart from their way and course, yea, they vanish and perish. They that go to Tema, considered them, and they that go to Sheba, waited for them. But they were confounded: when they hoped, they came thither, and were ashamed. Surely now are ye like unto it: ye have seen my fearful plague, and are afraid. Was it because I said, Bring unto me? or give a reward to me of your substance? And deliver me from the enemy’s hand, or ransom me out of the hand of tyrants? Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand, wherein I have erred. How steadfast are the words of righteousness? and what can any of you justly reprove? Do ye imagine to reprove words, that the talk of the afflicted should be as the wind? Ye make your wrath to fall upon the fatherless, and dig a pit for your friend. Now therefore be content to look upon me: for I will not lie before your face. Turn, I pray you, let there be none iniquity: return, I say, and ye shall see yet my righteousness in that behalf. Is there iniquity in my tongue? doth not my mouth feel sorrows? Job 6:14–30