Above and Below
On the fourth day in Genesis 1:20-22 (NIV) God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”N57
What’s interesting is that in each translation of the Bible, the translators have tried harder and harder to find words that reflect more accurately what was spoken and with each update to the Bible, words that make more sense to us today, as compared to centuries ago.
For example, in Genesis 1:21 (JUB) it says, God created the great dragons and every living soul that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their nature, and every winged fowl after its nature; and God saw that it was good.J1
This is what I love most about reading the word of God, God speaks to everyone differently and gives to each a different revelation of the meaning of the word that is waiting its appointed time.
Just like it says in Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV). For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.N58
When I read about the great dragons written about in the JUB translation, I immediately thought about the story of Job 41:1-34 (NIV).
“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy? Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
Will traders barter for it? Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering.
No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against Me?
Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to Me.
“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.
Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?
Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth.
Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it.
The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
Its chest is hard as a rock, hard as a lower millstone.
When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing.
The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it.
A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair.
Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear.
It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”N59
How was that for a dragon or great sea creature story?
God created the great creatures of the sea, and Leviathan is a great creature. This is where the words of Job 41:33 are so true. On earth there is nothing like him, a creature made without fear.M301
Now for the most amazing part, where everything spoken about in Genesis 1:20-21 (NIV) along with the words from Job 41:1-34 (NIV) begins to explain the words written in Revelation 11:3-7.
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way. They have power to shut heaven, that it may not rain during the days of their prophecy. They have power over waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they desire.
When they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit will wage war against them and overcome them and kill them.M302
It seems hard to image that one of the two witnesses spoken about in Revelation could be Leviathan. But the key to understanding this is in the words of Revelation 11:5. If anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way.M303
I don’t know about you but people don’t breathe out fire that’s strong enough to devour enemies and kill them.
What confuses many people is what is said in Revelation 11:3, and I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”M304
That confusion is made even more confusing in Revelation 11:7 where it says, when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit will wage war against them and overcome them and kill them.M305
The confusion that many have is not how can any prophesying, testimony giving witness breathe fire, but how can any fire breathing creature, prophesy and give testimony.
We think the fire is a metaphor, and a person breathing fire is more plausible than a talking fire-breathing dragon that God created.
THE CONFUSION IS NOT HOW CAN ANY PROPHESYING, TESTIMONY GIVING WITNESS BREATHE FIRE, BUT HOW CAN ANY FIRE BREATHING CREATURE, PROPHESY AND GIVE TESTIMONY
The power of God will be in these two witnesses, to stand before the people and prophesy. But the key thing to understand is that the witnesses will finish their testimony. What we need to understand is what the word testimony means.
Merriam-Webster defines testimony as something that someone says especially in a court of law while formally promising to tell the truth, proof or evidence that something exists or is true, a divine decree attested in the scriptures, firsthand authentication of a fact, an outward sign, an open acknowledgment.MW40
What greater testimony can exist than that which is an outward sign and evidence to a divine decree of existence attested in the scripture of Job 41.
We are probably still trying to figure out where does it say that Leviathan which breathes fire can actually talk?
The answer to that is indirectly mentioned in the questions that were asked to Job in Job 41:3 (NIV).
Will it keep begging you for mercy? Will it speak to you with gentle words?N60
The question is not whether it will speak to you in words, but will those words be gentle. These are rhetorical questions, where the purpose of asking these questions is not to solicit an answer but to make a statement that points out the obvious.
Revelation 11:5 makes another interesting statement, if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies. If anyone desires to harm them, he must be killed in this way.M306
What’s interesting is that if a person thinks they can destroy Leviathan, they are to die by fire. We know in Job 41:3 (NIV) Leviathan will not be speaking in gentle words and in Jeremiah 5:14 this is what the Lord God of Hosts says: Because you speak this word, indeed I will make My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it shall devour them.M307
We have to remember that in Job 41:10 (NIV) the Lord said, no one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against Me?N61
When anyone brave enough rouses Leviathan, they will be standing up against the Lord and the Lord said in Jeremiah 5:14, I will make My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it shall devour them.M308
They will be those that are not brave enough to fight Leviathan face to face, but instead will try to use modern weapons against it. Notice what is created and the strength the Lord spoke to Job about:
- Who can strip off its outer coat?
- Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
- Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
- They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
- Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it.
- The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
- Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
- The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
- Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
- Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it.
- A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
- Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
Artillery will have no effect on it because it treats iron like straw. Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between, the folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable and its chest is hard as a rock, hard as a lower millstone.
If you have ever seen riots in Jerusalem, you will notice that the people rioting throw stones, sticks and whatever they can get their hands on, all of which will have no effect on Leviathan when the modern weapons fail against it.
Leviathan is one of the great creatures that God created in the sea’s but there was another great creature of the sea that was spoken of in the Bible.
That great sea creature is talked about in Jonah 1:17. Now the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.M309
It is only in Jonah 2:1-10, where he prayed to the Lord after being rescued, that we learn that the great fish was sent to swallow Jonah and save him from being trapped in the sea by the weeds that were wrapped around his head.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish. He said:
“I called to the Lord out of my distress, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.
You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me.
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am cast away from Your sight; yet I will look again to Your holy temple.’
The waters encompassed me; even to my soul the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the foundations of the mountains; the earth with its bars was around me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.
“Those who follow vain idols forsake their true loyalty.
But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord!”
Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon dry land.M310
The great fish played a role in Jonah proclaiming the word of the Lord. In Jonah 3:1-10, the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”
So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three-day journey across. Jonah began to enter the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “In forty days’ time, Nineveh will be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast. And everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself in sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he made a proclamation in Nineveh:
“By decree of the king and his nobles:
No man or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not eat or drink water. Both man and animals shall cover themselves with sackcloth and cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change His mind. He may turn from His fierce anger, so that we will not perish.”
When God saw their actions, that they turned from their evil ways, He changed His mind about the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.M311
What brought the land of Nineveh out of judgment from God was the decree of the king and his nobles, that no man or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not eat or drink water, and that both man and animals shall cover themselves with sackcloth and cry mightily to God.
It was asked that everyone, turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands.
They were hoping, that God will change His mind that He may turn from His fierce anger so that they would not perish.
Today not only can we do the same thing, because we know that it worked, but we need to do even more if we want God to relent and not bring the destruction He has warned us about.
We know that it is possible, the formula for averting danger is written in 2 Chronicles 7:14. If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.M312