Can You Handle It?
A daily devotion for December 23rd
1 The LORD said to Job:
2 "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!"
3 Then Job answered the LORD :
4 "I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more."
6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 "Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
8 "Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God's,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
12 look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.
15 "Look at the behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength he has in his loins,
what power in the muscles of his belly!
17 His tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are close-knit.
18 His bones are tubes of bronze,
his limbs like rods of iron.
19 He ranks first among the works of God,
yet his Maker can approach him with his sword.
20 The hills bring him their produce,
and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants he lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal him in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround him.
23 When the river rages, he is not alarmed;
he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth.
24 Can anyone capture him by the eyes,
or trap him and pierce his nose?
1 "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down his tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
3 Will he keep begging you for mercy?
Will he speak to you with gentle words?
4 Will he make an agreement with you
for you to take him as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of him like a bird
or put him on a leash for your girls?
6 Will traders barter for him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on him,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing him is false;
the mere sight of him is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse him.
Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 "I will not fail to speak of his limbs,
his strength and his graceful form.
13 Who can strip off his outer coat?
Who would approach him with a bridle?
14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth,
ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
15 His back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 His snorting throws out flashes of light;
his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Firebrands stream from his mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from his nostrils
as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.
21 His breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from his mouth.
22 Strength resides in his neck;
dismay goes before him.
23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 His chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before his thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches him has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron he treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make him flee;
slingstones are like chaff to him.
29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw;
he laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 His undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake;
one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is his equal—
a creature without fear.
34 He looks down on all that are haughty;
he is king over all that are proud."
Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? (Job 41:1-2)
On the next sections God calls Job's attention to two amazing animals, the behemoth, a land animal for the most part, and leviathan, a sea creature. Commentators have had a great deal of difficulty trying to determine just which animals in our natural world are referred to here. Some think that behemoth may be the hippopotamus or the elephant or perhaps the rhinoceros. Others say that leviathan is the crocodile, though some think it could be the whale.
I believe that it is irrelevant which animals God is speaking of because the language that is used here clearly goes beyond the actual realm. In the last section, where God was taking Job through a tour of His created universe, all the animals were recognizable and in line with what anyone can still observe about them in nature, though they were described in poetic language. But here is something that goes beyond the natural.
Therefore, some commentators have believed these are mythical, legendary creatures, like the unicorn and the dragon. But I think if we admit that this is mythical language, we can also see that it likely is referring not to myth but to supernatural beings. These beasts that appear here are symbolic beasts, tied to animals in the natural realm as symbols of that which is invisible and supernatural.
Your mind may have already run ahead to the great section of the book of Revelation where in chapter 13 two beasts emerge that dominate the scene in the last days. One is a beast that comes up out of the sea and reigns over the waters, which, we are told in Revelation, represent the multitudes of peoples of the earth. The other beast comes up on the land. Behind both of these beasts is still a third incredible animal called the great dragon. There we are told plainly that this dragon is Satan, and he gives his power and authority to the beasts. Now, tracing this symbolism through and applying it here in the book of Job, I believe that it is warranted that we should say that these beasts represent a satanic power made visible in terms of our earthly existence.
As I understand this, the first of these beasts, behemoth, represents the satanic twist that we all labor with and struggle against in our own lives that the Bible calls the flesh, the fallen nature within us, our humanity, with its continual desire to assert and live for itself. The second beast represents the world with all its vast influence upon every one of us, pressuring us to conform, to reflect the values and attitudes of those around us, dominating all our thinking and all our life in every possible way. Behind them both is the devil, with his malevolent, cunning wisdom and power, incredible in his might and his interference in human events.
What God, then, is setting before Job is a very pertinent question for all of us:
Are you able to handle the enemy within and the enemy without, especially that malicious being who is behind them all--the world, the flesh, and the devil?
Lord, thank You that I can claim Your strength rather than my own in fighting the enemy.
Life Application: Our arch enemy pushes his agenda against our souls from within and without. Do we presume to engage in this spiritual warfare using our own carnal weaponry?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.