Fire-Breathing Dragons and God – Job 41:12-34

Myths Are Often Based In Fact

12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its 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 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

Tantalizing Tale

Just when you thought you had seen everything, God decides to throw you a curve-ball.  Many people believe that dragons are merely folklore, stories to scare and entertain children, and the product of the imagination of overly bored fantasy writers.  If we believe the Bible, and that everything that is written in God’s word is truth, then we have an interesting dilemma – what do we do with Job 41?

Let’s take a closer look at the description of the Leviathan.  Perhaps we have written off a myth and lore a little too early as the delusional fantasy of bored writers?

Amazing Armor

The Leviathan has two coats of armor – an outer shell of something that God is calling shields.  Is it possible that the outer armor of the Leviathan are scales that are so thick that they are of a size, thickness, and hardness to be called shields?  Although the Bible doesn’t say exactly what the inner armor is, dragon’s skin has been said to be so tough, that spears, arrows, and swords could not penetrate it.  In folklore, only “magical” weapons could pierce it.

The shields (scales?) are so tightly connected, that not even air can get between them.  It is rumored that the scales of dragons are so tightly connected that it is nearly impossible for any weapon to pry between them to even attempt to pierce the inner skin.

Fiery Foe

One of the most powerful, and compelling, features of the dragon is the ability to breath fire.  Here in the Bible, we are told that Leviathan snorts out flashes of light, and that its eyes glow.  This might have been written off as an interesting optical feature, for other creatures can produce light.  But the Bible records that smoke pours out of its nostrils.  Additionally, flames stream from its mouth, and its breath will light coals on fire.  This is not merely some interesting optical phenomenon – it is fire coming forth from the mouth, and the smoke and light of the eyes are evidence of it.

Strangely Strong

The skin of the Leviathan is like a millstone – extremely strong and resistant to anything that might attempt to pierce it.  Even swords, arrows and spears are like hay against it.  This is no ordinary skin.  Nothing in the time of Job made by man could even touch it, let alone pierce it.  This very well could have been the second layer of armor mentioned.

Powerfully Protected

With two layers of armor – scales and skin, breath of fire so hot that it ignites coals, and powerful strength, what more could it need?  God gave it just a bit more.  It’s undersides are like pot shards – extremely jagged and sharp.  It leaves a wake as it moves, churning up the sediment below, but also boiling the water with its breath.  And it has a mouth ringed about with fearsome teeth.

Fearless Foe

Any who would come near the Leviathan would tremble with fear.  This was no ordinary creature.  God indicates that the Leviathan had no equal – nothing was as strong, powerful, dangerous, beautiful, graceful, or fearless.  The dinosaurs were large and ferocious.  But they were no match for the Leviathan.  Apart from flying not being mentioned by God in this passage of scripture, the Leviathan has every characteristic that was ever written about the fire-breathing dragon.

Superstition or Amazing Creation?  The Bible says it really existed.  We should believe what God has to say in His word.  What other interesting gems of intrigue are buried in the Bible?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When presented with information in the Bible that challenges my preconceptions of belief, how will I choose to respond?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are Wonderful Creator of all the universe, and everything in it.  Thank You for making the Leviathan, a creature of renown whose legends remain even today.  Your creativity and expressiveness in Your creation is beyond my ability to comprehend.  Help me, Father, when I am presented with truths in Your word that may conflict with my understanding of You, Your word, and reality.  Help me to accept Your word as truth, and to realign my thoughts, attitudes, and opinions to align with Yours.  Give me the grace to struggle with concepts that challenge my perceptions, and help me to come around so that I would embrace Your truth in every facet.  Father, You have taught me in Your word that we cannot cherry-pick what we want to believe, but rather that everything You say is truth, and that the truth would set us free.  Set me free from the bondage of lies, misinformation, and feelings that obscure Your truth.  Give me a heart of wisdom and discernment, that I would be able to let go of that which is false, and embrace all that is true.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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