Reading through the Bible together
God finished his explanation of His ability to create a wide range of animals with peculiar characteristics in Chapter 39. In this chapter 40 as well as in chapter 41, we will have the description of three symbolic animals. The first two will be terrible to humans but the third One will be terrible to the wicked but not to the faithful remnant. All three animals stand in direct relationship with the Investigative and Executive Judgments.
God knows but asks what kind of attitude the wicked will have who are willing to contest with Him. “Let one who contends with the Almighty, who argues with God, let him answer” (verses 1-2). When Job hears that, he falls on his knees and is silent. He has nothing to say. He “puts his hand on his mouth” (verses 3-4). If there is a question, he will not answer it, and if a second question he will not add words (verse 5). Job could sense the everlasting arms of God around him and a feeling of deep and loving peace left him speechless.
The Lord is not finished yet, since Job needs to see that with an Investigative Judgment, there is also an Executive Judgment that follows. God asks Job to become like an advocate in court. “Gird up your loins like a man and answer Me” (verses 6-7). Job is acting like a child and the Lord wants him to be like a “strong man” (geber). God will ask Job four questions in this Judgment court scene (Investigative and prospective Executive to follow): 1. “Will you also make void My judgment [including the executive]? (v. 8a). 2. “Will you pronounce Me evil [like Satan is doing] in order for you to be justified?” (v. 8b). 3. “Do you have a strong arm like God?” [to carry out judgment? (v. 9a). 4. “And do you have a voice like thunder as He has?” [when He announces the verdict] (v. 9b). The answers of Job are all “No!”
Then God says to Job that if he thinks he can act like Pharaoh when he deals with his enemies, then he should look like it and “cloth himself with pride and excellence, and glory and beauty” (verse 10). God says to Job, if he wants to assume Executive judgment function to be like the “Warrior Pharaoh” then he should be able to “lay [his enemies] in the dust” and “bind their faces up in a hidden place” (verse 13). Moses lived in Egypt and knew all about the pride of Pharaoh. If Job can defeat his enemies like a pharaoh on his chariot, then “I [God] will admit that your right hand has saved you” (verse 14).
But God wants to talk about bigger enemies on earth and a bigger Warrior Messiah that has to come. For that reason He will describe two beasts that cannot be humanly contained and a third animal that will symbolize the Warrior Messiah which will be more fully described in chapter 41. The two beasts in the remainder of this chapter are said to be the hippo and the crocodile. Many phrases do link with the hippo in the first instance and many other phrases link equally well with the crocodile later. However, any keen reader will feel still uncomfortable with the hippo and its short tail that “hardens like a cedar” (v. 17). Nevertheless, the hippo and crocodile are well-known in Egypt from ancient times. This huge animal has certain characteristics: a. it was made by God, just as Job and other humans were made by God (v. 15); b. Its legs and belly are the source of its power (v. 16); c. Its tail hardens like a cedar and the muscles of its thighs are tightly knit together (v. 17); d. Its limbs are as strong as copper (nehuša) and its bones are as a load of iron (barzel) (v. 18).
Critics will murmur and say that iron was not known in those days. However, Archeologists have found isolated pieces of iron coming from the time of Job. There is no need to argue for a later date of the book of Job and to cancel Moses as its author.
This animal is larger than reeds, swamp, and the shade of trees around the river (vv. 20-22). A hippo can pretty much hide in reeds and shadows and among willows but this animal is seemingly so large that it makes the hippo look small. While Moses wrote when he was in Midian, either Moses heard of or studied about the floods of the Jordan River and later saw them. Obviously, this hippo-like creature lived in the post-Flood time because it was known to Job. Also we know that the extinct dinosaur was known in Job’s times as the depiction of it on ancient cylinder seals show. The animal God is speaking of is this kind of a huge dinosaur-like beast. The hippo helps us understand it but is far smaller.
We need to prepare for the mysterious aspects of these animals since they become a symbol of God’s enemies and more particularly Satan. God speaks of the creation of this creature (v. 19). “His is the first of the ways of God” (a quality that also is found with Satan as Lucifer in Heaven when he was created). God is able to destroy Satan (v. 19). It is Christ as the Warrior Messiah who will destroy Satan at the end of the millennium. The Warrior God will place His eyes on Satan and destroy him (v. 24).
We learn that You are still in control. Satan is just as much in our zones as in Job’s and we need Your protection. Your salvation will finally be shown as we are rescued from the domain of the forces hostile to us. Thank You for the security of Your control. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea