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Think of all the strange mythological creatures you’ve seen in movies and books. Would it surprise you to learn that they are actual creatures created by God and have been used by pagan religions to portray their gods and goddesses in rebellion against God? Listen to this lesson to learn about their descriptions in the Bible and about a great battle that took place in eternity past. See that the forms of these creatures were incorporated as a part of the creation of man and animals in Genesis. Find out the role of fire in the angelic realm.
Lesson includes a presentation by J. T. Ford, who will shortly be going to Peru on a missions trip with CRU. Please contact Dean Bible Ministries for information on how to support J.T.
Leviathan, Tannin, and Rahav
2 Samuel 7:18–29; Psalm 89:5–10
Samuel Lesson #174
June 11, 2019
“Our Father, we are so grateful for Your goodness, Your kindness to us, Your grace to us. Father, You have showered us with unbelievable blessings, and we hardly comprehend them because we either are not being taught well or we haven’t taken the time to truly think about them, or in many cases, we just haven’t grown enough to develop the capacity for them.
“And Father, we pray that You would challenge us, stimulate our desire for growth, our appetite to learn Your Word, that we might recognize when this life is over with, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done or accomplished here other than our spiritual growth. That’s the only thing we take with us, and that, in and of itself determines our roles, our responsibilities, and how we will rule and reign with our Lord in the coming Kingdom.
“Challenge us with these things and help us to understand these aspects of Your Word and why You have revealed these things the way You have. Help us understand it more clearly and understand Your ways and Your work in history and how it relates to an even broader issue in terms of Satan’s rebellion against You.
“We pray these things in Christ name. Amen.”
We’ve been studying in 2 Samuel. We had reached the point in 2 Samuel 8 where we were studying the Davidic Covenant, and we went through various passages after we outlined the Covenant.
The next thing that we did was, we walked our way through numerous passages in the psalms and the prophets where the Davidic Covenant was referenced as foundational to certain things that were going to happen in the future, both in terms of the coming of the Messianic King, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the descendant or seed of David, who will rule over the nations and rule over Israel.
Then, as we did all of that, we circled back, finished out that chapter talking about David’s response, his humility, his grace orientation. The fact that he’s just blown away that God has given him such a tremendous promise and such a covenant.
Then we move from that before we get away from the covenant to go through Psalm 89. I envisioned that we would move through Psalm 89 in two or three weeks, but there are some incredible things in Psalm 89. We got Psalm 89:10, which references someone or some creature called Rahav.
So, all of that is important to understand because this creature identified as Rahav is transliterated into English Bibles as “Rahab” spelled the same way as the prostitute in Joshua 2, but it’s not; it’s spelled completely differently in the Hebrew. So it’s a creature that needs to be understood and identified.
As we go through various passages in the Old Testament, we’ll see that Rahav is associated also with these other words, sometimes just called “sea monsters.” Very little is done in relation to identifying these sea monsters, and even less is done in trying to uncover their significance in terms of God’s plan and purposes. It’s just usually skated over.
Some of these that we will look at, and we’ll touch on these three tonight that are on the title slide… Leviathan, the Tannin—usually translated different ways, but some of the ways it’s translated is “dragons,” “sea monsters”, and “sea creatures.” So, there is a range of translations, not all of which are necessarily correct, and then Rahav.
We’re continuing to study about what the Bible teaches about the Davidic Covenant.
And as such, the author of Psalm 89 is really claiming the promises of the Davidic Covenant, calling upon God to restore the stability of the Davidic monarchy and the Davidic descendancy.
This spends a lot of time in the first part, Psalm 89:1–18, focusing on the uniqueness of God, His power, His magnificence, His omnipotence… And he delves into some historical ways in which God has provided deliverance for people.
So, in the middle of Psalm 89:10 we read, “You have broken Rahav in pieces, as one who is slain; You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.” We started studying this last time, as I’ve already commented.
We see that the Hebrew is over here
So Rahav is this particular creature.
This term Rahav shows up in four key passages—three other passages other than Psalm 89:10. It shows up in Job 9:13, Job 26:12 and Isaiah 51:9. The core meaning of the noun is “arrogance,” “the arrogant one” if we were to translate it.
And I pointed out in the last two lessons, who is the most arrogant creature in the Bible? Well, that’s Lucifer. So, this indicates that Rahav is a depiction, one of the ways in which Satan is referred to and depicted, and this has led to some interesting challenges and missteps in interpretation.
Because Rahav is not mentioned in non-biblical literature, but the other terms Leviathan, yam—which is translated for “the sea,” and the Tannin … These show up in pagan mythology and Canaanite mythology. And so, there’s this stipulation or this attempt by liberals to say, “Well the Bible came along (and as I pointed out last time) Moses writes in about 1406 BC, and when he wrote the Torah, he’s just borrowing from Canaanite mythology.”
So, the way they interpret it, it’s really an attack on the inerrancy, the inspiration, the infallibility of Scripture—that that the Bible is just a book like every other book. It’s just another mythology like all the other ancient, near-eastern mythologies.
I ended up last time by going through a series of points talking about the battle and the conflict between human viewpoint and divine viewpoint. This is very important to understand because we all have an affinity for human viewpoint. It is that way of thinking that is most comfortable for your little sin nature and my sin nature.
We would rather interpret God’s Word in a way that makes our sin patterns comfortable than to recognize that we, like Satan, are in complete rebellion against God. And so, the human race as a whole, is in rebellion against God. Romans 3:23, “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So, the thinking of the human race is built on presuppositions that deny the reality of God, deny the existence of God, deny that God could even reveal Himself. And so all of the ways they construct their worldviews is to ground them in some sort of idolatrous system.
Now that can be an idolatrous system that involves many gods: pantheism, or polytheism, so, Romans 1:18–20 talks about how they reject God, and they worship the creature rather than the Creator. They begin to worship animals and creeping things and that sort of thing. So, you have the rise of these various mythologies. This occurred in the ancient world.
Another way in which this is attempted is through sophisticated intellectualism: the rise of human-viewpoint philosophy where you have more sophisticated, more formal structures of thought that seek to explain the origin of the universe, the origin of man, the origin of life, the purpose of life, the meaning of life, apart from so-called deities and totally within a framework of human reason and human experience.
It’s a more sophisticated idolatry of the mind, not worshiping physical idols made out of wood, metal, or stone, but worshiping idols of the mind. But it’s still idolatry. It’s still grounded in arrogance.
Arrogance is Satan’s original sin, and arrogance is at the core of our sin nature, and everything that we do.
So, starting off and moving to the next level in our thought about these creatures, I’ve tried to break this down into a little more understandable way …
I want you to think about this because one of the problems that we all have is we limit God in our thinking. We limit God in terms of His knowledge, we limit God in terms of His omnipotence, and we think too often—all of us here have been trained in thinking—in terms of pure naturalism.
Pure naturalism is explaining everything around us without reference to God. It is the worldview that has the most affinity for atheism and agnosticism.
Whereas if you’re dealing with a primitive cultures, they’re going to be involved in spiritualism and they’ll be involved in pantheism or polytheism or some sort of a physical idolatry. And they will have these origin myths that are not atypical for pagan cultures, and they’re not dissimilar from the origin myths in the creation myths of the ancient, Near-Eastern people like the Canaanites, the Mesopotamians, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians.
So, let’s think this through in terms of God in eternity past—millions, billions of years ago—and God is omniscient. God knows all the knowable. There’s nothing that God does not know. He knows what He is going to create. He knows when He will create it. He knows why He is creating everything, and He has a design and purpose for everything that He is creating.
Nothing is the way it is by pure chance. We are not made the way we are made with our bipedal, upright structure, with two eyes and two ears and a mouth and a nose. We’re not this way simply because it just happened that way. That’s evolution. It’s just by chance that we ended up this way because in a world where there is no Creator-God, then everything happens just by chance, and everything comes from just pure matter.
With the rise of Darwinian evolutionary thought, modern evolution isn’t different from the evolution that’s described by ancient paganism; matter is always eternal.
But the Bible says that what is eternal is spirit. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him by means of the Spirit, and by means of truth. [John 4:24]
God is spirit. So once you reject what the Bible says about the origins of man, once you reject that what is eternal is not matter but spirit, then what you’re left with is a purely material way of looking at everything, which means that everything is just an accident.
Everything exists simply because there were chemical reactions caused by some accidental, electronic discharge, and so ultimately we’re just nothing more than a blob of protoplasm that somehow got electrified and something changed by accident and then millions of years later something else changed and everything is purely accidental.
Therefore, there’s no meaning, there’s no value, there’s no significance or purpose in anything in life. So that gets drilled into us, either directly or indirectly, through many of the things that we’re exposed to in our culture: movies, films, television, speakers, teachers, professors. All of these operate from that particular framework.
But what the Bible says is that God created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them. [Psalm 146:6] Everything.
Does that include Leviathan? Does that include Behemoth? Does that include the salt sea? Does that include this creature Rahav? Yes, it does.
So, we have to start by thinking that God created all living things, including Rahav, Leviathan, Behemoth, the sea, and the Tannin. There are a few others that we could throw in there, but we’ll just limit it to these five entities that are referenced in a few passages in Scripture. And that God created them in the original Creation described from Genesis 1:2 through Genesis 2:4 (the six days of Creation).
So, these are real, historical entities. They are not mythological. They are real. They are created by God.
Now think with me a little more on this … God knew in eternity past, that each of these creatures would find another purpose in the redefinition of creation by idolatry. So, God is designing them knowing full well how these features of their forms and their structure are going to be perverted within paganism.
That takes us to the second point: God, in His omniscience, designed all of these things meticulously—down to the minutest detail. Leviathan is the way Leviathan is because God designed every aspect of Leviathan in order to teach something, eventually knowing how it would be used or abused.
So, their design is intentional, with a view of how they would be used as biblical symbols as well as mythological representations or distortions.
Now try to get your mind around that. God knows that He’s going to create this creature called Leviathan, and it’s a real creature. It has a certain form—we don’t know exactly what that was.
We have just a few indications, especially in Job 41—but that this creature is the way the creature is, because God knows that the pagans are going to take this creature, and they’re going to assign mythological meaning to that creature. And in such a way that that mythological meaning— distorted as it will be—will still reflect something about Creation truth.
So you have on the one hand something historical, and on the other hand something that is not historical but is purely mythological. Let’s break this down a little bit more.
First of all, God knew that He would use them as metaphors for describing Satan. God’s creating this entity called Leviathan, this entity called Rahav, the Tannin. He knows that He’s going to use these for a certain symbolic meaning. He creates the salt sea, all of the turmoil and chaotic nature of the water.
If you’ve ever been out on the open sea in a violent storm you know just how scary it is, how chaotic it can be, and you have no control whatsoever on what’s going on.
So, God knows that He’s going to use that as a metaphor for the chaos of evil. It’s no accident that it functions the way that it functions. But He also knows that it’s going to be taken over and distorted to teach something similar within paganism. But He’s got (these are literal creatures, literal events) a literal meaning there, even though that’s distorted by paganism.
That leads to the next point which is: Thus, the morphological features of these creatures were all intentionally designed this way. Now, we are going to really stretch our brains a little bit.
What I mean by morphological features is the way they are constructed. Birds have feathers. Birds have wings. Birds have hollow bones. Then, you have other animals; they have other features. You have reptiles that have scales and lay eggs, you have amphibious creatures—all of these different creatures.
But what we don’t think about very often is that a lot of those morphological features that you see in these different animals didn’t originate with them.
Turn in your Bible to Isaiah 6, a familiar passage. We usually go to this passage to talk about worship, to talk about prophecy, to talk about Isaiah’s call to prophecy, but we’re going to look at it from a slightly different perspective now.
In Isaiah 6:1 we read, “The time when this vision occurred in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple.” So, Isaiah has gone into the temple. God gives him this vision where this intersection between Heaven and earth takes place with the holy of holies. And as Isaiah goes into the holy place, instead of just seeing the veil and the holy of holies where the ark is, it just opens up, and he is seeing the throne of God.
Above the throne of God, he sees these seraphs. The im in seraphim is the plural in Hebrew, so seraphs describe that. So, we’re going to look at how these seraphs are described in Isaiah 6:2, then we’re going to look at cherubs in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10.
In Isaiah 6:2, we read, “Above it stood the seraphim …” When did God create the seraphim? A long time before He ever created any birds or any reptiles or any animals or any human beings or any mammals. Right?
But look at the description of the seraphim, Isaiah 6:2, “… each one had six wings …”
Who had wings first: birds or seraphim? Seraphim. Isn’t that interesting?
See, birds have just borrowed their morphology from seraphim. So, they have six wings, “… with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” So, they had feet, and they flew, long before there were birds.
The very first creatures that flew and had feet and hands (we’ll discover hands in these various appearances) were not humans, were not part of this creation. They weren’t part of the animal kingdom that we have the animal taxonomy.
Isaiah 6:3, “And they cried to one another and they said:—They’re worshiping God—‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ ” The reason I put that in there is we’re looking at creatures that have six wings and they’re singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God of hosts.”
Now we skip over to Ezekiel 1. And in Ezekiel 1 we get what many people think is a pretty bizarre vision, but it is similar to the vision that Isaiah saw, but it is given in much more detail.
Here, Ezekiel is going to have a vision of God’s presence, and this chariot that is going to come. When he sees this chariot, he describes it this way in Ezekiel 1:4: “Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north,—he is seeing this cyclone—a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself.”
Think about the physics of fire engulfing itself and not going out. It’s like the burning bush in Exodus 4. The burning bush doesn’t consume the bush, but you have fire. It’s a different physics; it’s a different form and function. It is fire that is not consuming. Ezekiel 1:4, “… A great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber,—so it’s a golden yellow color—out of the midst of the fire.”
I want you to pay attention to how many times fire gets mentioned in these passages we’re going through. Ezekiel 1:5, “… Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures.”
The first thing to pay attention to is, he uses this word “likeness” and that something was like. That’s how he describes these creatures. He’s not saying this is exactly what they were, but it’s the only frame of reference he has to tell us what he has seen, and he calls them four living creatures.
Is there another place in the Bible where we have something like this described as living creatures? Revelation 4 and 5, in the throne room of God, you have the four living creatures before the throne of God. So here, we have these four living creatures.
Now they’re described—we’ll look of Revelation 4 in a minute—a little differently from those living creatures in Revelation, but there are also a lot of similarities. Ezekiel 1:5, “And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.”
Notice that word likeness. It’s the same word that’s used in the Hebrew to describe mankind being created in the image and likeness of God. So it’s pointing out a similarity. Has man been created yet?
So you have this creature, this cherub who has four faces, one of which is like the face of a man, but no man has been created yet. Think about that for a while.
I don’t know what else I can say about it, but it is something we need to recognize: that there’s a prototype taking place among the angels of different forms and functions that are then duplicated when we get into our present world and the present animal kingdom. Each has the appearance of the likeness of a man.
Ezekiel 1:6, “Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings.” Now the seraphim (seraphs) had six [wings], the cherubim had four.
And this was their appearance: Ezekiel 1:7, “… And the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet.”
When did God create calves and cows? See, that hasn’t happened yet. So, this form that their legs have is going to be picked up and used again by God when He creates cattle. So, “… their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze.”
They’re brilliant in their hue, and they’re reflecting like a fire. So you’ve got all of this fire around. This is brilliantly polished metal and it’s reflecting all that fire that’s taking place around them.
Ezekiel 1:8, “The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides …” That’s a really odd image that comes to your mind. So under their wings, they have these hands or arms that are sticking out, the hands of a man. But man hasn’t been created yet.
So, they have that form that is going to be duplicated, used again, when God creates human beings. “… And each of the four had faces and wings.”
Then we get into Ezekiel 1:10, and it says: “As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle.” See, what I’m doing in all of this?
You’re saying, “What has this to do with Leviathan?”
I’m setting up a way of thinking that is not supported by anything you’ve ever heard in school or anything you’ve ever been taught from a naturalist worldview.
We have to start with what the Scripture teaches: that we have the face of a man, face of an ox, face of an eagle, face of a lion long before lions and eagles and oxen and men are created. God re-uses those patterns later on. Ezekiel 1:11, “Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies.”
They’re just called living creatures in Ezekiel 1. Then we get into Ezekiel 10:14, and we read “Each one had four faces …” Here, he calls them cherubs. That’s the connection. Now we know what those creatures are in Ezekiel 1.
Again, they have the face of a man, an eagle, and here, the first one is a cherub. Earlier, the one that’s missing is the face of a calf. We’ll have the face of an ox later on. So, there is some similarity there between the face of a cherub, the primary face, and the face of an ox and the face of a calf.
We go into Revelation [4:7], skipping to the last Book in the Bible, the Apostle John goes into Heaven. He is before the throne of God, and he sees these four living creatures before the throne of God, and he says that “the first living creature was like a lion …”
They don’t have four faces, they have four living creatures. The first one has the face of a lion, the second a calf, the third a man, and the fourth like a flying eagle, and each has six wings.
So, those different faces were not associated with seraphs in Isaiah 6. They were associated with the cherubs. And then you have six wings with seraphs, and these have six wings.
This seems to be a third order of angels that is similar, but they were created this way with the same body parts that are part of different animals once God creates in Genesis 1.
And they’re singing the same thing that the seraphs in Isaiah 6 are singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” there. Here [Revelation 4:8], they’re singing: “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
Another thing that we learn in Scripture, when we look at Psalm 104:4 (I’ve already pointed out the significance of fire), we have this coming out again: “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.”
What’s interesting is the role that fire plays in the midst of the description of these angels. One of the things that I did today is, I looked at the word “seraphim”, which has traditionally just been translated as “burning.”
What do you have to have to create burning? Fire. So, that is one of the meanings that’s listed for seraphs.
As I was reading through the article, they said that the first meaning is “a serpent,” “a burning serpent.” Interesting. I bet you never thought of describing a seraph in those terms.
Now Satan or Lucifer was a cherub; he was not a seraph. But you have this meaning associated with that word saraph in the Hebrew that is also used to apply to serpents.
You know about the fiery serpents in the wilderness that had a poisonous bite. [Numbers 21:6–8] These vipers showed up as a result of Israel’s rebellion against God, and so He’s disciplining them with these vipers. And they’re called—everybody speculates—they’re called “fiery vipers” because the bite would burn. So, there’s something interesting going on there.
Also, it’s used in a variety of adjectives referring to a winged serpent or basilisk. If you saw the Harry Potter movies, you know what a basilisk looks like. It looks like a dragon of some kind. Right?
Then they conclude in their fifth point: They say it’s uncertain whether these creatures are to be understood simply as serpents, as suggested perhaps by certain statements in Isaiah 6:1–3, or as composite creatures, or as having human forms.
So, they’re uncertain about that, but when you look at the text, it’s a little bit of everything that’s sort of rolled in, so you have this aspect to it of fire and burning.
In Ezekiel 28:14, talking about the fall of the anointed cherub, it describes this creature who ascends and falls as “the anointed cherub who covers”. The word “anointed” is the Hebrew word mashiach, which is where we get the word “Messiah,” which means someone who is anointed or appointed to a position. He is “the anointed cherub who covers.”
The word cover has to do with providing a veil or a covering to separate one area from another area. So this cherub’s role is to create a covering around the throne of God to prevent others from directly looking upon God. That’s his role. It is a function like the veil in the temple that separates the holy place from the holy of holies.
Do you remember what was embroidered on the veil in the temple, separating the holy place from the holy of holies? Cherubs.
So, he is “the anointed cherub who covers”. This is referring to Lucifer, and it describes his pre-fall condition as being “on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.” [Ezekiel 28:14] Here’s that mention of fire again.
In Ezekiel 28:18, we read, as God indicts him, He said, “You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore, I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you.”
What are angels? They’re like ministers of fire.
So, there’s this whole imagery there of fire and this burning that’s going on, and that’s happening prior to Creation. That’s happening in Heaven. It happens in relation to the angels and all these descriptions. So, what we see in our creation today is a reflection of these forms that were originally used in the angelic creation in Heaven.
All of that is simply to get you to think more about what you’re reading and what we see in the Scripture talking about why God created these creatures to be the way that they are.
So, the next point is—I don’t have a slide for this—that God also knew in eternity past that in corruption, fallen man would begin to worship the creature rather than the Creator and would turn these creatures—the sea, Rahav, Leviathan, the Tannin, the Behemoth—into gods or deities or forces that fight the gods in order to bring about their view of creation.
So, God knows how they’re going to be formed—as the way He intends them as real actual creatures—but how then they’re going to be perverted by mythology and the meanings that will be assigned. In all of these, there’s an interesting similarity between so many of these ancient, origin myths that you have, whether it’s in Greek mythology, Roman mythology … Whether it’s in Aztec mythology or Peruvian mythology. Or whether it’s in Egyptian or Babylonian mythology. They all have very similar elements.
But the creation comes out of these bodies—the matter, whatever that is—of these gods and goddesses as they existed before there is an earth or anything else. In other words, even in ancient pagan mythology, matter is eternal, not spirit.
So, that’s a head-to-head collision that’s going to take place whenever you’re dealing with any human viewpoint worldview versus a divine viewpoint worldview. And that if you’re spiritual, then that’s a totally different issue in life than if you’re just accidental protoplasmic matter, and there’s nothing more to it than that.
So, God designs all of these aspects of Creation knowing exactly how they’re going to be used and abused in Creation … How He’s going to use them to teach certain things and how paganism is going to distort those things.
In God’s incredible ability to multitask, He’s able to use the forms of these creatures in terms of a literal, actual sense and meaning, as well as to use them in terms of the perverted connotations that will develop in paganism.
God will use both in order to communicate to His pagan, fallen audience in the ancient world about how sin and arrogance brought chaos into the universe, and how God has defeated the arrogance and the chaos in some primordial battle before Genesis 1. And that God eventually is going to resolve the problem of evil and sin and chaos. All of this is really more than simply a metaphor.
As we look at these passages—I’ve just listed five; there are about ten different terms that are used, that are also taken over in paganism. I’m just going to look at these five.
Yam refers to the sea and mostly refers to the salt sea. Very interesting that in the Bible you have the salt sea, you have the deep—this term tehom, that’s used in Genesis 1:2: there’s darkness on the face of the tehom.
The word tehom is a cognate to the word Tiamat, who is the goddess of the sea, so there’s a polemic there imbedded.
If you know the Hebrew, you understand Babylonian mythology, you know that there’s this polemic. A polemic is “an argument against” showing the power of God versus the impotence of the pagan gods and goddesses in their worldview.
There are also these creatures called the Tannin.
Now yam, I think, is a corporate term. The sea represents chaos. The sea represents the corporate entity that houses evil, and the demons, and Satan. The Tannin probably represents a demon, but in some places, it can represent Satan. It’s not like it’s a hard and fast rule that in every place it always means the same thing. And in some places, it just refers to sea creatures like in Genesis 1.
Then you have this creature, Leviathan. Who is Leviathan? What does Leviathan represent?
Then you have the creature that is mentioned in Psalm 89:10, Rahav, and then you have this other creature named Behemoth.
The interesting thing about the term Behemoth is you will hear all kinds of people talk about Behemoth. This is an illustration. “We’ll talk about Behemoth.”
“Oh, that’s just some Behemoth, some great creature, some big thing or whatever it is.” They have no idea that that term came out of the Bible. It’s not used anywhere else other than the Bible.
But this is sort of a reverse of what is normally talked about in this thing, and I’ll come back to this in a minute. You have people who don’t believe in the Bible, don’t believe in Behemoth, and the use that term all the time.
In the same way, what you have here in the Bible is you have the writers of Scripture, who do not believe or affirm anything in pagan mythology, but those creatures in pagan mythology have developed a certain connotation.
So the writers of Scripture use them because these cultural connotations have become embedded in the pagan culture that the Bible is speaking to. And so the writers of Scripture will use these terms, because they picked up an idiomatic, a metaphorical meaning, and you can use those terms without affirming the paganism that lies behind it.
I created this chart to try to communicate that. So over here [points to the left] you have God the Creator, and He creates all creatures … He creates the sea, Leviathan, Behemoth, the Tannin, Rahav … And they’re all designed with the purpose …
Literal creatures are created in the first six days of Creation. In a direct line, these are referred to in the Bible always as actual, historical creatures. That’s point one.
But God also knew that the pagans would turn these into mythological deities, and so God knew that they would use His creatures to represent pagan deities, that is, demons, and use them to describe these fake origin stories, these myths. But that enters into a cultural connotation which is then used to communicate. That’s point two, with a view to their mythological connotations to communicate God versus evil.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. In the ancient world, for example, in Horus you have statement, “Thus did Apollo rescue me.” Now Horus believed in the myths, in the gods and goddesses of Rome.
But then in John Milton … You know who John Milton is. John Milton was a Puritan, he was a poet, he wrote about a 250-plus page poem called Paradise Lost. He wrote another called Paradise Regained.
In Paradise Lost, he tells the whole story of the Creation and the Fall. He talks about Satan, and he talks about Satan’s fall in rebellion against God, and his temptation of Adam and Eve, and he goes on and on for 250 pages.
He in no way believes in the reality of pagan gods and goddesses. But because by this time in seventeenth century England, the people knew the stories, the myths, of the Romans and the Greeks. They didn’t believe them, but they knew the stories and what they were intended to teach. He knew he could use those gods and goddesses in a nonreligious sense to communicate a cultural concept.
So for example, in one place [On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity] he says, “Apollo from his shrine Can no more divine, Will hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.” Apollo would spend part of his time at the shrine of Delphi.
So he talks about this, but he’s only using that in a metaphorical sense. He has no belief system in its existence. I can go on and on (with examples). I’ll probably come back to that next week, but I’m running a little short on time right now …
I just want to make this point that because the writers of Scripture use terms related to pagan mythology, it doesn’t mean that they’re believing in anything related to that pagan mythology.
It’s that those ideas and concepts have entered into the culture of the ancient Near East and so they’re borrowing that in a sense, to teach the biblical truth of God destroying evil.
So, that is simply the introduction to help us understand that background to these kinds of terms.
Next time, what I want to do is start working our way through Job. But I want us to remember that in God’s Creation, it’s just brilliant. It is so much more complex than any of us have the capacity to appreciate. And that God designed all the creatures and embedded within their DNA, all of the multiplicity of the complexity of the forms that we see around us in our world today that weren’t there thousands of years ago when God originally created.
There are so many other aspects to this that need to be developed and explored and there are people with Answers in Genesis, and there are people with The Institute for Creation Research who are doing some phenomenal work developing out all of these different aspects.
But this just sets up what I want to go into next time. It creates our mindset that we have to think in terms of God designing creatures to communicate and teach things that will be used both correctly by the prophets in the writers of Scripture, and incorrectly by the perversion of the pagans who rejected the truth of Scripture.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to have our thinking expanded, challenged, as we reflect upon Your Word and the implications of Your Word, thinking about Your Creation and You as the Creator God, and recognizing that all within Creation that we know, is directly related to a broader conflict, this angelic rebellion that we just touched on in Ezekiel 28 with the fall of Satan, and why the human race has been created and how this connects.
“We pray that You will help us in the coming weeks to put these things together and then come to understand the implications of that for why You’ve entered into contracts or covenants with the human race … with Abraham, with Israel, with David … and the significance of all this, and these allusions that we have in Scripture to these monsters, and what all that means in all this part of Scripture.
“We need to understand it, so we can read your Word with complete understanding and spiritual discernment.
“We pray these things now in Christ’s name. Amen.”