Leviathan: Influence of Satan in Our Accumulation of Debt
The Scriptures are saying in poetic language that the ruling spirit of world government is the same serpent that has made spiritual war with God’s people.
The Scriptures call it Leviathan, also translated and used somewhat interchangeably with the terms “dragon,” “serpent,” and “sea-monster.” Usually thought to be a crocodile, whale or some other large sea creature according to the definition, it is from the root meaning “to twine together.” A leviathan, therefore, is a twined animal, a serpent (Is. 27:1).
In Job’s terrifying symbolism, however, Leviathan is far different than an ordinary crocodile or any animal at all. The beginning of the chapter is an epic description of Leviathan as a magnificent, but familiar beast. By the end, however, it is a fire-breathing dragon, a powerful symbol of evil, destruction, and chaos broiling in the massive seas of the people. Chapter 41 particularly highlights Job’s utter impotence before Leviathan:
“Lay hands on him; think of the battle; you will not do it again! Behold, the hope of a man [to subdue Leviathan] is disappointed; he is laid low even at the sight of him. No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up. Who then is he that can stand before me? In his neck abides strength, and terror dances before him. Upon earth there is not his like, a creature without fear. He beholds everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride" (8-11, 22, 33-34).
In a series of rhetorical questions, God emphasizes man’s inability to capture or control such an invincible, terrifying enemy, while simultaneously illustrating His own indifference to the terror Leviathan provokes. Through the context of the Book of Job we understand that God alone possesses the power to conquer it.
In the prophets, the terrible sea monster is used to symbolize the Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian world empires, characterized by wealth, world government (the known world), idolatry, apostasy, and oppression of God’s people. The Scriptures are saying, in highly poetic language, that the ruling spirit of world government is Leviathan, the same serpent that has made spiritual war with God’s people from the foundation of the world (Rev. 12:1-9). In chapter 20 of Revelation we learn this serpent is none other than Satan himself, and it is for all of these reasons that the Church Fathers understood Job 41 to be speaking of the devil in poetic and mystical language.
St. Paul calls the serpent the ruler and god of this world, depicting evil’s personal influence in earthly institutions, thought, and governments. An echo of Job 41:34, Leviathan is said to gaze with superiority upon all who are haughty, rebellious and proud, insidiously and personally inciting both private and public rebellion against God and His Church’s holy teaching.
What is so chilling about Leviathan for us presently, however, is that the word “leviathan” also means “mourning,” and when not speaking of the animal, it is most often used in the Scriptures to denote indebtedness, especially financial indebtedness (Ex. 22:25, Ps. 37:22). This is an interesting hallmark of Leviathan’s ruling influence, because it says to us that Satan uses the accumulation of debt to influence and control the masses of people.
The insatiable American appetite for comfort has led to an abdication of personal responsibility and an evil reliance on government to do for us what is our inalienable obligation, both for ourselves and our neighbors. Consequently we are mired deeply in debt, financially and morally, individually and collectively looking for “an elixir against earthly adversity.”
Ultimately Leviathan is a portrait of chaos at the beginning of God’s creation and of Satan at the consummation of the ages (Ps. 74:14, Baruch 29:4, Esdras 6:49-52). All of this is highly poetic, ancient Hebrew imagery, but it is symbolic of a sinister, current reality. It is our inherent attitude of rebellion toward God and our rebellion towards the Church, the Body of Christ, that has brought about our modern moral chaos. It has enabled the darker side of globalization to insinuate its ominous finger in every facet of our lives. The only remedy is total repentance:
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name 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 heal their land (2Ch 7:14).”
The “mourning” has dawned. The only alternative to the saving grace of repentance is to be devoured by arrogant Leviathan.
Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic Scripture teacher, study author and speaker. Visit her at www.pursuingthesummit.com and www.pursuingthesummit.blogspot.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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