|Bottom||Musings Index||Burning Coal|
Job 40:15-24* Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.
To set the context, this description of "behemoth" is given by God Himself, speaking to Job. In fact, God describes two creatures. One is the behemoth, sometimes called a hippopotamus, and the leviathan, often referred to as a whale, a sea-monster or crocodile. Adam Clark's Commentary spends a great deal of time trying to decide exactly what these two creatures are, but spends no time examining their significance to Job. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary suggests that these two creatures are ways in which God shows Job his own relative insignificance. This latter interpretation is suspiciously close to the "night vision" of Eliphaz in Chapter Four, which is clearly not of God. They may have been familiar descriptions of creatures, real or imagined, but their importance does not lie in encyclopedic cataloging, or the belittling of Job's significance to God. We shouldn't forget Job's central part in the debate between God and Satan. God does care about Job. God is delighted with Job.
These two creatures are allegorical descriptions, by which God is teaching Job. Leviathan "is a king over all the children of pride" (Job 41:34), while behemoth "is the chief of the ways of God" (Job 40:19). They form a contrast. Job is gripped by the spirit of leviathan, but God wishes to bring him to the spirit of behemoth.
In modern terms, you could say that Job was a self-actualized man. Job had reached a pinnacle of financial success (Job 1:3), had the admiration of nobles, princes (Job 29:9-10), and even God Himself (Job 1:8). "He maketh a path to shine after him" (Job 41:32). Did not this description of the leviathan, also describe Job, who now laments that "He [God] hath stripped me of my glory" (Job 19:9), "He hath made me a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret [drum]" (Job 17:6), "children of base men... spare not to spit in my face" (Job 30:8-10). Job longs to be justified, pleading "hide me in the grave... until thy wrath be past" (Job 14:13), "O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place" (Job 16:18), "Oh that my words... were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever" (Job 19:23-24).
In contrast to this desire to be remembered and justified, the behemoth is hidden, though he is described as a powerful creature with a tail like a cedar (Job 40:16-18). "Under the lotus plants he lies down, in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh" (Job 40:21, NAS).
The leviathan causes the depths to boil (Job 41:31), and out of his mouth go sparks of fire and burning torches (Job 41:19). The picture is of a creature whose passing causes churning, upheaval and turmoil. Now look at the behemoth: "If a river rages, he is not alarmed; He is confident, though the Jordan rushes to his mouth" (Job 40:23, NAS).
These two creatures are a specific contrast meant to bring understanding to Job. When God concludes these descriptions, Job immediately retracts all complaint to God and repents in dust and ashes (Job 42:2-6). Although contemporary commentaries may miss the point, Job certainly does not.
Enoch 58:5-12 But when the time shall come, then shall the power, the punishment, and the judgment take place, which the Lord of spirits has prepared for those who prostrate themselves to the judgment of righteousness, for those who abjure that judgment, and for those who take his name in vain. That day has been prepared for the elect as a day of covenant; and for sinners as a day of inquisition.
In that day shall be distributed for food two monsters; a female monster, whose name is Leviathan, dwelling in the depths of the sea, above the springs of waters; And a male monster, whose name is Behemoth; which possesses, moving on his breast, the invisible wilderness. His name was Dendayen in the east of the garden, where the elect and the righteous will dwell; where he received it from my ancestor, who was man, from Adam the first of men, whom the Lord of spirits made.
Then I asked of another angel to show me the power of those monsters, how they became separated on the same day, one being in the depths of the sea, and one in the dry desert. And he said, Thou, son of man, art here desirous of understanding secret things. And the angel of peace, who was with me, said, These two monsters are by the power of God prepared to become food, that the punishment of God may not be in vain.
First a note on "The Book of Enoch": this book, originally considered a proper part of Old Testament literature by the Apostolic Fathers, was known and quoted from by Jesus, Paul, John, and cited by Jude (Jude 14-15), but was dropped from the final cannon and later suppressed as being disagreeable with church doctrine. The Hebrew cannon eliminated the book because of obvious and blatant prediction of the appearing of the "son of man" who will sit on the throne of God and judge men and angels. I am considering it here because of this reference to the Behemoth and Leviathan, which may shed more light on this discussion.
Notice that the context of this description is a discussion of the Judgment. The two creatures are "prepared as food". Leviathan appears to dwell in riches ("the depths of the sea"), whereas Behemoth dwells in the desert. They are separated "that the punishment of God may not be in vain". As in Job, the two are being offered as a choice. Because God is merciful and longsuffering (Enoch 58:14), food is provided by which we can come to "a day of covenant" or "a day of inquisition".
The Behemoth comes from a place to the east of the garden, in a place "where the elect and the righteous will dwell". He moves "on his breast", which implies a humble state. Satan is forced to take a humbled position, not by choice. Behemoth appears to be taking a humble position and thereby possessing "the invisible wilderness". The image is of vast, untapped resources which the eye of the flesh cannot see, gained by humility. Back to the beginning: "for those who prostrate themselves to the judgment of righteousness". Humility before God is essential to the covenant of the righteous.
The Lord's address to Job reveals in greater detail the qualities of character to which He is calling us, as shown in the allegory of the Behemoth.
Isaiah 11:1-5 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse... And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins.
"His strength is in his loins" (Job 40:16). Understanding this statement requires some understanding of the various possible meanings of "in his loins" in Old Testament usage. First, the loins are the place of fecundity and fruitfulness: "all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls" (Exodus 1:5). When preparing to travel one girds the loins (Exodus 12:11) as in putting on a belt or sash. This was also done so that the long loose clothing of the day could be pulled up and tucked into the belt for traveling or strenuous work (as 1 Kings 18:46).
Loosening in the loins is a polite way of saying he messed his britches, as: "Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another" (Daniel 5:6; see also Isaiah 45:1). This speaks of a loss of control. God prefaces His words to Job, "Gird up thy loins now like a man" (Job 38:3 and 40:7). In other words, 'Get a hold of yourself'.
Moses is instructed to cover the loins of Aaron and his sons for priesthood. "And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach" (Exodus 28:42). The first covering of the loins was that of Adam and Eve, who were covered by God (Genesis 3:21). The girdle about the loins is a covering for the shameful passions of men, which were turned from God by our first ancestors, Adam and Eve.
God instructs Jeremiah to gird his loins with a fresh linen girdle and then later, he is instructed to take it off and bury it (Jeremiah 13:1-4). When the Lord instructs Jeremiah to unearth the girdle, it has become rotten and is now worthless (Jeremiah 13:6-7). "Then the word of the Lord came unto me saying... For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear" (Jeremiah 13:8-11). God is telling Jeremiah that because Isreal and Judah had not become "a people, for renown, for praise and for glory" (Jeremiah 13:11, NAS), and did not cleave unto God, God will destroy their pride.
So to generalize, the loins speak of passion, both in what we birth (our fruitfullness) and in what are willing to strive for. God wants our passion to be sealed to Him. When your passion is fixed on the Lord, the glory and the praise and the fame you spread will be the glory of God. Your passion will be your strength and the Lord's blessing will be on you. The Behemoth is the one renowned for the praise and glory of God.
Proverbs 18:20 A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
Proverbs 3:7-8 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
John 7:37-38 Jesus stood and cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
"His force is in the navel of his belly" (Job 40:16). The navel speaks of intimate connection and the belly speaks of digestion and gestation.
In the belly, the emotions cook. What you brood upon, fills the belly. So we say, "I can't swallow that" or "I've had my belly full". Wrath arises from the belly. "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly" (Proverbs 26:22). This is why we are warned to quickly turn away anger and resentment, (Matthew 5:22, Ephesians 4:26 and 31, Colossians 3:21).
The belly brought down to the dust paints a picture of humility, especially being humbled. The serpent clings to the things of the earth, and so he is forced to crawl on his belly: "Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life" (Genesis 3:14). When afflictions weigh heavy on us, we begin to brood on our misery: "Our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth" (Psalms 44:25). The picture is of a people in grief, who can see nothing but their misery. The misery of this world looms so large that the soul is captured and brought down.
We must consciously redirect our attention. "And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them" (Ezekiel 3:3-4; see also Revelations 10:9-10). In his vision, Ezekiel is fed a scroll with the word of God until it fills his bowels. Then he is instructed to share the word with all of Israel. We need to fill our bowels with the word of God.
The navel of the belly speaks of elemental attachment. The NIV translates the passage for this section as "what power in the muscles of his belly!" This is apparently a closer translation of the original Hebrew. In the context of this study, 'muscles of the belly' would refer to what the belly clings to, which would also indicate attachment. This indicates something more powerful than simply filling the belly. Jesus clarifies that that which is taken into the soul is taken into the "heart", as opposed to that which is physically taken into the belly and then purged, (Matthew 15:16-20, and Mark 7:18-23).
What you treasure is what your heart attaches to (Matthew 6:21), assures Jesus, therefore: "seek ye first the kingdom of God," (Matthew 6:33). "Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God," (Joel 2:12-13).
Taken as a slave into captivity, Daniel kept his heart turned to God, despite personal peril. God tells Daniel, "Fear not... for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words," (Daniel 10:12). By fixing his heart on God in spite of danger, Daniel opened a door into the presence of God.
In the following quote from Ezekiel, God is revealing that the sin of Jerusalem is because the people did not sever all connection to ungodly cultures as God had instructed them to (Numbers 33:55): "Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut" (Ezekiel 16:3-4). We remain attached to the world of the ungodly by considering the world's thoughts (on television, in magazines, on billboards...) and giving ourselves over to worldly pleasures. We do not separate from the world, but we must sever its influence on us. The religions of this world are science, psychology, and mammon, each of which has its own idols. Every compromise we make draws us closer to those idols. As Jerusalem played the harlot (Ezekiel 16:15), so do we, when we bring the world into our homes, our government and our churches.
Another aspect of attachment is that of the opening through which access is granted. The children of Israel had access to God through the covenants of Abraham (Genesis 15:9-21), Isaac (Genesis 26:24-25), Jacob (Israel) (Genesis 32:26-29) and finally Moses. Attachment to the Lord was through the sacrifice of the blood and the covenant which Moses wrote down: "And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words" (Exodus 24:5-8).
For us, opening to God is granted, by grace, through faith in the Lamb of God, the ultimate and eternal blood sacrifice. The resurrection of Jesus opens for us the possibility of direct and instant access to the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah laments those who have forsaken God: "O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters" (Jeremiah 17:13). Ezekiel has showed us that Jerusalem remained connected to the ungodly. In both ways, the power is robbed because the heart is turned away.
The Behemoth, on the other hand is "chief of the ways of God". He is connected, he is attached and he is filled with the word of God. If we fill ourselves with the word, and renew our souls by the Holy Spirit, we are granted incredible power through the gifts of the spirit. Our bellies become a rich spring of life giving waters. "Put on therefore... bowels of mercies" (Colossians 3:12).
Psalms 41:12 In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.
Job 28:28 Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
"He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron" (Job 40:17-18). This speaks of a strong foundation. When I witnessing the power of Hurricane Gloria passing over Long Island, I was astounded even more at the strength of huge pine trees which were bent flat to the ground by the power of the wind, but immediately popped back up when the wind ceased. As a carpenter, I know that wood, because of its ability to absorb a tremendous shock and still return to its original shape, is sometimes more durable than steel. Axes, shovels and other tools have wooden handles, despite today's metal alloys.
The frame of the Behemoth, the bones, are as strong as iron and brass, the metals of Job's day. From this we conclude that the Behemoth is solid at the core. Even when he bends, there is vast strength. The clue to that strength is the odd middle reference "the sinews of his stones are wrapped together". "Stones" or testicles is translated as "thighs" in other English translations. I assume this is for modesty's sake. Strong's shows the Hebrew word "pachad" to mean testicle. "Pachad" also means a sudden alarm or thing of fear: "And the fear of the LORD fell on the people" (1 Samuel 11:7).
Now I don't want to belabor this discussion, but I believe something important is revealed. Both because of the importance of lineage to the Hebrews and because of the awesome mystery of procreation coming from them, the testicles take on sacred character. A man who is injured there is forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:1). If two men are fighting, and the wife of one seizes the other man's genitals, her hand is to be cut off (Deuteronomy 25:11-12).
It can also be said that the "stones" are the seat of lusts and passions that defile, degrade and destroy if not carefully controlled. Mosaic law is filled with rules regarding sex, marriage, rape, incest, homosexuality and beastiality. Punishment for transgression is grave. So we return to Behemoth: "the sinews of his stones are wrapped together". His passions, and I don't assume that this refers only to sexual lust, are under control. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Zechariah 13:7-9 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
"He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him" (Job 40:19). The maker's sword would generally mean the sword of His mouth. However, in the context of Job, this can just as likely indicate a physical assault. In any case, those who rest in the Lord, do not fear either.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:12-13). Those whose passions cleave to the Lord, who are attached in the spirit, and whose bellies are filled with the word of God do not fear, for "He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me" (Isaiah 49:2). The behemoth rejoices in the sword/word of God.
"Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do" (Luke 12:4). The apostolic church from the crucifixion of Christ Jesus until the conversion of Constantine reveals a long list of those who went willingly to their deaths to uphold the glory and honor of their Lord. While those in the Western world are rarely asked to make this sacrifice today, in many parts of the world Christians are still being martyred in large numbers for the cause of Jesus.
"Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35). For many of us, the maker's sword touches us in the decisions we must make daily: Will walk in the familiar well worn ruts of this world, or will we answer a higher calling, by our love for God, to choose to be painfully honest, or turn away from the pleasures of the flesh that God abhors. Are you willing that the maker's sword should touch you? If it approaches, what thoughts will your heart reveal?
There is perhaps no greater example of a leviathan inspired character, who turns to become God's behemoth, than Saul of Tarsus. Now known as Paul, he came to embrace every trial for the sake of the Father's work: "Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the electís sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him," (2 Timothy 2:9-12).
When Paul prepares to go to Jerusalem, he is warned several times that he will suffer greatly as a consequence. Paul, however, feeling it is God's will that he go, goes with confidence and joy. "And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paulís girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, 'What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.' And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, 'The will of the Lord be done'" (Acts 21:10-14).
1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
"Under the lotus plants he lies down, In the covert of the reeds and the marsh. The lotus plants cover him with shade; The willows of the brook surround him." (Job 40:21-22, NAS). As the behemoth hides in the depths of God, glory is surrendered to heaven, and the Lord's comfort surrounds him.
"The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way" (Psalms 25:9). Meekness is the quite unassuming character, which remains open. These are the ones who can hear. To the meek goes the word of God: "the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek" (Isaiah 61:1).
In contrast is the self-focussed character for whom all things must be assimilated to self. Everything is clear for Job. He has carefully analyzed each circumstance. In fear of the Lord, he has ordered all things in his life. This is Job's covering, made plain to Job in God's allegorical leviathan: "His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered" (Job 41:15-17). He is sealed up tight: "ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones" (Matthew 23:27). The air, the spirit of God, cannot penetrate this shell. Despite great seeming devotion, Job has never seen God until he appears in chapter thirty-eight, (Job 42:5).
Those who remain quite and open before the Lord are fed continually: "Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play" (Job 40:20). "Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). And the riches of God will abound: "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalms 37:11; also Matthew 5:5). "For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation" (Psalms 149:4).
Many have the mistaken notion that this means that the difficulties of this world will be removed, and that the Cadillac you envision will be supplied. It does not. Paul reminds the Thessalonians, "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto" (1 Thessalonians 3:3). We are called to the cross.
God wants to trade the world's yoke for His own: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30). The Lord will strengthen you.
Psalms 119:49-50 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
"If the river rages, he is not alarmed; He is confident, though the Jordan rushes to his mouth" (Job 40:23, NAS). When our vision is in God, not our selves, when our dream is taken off of this world and rests in God, the concerns of this world glide away in the current. When the word of God is in our hearts, there is a well spring of comfort to draw on.
Jesus can confidently face the cross, knowing that his flesh is delivered unto death, but that Satan cannot touch his soul: "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence," John 14:30-31:. "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25).
Paul, coming to the end of his letter to the Hebrews, exhorts the Hebrews to set their faith in the eternal and unshakable things for God will remove all else: "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain" (Hebrews 12:25-27). When we affix ourselves to the living God, fixing our eyes on heaven and our heart on Christ Jesus, we are grounded in the unshakable things, the eternal. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Mark 13:35-37 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
"Can anyone capture him when he is on watch, With barbs can anyone pierce his nose?" (Job 40:24, NAS). Habakkuk sets a watch in the spirit that the Lord might speak to him: "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved," (Habakkuk 2:1).
Exhortation to watchfulness is found throughout the New Testament. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," (1 Peter 5:8), warns Peter, to which Paul adds, "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
In the flesh, we are very weak. We do not even have the power to watch for the enemy. Only by staying open to the Holy Spirit can we hope to be ready in the hour in which the Lord calls us. "What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," (Matthew 26:40-41).
The darts of the enemy range from temptations, to accusations, to physical assaults. The life of God's elect, from the prophets to Jesus to his disciples all indicate a life of thorns rather than a bed of rose petals. However, all who remain steadfast in faith are not touched in the spirit. "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked," (Ephesians 6:16).
Jacob's blessing to Joseph takes immediate note of the fact that the enemies darts have been leveled against him without mercy, but he was made strong by God. Joseph, Jacob declares, is "the shepherd, the stone of Israel": "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under," (Genesis 49:22-25).
In his book "A Hippo in the Garden" pastor James Ryle relates a prophetic dream in which the placid calm of his garden is suddenly interrupted by a man leading a hippopotamus as if it were the family pet. When he sought the Lord's explanation, he was told "I am about to do a strange, new thing in my church...It will be like a man bringing a hippopotamus into his garden" (James Ryle. A Hippo in the Garden. Creation House, 1993. Page 259).
Ryle compares the hippo to the prophet of God. I found this use of the hippo as an allegory for the Lord's anointed to be instructive for our purposes. The hippo plays an important role in its ecosystem by breaking up blockages in African waterways, which would otherwise choke them, making them impassable and stagnant. The hippo, being strictly vegetarian, is generally a placid animal, which spends the day semi-submerged in rivers or lakes. However, a male hippo can weigh more that 7000 pounds, run thirty mile an hour and turn rapidly, making them a powerful opponent when upset.
Humility is the first mark of God's anointed: "Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). Seeing a hippo with eyes and ears just above the water, it is easy to dismiss him, not seeing his great bulk hidden below. When hidden in God, the meek, disregarded by men, are noticed by God. In particular notice the words of the Lord from Matthew: "Take my yoke upon you... for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (11:29). "When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble" (Psalms 9:12). "seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORDíS anger" (Zepheniah 2:3).
Compassion is Ryle's rendering of "the strength of his loins" and "the muscles of his belly" (Ryle, 1993. Pages 271-272). "But whoso hath this worldís good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17). Here the 'bowels of compassion' cry out for the doing of God's will.
Ryle continues to draw out of the behemouth's description self-control (Job 40:17), integrity (40:18), authority (40:19), courage (40:23), and alertness (40:24), as well as submission (40:19), faith (40:20), gentleness (40:20) and hiddenness (40:21-22). These are all attributes of true saintliness.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Revelations 2:17 To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Anyone who partakes of the body and the blood in the Spirit begins to understand Christ who is "chief of the ways of God". This is the beginning of the transformation by which we put on the new man, and the ways of Behemoth are inculcated into us, not by our efforts, lest we boast, but by the power of the Holy Ghost.
This should be seen in stark contrast to the Leviathan of Job chapter forty-one. The Leviathan is the spirit of the pride of righteousness. It is the righteousness of the world, which desires the recognition of men, of God and of angels. The "goodness" of the Leviathan is good as understood by men. It is the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowlege of good and evil. By worldly success, the Leviathan proclaims his blessings as of God. Though he cast out devils in the Lord's name, Christ will say, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23). But the Behemoth, born in a stable, lived without a bed to sleep in, and died in derision hung on a tree. He washed our feet. He crawled on his belly for us, and God has raised him up.