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Isaiah 27:1-11, Israel’s Redemption

Thursday, November 23

Leviathan

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

The people of Israel have been exiled. For now, God will not save them. But God promises that one day, they will be restored. Leviathan, the dragon of the sea (also representing Babylon, the oppressors of Israel), will be killed.

For about 15 minutes in college, I toyed with becoming a marine biologist. That plan quickly died when I remembered I suck at science. I thought then, maybe I'd be a dolphin trainer. But surprisingly, dolphin training wasn't a major offered at my school. I grew up near the ocean and was always fascinated by ocean creatures and their habitat. In 2017 we have many tools we can use to study the ocean. While we still have a lot to learn, we do have some knowledge of what's down there and how it all works.

People in the Bible didn't have those tools. They couldn't go scuba diving or send a camera to the depths of the sea. All they knew was what they could see from the surface or just a glimpse of what's under the water. The sea was a mystery; its creatures mysterious and dangerous. A great evil lived in the sea, waiting to devour any who dare to venture out into it. Leviathan, the great sea monster, was lurking just below the surface.

Here are some old and new depictions of Leviathan.

1865 engraving by Gustave Doré

1865 engraving by Gustave Doré

Behemoth and Leviathan, by William Blake (died in 1827)

Behemoth and Leviathan, by William Blake (died in 1827)

The Last Judgment, by Giacomo Rossignolo (1524-1604), Boves, Italy

The Last Judgment, by Giacomo Rossignolo (1524-1604), Boves, Italy

Depiction of Leviathan from the Middle Ages often found in grimoires, by an unknown artist

Depiction of Leviathan from the Middle Ages often found in grimoires, by an unknown artist

Leviathan Rollercaster in Canada's Wonderland, Vaughan, Canada

Leviathan Rollercaster in Canada's Wonderland, Vaughan, Canada

Leviathan, by Anish Kapoor in the Grand Palais, Paris.

Leviathan, by Anish Kapoor in the Grand Palais, Paris.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Isaiah 27:1-11

On that day the Lord with his cruel and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will kill the dragon that is in the sea. On that day: A pleasant vineyard, sing about it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. I guard it night and day so that no one can harm it; I have no wrath. If it gives me thorns and briers, I will march to battle against it. I will burn it up. Or else let it cling to me for protection, let it make peace with me, let it make peace with me. In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit.

Has he struck them down as he struck down those who struck them? Or have they been killed as their killers were killed? By expulsion, by exile you struggled against them; with his fierce blast he removed them in the day of the east wind. Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be expiated, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no sacred poles or incense altars will remain standing. For the fortified city is solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness; the calves graze there, there they lie down, and strip its branches. When its boughs are dry, they are broken; women come and make a fire of them. For this is a people without understanding; therefore he that made them will not have compassion on them, he that formed them will show them no favor.