By Beth Groh
Sometimes we just can’t resist when we read a teasing news headline.
“CHINESE FIND 55-FOOT SEA MONSTER. I had to see. Click.
Sure enough, there was a picture of people standing around gawking at a decaying sea creature—a 4.5 ton unidentified blob.
As parents, we’re sometimes confronted with our very own monster tales from our children.
Have you ever had to do a closet check, or an under-the-bed check, just to verify that, yes, the coast was clear? With three kids, I’ve run my share of reconnaissance missions over the years!
And each time I tried to run my answer through a “faith filter” to make sure my answer was biblically sound. That’s tough—especially when those questions can come in the middle of the night or when you’re distracted.
So let’s take a few minutes now to apply a biblical worldview to monster tales.
And if you turn to the book of Job in chapter 41, you’ll meet the Bible’s very own sea monster: leviathan.
What a strange creature! It defies any who would try to catch it or harpoon it: “Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.” (Job 41: 9)
The text goes on to say: “Who dares to open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?” (Job 41:14) With its “chest as hard as a rock” and underside as “jagged potsherds”, this ferocious creature treats iron “like straw” and defies any spear, hook, javelin or club.
Yikes! I wouldn’t want him on the end of my fishing hook!
With our modern knowledge, we might be tempted to conclude that leviathan is a great white shark or perhaps some aggressive form of whale—that is, until we get to verses 18 through 21. Now, it sounds more like a dragon with smoke pouring “out from his nostrils” and flames darting from his mouth.
If that’s not perplexing enough, thumb back to chapter 40 in Job and read about behemoth.
Behemoth “ranks first among the works of God” (Job 40:19), with bones that are “tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron.” (Job 40:18) This grass-eating creature defies capture and is described as having fearless command of the fields and river banks.
Some Bible translations in the footnotes refer to behemoth as a hippopotamus. But, if you’ve ever seen a hippo or an elephant in the zoo—with their scrawny little tails—then that image doesn’t match verse 17, which describes a tail that “sways like a cedar”. (Frankly, that description sounds more like a dinosaur, but that’s another day’s topic!)
So clearly the Bible describes animals that have no logical match in a modern-day zoo or aquarium.
Now that doesn’t mean they reside under our children’s beds or lurk in their closets! But it does mean that our God is a BIG God and created all kinds of sea creatures on day five (Genesis 1:20-23) and land creatures on day six (Genesis 1: 24-25). Would it be any wonder that we, as mere men, don’t know them all?
That point is further driven home in the chapters of Job where the behemoth and leviathan are described. In describing those animals—and others that He created—the Lord is setting Job in his place, starting with chapter 38.
His point? God is God. And man is mere man.
His rebuke begins: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” And it continues for four eloquent chapters as He reminds Job of His sovereignty on earth and His creation.
So how does this help us, as parents, when we get the monster questions?
Well, this issue opens a wonderful opportunity for us to assure our children two things:
(1) God is a Mighty God who made all kinds creatures great and small (even strange ones like leviathan and behemoth). And …
(2) God repeatedly promises His love and protection.
So the bottom line on monsters? Welcome them as powerful object lessons of God’s might and His grace!