Sermon for March 8th, 2015

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Mark 1:12-13 (NRSV)

12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Job 40:15-24 (INL)

15Behold! Behemoth! My creation (like you)—he grazes like cattle. 
16Behold! There is strength in his loins, power in his stomach. 
17His stump hangs like cedar; sinewed stones interlock. 
18His bones? Tunnels of bronze.
His limbs? Bars of iron.
19Foremost of God's marvels! Monarch of dry lands!
20Indeed the mountains bring him tribute; all the wild beasts rejoice. 
21He lounges beneath the brambles, lies among stalks of the marsh. 
22The shade trees cover him in shadow; willows of the wadi surround him. 
23When the river breaks forth, no fear in his face;
Though Jordan comes against him; his confidence remains. 
24Can you capture Behemoth with hooks? 
Can you pierce his nose with a snare?

Job: The Monsters and the Critics - Behemoth

Last week our family was driving home from somewhere, and we had two vehicles. My son, Grady, asked if he could ride with me. It had been a long day, I was tired, and I knew my son well. So I said, you can ride with me, but only on one condition: You can't ask any questions for the whole trip. It was only a five minute trip home, but apparently if you want to drive a ten-year-old boy crazy, that's the way to do it. He would start to say something, then stop himself before it turned into a question, then try to rephrase it as a statement, and then finally give up in frustration. The silence lasted about five seconds before the whole process repeated itself again. Two minutes in and I thought his head was about to explode. So many questions in the wide world, and so few answers.

Job--the central character in the Book of Job--spends about 35 chapters (the vast majority of the book) asking questions. Unlike Grady's questions, Job's are not driven by curiosity, but rather personal tragedy--the loss of fortune, his property, his children, his health. Over and over again, he asks God the questions, "Why?" and "Why me?" and "What have I done to deserve this?" and "Where were you when I was suffering?" and "Where are you now?"

Job's friends try to answer his questions. Their answers are good answers. They are good friends, as I pointed out in last year's sermon series on Job. The problem is that Job's questions were never directed at them, and so their answers cannot satisfy him. His questions were directed at God.

Finally in chapter 38, God shows up.

Unanswered questions (Grady & Job)

What is Behemoth? -Canaanite/Babylonian Land Monster -Devil Steed (Liber Floridus) -- vehicle for evil in the world -Hippopatomus? (Modern interpreters, NRSV) -Elephant? (Calvin) -Dinosaur? (Creation "Science" Museum) -Demon? (Medieval Iterps) -Lunch? (Enoch / Jewish Interp)

Behemoth is monster number one:

  • If identified with Satan, then the "first of God's angels"
  • If identified as dinosaur, then first in the sense of before people
  • If taken as representative of all wild animals then per Genesis before Adam & Eve


  • Illuminated Byzantine Ms. (Behemiathan)
  • Liber Floridus (satan riding on behemoth)
  • Asinou Church (John riding Behemoth, James riding Leviathan)
  • Wm. Blake's Image
  • Elephant demon
  • Dinosaur