In Job 41, God asks a rather odd question. Not odd as in nonsense, but odd in that it is one of the most thought-provoking passages in the whole book.
Keep in mind as you read these few verses that Leviathan represents the most fearsome sea creature imaginable. Also, try to keep track of the many suggestions for taming and domesticating the sea monster God lays out.
“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
No one is fierce enough to rouse it. (Job 41:1-10.)
Anyone thinking they have a way to tame that monster is living in a false hope, God says. But what is his point?
It’s found in the very next question God poses.
Who then is able to stand against me?
Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me. (Job 41:10-11.)
The book of Job consists in large part of speeches where many times the speaker seems to want to form God in his own image. As Job suffers, his friends tell him it’s because God has judged him worthy of punishment, that this is who God is in Job’s life: a punisher. Job repeatedly proclaims his conduct not deserving of punishment, and says if he only had an audience with God he’d tell God how unfair he’s being.
God’s reference to Leviathan is designed to set them all straight.
These men can’t even subdue and train a fellow creature. How can they hope to tame God and train the Creator to answer them the way they want, to speak comforting words at their behest?
As C.S. Lewis wrote of the Christ figure in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan is “not like a tame lion.” God is not ours to mold and manipulate. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8.)
But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” (Romans 9:21.)
God’s thoughts and ways and purposes are unsearchable, unknowable, beyond our limited ability to comprehend. (Romans 11:33.) But that is not to say we cannot know God in our limitations. Jesus is the way to understand God, as he assured his friends.
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9.)
And one day we will know fully, without limitation, all that God wants us to know.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12.)
This is your assurance: the One who knows you fully now will give you full understanding when you stand in his presence. And he won’t fit your limited image of him. To the contrary, you will instead fit his.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2.)
Admit it. This is much better than fruitlessly trying to tame God and domesticate him for your own personal needs.