‘In that day the LORD with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; And he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.’ (Isaiah 27:1).
‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.’ C.S. Lewis.
‘In that day.’ This phrase is frequent in Old Testament prophets. We hear it four times in Isaiah 27. In verse 1 it speaks of punishment, in verse 2 it refers to the song of the vineyard, in verse 12 it refers to a great gathering (the return from exile) and in verse 13 it is associated with the great trumpet. The phrase ‘In that day’ often refers to both Christ’s first and second coming. Here, the chief emphasis from these verses refers to the second coming.
Looking at our text in Isaiah 27:1, it gives two characters: the Lord with his sword, Leviathan – the dragon serpent.
We shall look at the verse under three headings:
- Leviathan defeated and judged
- By the sword of the Lord
1.Leviathan defeated and judged:
We shall consider:
- Identity – who is Leviathan?
- Character – what is he like?
- Destiny – what will happen to him?
(a) Identity: who is Leviathan?
He is not a chaos monster of any myth. He is described as being wreathed, twisted in flesh, a serpent – the serpent who deceived Eve in Genesis 3:1. He is also described as a dragon (reptile in the sea). In Revelation 12:3 we read of the ‘great fiery red dragon with 7 heads.’ Compare this with psalm 74:13. In Job 41 he is described as a ‘vast sea creature.’ Leviathan is Satan, the Devil.
(b) Character: What do we learn of this creature?
He has four features:
- He is vast (Job 4:1). You cannot defeat or tame him on your own. Perhaps Job was a little too self-sufficient? Job 1 starts with Satan attacking Job and Job 41 has God telling Job that he could not defeat Leviathan. A.W. Tozer states, ‘I’m not afraid of the devil. The devil can handle me – he’s got judo I never heard of. But he can’t handle the One to whom I’m joined; he can’t handle the one to whom I’m united. He can’t handle the One whose nature dwells in my nature.’
- The devil is a fugitive, a fleeing serpent. The idea of a fugitive suggests homeless, restless, roaming, cast out. We see this picture in Job 1 and in reference to Satan being cast out of heaven (Revelation 12.9). He is not at peace but a restless, roaming rogue – a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Having rejected God, rebelled and intent on setting himself up in opposition to God, he has found that he is like a fugitive with no place to rest.
‘The devil is no idle spirit, but a vagrant runagate walked that never rests in one place. The motive, cause and main intention of his walking is to ruin man.’ Thomas Adams.
- The devil is a twisted serpent. He is a deceitful thief, subtle, cunning, proud, accusing, tempting, a liar and murderer. In contrast, Christ is upright, the Lord our righteousness, He is truth and light.
- The dragon in the sea. The statement of Isaiah 27:1 is very clearly linked to the description of Satan in Revelation 12 and 13 – the dragon who is in the sea is Leviathan. This is complex. The imagery is very important. In Revelation we read that the sea represents all the people in the world. I John 5:19 tells us that the world lies in the sway of the wicked one.
- Destiny: What will become of Leviathan?
We come back to Isaiah 27:1. This creature will be punished and will be killed. He will be held to account so that judgement can be carried out. He will be killed, cast into the lake of fire and separated finally from the goodness of God. He will have no more power, influence or effect (Revelation 20:10).
- By the sword of the Lord.
This is a theme that runs throughout scripture.
First, a flaming sword was guarding the way back in Eden after Adam and Eve were ejected (Genesis 3:24). It was protecting divine things.
Secondly, there are a variety of places where the pre-incarnate Christ appears with a drawn sword (theophany, Christophany): Numbers 22:23 (Balaam / donkey), Joshua 5:13 (Joshua outside Jericho). In all these instances God is protecting truth and attacking anything which would ruin divine truth
Thirdly, we have texts which indicate God’s stated enmity against all evil, sin and wickedness – pictured as swords and fighting. Deuteronomy 32:39-42. God will kill and has a sword to reek vengeance on His enemies and which will devour flesh. Compare with Ezekiel 21, especially verses 14-16.
Fourthly, in contrast to these images which portray judgement in graphic, we have statements connecting the sword with the Word: Isaiah 49:2 He has made my mouth like a sharp sword, Revelation 1:16, ‘Out of the mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (c/f Revelation 2:12, 16). Hebrews 4:12, The Word is a two-edged sword. Ephesians 6:17, the sword of spirit, the Word of God.
I do not think we realise how powerful God’s Word truly is!
Fifth, we read of a clear connection between God’s sword and man’s action. Judges 7:18 & 20.
Sixth, we read wonderfully of the Lord being our sword. He is not just a shield but a sword for us. Deuteronomy 33:29, ‘Who is like you [Israel] a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty.’
Seventh: The sword of the Lord is against sin, of unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). But listen to these words: “Awake o sword against my Shepherd, against the man who is my companion,” says the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7) He has experienced the sword on our behalf. God enacts vengeance by the Word of God.
Let us look then at the text. The sword is described in 3 ways:
Severe (NIV – ‘fierce’). It is unrelenting. It will not stop and it will not be short, it will reach to every act of wrongdoing.
Great. Infinite. There is nowhere where this sword cannot reach.
Strong (NIV ‘powerful’). It is able to meet any opposition. Only God’s sword can defeat Behemoth (and Leviathan). Job 40:19 – only the one who made the creature can do so.
All sin, all wrongdoing, all evil, all rebellion – all will be judged and ‘executed’ by this sword.
According to works we shall be judged! Revelation 20, 17, 13.
Who can escape the sword?
Thanks be to Jesus Christ who has taken the sword for us (Zechariah 13:7) and who has worked well.
There are only two options – obey or rebel. Isaiah 1: 18-20 2Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord . . .”If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel you shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. We should much rather allow the surgical knife and scalpel of God’s Word cut us and charge us than that the sword of God’s vengeance against us and rebellion devour us.
With regard to Leviathan, the dragon’s serpent, the proud rebel wandering this earth, there is nothing left but destruction.
(a) You cannot fight Satan alone – this is where Job failed (perhaps). You need God, His Word and chiefly dependence upon Him in prayer. Samuel Chadwick writes, ‘Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisom, but he trembles when we pray.’
Corrie Ten Boom wrote, ‘When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians the devil rules. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.’
(b) Remember where you are – we are in this world where we will experience tribulation. It is the realm of the enemy’s ‘rule’ or influence for the whole world under lies under the sway of the wicked one. From this we need to remind ourselves that we are:
– Citizens of heaven translated from darkness into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13).
– ambassadors for Christ in enemy territory.
– In a fight and war.
(c) Remind yourself that Satan is a fugitive defeated and on death row. He may be reeking havoc and destruction but he cannot operate outside of the sovereignty of God (Job 1).
(d) Have Christ always in view. Meditate on Him and His beauty. The world takes on board the twisted and evil nature of Satan and so we need to good antidote to the effects of the world – feast on Christ.
(e) Do not underestimate the power of God’s Word. Combine this with much prayer. There are 2 equally disastrous attitudes people adopt – either prayer and no study or study and no prayer. We need both.
(f) Some ‘pointers. ‘Draw near to God, resist Satan and he will flee from you (James 4:8)
Appeal to the Word of God.
Flee (worldliness), follow (right, godliness), fight (keep hold of life). 1 Timothy 6:11.