A Study Of Isaiah 27:1
In this article I want to take a good look at the Adversary of the church. Of course you know who our Adversary is. It is the Devil, also called Satan. But let us first look at:
The Sovereignty of God (Proverbs 25:2)
Did God create Satan?
Well, if God did not create Satan, then who did?
Could there have been another force at work outside of God, creating Satan and all the demons with him?
But this cannot be! This would mean that God is not the only God there is, and that is impossible. Therefore, we must say that God created Satan and all the wicked demons with him. God is sovereign, which means that God is in control of everything. And when we see all kinds of evil around us in the world, this evil does not just happen outside the control of God. The God whom we worship is a God who is in control of everything, or else He would not be God. The God whom we worship maintains and governs everything around us by His providence, and whatever He does He does it with perfect wisdom. We must also say: In wisdom God wrote the Bible.
Did God know ahead of time what He was going to write in the Bible?
Absolutely yes! God did not wait to see how history was to unfold before He knew what to dictate to His servants the Prophets. God created the historical background that He needed, and then He dictated to His servants the Prophets what He in His counsel, before the foundation of the world, had already decided to dictate. Each word and each letter of each word, in the original Hebrew and Greek text, God had in mind before He created even one speck of dust. What we begin to discover is that God wrote the Old Testament sometimes in historical narratives, and at other times in spiritual pictures, in historical parables, in signs and figures, in types and antitypes (shadows and substances) of Christ and the church. Some people try to explain the Old Testament entirely as the history of the Jews. Pity those people, because they really miss out on a great many truths that God is giving us. When we read the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and so on, we are astounded by the many parables and word pictures that God is giving us to unravel. When we read these prophecies we are reminded of Proverbs 25:2, where God says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter”. We are those kings. And when we search out a matter, we must remember that God is sovereign. One of the matters we want to search out today is this:
“Leviathan” (Isaiah 26:20-27:1, 57:20-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Matthew 24:29, 2 Peter 3:12, Hebrews 4:12, Exodus 7:9,10)
Leviathan is mentioned twice in Isaiah 27:1. But as always we need to pay attention to the context, and therefore we have to start reading from Isaiah 26:20. There God says:
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
What is this passage speaking about?
Verse 21 makes it clear that this passage refers to the Last Day, which is Judgment Day for all the unsaved on the earth. “In flaming fire God will take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). The earth shall no more cover her slain, because all the dead shall stand before the Judgment throne of God to be judged according to their works. Verse 20 refers to the Final Tribulation Period which is the last event to occur just before Christ returns to this earth the second time, according to Matthew 24:29. The Final Tribulation Period is called here “the indignation”. So the entire setting of this passage is the End of Time, and the resulting Judgment Day. It is in that setting that we read in Isaiah 27:1,
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.
“In that day”.
What day is this?
It is the Last Day; it is Judgment Day.
Does God punish animals on the Last Day?
Absolutely not! Animals are no longer in view “when the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This earth shall be destroyed on the Last Day, and all the animals shall be destroyed with it. Animals do not have another life after this life on earth, and thus animals do not appear before the Judgment throne of God.
And so, who does Leviathan represent?
Certainly Leviathan does not refer to a crocodile or to another reptile in the sea. That would simply not fit the context. No! Leviathan refers to Satan, who is our Adversary, and he will be judged and be cast into Hell on the Last Day. There are only two groups of individuals that will be judged and punished on the Last Day. One group is Satan and his demons, and the second group is all the unsaved of mankind. There will be no one else, because the earth will already be destroyed before the official judgment begins.
What is “the sore and great and strong sword” of the Lord?
It is the Bible, because we read in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
God will use the Bible to judge Satan and all the nations of the world. Satan is here called Leviathan, and Satan is described here three ways:
1. The piercing serpent,
2. The crooked serpent, and
3. The dragon that is in the sea.
What do these three descriptions mean?
First of all, “the piercing serpent” could have been translated, “the fleeing serpent”. Satan is called a fleeing serpent, because after the temptation of Adam and Eve he fled from the scene, and was not heard of until Job came on the scene many, many thousands of years later. Satan claims innocence of all the crimes that happened in all those thousands of years, claiming that he was not there. Of course he was there, but the entire human race was enslaved to sin, and therefore it seems as if Satan did not need to be present.
Secondly, Satan is called “the crooked serpent”, which may also be translated “the twisting serpent” because he twists the Word of God, and therefore Satan is called “the father of lies”. Hiding in a serpent in the Garden of Eden, Satan snared Adam and Eve into believing his lies about God. The result of this was that the entire human race was plunged into enslavement to sin and Satan.
Thirdly, he is called “the dragon that is in the sea”. Whatever the KJ translators believed, we know that dragons never existed. Dragons are conceived in mythological fairy tales. We know it, and God knows it, and God would never write in His Word about dragons. The KJ translators could not have dinosaurs in mind, because dinosaurs were not yet discovered. The word that is translated “dragon” should have been translated “serpent”. Let me prove it to you. This Hebrew word has a Strong’s Concordance number . Exactly the same word was used in Exodus 7:9,10. Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh with the command from God: “Let My people go”! Then we read:
When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent . And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent .
Now, this word had to be translated “serpent”, because Aaron’s rod could not become a dragon, or a crocodile, or any other ferocious beast. That would not fit the context. When you search the Bible for all the other occasions where this word appears, you find that in most cases it has been translated “dragon”. But if you substitute the word “serpent” in all these cases, the verses become much more understandable. And so, we will do that here also in Isaiah 27:1. God “shall slay the serpent that is in the sea”.
What sea is God speaking about?
In Isaiah 57:20 God is contrasting the righteous and the wicked, the Elect and the Reprobate.
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
The wicked, or all the unsaved of the nations of the world, are compared to a stormy sea, which casts up mud and dirt. That is exactly what the unsaved do: with their sinful actions they stir up mud and dirt. God compares them here to “a troubled sea”: it is a sea of mankind, which is troubled by sin and Satan. Let’s now turn back to Isaiah 27:1, and let us finish the thought of this verse: God shall slay Satan who dwells in the sea of the unsaved of mankind. God shall punish him for what he has done in leading the unsaved of mankind on the road to Hell. God is sovereign. God never intended to save them. But God will punish him for the sin that is in his heart, since he sinned with delight in his heart.
So, we have seen from Isaiah 27:1 that Leviathan is no one else than Satan. Let us apply this now in other verses where we see this word. We will now consider Psalm 74. This is a Psalm of Asaph. In this passage Asaph is praising God for all His wonderful works, especially for delivering His people from slavery out of Egypt. Then we read:
Thou Brakest the Heads of Leviathan (Psalm 74:12-14, Revelation 13:1,7, 19:20)
For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons “serpents” in the waters.
This refers to the time when God divided the Red Sea and made the children of Israel walk on dry ground, whereas God drowned the Egyptian army that pursued them.
Who do the “serpents in the waters” represent?
They represent the soldiers and officers of the Egyptian army. They are called “serpents”, because they are in the army of the chief serpent, Leviathan. This day represented Judgment Day for Satan. Then we read in verse 14,
Thou brakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
Does Leviathan have more than one head?
Absolutely! Let me read to you from Revelation 13:1,
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
This beast that rose up out of the sea represents Satan, who rises up out of the sea of unsaved mankind. This is the beast that makes man worship Satan during the Final Tribulation Period, to the end that “it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Revelation 13:7). This beast reminds us of Leviathan. Here in Revelation 13:1 God tells us that Leviathan has seven heads. God knew what He was going to write in the New Testament, and that is why we read in Psalm 74:14 about the heads (plural) of Leviathan (singular).
When will God break the heads of Leviathan?
Let me read to you from Revelation 19:20,
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
When Satan will be cast into Hell, that is when the prophecy of Psalm 74:14 will be fulfilled.
But who are “the people inhabiting the wilderness “?
These are the people represented by the children of Israel at the time that they came out of the Red Sea and they dwelt in the wilderness for 40 years. For example, Psalm 72:9, and there we read: “They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him”. That is the same Hebrew word for “wilderness”. These are the people who worship the Lord Jesus Christ. And thus, if I may paraphrase the meaning of Psalm 74:14 I would read it as follows: “Thou, Lord, wilt break the heads of our Adversary in pieces, the beast with the seven heads, and wilt give all that he owned to the people whom Thou hast chosen to inherit all things”. But there is more information about Leviathan in the Bible.
There Sail the Ships (Psalm 104:24-26, Matthew 5:13)
What is so bad about that?
Ships sail in the sea, which is filled with creatures. In Psalm 104 the Psalmist praises God for the wisdom God has displayed in all His wonderful works:
O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
There go the ships: there is that Leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
Suddenly, this verse takes on a whole new meaning. Leviathan is Satan.
Does Satan play in the sea?
No, not the literal sea. Satan plays in the sea of unsaved mankind.
Did God create all those people whom He never intended to save?
If God did not create them, then who did?
It is not possible that there was a force outside of God who did some creating of his own, independent of God, since God would no longer be in control. We worship the God of the Bible, who is always in control, and who therefore is absolutely sovereign. If God is absolutely sovereign, then God also created Satan and all the angels that sinned, and all the unsaved in the world. God made them all. This verse expresses the absolute sovereignty of God. God created them for His purposes. That is why verse 24 says, “In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches”.
Let us finish this parable: “There go the ships”.
What do the ships represent in this parable?
The ships could be fishing ships or they could be trading ships.
Why did God give us this parable?
This entire Psalm clearly indicates that this was written to show that God is great, and His wonderful works on this earth are also great. God’s greatness shows most prominently in His salvation. That is the reason the Bible was written. The Bible is a spiritual Book, and God wrote the Bible so that people may become saved. In this parable fishing ships represent churches that actively fish for people, out of the sea of unsaved mankind. It does not mean that fishing ships are always a picture of churches that evangelize the Gospel, but in this case they do. Trading ships do not evangelize. They just move from one state of the church to another state. For example, if a church does not include judgment and Hell in their preaching, then their gospel does not contain the salt of the Gospel, which means their salt does not have any bite, and so their gospel has become good for nothing.
Those are not my words. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men”. Such churches have become trading ships. They do not fish for the souls of men, because they will not be used by God to save anyone with such a watered down gospel.
In the first chapter of Job God took all the wealth of Job away, and in the second chapter God also took his health away. Let us now look at:
Ready to Stir Up Leviathan (Job 3:8)
In the beginning of the third chapter Job cursed the day he was born. Job wishes that he had died at birth, or that he had been stillborn. Job is still speaking about the day he was born in Job 3:8,
Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
This is a very liberal translation. It does not say this at all in the original Hebrew text. The second half of the verse says literally, “who are ready to stir up Leviathan”.
Who are the ones ready to stir up Leviathan?
Those who curse the day Job was born are in fact “ready to stir up Satan”. But did you notice, Job is the very first one to stir up Satan:
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
Job himself is the first one to fall into this trap.
Was he ready to stir up Satan?
That is indeed true. Job was suffering from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. In addition his three friends came to criticize him for some unknown sin that they suspected Job had committed. Job defended himself, but this led Job to venture dangerously in the direction of self-pity, and in declaring himself free from sin. This is stirring up Satan. This is inviting Satan to tempt Job to take the next step toward self-righteousness. Satan was pleased to do this, and in the following chapters we read that his three friends made life very miserable for Job, by continuing to accuse him of sin. They drove Job to the point of committing sin. It was at this point that God stepped in. First, in chapters 32 through 37, for six chapters long, God spoke through a man named Elihu. Then beginning in chapter 38 God Himself answered Job and God asked him a set of questions. Four chapters long God asked Job questions that he could not answer. The we come to:
The Last Set of Questions from God (Job 41:1-4,19-21,34, Psalm 111:10, Ezekiel 38:3-4)
Through the entire chapter of Job 41 God asked Job questions about: “Leviathan”. You might say, “God saved the best for last”. And that is indeed the case.
What or who is Leviathan?
We are obligated to harmonize the Bible, because God does not contradict Himself. God cannot lie. And therefore, based on what we find in Isaiah 27:1, we have to say that Leviathan is Satan himself. God pictured Satan here as having the body of a ferocious beast. But this is not an isolated case, because God also creates the terrible beast with 10 horns in Daniel chapter 7, representing Satan’s kingdom. And God also creates the little horn in Daniel 7, which became very great, representing Satan, who makes war with the saints and prevails against them. And God also creates the little horn in Daniel 8, which became very great, also representing Satan, who shall destroy the mighty and the holy people of God. And God also creates the beast with seven heads and ten horns in Revelation 13, which also represents Satan, and who shall make war with the saints and shall overcome them. All these beasts and horns represent Satan. All these beasts do not represent a crocodile, or a sea monster, or Tyrannosaurus Rex, or a huge snake, or any other ferocious beast you can think of. These beasts are not physical beasts but these are spiritual beasts, and God intended to instill in us fear. Fear for Satan, because we are no match for him, and fear for God if God is still our enemy and we are not reconciled to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.
So why did I say, “God saved the best for last”?
God impresses upon us that we should fear if we do not belong to God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and the wisdom that we must get is the wisdom of knowing Christ, and the wisdom of believing the Gospel that God has laid out in the Bible. This is why God saved the best for last. We read in the parable of Job 41:1,
Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? or (hold down) his tongue with a cord, which thou lettest down?
Canst thou draw out Satan with a hook?
Of course Job could not do this.
What is God’s purpose in asking this question?
God’s purpose is to teach us, and to teach us the absolute sovereignty of God.
In Ezekiel 38:3-4 God is speaking to Gog who represents Satan and God says to him, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords”. God is putting hooks into the jaws of Satan and cause him to attack the saints, just like God describes it in Revelation 20:7-9. Job could not do this, but God can.
And why did God say to Job, “Canst thou hold down his tongue with a cord”?
Of course Job could not do this, but God can. The tongue of Satan is pointing to the words he speaks, and the lies he tells. Satan is “the father of lies”. But on the Last Day Satan will be snared in his own lies, because his lies will not hold when he is confronted with the Word of God, the Bible. On the Last Day God will hold down his tongue.
But let us finish this metaphor:
Why did God say at the end of Job 41:1, “which thou lettest down”?
God could easily have left this detail out.
But why would you have to let the cord and the hook down?
You have to let it down into the sea, because that is where Satan dwells, he dwells in the sea of unsaved mankind. This is how you would have to develop each verse in this chapter. However, we do not have time for this in this article. So let us go on in verse 2,
Canst thou put an hook into his nose? Or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee?
Obviously the answer is NO! Any earthly hook is too small for Satan’s nose. Any earthly thorn is too soft to bore a hole in Satan’s Jaw. And from verse 3 we can immediately conclude that Leviathan cannot be an earthly animal. No animal is able to speak, because the mouth and the tongue of animals are constructed in such a way that it is impossible for them to speak.
But why does God say that Satan might speak soft words to us?
Well, is this not how Satan operates?
Satan comes to us as an angel of light, and his messengers come to us as ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
If anyone would still be in doubt that God is not speaking about animals, the next verse clarifies it:
Will he make a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant forever?
To make a covenant is something only humans do, but animals do not make a covenant with man. In the Bible a covenant is only found between man and man, or between God and man.
Will Satan try to make a covenant, or a contract with us?
Certainly! Satan tries to imitate God in everything, also in making a covenant with us, but it will not be like the covenant God makes with His elect people. And then the words, “Wilt thou take him for a servant forever?” cannot possibly refer to an animal, because animals do not live forever. Humans do live forever; either in Heaven or in Hell; but all the animals die when Christ comes again on the Last Day. So this proves conclusively that Leviathan cannot possibly refer to an earthly animal; especially not when you consider verses 19-21,
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
No literal flame can come out of the mouth of an earthly animal, unless you believe in animals with a roasted tongue. NO! This is a physical impossibility. But spiritually this is possible. When Satan speaks in the ears of those whom he tempts, it is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. And when we choose to listen to him, we will end up in the fires of Hell. That is the flame that goeth forth out of his mouth. And when you read the last verse of chapter 41, then you know for sure that God was speaking about Satan all along. God says in Job 41:34,
He (Leviathan) beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.
Leviathan, or Satan, is very observant of all lofty things that are said, or words of earthly wisdom that are written by eminent theologians, and then Satan will exploit tiny errors that have slipped in here and there, because those eminent theologians are not perfect. These are the high things that Satan pays attention to, and these are high things that eventually cause churches to go astray. Just look around and see how many churches have finally justified appointing women to church offices, even though the Bible absolutely forbids it. And now read the last 10 words of this chapter, “he is a king over all the children of pride”.
Who is king over all those who are puffed up in pride?
Satan is their king. Yes! All along in chapter 41 God has been speaking about Satan. The pride of Lucifer was the cause of his downfall. The pride of Lucifer was the reason why he became the competitor of God. He wanted to be like God, but he will be brought down to Hell. The lie of Satan that Adam and Eve believed was that they could be like God. But the result was that they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. God gave us this picture of Satan as an enormous ferocious beast, called Leviathan, who is so strong and so mighty that no human being is able to withstand him. That is indeed how strong Satan is. God gave us this picture of Satan to warn us that only God Himself can deliver us from Satan. No one else is able to take a stand against Satan. Therefore, deliverance from Satan is by grace alone.
I have heard fools say that they have lived a decent life. And when I mentioned that they are being deceived by the Devil, they said, “I will take my chances”. Of course, they do not know what they are talking about, because they do not consult the Word of God. They might discover that they have been:
Taken Captive by Satan At His Will (2 Timothy 2:24-26, Isaiah 49:25)
In 2nd Timothy 2 God instructs His servants, which means all of us, how to walk as children of the King of kings. God says in 2nd Timothy 2:24-25,
2 Timothy 2:24
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
2 Timothy 2:25
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
This is not God’s advice! God is not pleading with us! God commands us! O, how we fall short of God’s commands. We fly off the handle so easily. We are commanded to be gentle with all people around us, because we are called to be witnesses for Christ at any time of the day. But we find that we are sometimes not gentle at all, but that we are sharp and making cutting remarks. God says that we must repent of this. We desire to repent of this, but only by the grace of God are we able to do it. We must be apt to teach, be patient, and meek to those who oppose themselves to God.
It is because we were in that condition in the past, and we too needed someone who was meek, and gentle, and patient in teaching us the first principles of the Gospel. And then God says in verse 26,
2 Timothy 2:26
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Look again at the last three words of this verse. This is the condition of the unsaved. They have been taken captive by the Devil at his will.
Can Satan do that independent of God?
Absolutely not! God is still in control. God is sovereign. But this reflects again how powerful and mighty the Devil really is. Just think of God’s description of Leviathan in Job chapter 41, and you will understand that no one can be saved by their own free will, but only by the grace of God. Our free will is no match against Satan’s will. Once we are born into enslavement to Satan, he will not allow our fleshly mind drift in the direction of God. No way! All unsaved mankind are taken captive by Satan, and held in that condition, until perhaps God has mercy on that person. For example, we read these comforting words
But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
Such is the salvation by grace of all God’s elect children. And if we find in ourselves the faith to believe this incredible Good News, then we can rejoice that our names are written in heaven. Then we can sing: “It is well with our soul”.
By Alfred Chompff