Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
One day, I was pondering in my heart if there was any way to look at giant monster movies such as the Godzilla franchise with some sort of spiritual eye. An odd request I know, but as a Christian, I feel compelled to try to do as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself against the knowledge of God, and we take captive everything thought to make it obedient to Christ.” So, how can one make Godzilla obedient to Christ? Stranger still than the fact that I was wondering about this at all was the speed at which the Holy Spirit answered me. Just as soon as the thought left my mind, a voice suddenly rushed in, “Are you kidding? You just read the books of Job and Joel. Every creature bows its knee to the Lord!”
The Holy Spirit was right (of course). In Job 41:11 God reminds us of his place over everything by saying, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” And in Psalm 50, the Lord specifically tells us that every animal is his; we read,
I have no need of a bull from your stall
Or of goats from your pens,
For every animal of the forest is mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains,
And the creatures of the field are mine (Psalms 50:9-11).
Every creature under heaven (and in heaven) belongs to the Lord. We humans were given free will, but the Bible doesn’t suggest in any place that animals are allowed to act outside of the Lord’s will. In fact, in several places they are used by God to deliver some pretty hardcore punishments (though we’ll check that out later). God even used a giant fish to transport Jonah and a donkey to send a warning. Every animal and other living thing acknowledges the Lord as well. Revelation 5:13 describes all life praising Jesus,
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
Be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!”
In Job, the Lord describes his greatest (largest) creation, the behemoth; he says,
Look at the behemoth,
Which I made along with you
And which feeds on grass like an ox.
What strength he has in his loins,
What power in the muscles of his belly!
His tail sways like a cedar;
The sinews of his thighs are close-knit.
His bones are tubes of bronze,
His limbs like rods of iron.
He ranks first among the works of God,
Yet his Maker can approach him with his sword (Job 40:15-19).
Notice that even though the behemoth was God’s biggest work, even it bows down to his master’s sword. And it’s likely the Lord used said sword since we haven’t seen a live behemoth! But even the smallest of God’s creations, viruses are at his command. How many have been healed from prayer and repentance? How many did Jesus heal? And, how many plagues have swept across unrepentant nations? From the greatest to the least, all of creation is the Lord’s; and he may use them as he chooses.
In my last post (linked below) I talked about the locusts of Joel. But the big grasshoppers appear in many places around the Bible. Amos was given of vision of them by the Lord (and subsequently saved Israel from them). We can read about that in Amos 7:1-3,
This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the second crop was coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”
So the Lord relented.
The destructive nature of locusts under the command of the Lord is also recorded in Psalms 105:34-35 as the writer recounts the plagues of Egypt,
He spoke, and the locusts came,
Grasshoppers without number;
They ate up every green thing in their land,
Ate up the produce of the soil.
In his maxims, Agur has no choice but to sit back and marvel at the locust, which answers to no leader other than the Lord and yet shows amazing organization. He writes, “Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks” (Proverbs 30:27). Even during the great tribulation, as he is bringing wrath upon the unrepentant of the earth, the Lord calls back his tiny army and upgrades them for a new task; we read,
And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads (Revelation 9:3-4).
God likes using locusts, they listen well, and they are amazing at getting the job done.
Many people try to allegorize things like the locust invasions or the upgraded locusts, or just any of the varied animal-based plagues in the Bible to mean something else. But I tell you, this is not fiction, nor is it allegory. For I have experience with a pint-sized, devastating, invasion. Now the area I am from does not have locusts, but one year, out of nowhere, my yard, the flowers, the trees, everything green was covered by bugs. These bugs were small beetles called rose chafers. They’re easy to kill, they have a soft shell, they don’t move when in danger, and they’re fairly small for a beetle. But let me tell you, when this insect descends on an area, they eat everything green- or at least they did at my house. Actually, I’ve researched them and they’re supposed to not be everything-eaters- but for maybe three or four years, they ate everything at my house. Trees, flowers, weeds, grass; everything went into their tiny jaws. They never tried to get into the house (which also had many plants) but just continued to eat everything in my yard (and my yard alone) during the spring and summer months (something which also research suggests shouldn’t be the case). And then, just as mysteriously as they had come, one year they stopped coming, or if they did, just one or two behaving more like they’re supposed to. Because of this experience, I can read about the locusts of the Bible and have no doubt in my mind that whenever God chooses to do so, he can call forth insects to ravish the land- because I’ve seen it!
This shouldn’t be surprising though. The Lord specifically tells us that he has no problems with using animals as a punishment delivery system. We read in Leviticus 26:21-22,
If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
Not only that, but the Lord also gives us examples of this in action. Check out what happens when some kids tried to tease the prophet Elisha,
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out from the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths (2 Kings 2:23-24).
Pretty hardcore right? But God has more than bears and bugs at his disposal. Once, the Lord told a man of God to prophesize against the evil alter that Jeroboam had built. He was given strict orders to not go back the way he came, or to stop for food. However, he did stop to eat with an old prophet (who, to the man’s credit, had lied to him to get him to stop). What happened? Let’s find out,
While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.’”
When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it (1 Kings 13:20-24).
Not only did the lion kill the man of God, but it also didn’t touch the donkey (which would have been a good dinner). Rest assured; God can use animals whenever he feels like it, and they listen much better than we do.
Alright, so this brings us back to my original question, can Godzilla (the King of the Monsters) become a thought that is captive to Jesus (the King of Kings)? Yes, oddly enough, he can. The Bible talks about a creature called leviathan, another one of those animals that people try to say is allegory or fantasy. However, the Lord gives a whole chapter of Job to describing this animal, so surely it must be something real. God asks in Job 41:1-2,
Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook
Or tie down his tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through his nose
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
The Lord of course answers his own question a few verses later,
Can you fill his hide with harpoons
Or his head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on him,
You will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing him is false;
The mere sight of him is overpowering (Job 41:7-9).
From the sound of it, the leviathan is a large aquatic (or perhaps semi-aquatic) monster of an animal. But wait, there’s more! The Lord continues to describe him,
Who dares open the doors of his mouth,
Ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
His back has rows of shields
Tightly sealed together;
Each is so close to the next
That no air can pass between.
They are joined fast to one another;
They cling together and cannot be parted.
His snorting throws out flashes of light;
His eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Firebrands stream from his mouth;
Sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke pours from his nostrils
As from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.
His breath sets coals ablaze,
And flames dart from his mouth (Job 41:14-21).
Just to be clear, God has clarified that the leviathan has many sharp teeth, a set of scales on his back that is particularly notable, and he breathes fire. Godzilla fans, are you keeping note of this? The Lord keeps going though,
When he rises up, the mighty are terrified;
They retreat before his thrashing.
The sword that reaches him has no effect,
Nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
Iron he treats like straw
And bronze like rotten wood.
Arrows do not make him flee;
Slingstones are like chaff to him.
A club seems to him but a piece of straw;
He laughs at the rattling of the lance (Job 41:25-29).
At this, God might as well also add, “Masers have absolutely no effect as he levels Tokyo.” Now, I’ve obviously cut out a few verses that don’t add to the Godzilla-ness of leviathan. Actually, the missing verses suggest a monster closer to Manda, a sea monster that is also from the Godzilla continuity (such as, “Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.” [Job 41:32]). However Godzilla is more of a mainstream monster and makes for a more catchy title (as opposed to “AtraChrist”) Anyway, God’s conclusion of his creation, leviathan, is this:
Nothing on earth is his equal-
A creature without fear.
He looks down on all that are haughty;
He is king over all that are proud (Job 41:33-34).
This suggests that God uses leviathan to keep man in check, and to counter man’s hubris. Godzilla certainly did this when he first came out of the waters in 1954 after the creation of the atomic bomb. Luckily for us, sometime after Job conversed with God, the Lord killed his Godzilla-like monster of the deep. We can read about it in Psalm 74:12-14,
But you, O God, are my king from of old:
You bring salvation upon the earth.
It was you who split open the sea by your power;
You broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
And gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.
Though…Godzilla was dead and came back again too… God is the creator, he can always create another leviathan to put us in our place should he choose to.
However, the Lord probably won’t bring back leviathan. No, it’s not his style. We’ve already discussed that the Lord loves locusts. Not only that, but look at today’s world, what natural element is the biggest threat to us? Right now it seems the Lord is using disease to bring people to their knees. Tiny viruses and bacteria are killing millions around the world. God usually doesn’t use the huge and flashy (as awesome as Godzilla movies may be) to remind the world of his power, but instead he uses the weak, the small, and the often thought to be insignificant. Why? Paul answers this question for us in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29,
But god chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
Humans may have dominance over the planet, but no person is immune to the cold, and an outbreak of some new flu can bring nations to their knees. Viruses are so small; they would easily fit in the category of “things that are not” from Paul’s explanation. No amount of defense, walls, bombs, guns, or whatever can resist God. Joel writes of the locust army,
At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
Every face turns pale.
They charge like warriors;
They scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
Not swerving from their course.
They do not jostle each other;
Each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
Without breaking ranks.
They rush upon the city;
They run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
Like thieves they enter through the windows.
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles,
The sun and moon are darkened,
And the stars no longer shine.
The Lord thunders
At the head of his army;
His forces are beyond number,
And mighty are those who obey his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
It is dreadful.
Who can endure it? (Joel 2:6-11)
The Lord uses the weak to remind us that when God is their strength, anything is possible. We too can use this power when we rely on the Lord.
The Lord also uses animals (and other creatures) sometimes is to show us our own weakness. You see, way back in Genesis, after the flood, the Lord actually gave us dominion over animals. We read in Genesis 9:2,
The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.
We are to rule over the animals, and yet who isn’t scared by some crazy dog outside? Or who doesn’t cower when they see a bear or lion? God gave us the animals, and yet we fear them. We fear germs, we fear viruses, we fear sharks, and we fear snakes and all sorts of other creatures. Did God give them fear, or us? They fear us. And yet, the Lord has given us reason to fear them, as it helps us to remember that in front of God, we are weak. Therefore, we feel our weakness when we confront his creation, which we often stand against and in disbelief of.
The message of the Bible is clear though. Although we are surrounded by danger, there is a hope, a beacon of light to protect us, and that is Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. By turning to him, our fears will melt away, and through a relationship with Jesus we can be spared of many of our troubles. The Lord calls out from Joel,
“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to me with all your heart,
With fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
And not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
For he is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in love,
And he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and have pity
And leave behind a blessing-
Grain offerings and drink offerings
For the Lord your God (Joel 2:12-14).
The Lord can use all of nature to reap the destruction required to show the world he exists and that there is only one way to salvation- his Son, Jesus. But that’s not what he wants to do. Rather, he’d like to see his Gospel of good news spread, that his Son died weak and in pain to save everyone from their sins. Why wait for destruction and decimation before crying out for deliverance? Repent now if you haven’t already, and let Jesus into your life,
Then the Lord will be jealous for his land
And take pity on his people.
The lord will reply to them:
“I am sending you grain, new wine and oil,
Enough to satisfy you fully;
Never again will I make you
An object of scorn to the nations.
I will drive the northern army far from you,
Pushing it into a parched and barren land,
With its front columns going into the eastern sea
And those in the rear going into the western sea.
And its stench will go up;
Its smell will rise.”
Surely he has done great things (Joel 2:18-20).
Just as easily as the Lord can call forth an army of insects, or viruses, or any other plague, he can also destroy it and send it away for our protection. Trust in God, and in his son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for the Lord longs to have a relationship with you, so much so that Jesus died for it.
If you’re ready to enter into a positive relationship with God, just pray with me here by reading the words of the following prayer out loud. Surely our Lord will hear you and start changing your life.
Thank you for helping me to realize your power,
And that you long to share it with me.
I have denied you in the past, Lord,
But no more.
Forgive me for my ignorance,
And my insolence,
And the list of sins I’ve committed.
Come into my life,
Give me your Holy Spirit to guide me,
And cover me with your promise of protection.
In Jesus name I pray,