So, this topic has become one of fascination for me: Behemoth and Leviathan. What I consider to be the spiritual principalities of speech.
The Book of Job, a biblical treatise on the theology of human suffering, dedicates no less than a chapter describing the strength of Leviathan and Behemoth.
There are really not that many spiritual principalities that are mentioned by name in the Bible, but the “beast” and the “serpent” appear from one end to the other of scripture.
A principality, such as what the Apostle Paul talks about in Ephesians, is a demonic ruler. It is a prince of demons. It has jurisdiction in a place, and power over other spirits.
It seems that Paul emphasizes the nature of principalities by describing them three repetitive but slightly different ways in Ephesians 6:12. He couples the ideas of authority and realm calling them: “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,” “mighty powers in this dark world,” and “evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
So there exists entities such as Behemoth and Leviathan who have a realm to rule; they have actual authority; they are unseen as they are active on earth; they are strong; they operate away from Christ’s light; they are evil in nature yet are angelic evidenced in that they are privy to the heavenly court– just as we see Satan is in the heavenly court in Job chapters 1 & 2 (and also in Zechariah 3).
Behemoth and Leviathan are probably familiar vernacular for most people outside of spiritual warfare talk.
Behemoth is a term in English language that usually connotes something large, immovable, entrenched, and with far-reaching power. Most often it would be used as a description for a company or an industry or a baron.
The ties we have made between Behemoth and commerce are completely appropriate. The word behemoth is literally an ancient Canaanite word for “beast.”
We first find the “beast” in operation in Genesis 11 where the first world system was created in Babylonia– a city called Babel.
“The Beast” in apocalyptic prophecy in Daniel and Revelation have to do with empires and world systems. Stodgy, huge, engulfing presences that enslave, weigh on, dominate, and break the people into acquiescence and compliance.
There are two victories prophesied in Revelation– the throwing of the serpent into the pit and the destruction of Babylon.
Leviathan, “the serpent of old,” “the dragon,” makes his first appearance in Genesis and his last in Revelation. Leviathan is throughout the Bible attributed as having the power of deception. Sometimes he is considered Satan, himself, as the lies he propagates are so utterly destructive to our relationships with God and each other.
In Revelation, the dragon is absolutely called Satan (Revelation 20:2).
What impresses strongly on me is that both of these principalities operate in the unseen. The most powerful unseen world that I personally experience is the transfer of human communication. Our words fly here and there, invisibly shaping and shaking the world.
Behemoth loves to operate in philosophy, politics, logic traps, confusion, riots, uproar, outrage, propaganda, and government. It wields influence in the transference of goods between nations, currency, trade agreements, armistices, alliances, and treaties. Oppressive regimes, indoctrination, the release or restriction of free speech– that is Behemoth.
Behemoth draws people into a world view and traps them into a world system that is incredibly difficult to break free from. It is difficult to break free from because every essential function of our humanity happens within a network, a web of social connections and shared interests.
All over the globe, throughout the history of evil world systems, people have had to completely break ties with everyone and everything they knew in order to follow the one true God. It happened to Abraham, it happens today. It is the process that we are witnessing in Job, as God breaks Job free from all wrong thinking and corrupt communication.
In Job, the fight to gain that freedom from the Behemoth of pre-YHWHist world religion was fought on the battleground of interpersonal communication. We see it through the entire book of Job as the battle between his friends’ worldly approach to theology versus Job’s reliance on a future Advocate, Mediator, and Redeemer.
Blasphemous words and deceptive speech are the charges against Behemoth and Leviathan respectively, in the Book of Revelation.
Called the “fleeing serpent,” the “twisting serpent,” the “shining one,” “the dragon,” Leviathan is famous for his deception of Eve. In Revelation, we find him in a retrospective trying to devour Israel before Jesus could be born out of her population. We get a brief heaven’s-eye-view of Jesus ascension and rule in heaven, before being told that right now, there is a war in heaven led by Michael and warring against Satan– the “one deceiving the whole world,” Revelation 12:9.
When this war is won, Satan and his angels will no longer have any place of access in heaven. They will be thrown down to earth and they will engage in a furious attempt to deceive and enslave (Revelation 13) with a power surge of authority as they know that soon they will not have any authority at all or ever again when Christ’s reign is completely consummated.
As Ephesians says, Satan and his princes operate in the unseen world, in the dark world. We have to take seriously that when Revelation talks about the blasphemy of the beast, the torrent of water against Israel from the dragon’s mouth, those vile words and persuasive speech are being spoken through human mouthpieces.
From the unseen world projected into the darkness of human hearts, Satan puts out his propaganda, deceiving (Leviathan) and enslaving (Behemoth) through human agents and earthly systems.
We know that Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth in His chosen day for complete and final victory over the Behemoth world systems that set themselves up against the knowledge of God (Revelation 18; 2 Corinthians 10:5).
It is believed in Jewish tradition (2 Esdras) that a feast will be made of Leviathan in the “time to come.” In Revelation, it is the dragon that is thrown into the pit last after all other evil spirits for a final and forever internment in hell (20:7-10).
Were you to read the Book of Job, what is thought to be the oldest book in the Bible, you will find the whole scope and grandeur of God’s eternally derived plan for the world. The Book of Revelation’s cast of characters are right there in this early, poetic scripture.
You will find, in the Book of Job: God’s heart for mankind and His mechanism of salvation. You will find man in our deceived and deceiving condition. You will find Jesus fixing everything; and God clearing the decks with a thunderous, sweeping, awe-inducing truth bomb. You see God silencing Leviathan and breaking Behemoth.
You see how the Spirit of Truth has the final say in the end, just as it has since the beginning.
Finally, you will find in the Book of Job, the one and only key that you need to fight in this unseen, dark world; your only necessary weapon of spiritual warfare:
To keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13
A man is not defiled by what comes into your mouth but by the words that come out of your mouth. Matthew 15:11
Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. 1 Peter 4:11
Behemoth and Leviathan are word-powered spirits. Your talk either aligns you with them against God… or with God against them.
This post was originally published in 2019 as part of the “Too Much Talking: Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Job” devotional series. This Feast of Tabernacles season we are in, October 2-9, 2020, the themes that keep coming up for me are: water crossings, forgiveness, and speech. For speech, what continues to come to mind is the difference between derisive speech and praise. More to come on this, hopefully. God bless and stay prayerful!