Maundy Thursday LSB #’s 623:1-3, 623:4-5, 656
Text – Job 41:33
On earth there is not his equal, a creature without fear.
ON EARTH IS NOT HIS EQUAL
This evening we thank our Father in heaven for the gift of His Son’s true body & blood in Holy Communion. The Savior’s real presence here delivers victory over guilt & the grave, over the ancient serpent who is the devil & Satan. Job 41 is also all about victory – God’s victory over that same evil foe who still means deadly woe.
We continue, tonight, with the series of sermons on Job, “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” He was a professional thief. His name stirred fear as the desert wind stirs tumbleweeds. He terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line, roaring like a tornado in & out of the Sierra Nevadas, spooking the most rugged frontiersmen.
During his reign of terror, from 1875 to 1883, he stole money from 29 stagecoaches. A hood covered his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched him. No sheriff could track his trail. His name? Black Bart. The book of Job introduces us to another thief – one who’s still around. You know him, even though you’ve never seen his face.
If you have felt shame & disgrace, it was his whisper that crushed your heart. If you’ve felt alone & abandoned, it was all according to his plan. If you’ve felt useless & no good, it was his accusing finger pointed at you. He’s the Black Bart of the soul. He doesn’t want our money. He wants something far more precious. He wants to steal & kill & destroy our very lives.
In Job chapters 1 & 2 he’s called the Accuser. That’s what the name “Satan” means. He is enamored with his own self-importance, his taunting of God, & his denigration of Job’s faith. But after chapters 1 & 2 Satan disappears from view. He drops out of sight. He evaporates into thin air. Then, in chapter 41, Satan returns full throttle. Only in this chapter he’s a monster called Leviathan. Leviathan? Who is Leviathan? From Job 3 we learn, “May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan... Why did I not perish at birth, & die as I came from the womb?” (3:8 & 11) Leviathan is linked with death. But there is more.
Two times in Isaiah 27:1 Leviathan is called a nachash, which is the Hebrew word for “serpent.” The same word nachash appears in Genesis 3:1 which describes Satan who took the form of a wily serpent. Leviathan is a deceiving serpent. But there is still more.
Take a look at the features of Leviathan in chapter 41:18-21, “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, & flames dart from his mouth.”
Leviathan is a deadly, brutal & vicious dragon. In Revelation 12:9 all these images come together & the full identity of this supernatural creature is revealed: “The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Job 41:33 describes Leviathan with the words, “On earth is not his equal.”
That inspired Martin Luther to write his battle hymn of the Reformation, Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott. The reformer wrote:
“The old evil Foe, now means deadly woe... Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us... This world’s prince may still, scowl fierce as he will... Deep guile & great might are his dread arms in fight.” Then Luther quotes Job 41:33, “On earth is not his equal!”
Leviathan comes to steal & kill & destroy. We see him in the rearview mirror. We feel his hot breath behind us. As tempter he’s chasing after us screaming, “Whatever it is you want to do, just do it. Have some anger? Act it out. Have sexual fantasies? Go ahead, full throttle. Have some gossip? Let it fly.” As deceiver he continues with these words, “There are no limits, no consequences, no responsibilities. Ready, set, go!” As we give in to these temptations & deceptions, then as accuser he plants his foot upon our necks, saying, “Now that you’ve thought this, said this, done this, God is finished with you!” But remember, Job 41 is all about victory, God’s victory over the monster. It’s about God’s victory over Satan. So listen!
“Can you pull in 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?... Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls? ...Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?” (Job 41:1–2, 5, 7)
Leviathan is under God’s thumb. Yahweh exhibits complete mastery over the ferocious creature. In Job 1 Satan was given limits & boundaries: “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’” (Job 1:12) The truth is Lucifer is the Colonel Klink of the Bible.
Do you remember the colonel? He was the fall guy for Hogan on the TV series, Hogan’s Heroes. Klink supposedly ran a German POW camp during WW II. Those inside the camp, however, knew better. They knew who really ran the camp: the prisoners did.
They listened to Klink’s calls & read his mail. They even gave Klink ideas, all the while using him for their own cause. Klink may strut & prance, but Hogan calls the shots. Just so, Satan may strut & prance & preen, but the Almighty Creator calls the shots. Yes there is a devil, but as Martin Luther would remark: “He is God’s devil” – that is, he does not have total reign.
In chapter 1, Satan was given permission to test Job, & limits were set by God. But there is more. In the OT, Satan had free access to God’s presence. “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, & Satan also came with them.” (Job 1:6) He could come & go when he wanted to accuse God’s people. But in our Lord’s ministry Satan was cast out of heaven. He no longer has access to God’s throne to accuse us, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” are the words written in Luke 10:18. But there is still more. “And the devil was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur,” per Revelation 20:10. Christ’s victory, celebrated on Palm Sunday, will be completed when He returns & throws the enemy into that lake of fire.
1 John 3:8 assures us, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!
Black Bart finally wasn’t anything to be afraid of. When the authorities eventually tracked him down, they didn’t find a bloodthirsty bandit from Death Valley; they found a mild-tempered business man from Decatur, Illinois.
The monster the papers pictured storming through the mountains on horseback was, in reality, so afraid of horses he rode to & from the robberies in a buggy. He was Charles Boles – the bandit who never once fired a shot, because he never once loaded his gun.
In Job 41 we see Satan for who he really is. A deadly monster? You bet. A supernatural creature who can do great harm? No doubt. The tormentor of our souls? Indeed. Does Satan hate God & hate us? Count on it. But because of Jesus Lucifer is a defeated enemy who’s got no bullets left in his gun.
And our response? We live in joy! We live in confidence! This is the feast of victory for our God! And we celebrate our great victory with these words for the ages: “This world’s prince may still, scowl fierce as he will. He can harm us none. He’s judged, the deed is done. One little word can fell him!”
And what is that little word which brings us victory today & forever? It has two syllables & five letters. Any guesses? The word that fells Satan every time is – Jesus. It is this Jesus who comes to us now, with real body & real blood, for real victory. Whatever the temptations are that you’ve given in to, the robe of righteousness that your Lord gave you at Baptism covers them. The blood of Jesus covers them completely. The gift of Holy Communion is God’s mighty fortress. It was given for our protection & healing. Let’s go there! Amen.
A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield & weapon; He helps us free from every need that hath us now o’ertaken. The old evil foe now means deadly woe; deep guile & great might are his dread arms in fight; on earth is not his equal. Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us, we tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpower us. This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will, he can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done; one little word can fell him. Amen. LSB 656:1, 3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet