Dinosaurs in the Bible – Part #2:
There is another large animal – a sea creature – which God describes in the book of Job, called the leviathan. He says, “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower? Can you put a reed through his nose, Or pierce his jaw with a hook? … Can you fill his skin with harpoons, Or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hand on him; Remember the battle– Never do it again! Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; Shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him?” (Job 41:1-2, 7-9).
I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of verse 8: “If you so much as lay a hand on him, you won’t live to tell the story.” Whatever this creature is being described here, it is a powerful beast. Harpoons and fishing spears are useless against this animal. It also says that anyone who looks at him will be overwhelmed at the very sight of him.
It is unfortunate that the New Living Translation has translated the Hebrew word livyathan as crocodile, as this animal is no crocodile. Look at how the Lord goes on to describe this sea creature: “Who can remove his outer coat? Who can approach him with a double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face, With his terrible teeth all around?” (Job 41:13-14). It asks the rhetorical question, “Who can remove his outer coat?” and the assumed answer of course is no one. Obviously this is not describing a crocodile, because many people have skinned a crocodile.
Let’s look at another passage of Scripture where the Bible describes the leviathan: “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). In this Bible verse, the leviathan is described as a sea dragon. This is no crocodile.
“His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lights;Sparksof fire shoot out. Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.” (Job 41:18-21). This passage seems to be saying that this leviathan was a fire-breathing animal. Now some people might say that it is impossible that an animal could breathe fire. But is it really so far-fetched? Perhaps the fact that such an animal once existed is one of the reasons why there are so many legends throughout history about fire-breathing dragons. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting animals that God has made:
GOD’S DIVERSE CREATION:
“Fireflies or lightning bugs are winged beetles that use light to attract mates or prey. This is a chemically-produced light from the lower abdomen. The electric eel is capable of generating powerful electric shocks, which it uses for hunting and self-defense. The bombardier beetle ejects a noxious chemical spray in a rapid burst of pulses from special glands in its abdomen that is accompanied with a popping sound. A bombardier beetle produces and stores two reactant chemical compounds, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, in separate reservoirs in the rear tip of its abdomen. When threatened, the beetle contracts muscles that force the two reactants through valved tubes into a mixing chamber containing water and catalytic enzymes. When combined, the reactants undergo a violent exothermic chemical reaction, raising the temperature to near the boiling point of water. The corresponding pressure buildup forces the entrance valves from the reactant storage chambers to close, thus protecting the beetle’s internal organs. The boiling, foul-smelling liquid partially becomes a gas and is expelled through an outlet valve into the atmosphere with a loud popping sound.”7
What amazing creations! These are just a few different examples of animals that have unique or special abilities. So is it possible that our infinitely creative God could have also made fire-breathing dragons? Yes! But even if there weren’t all these other examples in creation, then I would still choose to believe in the existence of a fire-breathing animal – just because the Bible tells us that they existed.
When you look up the word leviathan in the Bible dictionary, it reads: “Leviathan: a sea monster or dragon. A large aquatic animal; perhaps the extinct dinosaur, plesiosaurus, exact meaning unknown. Some think this to be a crocodile, but from the description in Job 41 this is patently absurd. It appears to be a large fire breathing animal of some sort.”8 Ken Ham says, “This “dragon” may have been something like the mighty 40 foot Sarcosuchus imperator (Super Croc), or the 82 foot Liopleurodon.”9 We don’t know exactly what sort of sea dinosaur the leviathan was, but based on its description, it is clearly evident that it was a large sea creature, and not simply a crocodile.
THE FIERY FLYING SERPENT:
Another dinosaur type creature mentioned in the Bible is a fiery flying serpent, mentioned in Isaiah 30:6. This could be a reference to one of the pterodactyls, which are popularly thought of as flying dinosaurs, like the Pteranodon.
Perhaps some of the most enigmatic creatures in the Bible are the tanniyn. When the Bible was translated into English 400 years ago (in the KJV), this word was translated in 21 places as “dragon.” The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon defines this creature as: “dragon, serpent, sea monster or dinosaur.”
Here is just a sampling of some of the different Scriptures that talk about dragons:
“And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons…” (Isaiah 35:7, KJV). Now if the word dragon did not actually describe a real animal, why would Isaiah talk about the place where dragons lived? It doesn’t make sense for him to have used an imaginary animal to describe a location.
Jeremiah says, “Nebuchadnezzar… hath… swallowed me up like a dragon.” (Jeremiah 51:34, KJV). When Jeremiah used this word picture to talk about what King Nebuchadnezzar had done to him, why would he use a mythical creature? Again, the more logical answer is that Jeremiah was referring to an actual living animal.
“I… laid his mountains waste for the dragons (tannah) of the wilderness.” (Malachi 1:3, KJV). Here the Lord is talking about some animals – dragons – that lived in the wilderness. The Bible talked about a creature called the dragon, but what exactly was this creature?
Unfortunately, if you have a modern translation of the Bible, you probably won’t find the word dragon in there, because many modern translations have changed that Hebrew word tanniyn to serpent, jackal, or great monster, instead of leaving it as dragon. But what is this animal – the tanniyn? If dinosaurs did live alongside of human beings – as we believe the Bible teaches – and the word dinosaur hadn’t been invented yet, then perhaps tanniyn, or dragon, is the word they chose to represent those giant sized reptiles we now know as dinosaurs. What did they call them before they called them dinosaurs? Maybe dragon is the word that they used to describe them.
OTHER ANCIENT RECORDS OF DINOSAURS:
Tthere have been dragon legends from all throughout history. Many descriptions of these animals fit the characteristics of specific dinosaurs. Could these stories have been actual encounters with what we now know as dinosaurs? Although we don’t know for certain, it is still entirely possible.
We know that there are at least four different types of dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible – the behemoth, the leviathan, Isaiah’s fiery flying serpent, and the tanniyn, or dragons. But are there any other ancient records or documents about dinosaurs? There is a science documentary online called The Great Dinosaur Mystery which presents many historical accounts of ‘dragons’. Here are some of the different stories chronicled in this video:
“A Sumerian story dating back to 2000 BC or earlier tells of a hero named Gilgamesh, who, when he went to fell cedars in a remote forest, encountered a huge vicious dragon that he slew, cutting off its head as a trophy. When Alexander the Great (c. 330 BC) and his soldiers marched intoIndia, they found that the Indians worshipped huge hissing reptiles that they kept in caves.
Chinais renowned for its dragon stories, and dragons are prominent on Chinese pottery, embroidery, and carvings. Englandand several other cultures retain the story of St. George, who slew a dragon that lived in a cave. There is the story of a tenth-century Irishman who wrote of his encounter with what appears to have been a Stegosaurus. In the 1500s, a European scientific book, Historia Animalium, listed several living animals that we would call dinosaurs. A well-known naturalist of the time, Ulysses Aldrovandus, recorded an encounter between a peasant named Baptista and a dragon whose description fits that of the small dinosaur Tanystropheus. The encounter was on May 13, 1572, near Bolognain Italy, and the peasant killed the dragon. Petroglyphs (drawings carved on rock) of dinosaur-like creatures have been found.” 11
“In summary, people down through the ages have been very familiar with dragons. The descriptions of these animals fit with what we know about dinosaurs… There is a tremendous amount of other historical evidence that such creatures have lived beside people.”12
Concerning the petroglyphs that have been found all over the world: if dinosaurs and humans never lived alongside of each other, and dinosaur bones and fossils have only recently been discovered, then how is it that people throughout history have drawn creatures in art or on pottery that so closely resemble specific dinosaurs? The only logical answer to that question is that all of these people actually saw living dinosaurs, and that humans and dinosaurs were not separated by 65 million years of evolutionary history.
Consider also the Chinese calendar. They have twelve animals, each representing a different year. They have the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Why would they include the dragon in this list with eleven other real animals, if it was only a fantasy creature? This is one of those things that make you go, “Hmm.”
Some people would argue that these are all legends and that there is no concrete proof for any of these stories. Because these are legends, I’m not telling anyone that they must believe in them. I’m just giving you some food for thought. If you don’t want to believe that any of these legends are true accounts of human beings having encounters with dinosaurs, that’s okay. Because these are not Bible stories – which are true – I won’t be dogmatic about whether or not someone believes in these dragon stories.
One of the reasons why I believe people call the stories about dragons ‘legends’ is because the only thing that can account for human beings seeing dinosaur-like creatures is that the Biblical account of creation is true. Evolution teaches that the age of the dinosaurs passed away 65 million years ago, and any evidence that these creatures still exist today would put serious doubt on their theory. That’s the only reason why these dragon legends have been discounted.
WHO WILL YOU BELIEVE?
The bottom line in this discussion is who will you believe – the fallible and changing opinions of evolutionists, or the infallible word of God, Someone who was an eye-witness to creation? One of the problems with believing in evolution is the fact that as more scientific discoveries are being made, they are constantly changing their opinions about our origins and life. One classic example of this is the famous (or infamous) brontosaurus. This dinosaur skeleton was discovered by Othniel Marsh, a Professor of Paleontology atYaleUniversityin 1879. However, when he discovered this skeleton, it was lacking a head, feet and portions of the tail. So, when he went to put it on display in the Yale museum in 1905, he added the skull bones from three different rock quarries! It was later discovered that this dinosaur was a fake, and that this headless dinosaur skeleton was actually none other than the apatosaurus. All throughout history, the evolutionists have made mistakes and had to correct what they believe to line up with the latest evidence and finds. Not so the Biblical creationist.
One of the most amazing things about God’s Word is the fact that it never changes. It has been nearly two thousand years since the last parts of the Bible were written, and everything it has said has stood the test of time. Every fact that pertains to history, biology, astronomy – and every other field of science – is 100% accurate. Even when people thought the world was flat hundreds of year ago, the Bible (which had been written thousands of years prior), taught that the earth had a circumference. Isn’t that amazing? Even the modern advancements and discoveries in DNA and genetics – declaring that living things will always reproduce after their own kind according to their genetic code – was rooted in the very first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. There is nothing that has been discovered in history or science that has ever contradicted what the Bible teaches because it is the inspired, inerrant word of the living God.
The Bible says about itself: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89). It also says, “the word of God lives and abides forever.” (1 Peter 2:23). The Bible is true – you can trust it! Consider the following closing thoughts from the great Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon: “We will not have it that God, in his Holy Book, makes mistakes about matters of history, or of science, any more than he does upon the great truths of salvation. If the Lord be God, he must be infallible; and if he can be described as in error in the little respects of human history and science, he cannot be trusted in the greater matters.”
- 7. Firefly, electric eel, bombardier beetle, http://www.wikipedia.org.
- 8. The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.
- 9. Ken Ham, What REALLY Happened to the Dinosaurs? Answers in Genesis Publications.
- 10. Note – technically speaking, the marine reptiles like the plesiosaurs and the flying reptiles like the pterosaurs are not really dinosaurs, although in popular media, they are often called dinosaurs.
- 11. The Great Dinosaur Mystery video: www.christiananswers.net/dinosaurs/video.html
- 12. Ken Ham, ibid.
- 13. Apatosaurus, http://www.wikipedia.org.
Pastor Chris Jordan
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