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  • Eric Kampmann

Fishing for Leviathan

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? . . . If you lay a hand on him, you

will remember the struggle and never do it again!

—Job 41:1–2, 8


Leviathan, or the great whale, is not a fish you would try to catch with an ordinary fishing hook. Yet God tells Job that mankind has been doing just that by trying to capture God with our imagined idea of who God is.

We are fishing for leviathan when we try to explain God by defining him down to a size that will allow us to believe that we are in charge, thank you very much. We are surprised when we find leviathan at the other end of the line. But as with leviathan, so with God: “If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!”


It is a very common temptation to try to bring God down to our own size, but the endeavor fails utterly every single time. Whether it is building a tower to heaven or inventing engines of war to end all wars, we fall short. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).


Rather than the futility of fishing for leviathan, Jesus turned the tables completely around. In the early days of His three-year ministry, He called to some fishermen to be His followers, and He made them a promise: He would transform each of them into a different kind of fisherman. “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19). Man fishing for leviathan is foolishness. God fishing for men is the very embodiment of hope and love that flows through faith in the One who enlisted fishermen to transform the world.


—Eric Kampmann, Signposts

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