Dancing with truth and peace



April 2024



The Dragon of the Bible

Written by , Posted in Blog, Lead Yourself

As I prepared for our church’s series from Isaiah, the 27th chapter caused me to pause.

In that day the Lord will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea.

Isaiah 27:1, NLT

I knew all about the chicken of the sea,* but what is the dragon of the sea?

Ancient civilizations built legends and religions on the backs of dragon stories. The Bible connected to a powerful symbol, using it to represent a number of beasts. In the Bible, the dragon is:

  • A sea monster – God created Leviathan (a large creature of the sea) on Day 5. The book of Job recognizes that only God could create such a large beast.
  • The serpent in the garden who tempts Adam and Eve. The dragon is deceptive and vile.
  • Violent empires like Egypt, the enslavers of the Hebrew people, and Babylon. These dragons terrorized the world.
  • Wicked rulers – “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has eaten and crushed us and drained us of strength. He has swallowed us like a great dragon and filled his belly with our riches” (Jeremiah 34). In Ezekiel, Pharoah is the dragon of the sea who pollutes and troubles the rivers.
  • The brokenness and evil in our world
  • Satan, himself

For the ancient writers, the dragon was a bundle. The Bible Project scholars call it a mascot for evil.

When you experience earth-shattering loss, a fractured relationship, addiction, injustice, racism, devastating poverty, or temptation, think of the dragon. This is his work.

Isaiah 25 says, “The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide.” It’s going to swallow them up.” Obadiah says that the rulers and arrogant: “Open their mouths as wide as the grave… In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many people.”

Without help, the dragon will swallow us whole.

Defeated Dragon

Did you catch the focus of Isaiah 27? The dragon gets slain! It’s why, in the midst of the dragon’s darkness, we still see love, joy, and peace. We see the Gospel spreading despite persecution. We see faithfulness despite temptation. We see trust in the middle of grief, and the Bible tells us how this happens.

The world has experienced the dragon, death swallowing up the people of earth. Thank God for the “secret” Paul tells in I Corinthians 15.

We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

I Corinthians 15

Just a few verses later, Paul adds, “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:57).

When Christ walked out of that tomb, the dragon met its doom.

John describes a vision of a cosmic battle in Revelation. As the dragon surrounds the people, God comes and casts him into the lake of fire. The dragon is defeated. Death doesn’t win.

Can you feel the dragon around you? He wants to deceive you, ruin you, wreck you.

Don’t ignore the wrath of the dragon, but do know:
God can sustain you when you feel the dragon approaching.
God has the dragon on a leash, limiting its reach.
The fate of the dragon is sealed. God wins.
You get to choose your side.

When Christ walked out of that tomb, the dragon met its doom.

If you’d like to hear my Easter sermon, where I explored this theme, the video is below.

*Chicken of the sea is tuna. When I was a kid people always talked about saving the dolphins, because once in a while a dolphin would get snagged in a net used to catch hundreds of tuna. So I’ve always felt like tuna were really disrespected. #savethetuna #aftermysandwich

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