Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 20th September 1998
From the Pastor: Animal Lessons IX
"Behold behemoth ... his strength is in his hips ... He bends his tail like a cedar tree." Job 40:16-17|
Dinosaurs, we know, belong to the very distant past. They roamed the
earth, then died out millions of years ago. They therefore could not have
been contemporary with man in any way whatever. Only a screwball would insist
that they were. So runs the familiar propaganda line. You will find it in
a thousand school texts, a million captions to dinosaur pictures, and a near
infinite number of statements from lectures to personal conversations.
Yet, did you know that dinosaurs are described in the Bible? Of course, they
are not called that. Our word "dinosaur" comes from two Greek works meaning
together "terrible lizard", but the awe-inspiring "behemoth" described in
Job 40:15-24, when translated correctly and stripped of modern commentary,
corresponds very closely to what we know of a brontosaurus. Look at the
description: vegetarian, lives in the wetlands, withstands surging floods,
has strong hips and thighs, and most significantly, a tail like a cedar tree.
The common designation of a hippopotamus will not fit: that creature has a
little curled piggy tail, and it defies accuracy to describe its stumpy legs
as "like iron bars".
This imposing creature, immune from human attempts to capture or even control
it (Job 40:24), is introduced in order to humble Job by the majesty and power
of God's creation. This display, among others, had the desired effect, but
a 100 foot long and 40 foot high brontosaurus would inflict terror into
anyone. Hence the old "bronto" must be included in our catalogue of bible
animals, even if it is now extinct. What few remained in the post-flood
world probably ate themselves out of house and home. Yet the message is
still the same as it was to the patriarch. every time you go to a natural
history museum, or look at a book with a dinosaur skeleton photo, say with
Job, "Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee?" (Job 40:4).