Questions From Readers
▪ Who or what is pictured by “Leviathan” of Isaiah 27:1?
Isaiah 27:1 reads: “In that day Jehovah, with his hard and great and strong sword, will turn his attention to Leviathan, the gliding serpent, even to Leviathan, the crooked serpent, and he will certainly kill the sea monster that is in the sea.” We understand this prophecy to apply to both Satan the Devil and his wicked organization on earth.
The Watchtower of October 15, 1985, explained that Isaiah chapter 27 is a restoration prophecy. Its initial fulfillment involved the ancient nation of Israel, which would be restored to its homeland after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Though most of the exiles were from Babylon, some would return from Egypt and the territory of Assyria. Jehovah God determined that his people should be freed, so such nations could not stop him through independent or combined efforts. They might have seemed to humans to be powerful and wily, like an ancient Leviathan (probably a crocodile), yet Jehovah would succeed in behalf of ancient Israel.—Compare Job 41:1-34.
What, though, would “Leviathan” picture in a larger fulfillment of Isaiah chapter 27? Understandably, Satan the Devil comes to mind, for Revelation 12:9 describes him as “the great dragon” and “the original serpent.” He has long been an enemy of God and His people. Furthermore, the Scriptures make plain that Satan will meet his end. God has set a day to exercise his power through his Son to eliminate the Devil. So that “dragon” or “serpent” will be cut down as with a great and strong sword.—Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:1-3, 10.
Recall, though, that the immediate enemies facing ancient Israel were visible national opposers, such as Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. Similarly today, God’s Christian servants worldwide are confronted by tangible opposers amid the restless sea of mankind alienated from God. (Revelation 17:1, 15) Satan controls a worldwide organization that he uses to obstruct those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) This Devil-dominated organization has proved to be sly and fierce, like a leviathan. Yet, early in this century this “Leviathan” lost its control over spiritual Israel, namely, the anointed Christian witnesses of Jehovah. And it will fully be cut down when, accompanied by angelic warriors, Jesus rides forth with “a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it.”—Revelation 19:11-16.
So even though in one respect Satan can be spoken of as the Leviathan of Isaiah 27:1, that prophecy includes more than “the original serpent.” It focuses particularly on the visible earthly organization dominated by him. Thus, The Watchtower mentioned above could point readers to the time when “the present wicked system over which Satan the Devil has dominated as its god, will not exist. Jehovah will have turned his attention to the symbolic Leviathan, the gliding, crooked serpent that is in the midst of the sea of humanity. He and the nations, and even unions of nations, will be gone.”