There is a series of TV programs currently airing on Animal Planet called “Whale Wars.” The series highlights the fight between those who wish to profit from killing whales and those who are protecting whale species from extinction.
Has God been one of the bad guys in this environmental conflict? In Isaiah 27:1 we read:
In that day Jehovah with His hard, and great, and strong sword, will visit upon leviathan the long serpent, and upon leviathan the crooked serpent, and will slay the whales that are in the sea;
While one might find it excusable for God to slay an “evil” serpent it seems irrational that the Creator would extend such slaughter to the whale populations of the sea. What role could God’s Infinite Love and Wisdom play in such divine slaughter of obviously innocent creatures?
Perhaps it is not God’s strange behavior that is to fall into question but our own cognitive abilities to interpret Holy Scripture that are to be questioned and made suspect. The biblical passage quoted above (as with all others) does indeed contain God’s Infinite Love and Wisdom.
Human language could not contain this inexhaustible wealth and depth of Divine data unless the Holy Word contained multi-leveled layers of meanings within its narratives. This is why the Lord, when in the world, spoke only in parables—a language that uses ordinary words to convey higher, psycho-spiritual meanings.
While it is easy to see how a crooked serpent or dragon can be used to represent and symbolize evil and falsity, it is a bit harder for us to accurately determine the correct spiritual meaning or psycho-spiritual equivalent of a whale.
The sacred scaffolding of the Holy Word is based on the lawful and causal nexus between spiritual realities and physical realities. The physical world and its laws are actually mirror images of spiritual laws put under the constraints of time and space. The two distinct worlds correspond to each other. The benefit of this multi-leveled ontological reality is that everything viewed in the physical world represents some quality of one’s spiritual inner reality.
In two previous posts I explained how water psychologically symbolizes knowledge (we thirst for knowledge in the same way our physical bodies thirst for water). A body of water, like an ocean or sea, represents an accumulation of knowledge, and therefore, symbolizes the human memory. Since whales are big and live in the sea, they symbolize the mental mistake of individuals making HUGE generalities based on their accumulated memory-data.
We are instinctively aware of the dangers of how making generalities can easily distort the truth. The biblical story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale represents the human trap of having one’s entire belief-system and worldview “swallowed-up” by huge generalities.
It is the distortion of truth by our embracing such generalities that is addressed in the Holy Word by the creative depiction of God slaying whales in the seas.
Everything in Scripture is immediately relevant to our personal lives—even in this post-modern world.