Biblical Dragons – Good or Bad?
We have established that the Leviathan is our modern idea of a dragon, in description. But that tells us almost nothing about whether dragons are good or bad.
“Since dragons are either a) a figment of creative imaginations, or b) mankind’s memories of extinct dinos, they can either be a) seen however we imagine them, or b) seen as a part of God’s creation–and at least at first, it was all good…”
Dragons were good – pre-fall. If you write about pre-fall dragons, they will be good and good only. But then you have to have perfect men and a perfect world. Won’t be much of a story.
To give a parallel example, Satan was good at first, yet we don’t make demons and devils good, and rightly so. Satan would have had to have fallen between the 7th day of Creation week and the fall of man. We don’t make things that were once good and now God calls evil good again. God is the ultimate standard (more on that later). We’ve already discussed dragons vs. dinosaurs and the reality of dragons; they are mentioned in the Bible. But what exactly does the Bible say about dragons and Leviathan?
Job 41 tells us of the great strength and ferocity of the Leviathan and that men fear him.
Isaiah 27:1 is a second place the Leviathan is mentioned. It says the LORD will punish Leviathan, and slay him, in the Day of the LORD. Daddy and I looked this up to study it more, in context. One commentary said that the Day of the LORD was the captivity. I would argue differently, because of Isaiah 24. I don’t argue from the “whole earth” phrase, as that can be translated “land” as well, and in that case could mean solely Israel. I argue from verses 21-23:
“On that day the Lord will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,
for the Lord of hosts reigns
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.”
That sounds like more than Israel being taken into Babylon. Continue on, into Isaiah 25, verses 6-8 specifically:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.”
That sounds like the Wedding Feast. And death wasn’t swallowed up forever when Israel came out of captivity. Chapter 26 is a cry to God for deliverance, and ends with a warning of judgment:
“For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain…”
That then goes into “In that day, the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea…”
There is support for both promises of salvation for Israel and Christ’s return. But whatever it is, the Leviathan – already established as our modern interpretation of a dragon – is going to be slain by God – which means he cannot be in God’s presence, thus he is not redeemed.
Another time Leviathan is mentioned is Psalm 74:14. In Psalm 74, Asaph cries out to God, asking Him to remember His people. Asaph recounts mighty deeds of God, one of which is crushing the Leviathan (this is an example of God working salvation on the earth, verse 12).
The Bible does mention actual dragons as well, in Isaiah 51:9, Ezekiel 29:3, 32:2, Revelation 12, 13, 16, and 20:2. The passage in Isaiah again speaks of God killing the dragon, after a call for God to do what He did in generations long ago. In the passages in Ezekiel, the dragon is compared to Pharaoh. An observation that daddy made was that when the term dragon is used, it is used to represent something that is against God and His people. This is proved still further in Revelation. Revelation is apocalyptic literature. When D.A. Carson visited Dubai, he spoke on it and the gospel one morning. I was blown away. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the apocalyptic part, only that the woman represents the Messianic community as a whole. The dragon is waiting to eat her child. That sure ain’t good. The clearest place that dragons are stated as bad is in the next few verses (one of which is repeated in Revelation 20:2):
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting
against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought
back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any
place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown
down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan,
the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the
earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard
a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have
come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their
testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them!
But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you
in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
This is talking about when Satan was thrown down from heaven. Then he goes and pursues the children of the woman – “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea….” Again, the dragon standing against the children of God.
The dragon appears again in Revelation 13. I won’t say much about this passage, just that it continues my argument that the dragon is evil and represents Satan.
In Revelation 16:13, John sees false prophets, unclean, and demonic spirits coming out of the dragon’s mouth. (An observation: false prophets lie, and Satan is the father of lies). These spirits and prophets assembled in Armageddon, waiting for the battle against the LORD.
In Revelation 20, God seizes Satan – who is the dragon (verse 2) – and chains him up.
My conclusion about dragons in the Bible is that of John: “…the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan…”
If you want to create a creature that’s like a dragon, fine. But I don’t think we should call it a dragon because it’s clear in scripture that the dragon is Satan – exactly what “dragon” means, we don’t know.
My problem is not with having good, fire-breathing scaly creatures. It’s with taking something God calls the devil in the holy, sufficient, inerrant cannon of scripture and making it good. If dragon is just ferocious, dangerous animal, then I don’t care what you do with it. Lions are ferocious and dangerous, but I have no problem with them being good because God never calls them Satan. I’ve heard people argue that then lions are bad, because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. However, Christ is called the Lion of Judah. Not only does this seem contradictory, but it brings up a difference between simile and symbol. A simile is a means of comparison in a way that helps you understand it better; a symbol has a much deeper meaning behind it. Christ is like a lamb says He is gentle. Christ IS the lamb implies much more – that He did what a lamb did, and died in place of us as propitiation for our sin. In the same way, Revelation says Satan IS the dragon. My argument is that throughout Scripture, the dragon is something that is anti-God and tries to kill God’s people. He is at war with God. The lion is mentioned once, in a simile, and other than that is used to represent Christ – in symbolism. There’s a big difference between the two.
Even if it is only symbolism and Satan is not actually the dragon, there’s still a problem with good dragons. Although God did not create dragons evil, He made dragons with the strength that became destructive after the fall. The fall was not plan B, in God’s sovereignty it was plan A, so this was still in His perfect plan for redemptive history. Dragon became destructive and is used in the Bible to mean something that is anti-God and His people. The Bible is God’s word, and throughout it He says dragons are things that are anti-God. To take that and make it good is to deny that scripture is infallible. Although dragons were created good, we now live in a post-fall world where a post-fall understanding of God’s creation is needed.
So far, we’ve established two things: first, that dragons appear in the Bible. Secondly, that when they appear in the Bible, they are bad and represent things that are anti-God. Not exactly something that we want to make good.
All that said, the biggest question remains: what about dragons in fantasy? Here is where most of my research was done. I read two articles and one book, which you will see cited in the following section. Although the Bible doesn’t speak outright about alternate realities, it does speak of absolute Truth and God’s unchanging character.
 All objections are from various people that I love dearly on www.apricotpie.com This difference does not change my love for them in any way, shape, or form, nor does it change my love of their writings.