So last night I dreamt there was a large wild hog in my entryway. I can’t explain why a feral pig would show up in my dream. I don’t live in Texas and until today I had never heard of hogzilla. Yet there he was, a giant hog running circles around me as I tried to coax him out the door.
Usually I forget my dreams as soon as I wake up, but this one stayed with me. I felt like the dream was significant, but didn’t really know why. So I did what I often do when I don’t understand the meaning of something – I looked it up in the concordance.
Surprisingly, there are only a handful of uses of the word swine (aka boar) in Scripture. You have the usual Hebrew prohibition on eating pork, and then there is Psalm 80:13 depicting the destruction of God’s choice vine:
The wild boar from the forest devours it, and the wild animals feed on it.
Commentators describe the wild boar as fierce and savage, just as I experienced in my dream. His nature is to dig up anything and everything edible from the ground. You do the sowing, the watering, the weeding and sometime just before the harvest the beast comes in and tears up the garden – sort of like the Midianites who devoured the Israelites’ crops, leaving “no sustenance in the land.” But the wild hog doesn’t just go after the yield; he uproots any potential for new growth.
As if that were not enough, Psalm 80 also throws in other undefined wild things just to keep things interesting. Recently a well-meaning colleague warned me of the dangers of amateur, armchair exegesis using online Bible software. Nevertheless, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and point out that the particular word translated wild animals in Psalm 80:13 is ziyz, which is used only three times in the entire Old Testament. Twice it reads “wild beasts” – as in lions, tigers and bears – and then utterly unexpectedly in Isaiah 66:11 it is translated “abundance.” Huh? It doesn’t take a professional theologian to see that one of these things is not like the others.
Now we’re not talking about mundane, run-of-the-mill abundance here. Ziyz expresses the fulfillment of being restored to the tender and extravagant heart of the Father.
How could the word for something that is literally eating your lunch on one occasion be the same word for the over-the-top provision of God on another?
And consider the paradox of Leviathan. He is portrayed as a terror-inducing, fire-breathing dragon; yet God created him to be food for His people in the wilderness.
Imagine a number line from minus one hundred to plus one hundred. God is not content for us to move from whatever negative position we once occupied only to stop at zero. The tragedy is that a lot of us are so damaged that zero looks like paradise compared to the minus sixty we came from. We lose all incentive to advance into positive territory – that promised land teeming with giants, leviathan and wild hogs. But the place that looks so treacherous and foreboding is exactly where God invites us to partake of the lavish banquet He has prepared for us. Pork chops, anyone?