Text Size: Zoom In

The Mystery of the Greenland Shark

How does the slowest shark in the world catch its food? Living in frigid, near-freezing waters, the Greenland shark swims at less than 1 mile an hour. It takes seven seconds for one full sweep of its tail to propel it forward.

Researchers, however, have found remains of seals in the sharks’ stomachs. Those findings have marine biologists wondering how one of the slowest fish in the sea can catch a fast-swimming seal.

In the past, some have suggested that the Greenland shark is actually a scavenger that eats the remains of dead animals. But recent findings indicate that the sharks are taking live seals.

Two theories have been suggested. One is that slow-moving sharks sneak up on seals that are sleeping in the water in frigid regions to avoid polar bears. Another theory is that the shark uses a powerful sucking action to pull in an unsuspecting seal that swims too close.

In an attempt to get answers, scientists are planning to use underwater cameras in hopes of catching “the slowest chase on record.”

While researchers look for answers, maybe the Greenland shark can help us think through a similar question.

If it seems like a slow-moving shark should be no threat to a fast-moving seal, doesn’t it also seem like a defeated predator like the devil should be no threat to those who, according to the Bible, are more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37)? Doesn’t the apostle Paul also ask with rhetorical confidence, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV). In another letter, the apostle John declares, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV). Then there’s the apostle James who assures us that if we resist the devil he will run from us (James 4:7).

Yet, in spite of all these assurances, the Bible still warns us about the devil. It sounds like a wake-up call. But what is at stake when the apostle Peter urges his readers to remain awake, watchful, and vigilant to avoid what he calls being devoured by the devil (1 Peter 5:8)? Let’s take a closer look.

Peter’s warning may recall the night that he, James, and John fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane even though Jesus repeatedly warned them that this was a time to pray and not to sleep.

This wasn’t their only wake-up call. Earlier that night at the Last Supper, Jesus had told His disciples that something terrible was about to happen, and that one of them would betray Him. At first, the disciples wondered among themselves who He was referring to. But that question apparently led to arguing about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:14-30).

Peter seemed to consider himself in the running. Even after being warned by Jesus that Satan was stalking him, Peter assured his Lord that he was ready to go to prison or death for Him.

Looking back, it’s apparent that Peter was dreaming. His words of self-confidence were like the sound of a sleeping man snoring.

Within hours, all of the disciples had abandoned Jesus. While the others merely hid in fear, Peter, the boldest of them all, panicked when recognized by a servant girl of the high priest. Ambushed by his own fear and weakness of faith, he repeatedly denied that he ever knew the teacher from Nazareth (Luke 22:54-62).

Such memories must have lingered in Peter’s mind as he later wrote his letter urging followers of Christ to be clear-minded, wakeful, and vigilant in light of a real spiritual enemy. He’d learned the hard way that by the daydreams of self-assurance (Luke 22:33) or by the nightmares of sheer terror (Luke 22:54-62), we can be distracted from clear-minded trust in our God.

Peter also had seen all too clearly that even if our ultimate rescue is assured, and even if, in the end, He who is for us is greater than he who is against us, the devil can temporarily devour our sense of well-being in Christ (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Looking back, it seems apparent that God let Satan shake down Peter to wake him up—not only for his sake, but for ours (Luke 22:31).

In the providence of God, we can now learn from Peter’s loss. Through his stumbles we can be reminded that our greatest danger is not a devil we cannot see. Our biggest problem is that self-confidence, distraction, and prayerlessness shows our lack of spiritual consciousness.

That’s apparently why Peter goes on to urge his readers to watch out for one another in ways that show that they are acutely aware of how much God cares for all of us (1 Peter 5:1-8).

The result goes far beyond whether we become like sleeping seals to a Greenland shark. According to Peter, the humility and alertness we need to resist our enemy bring us to God and make us good for one another (1 Peter 5:1-10).

Father in heaven, thank You for using even our spiritual enemy to help us see how much we need You. Slowly it’s dawning on us that the tactics of our predator can be heard as Your wake-up call. —Mart DeHaan

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+111 rating, 116 votes)

26 Responses to “The Mystery of the Greenland Shark”

  1. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends,

    Peter knew too well the galvanizing chill of fear that suddenly caused him to forget his first love there in the courtyard of the high priest’s house. Three times he denied the Lord he had so passionately sworn to follow, before his amnesia melted away and, meeting Jesus’ eyes, “Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had told him, ‘Before a cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’” (Luke 22:61)

    Peter afterward urgently reminds the churches in his letters, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore; be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:7-8)

    Mart, you wrote:
    “Then there’s the apostle James who assures us that if we resist the devil he will run from us (James 4:7).”

    It seems to me James, along with Peter, urges each of us to cling closely to Jesus. James offers a proverb in the context of God’s abundant grace: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) It seems to me we are not effective resisting the devil without radical submission to God. We must draw near to God in Christ, and seek his grace, the only powerful force that protects us.

    Can it be the all-too-human desire to wield power ourselves – even spiritual power – causes us to step out carelessly, arrogantly, maybe even recklessly to confront evil? Our humility has fallen asleep in that case. Our pride is wide awake and is blind to the danger. It is the proud who are devoured. The proud are fair game for Satan.


  2. SFDBWV says:

    I too read the *discovery* surrounding the Greenland Shark some time back. It is an interesting story because it flies in the face of everything the experts thought they knew about sharks.

    The idea that a predator slowly creeps toward its prey all the while the prey thinking it can get away only to caught and eaten by it reminds me of two stories.

    The first is the fable of the tortoise and the hare; of course that story isn’t about being eaten, but is about misplaced confidence.

    The second is about death…Who among us can out run the *reaper*?

    While we explored earlier the fact that the Bible is a tell all account of its characters it stands to reason then that we are only able to accurately learn from them because of the honesty in how they are presented.

    Behind every self proclaimed tough guy is a coward whom is overcome by aggressive behavior.

    Peter is recorded as being both bold and cowardly.

    I hesitate to go into the abilities or lack thereof concerning *the devil* at this time, but lets suppose that the devil knew that hidden under the tough exterior of Peter lay a coward.

    And then let’s suppose it was his desire to use that cowardess to destroy Peter’s self confidence.

    Interesting that it is recorded that Satan ask permission to *sift* Peter. Also interesting it is recorded that he goes about seeking whom he might devour; it seems Satan is on a leash.

    Very interesting is that God used Satan in order to *heal* Peter of misplaced *self* confidence.

    We all have a weakness, or *that* secret sin, how the devil knows about it I am not positive about, but when the enemy knows your weakness he will attack from that vantage point.

    “Praise the Lord and the devil will flee from you”.

    But how do you flee from yourself?

    Peter changed once he was forced to confront his fears; James also had to confront his own personal demons in order to mature into the mature Christian.

    We can expect no less if we are to expect to grow into mature Christians ourselves.

    Our Bible once again shows us the way and shows us that through our weakness we can become stronger and are not condemned for it, and finally able to be used of God for His purposes.


  3. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning all… to me when we put our hand to the plow, when we recognize that Christ lives in us, when we know we are born again possessing the Holy Spirit’s Indwelling, we have a responsibility to retain such, maintain, allow, rest in, praise, honor, glorify, the One who first loved us, who called us to himself, who gave up his life for ours giving us a deposit for eternity, that must be lived out by Him and us.
    I know this is not the Age of Responsibility in the worlds view, but in God’s we clearly have some work assigned to us, and for us to do.
    Call it what you may, an IOU, a showing up for the feast, the wedding, the meeting in the clouds.
    We are called for a purpose and that calling puts us in a position of responding to the call.
    A fiduciary responsibility if you will, to God’s ultimate reign over us, and a place of absolute respect and honor for the gift He chose to give us. Not only must we open that gift, we must use it for its purposes.
    If we find the great commission pertains to us as a believer, there is work to do.
    We must resist, endure, run the race, stay awake and alert, we ever watchful, waiting, and be ready. Put on the armor, carry our cross, keep his words in our heart, be praying without ceasing, be set apart, and be holy as He is holy.
    Those commands are not for God, they are from God, and they are for us.
    We who carry the word within us carry with it its power, and that power is given to us as we become legal guardians of it, we are given an attorney at law type of exposure and position, we are the chosen ones, we are His Possession, and we need to honor that with all our worship, the all our mind, and with all our being, with all our actions.
    Today we do not yet live in such a promise land, we live in a corrupted ever darkening world.
    We live in the Age of Grace, the Age of the Holy Spirit given to all who are called and will accept it, obey it, and bring it to mind before we act, before we sin, before we hate, before we say someone else needs to do the right thing here first, then maybe God will give me the strength to follow along. Surely I have not been called to lead, to make a stand, to speak out against sin, or to hold others accountable, for those are the things of God’s will, not mine.
    Who do we who dare to call ourselves a Christian today, really think we are?
    Are we to become always be weak, helpless, ineffective and ever silent so others do not take offense, so political correctness can rule, so sin prevails unnoticed, so Satan alone wins the hearts of the masses?
    Stop, look, and listen is great advice, if you are ever going to act on it and actually cross the road, the tracks, or the bridge of life, but useless information for those who never will step out in faith, or off the curb.
    Once we are given the power by God, we are also given the power to act upon it, and to me, the bible is filled with many calls to action, many warnings of inaction, and promises given to those who will act upon the them.
    Please forgive me if I’ve wandered off the page of context again.

  4. kingdomkid7 says:

    Good morning all. Just want to weigh in a little bit. For some reason the Greenland shark reminds me of the conversation in the other topic where we began to talk about the down-side of looking at whether the Bible is credible to others by sharing with others a purely rational approach to it. (my summary, maybe no one else’s). Thanks for the shout-out on that topic, Steve.
    I have been away finishing up my semester this week and have a story to tell that I hope connects these topics– at least for me it connects them. Like Gary, I do not want to stray from the context; I don’t think Gary did stray in his interesting comments above and hope I don’t either. So here’s the story: I learned from some students at my school yesterday that one of my colleagues — a friend on our faculty who happens to be gay — REQUIRED her students to vote in class on this past election day in a mock vote for or against gay marriage. She allowed them to use secret ballots, but the poor conservative students were open to ridicule by their vote against it. They stood up but they paid a price. The story was related to me because I was allowing my students to ventilate about some things — and that election story came up. Some facts that make the story more significant. One, this is a public law school. Two, the class where the students were required to vote is called “Family Law.”Family Law is a major subject in all law schools and it is tested on every bar examination in this country. So, this is not insignificant. We now have professors indoctrinating students on how to vote and on how to ignore what they may have learned from home or the Bible on what a family is.. It doesn’t matter to me that this teacher is a generally “nice”person. We have not seen eye to eye on the gay issue (she calls Christian ideals of heterosexual marriage “hate speech”and she and I have agreed to disagree. She is my friend.) The problem is that what is happening on my campus is happening elsewhere– all over the country, in fact. It is a Greenland shark. And if we think our ability to withstand such indoctrination of our youth without a fight against it, we are just plain wrong. And we fast moving seals who trust that our religious liberties will not be eroded if we do not affirmatively fight for them will end up in the belly of the slow moving shark.

  5. BruceC says:

    God has the history of the entire universe and of every human that has ever lived or ever will live spread out as an open scroll. The victory is won; but the battle still rages. To us that sounds a little off track and in reverse. Usually; in our way of thinking, the battles are fought and then comes victory or defeat. The Lord knew the outcome of WWII before the earth was created; but the soldiers still had to fight the enemy. We too have an enemy that needs to be battled with every waking day. Sadly the majority of people in the world and even some that attend church don’t think the enemy is an actual personality or entity; or what ever word you may use. They think he is a fairy tale meant to scare and a tool used to control. Or an allegory of our own nature; which in itself is corrupt enough. But satan is real and seeks to destroy our joy, our walk with Christ, our service, our witness and testimony to make us look bad and to make our Lord look weak to the unbelieving world. He fights to keep the truth from those who do not know Christ and so bring about their destruction. But we must don the armor everyday and do His will; to preach the Gospel to world and show His love to them and our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Steve said, he somehow knows our weakness which I think may be based on our past actions and surely he is an expert in the fallen human nature. Like the shark in the post; he is the ultimate stealth enemy and he knows what weapons to use on us.
    He always accuses us before God as sinners and failures; blinded by his own extreme pride and hatred. He has lost and his arrogance pushes him forward to his known end and yet out of spite towards God he continues. He is only interested in casualties because Christ has secured the victory.
    We need to hold one another up, pray for each other, bear each others burdens, strengthen and exhort. Some are weak, some are strong. Some are mature, some are babes. But all need Christ every day to continue and one another. And all have a weakness or shortcoming. We are not called to be a go-it-alone Rambo, but part of an army of faith and love; in service to our God.

    God Bless All today!!!
    Cold up here. Lasted about three hours deer hunting. But it was nice to be out in the Lord’s creation.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  6. poohpity says:

    I agree Bruce we need the armor of God. Have you ever tried running/fleeing with your britches around your ankles? I though that was a funny visual but it works. So we need to know God’s truths because Satan even used them by twisting them to tempt in the garden and Jesus. (Eph 6:14; John 8:32 NIV) The only real weapon we have is prayer and God’s Word. (Eph 6:17; James 5:16 NIV)

  7. kingdomkid7 says:

    Well said, Bruce. We live our lives as a tale that is told.

  8. poohpity says:

    Great article, Mart!! Good to always remember that the accuser wants to break us apart and cause division. We so need each other when so much comes against us, everyday. Knowing the humble need of others on this journey that at times leaves us gasping for air.

  9. kingdomkid7 says:

    That was Psalm 90:9 that I was speaking of. And I literally don’t leave the bed in the morning without armor. God’s word must be written on the tablets of our heart, so that we will be ready for the battle every day. Bible reading and study — and meditation on the Word, along with prayer and intercession really have to be our mainstays. On that, I agree with what pooh says often: we have to read the book (all of it) to walk in victory.

  10. SFDBWV says:

    Kingdomkid7 I liked very much your comments and story of the moral corruption you recognize taking place in your college.

    I have been explained that the ACLU was founded by a communist who new the only way to defeat *American capaltilism* was by using its freedoms against itself, to chip away at the moral conviction of the law until illogical and amoral law prevailed causing the destruction of the nation through moral collapse.

    I am sure this began longer ago than the 60’s, but it was in the 60’s that the Cultural Revolution began to take hold of America.

    You are very correct that there is a slow moving onslaught against every good and decent thing in our country, and I may say the world, ongoing and underway.

    Many voices over my lifetime have been raised to both proclaim this evil and to warn us of it. Only to be ignored or silenced and sometimes voted down.

    Nothing is more important than the education of our children, and as you have said, there in college, professors are trying to corrupt the minds of our future, but it happens even in the kindergartens of America as they now are taught to accept alternatives to what we would consider a normal family unit.

    However it is not only the classroom that has been slowly eroding, it is also very much alive in churches and in the Christian community as well.

    God will not be mocked and judgment will come, some believe it has already begun.

    As for every generation since Jesus came to the world, we too are ask to make a decision for Jesus and to take a stand for all that the Bible says is pure and good in the sight of God.

    I am pleased to make my stand with you and others who recognize the evil we face and lift up Jesus as our only hope.

    Before the march of time slowly catches up with us all.


  11. poohpity says:

    Steve, I think sometimes we expect churches, schools and government to do things in the peoples lives that we do not do even in our own homes. Like when they took prayer and bible reading out of the schools but if we did those things in our own homes with our own children then we would not look to the schools to provide.

    It would be nice if Satan’s wiles we so easy to see but it seems that the way it works is when our defenses are down and we are not paying attention that is when the attacks come. If deception were in your face then it would not be deception.

  12. poohpity says:

    That sentence did not come out right. The things that are easy to spot and are “in your face” are easy to fight against but the things that are small and not easy to see but whittle their way into our lives are more like deception.

  13. remarutho says:

    Good Evening Mart & Friends —

    It seems to me the key to resisting the temptations that are inherent in our flesh is prayer. In the olive grove that night Jesus told the disciples, “Keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

    The attack is lateral, not frontal. Our combat is in the Spirit — counter-intuitive in its non-direction. Our struggle is to submit to the Lord and utterly trust in his use of the prayers we offer. Even as the disciples prayed — or fell asleep there in the garden — eyes heavy with exhaustion, Judas cruised in and kissed Jesus.

    How often have I not comprehended the apparent action in the flesh — but have seen the working of God in the outcomes that develop! Keeping watch is a nebulous undertaking. Still, faithfulness in prayer produces something in heavenly realms. (James 5:16)


  14. bubbles says:

    C.S. Lewis said one of the enemy’s most effective tools is discouragment. I found that interesting because we need to have our minds/thoughts/emotions under control to avoid that slippery slope of becoming discouraged and being tempted to think wrong thoughts and the discouragement becomes something much darker and a dark hole that is difficult and sometimes feels imposssible to escape.

  15. oneg2dblu says:

    The battle is always in the mind, as it is always spiritual in nature, and well before it acts itself out in the flesh, there is in reality a moment between our first thought and the resulting action.
    Even if by our sinful nature the first thought will be flesh driven, the action can be changed by the power of spirit within us, helping us to resist it in the flesh.

    Now, when we are wrongly taught or misled, it is always to effect our thinking to powerlessly remain flesh driven, but Godly teaching is Spirit driven, and greater in he who is in you, than he who is in the world.
    Spirit filled believers have the more powerful indwelling helper to give them the power to resist, for we can not be tempted beyond our control, and if were, God will then give us a way out from under it.
    2 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
    When we end up helplessly sinning and living outside of the Will of God, it is because we are not tuned in to, or listening to, the inner voice that God provides through His Holy Spirit.
    For that Spirit gets all its will and direction from God, not from our worldly mind or our flesh driven desire.
    Our greatest power is to just surrender to that deposited Indwelling Spirit that resides in every believer today, the Spirit of Truth, and then the truth will set us free. Gary

  16. oneg2dblu says:

    1 Corinthians 10:13

  17. davids says:

    Powerful thoughts, Gary. Thanks!

  18. vineyardlaborer says:

    One of the scriptures cited here is the MORE THAN A CONQUEROR from Romans 8:37. I am having trouble understanding this scripture. I would LOVE to be a CONQUEROR! I would like to conquer my bad habits, sins, challenges and stumbling blocks. Oh, if I could CONQUER those things. This scripture says I AM MORE THAN A CONQUEROR. I cannot even imagine what that is because I do not feel like I have even yet been a conqueror so how can I be More than something I have not yet been?

  19. poohpity says:

    vineyardlaborer, if I may give what I believe that scripture means. Just as you mentioned not being able to conquer bad habits, sins, challenges and stumbling blocks in our own strength, Jesus knew that and still went to the Cross that the consequences of those are paid for so that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in the next verse Romans 8:38-39 NLT.

  20. katy says:

    Mart, I like your paragraphs which read: “Our biggest problem is that self-confidence, distraction, and prayerlessness shows our lack of spiritual consciousness. That’s apparently why Peter goes on to urge his readers to watch out for one another in ways that show that they are acutely aware of how much God cares for all of us (1 Peter 5:1-8).”

    I’ve been reminded recently how isolated we, at least in the States, can be from one another. We seem to have become so individualistic that we often turn inward and are blind to the aches and loneliness of those around us. At church, at work, we hide behind a mask of having it all together, yet personally inside we’re falling apart. The passages, such as the one you refer to, where the Bible writers remind us to watch out for each other, care for one another, encourage one another…Oh, that we might live lives like that! That the Church might become a community of love where the lost can be found, and where those struggling with sin, those hurting, and vulnerable can find freedom, healing, and belonging.

  21. bec4jc says:

    I thought I was slow,lol. This shark catches all the food that the speedier ones just fly by though. I’d like to think I’ve got that in common with this shark,lol.
    katy, if we all look into the mirror and decide to put that mask on before we leave home, well, we ought to think twice because if we have a mask on we automaticlly think that everyone else has one on and we need to dig for the true person. That is alright if we are looking with are hearts in order to get to know them so we may befriend them but, most of the time we end up digging for dirt. You know what I mean? We know we have a mask on so they must have a mask on hiding all the negative stuff I’m working on. That’s why I feel like I don’t belong in church.

  22. swwagner says:

    There is no safe haven except in Christ even when we can’t feel or see Him. I am growing older now and can’t rely on my own mental and physical strengh to fight all the foes of life. My memory isn’t what it use to be…I forget names, faces, appointments, Bible verses, and have lost the concept of time. My friends and family grow weary of my failings sometimes…I grow weary of them myself. But, one thing I do know, Jesus Christ, my Savior, holds on to me and I am not lost to Him even if I am lost to myself or discounted by those around me.

    There are times in my younger life that Satan has “sifted” me. I have allowed myself to be lured into dreadful places spiritually, mentally, and physically…but God is faithful. He has rescued me. He has come after me in the storm. He has carried me on His shoulders back to safety, service, and restored health. I am not smart enough or strong enough to stand up to sin and Satan. I am easily led astray. I am tired of the battle, but in Christ I am victorious.

  23. timmer9 says:

    Hey Mart,
    Finally set up my account today.I used to watch Day of Discoveery on WWNY TV, channel 7, from Watertown N.Y. I reside in Kingston Ontario which is on the north shore of Lake Ontario, an hour due north of Syracuse.

    Have been getting ODB in the post for 2 years or so. I always find something in there that reflects issues in my life.

    Glad to be here.

  24. timmer9 says:

    Your answer for this is so simple, I guess some things are just too obvious. You are probably right. I had no knowledge of this shark’s existence until my Daily Bread arrived.

  25. oneg2dblu says:

    swwagner… here is a verse or two we now live in Christ, so we do not have to worry about remembering.
    2 Corinthians 4:16,17,18 NIV
    “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix or eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
    My version… Therefore we can live victoriously every day in Christ, regardless of our circumstances or what others may now see.
    Be Blessed, Gary

  26. oneg2dblu says:

    I see that is your version as well, even if we can’t quote the actual verse verbatim, we live its message. :)

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.