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A Sea of Troubles

A Sea of Troubles

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:9–10)

Throughout most of Israel’s history, the nation was essentially landlocked; in fact, they nicknamed themselves am ha’aretz (“people of the land”). Generally, the Philistines and Phoenecians held the coastline.

The Bible really shows little interest in the sea. When it is discussed, the Bible views the ocean as a hostile element, dangerous, and separating people from one another.

God created the oceans on the third day of creation. But that event was preceded by a very important preliminary description in verse 2: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

The Hebrew word translated as “darkness” is choshek. Hebrew is a pictorial language, so it isn’t just descriptive of a lack of light. Choshek has a wide range of meanings from misery, death, ignorance, sorrow, to wickedness. Many scholars sum it up with the word “chaos.”

Now Genesis 1:2 reads more like, “In the beginning, the Spirit of God overwhelmed the chaos and brought order.”

The ancient Hebrews viewed creation as God subduing the dark chaos. John brings this same thought forward to the NT in relation to Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1, 4–5) “Darkness” is the same word Moses uses in Genesis!

Do you see it? God, our Creator, speaks to the choshek – the chaos – of the world and brings order. Jesus, our Savior, speaks to the choshek – the chaos – in our lives and brings order.

The sea is a fearful image in the Bible. But it becomes an image of hope. No matter what chaos we’re dealing with in life, Jesus still speaks to the waves and the wind. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39)

Join us Sunday as we explore God as Creator and learn more about Him from His creation.


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