Life: One Big Journey through the Red Sea

Genesis 1:9

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.”

Luther’s Commentary
“Job, the 38th chapter, and the 104th Psalm bear witness that, although the sea is higher than the earth and is limited by no boundaries of its own, yet it cannot pass its boundaries appointed of God. For the earth, being the center of the world, would naturally be submerged and covered with the sea. But God keeps back the sea by his Word and thus makes the plane of the earth stand forth out of the waters. Hence it is by the power of God that the waters are prevented from rushing in upon us. God therefore performs for us to this day and will do so to the end of the world, the same miracle which he wrought for the children of Israel in the Red Sea, Ex. 14:21-22. But he made a special manifestation of his power by working the mighty miracle on that occasion, to the intent that he might bind that people, who were few in number, the more devotedly to his worship. And what else is this our life upon earth, but a passage through the Red Sea, where the high and threatening walls of water stand up on each side of us? For it is most certainly true that the sea is much higher than the earth. God therefore to this day commands the waters to hang suspended and holds them up by his Word that they may not break in upon us, as they burst in upon the world at the deluge. Sometimes however signs of God’s power are still manifested, whole islands perish under the waters, whereby God shows that the mighty water is still in his hands, and that it is with Him either to hold it fast or to let it rush in upon the wicked and the ungrateful.”
 
Martin Luther. Luther on the Creation: A Critical and Devotional Commentary on Genesis [1-3] (Kindle Locations 1595-1598).
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3 comments

  1. I definitely see Psalm 104 speaking to the sea being higher than the land. Verses 5-9 – It is actually really awesomely written and has great imagery. I did not see reference to the sea being higher than the land in Job 38 though.. It did speak of boundary, but not height that I found.

    You and I had a similar discussion about this last week, and I will pose the question again: God created the world, including the land and the sea, and set the boundaries of the sea. Like it says in Job 38, “And I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther.'” He created it that way. Much like I could create a bowl out of clay. I set the dimensions and the thickness, and it stays that way. I don’t need to continue to shape it or think about it in order for it to keep its shape and design. Luther suggests that God continues to perform the miracle of setting the boundaries of the sea to keep us safe from it. It’s almost as if the sea, from day to day will not continue to obey God’s original creation, and so God must always rebuke the sea to keep it within its boundaries. So, what is the difference and benefit of viewing it the way Luther describes this, versus viewing it like my example of the clay bowl?

    1. The only thing I can add is that we certainly see cases where the sea rushes in, past its boundaries, and a catastrophe results – as Luther referenced with the islands becoming submerged. Also, when I originally read the ‘seas are higher than the land’, I thought it was referring to creation order. But I can also see where it could be referring to the clouds which can hold vast quantities of water above the land. Enough to flood the earth.

      1. Josh, forgive the delayed response. As I think about your question I think of Hebrews 1:3, which says that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power.” I think there is the creative act of the Word of God at creation, but there is also some sort of sustaining power in that word. You make a valid point as well. God does seem to just set things in motion and they just stay on course with his plan, but as we discussed, the source of the motion must be traced back to the Word of God. What do you think? Is it reading too much into the text to take it the way Luther does?

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