This is Part 2 of a sermon I recently preached and discussed with folks at church regarding how the terms “heaven, earth and sea” are often used to describe convenantal – not material – realities in the Bible’s redemption story.
Here are examples where the term “heaven and earth” seems to be describing the people of Israel.
Gen 2:4 “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”.
This word “generations” is used 39 other times in the Old Testament. It is only used of people and family geneologies elsewhere in Scripture. As in, “these are the generations of Noah…” or Jacob.
Another example, Dt 32:1, God’s often repeated rally cry, “Hear oh heavens and listen oh earth to the words of my mouth…” used by God to introduce commands to Israel at least 8 other times in Scripture (Dt 4:26, Dt 30:19, Ps 50:4, Jer 2:12, Jer 6:19, Jer 22:29, Mic 1:2, Is 1:2).
This call seems interchangeable with the other way that God introduces commands to Israel, saying, “Hear oh my people, and I will speak, oh Israel…” Ps. 50:7.
Another example is Dt 32:43, “…He will provide atonement for His land, His people.”
There is no word “and” separating the concepts of land and people here in this passage in the Hebrew. Even though some modern translators choose to add a word to the text and insert an arbitrary “and” in there, separating these concepts. The Hebrew text actually reads, “his land, his people” as if God is saying they are one and the same. You will discover more examples of the concepts of “land” and “people” corresponding to each other in Scripture once your eyes are opened to the idea.
Noah. In the story of Noah we hear God speaking from heaven, speaking about renewing the Covenant with Noah. We see the Ark, the only “earth” left in that flood story. God’s people are kept safe on their ark/land. And the sea swallows those who are not in relationship with God. Heaven, earth, sea.
Moses I. Moses, the first of the prophets to be a type of Jesus. When Moses, a Jew, was born, he was placed in a mini-ark, a basket floating on the water/sea which brought him to his Gentile adoptive mother. Heaven, earth, sea. (The name Moses actually means “drawn out” as in “drawn out of the water”. He would draw out God’s people from the sea and also from Gentile slavery.)
Moses II. Then, later in life, after delivering God’s people from Egyptian (Gentile) slavery, God tells Moses to part the sea. God’s people, the clean, the ‘earth’, pass through on dry land. Then, the Gentiles or unclean, get swallowed or covered by the sea. Heaven, earth, sea.
Jonah. We see God speaking from heaven to Jonah. When he is not obeying God, and acting unclean, get’s swallowed by a fish and held under the sea. Then, after he repents, and becomes one of God’s obedient people again, he is spit up onto dry land. Heaven, earth, sea.
Job. After 40 long chapters of Job suffering at God’s hand, God asks him is he can defeat the mighty Leviathan of the sea. Job finally turns a corner with God when he confesses that with God, yes, indeed, its possible. It is only AFTER THIS admittance does God restore Job and greatly blesses his life on the land. (Job 41-42) Heaven, earth, sea.
Jesus I. Fast forward to Jesus. Jesus called Jews, or “people of the LAND”, to be his followers. They were mostly fishermen. Then, to ALL of them he said, “I will make you ALL FISHER’s of ……..MEN” They would “fish” God’s people out of the “sea” of not-God’s-people, and bring them into the land, the covenant, salvation.
(To be continued in tomorrow’s post)