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Chaotic Waters

Ocean Storm

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.10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. (Genesis 1:9-13, ESV)

God prepares a land for mankind by separating the waters. Sailhamer notes that we should read this “in light of the subsequent accounts of the flood and the parting of the Red Sea.” This seems to be the beginning of a motif in scripture where God bring his people into his place through the waters. Water, specifically the sea, was seen as a hostile, chaotic force. This is why many of the other ANE literature had a god or a dragon of some kind associated with water that had to be conquered. The ocean was, and still is, a frightening place. So these images of God bringing his people to his place through water was very significant. The 23rd Psalm is one of the most popular psalms in our culture; it really resonates with us. It speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. That image is close to what we have in the waters motif. God will bring us safely through these dangerous and chaotic forces into his place.

The flood was a drastic step that had to be taken in order to preserve mankind. The Red Sea in Exodus is separated in order to bring the people out of Egypt. In Joshua, the waters of the Jordan were separated so that the people could cross into the promised land. Psalm 29:10 celebrates God’s power saying, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.”And again in Ps 77 saying:

(Psalm 77:19, ESV) Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.

In Matthew 8 we find the story of Jesus calming the storm. In response to this his disciples say:

(Matthew 8:27, ESV) And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Jesus refers to his suffering and death as baptism. And so baptism for us represents us going through the waters into the kingdom of God.


Often times when people are struggling with something in life, when they are experiencing difficult times, I counsel them to read the psalms. They speak to the cry of our heart. The psalmist pours his heart out to God over and over in his distress. That is what is so important in this water motif. Christianity is not pictured as some wonderful, peaceful, never-have-a-problem kind of religion. Rather, we walk in dangerous places. We travel a frightening path in life. Luke affirms this in Acts 14:

(Acts 14:21-22, ESV) When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

But though we traverse dangerous, chaotic, fearful paths, yet we do it not alone! God is with us! But God will bring us through! We do not travel alone! Hence the psalmist:

(Psalm 77:19, ESV) Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.

Also Isaiah

(Isaiah 43:2, ESV) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

So though times are tough, take courage dear Christian, you do not walk this path alone. Though you see not his footprints, yet he is there. Not only is he with us, but we have his promise that we will arrive safely. We have the assurance of the Almighty that we will not fail to reach his promised land, for he overcame the waters of death through the cross. If we simply trust him, we will find security and warmth even in times that seem cold and insecure.

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