Big Waters, Big Grace. —Day Two
God is a realist. He wants what is best for us and in a sense is an optimist. But His love is immense that He prepares a way for renewal spiritually when we fall even long before the fact. Along the way between His grace and our sin, we have limited understanding of seeing anything beyond the here and now or what is easily discernible to the mind of instant gratification.
6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Now this seems like a strange thing, the idea of pools of water over the earth with a singular identity and a plural amount of waters on the earth. Also this is the briefest day in terms of narrative. What is God up to in this story?
First, for what God calls Sky to have oneness of identity in contrast to the plural waters on each side of it is a sign of where a future sacrament of baptism comes in. The Sky is not heaven as we think of it, but it symbolizes a barrier as God’s protection. God’s grace is of unity while the earth is made to have an existence of some division. Where the old is revealed in the new is what the New Testament says we have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).
There is even a fuller context about baptism how “during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:20-21). The waters that were considered above is where the flood came from. Without God’s maintained hand on that, one could say the sky is falling.
The flood that was to come from was a sign of God’s justice while the prevention of it was a sign of God’s mercy and without it there would not be a covenant of mercy upon the earth. It was in Genesis 6, after the flood, that God paints the first rainbow and calls it a sign that He will not flood the earth again and where the word covenant is used for the first time in salvation history. First comes grace, then comes covenant. Just like first comes a baby in the manger as in “Peace on earth and goodwill towards men” then the Carpenter of Nazareth says He is bringing forth a new covenant.
So what is God up to here? He knew already that there was going to be a fall and he put things in motion already for a major symbol of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. This prefigured a valid means of salvation through baptism in Christ who was to come. He is the God of second chances and makes way for those second chances before we even mess up. And in Adam, we all did and we all died. But in Christ we are made alive.
So when we look at this story, we should try not to see only a hint of God’s judgment but more about grace and its mystery. The experience of both can be life or death to us. It comes down to a choice on how we proceed. We will not know it all where it comes to spiritual things, but to be spiritually aware that there is something going on above our understanding is the beginning of wisdom after we get any hint of what we call enlightenment.