Tuesday, February 12, 2008

God and the Oceans

Sue and I are on vacation near the ocean. As Iowans, being near the ocean gives us a fresher look at God. Over the past few days I've been beat up by the surf and I've sat, watching and listening to the pounding of the waves. So, I was led to ask, "What does the ocean tell me about Us and God?"

  • When depressed, picture yourself tossed about in the fury of His love; like being thrashed by the waves of the ocean (Psalm 42).
  • God is mightier than the breakers of the sea (Psalm 93).
  • He treads on the ocean waves (Job 9).
  • Fear God who sets limits for the seas (Job 38).
  • God stirs the sea and calms the sea (Psalm 107).

Here’s my take on the meaning of the oceans in scripture:

The seas represent, to a certain extent, chaos and damage. The seas are somewhat mysterious and hold frightening creatures. The oceans are overwhelming, unpredictable, and untamed. Their brute force is apparent and their power can be unleashed or calmed in an instant. There is nothing that I know of in the Bible that depicts the ocean as a place of opportunity or peace. The oceans evoke feelings of fear and danger.

Even the sounds of the breakers of the ocean speak a mysterious spirit-language of their own; calling to one another (deep calls to deep). Waterfalls echo this chorus. I suspect that the ancient mind would understand these passages as more than simply a personification of nature.

God’s control of the boundaries of the seas is a recurring theme. Even the Genesis epic tells about God establishing the boundaries of the sky and earth and water. But during the great flood, God allowed the waters to breach those boundaries and they overwhelmed creation with their destructive power.

But the Lord is a God who no longer will allow the chaos of the oceans to encroach upon the earth. God holds the ocean in check, protecting man from its turmoil.

Now, transport this ocean motif into the accounts of Jesus who stilled the waves, walked on the sea, found a coin in a fish’s mouth, and commanded a large catch of fish. In the OT it was God Himself who tread on the ocean waves. God alone could still the chaos of the ocean with a whisper, He mastered the creatures of the ocean.


  1. Could the instance of Jesus teaching while calmly seated in a boat tell us something about His command over creation?
  2. Why would Jesus teach the parable of the soils from a boat? All of the synoptic accounts record it this way.

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