I was listening to something last night on the way home that made me think.
When we are introduced to God on the first page of the Bible, we see Him creating. But shortly thereafter, He is turning chaos into order. How he does that is interesting: He does it through establishing boundaries.
At first, the earth is tohu and bohu and is uninhabitable. But man cannot live in chaos and disorder, tohu and bohu. Such a state is not fit for habitation, and God intended the earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18).
I noticed some time ago that there seems to be a structure in the Genesis 1 account. Well, there are several structures, but in particular, each day of 1-3 seems to be devoted to establishing a domain for inhabitants to come in days 4-6, and each in order. Day 1 involves establishing the domains of day and night, whereas Day 4 involves populating those domains with the sun and the moon and stars. Day 2 involves establishing the domains of the waters below and the waters above, and on Day 5 God creates the sea creatures to live in the waters below and the birds who fly among the clouds above. On Day 3 He establishes the land apart from the waters and fills it with vegetation, and on Day 6 He creates land animals and man to enjoy that realm.
Days 1-3 seem devoted to crafting places and domains of habitation that are, in turn, filled in the same order with their inhabitants.
That said, how does God establish the domains? How does He craft those domains out of the chaos?
He establishes them by setting boundaries where there were none. He takes what was total darkness (Genesis 1:2) and sets a boundary between Day and Night. He takes the waters and sets a boundary between what will be below and what will be above. He takes what was completely water covered and sets a boundary between dry land and the now-divided seas.
A major task of crafting order from chaos is setting boundaries. And perhaps it follows, then, that creating chaos often involves the removal of needed boundaries.
I think we see this theme in many places. God is angered at the spiritual chaos of Israel and says that part of the problem is that her priests have not taught the people to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the holy and unholy (Ezekiel 22:26) — a failure to draw proper boundaries. God set boundaries between Israel and the other nations around her, not just physical but through command and ordinance, to create a “space” where He could work with her and craft her. In fact, God set the boundaries of the nations of the world earlier in the history (Acts 17:26), to create families of men according to His desires, much like some might create a beautiful, orderly garden on their property. In Babylon at the Tower, the people opposed that order for one of their own choosing (Genesis 11:4), in which the people remained together in opposition to God (certainly a form of chaos), so He manifested the boundaries He wanted through their speech, forcing them to naturally create the order He desired in the world.
God defines what is orderly in sexual relations by defining boundaries not to be crossed (Leviticus 18). Crossing those boundaries causes chaos in the realm of sexual and family relationships and an “anything goes” mentality, much like we are seeing more and more of today. In fact, that awful and immoral (and as we highlighted, irrational) Australian “lesbian ad” we discussed yesterday was all about trying to convince people through emotional appeal to ignore boundaries.
How do we craft a safe, orderly world for our young children? We create boundaries for them. How do we teach them to have an orderly world of their own as adults? We teach them to create and establish boundaries of their own.
Anyway, just a thought! I had never seen that before — that God’s creation of order out of the tohu and bohu chaos in Genesis 1:2 was through the establishing or restoration of boundaries. Seemed interesting.