As I write this post the rain is tapping at my windows.
It’s not like a few weeks ago when the heavens opened up, and rain poured forth from the sky. This is a gentle sprinkling of rain.
My wife doesn’t like days like today, because she doesn’t like the dark skies; but other people do enjoy wet days like this.
I think they enjoy the smell of the world after it rains. It’s so fresh – it’s the smell of new life.
Thinking about all of this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of rain and water in the Bible.
GOD BRINGS ABOUT LIFE AFTER SEPARATING THE WATERS
You don’t have to read much before hearing the first reference to water in the Bible. In fact, it’s only 6 verses in!
6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. … 9 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. (Gen 1:6-7, 9-10 RSV)
Ultimately, God has to part the waters in order to bring forth life!
This is the first instance where the waters part and life comes forth!
GOD BRINGS FORTH NEW LIFE THROUGH NOAH AND THE FLOOD
It isn’t long after the creation account that we learn that humanity goes astray.
Instead of living in harmony with love for one another, people start acting violently, murdering one another, and people stop listening to the teachings of God.
God intervenes and decides to remake humanity anew. He sends a flood and humanity starts again through Noah and his family, who are saved in an ark.
1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; … 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters had abated; … 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; … 11 and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. (Genesis 8:1, 3, 8, 11 RSV)
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (Genesis 9:1 RSV)
As you can see, the story of Noah and the flood is just like the story of creation!
God parts the waters, and through these waters, in an ark, comes new life!
MOSES IS ALSO SAVED THROUGH WATER IN AN ARK
This same creation story gets told again in Exodus, chapter 2. This time it’s Moses who gets saved.
By this time, the Hebrews have made their way into Egypt and have become slaves. Pharaoh is scared of them turning against him, and so he orders all the male babies to be murdered.
One such baby was named Moses.
As God called his creation “good,” and so too does Moses’ mother see that Moses, her “new creation,” is also “good” (compare Exodus 2:2 with Genesis 1). So, Moses’ mother saves him by putting him in a basket, and placing it in water.
What’s also interesting is that the Hebrew word for “basket” is the same word as “ark,” tebah – as in Noah’s ark!
Anyway, Moses is found and saved from death. One could say, parting waters saved him.
THE HEBREWS SLAVES ARE SAVED THROUGH THE RED SEA
Moses grows up, and God speaks to him in the burning bush. His mission is to free the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery.
And how does he do this? By passing through water, of course.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. …Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians… (Exodus 14:21-22, 29-30 RSV)
The Hebrews passed through the waters, and become the nation of Israel. They become a “new creation.” Their task is to become a “new” nation and bear God’s image to all the nations.
In short, this is another creation story, which is brought about by the parting of waters.
WE ALSO ARE SAVED THROUGH PARTING WATERS
These images of God creating by parting the waters is beautiful – but did you know that all Christians are also a part of this same story?!?!
We participate in these ancient stories when we are baptized!
Baptism is like a personal parting of the waters, and when you rise from the waters, you become a new creation.
St. Paul says we are baptized so that, “we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
In other words, by being baptized, we are also saved and become a new creation, just like Noah, just like Moses, and just like the Hebrews.
P.S. NOW TO BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY!
Just passing through the waters and becoming a new creation, however, is not the end of the story.
When God first parted the waters and created the first man and woman, he gave them a commission saying: be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).
After God parted the waters and saved Noah, he also gave him a commission, saying to him: be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1).
After God parted the waters and saved the Hebrews from the Egyptians, he gave yet another commission, and he told them to walk in his teachings so that they may be a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6).
After God parts the baptismal waters and saves us, we too are given a commission.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Mat 28:19 RSV)
This is how we, as Christians, are to be fruitful and multiply.
Come, this Sunday to St. Elias and be fruitful and multiply! (10:30, 2001 Asbury Rd, Dubuque)