Commanding The Waters
June 10, 2019
The oceans and seas of the world have been marvels to mankind since the beginning. The volumes of water that fill the world are helpful and also valid threats on a daily basis. The oceans and seas provide life for countless species of sea creatures. With all of the curiosity and technology that mankind has produced over the centuries, we haven’t even scratched the surface exploring the depths of the seas. So much of the oceans and seas remains unexplored and not understood. For ages, people thought the vast expanse of the oceans and seas represented the ends of the world itself! Thousands of men and women are killed while out at sea each year showing that the conditions of the oceans and seas are unforgiving. The depths of those waters take countless people captive unto their death while also providing life to plants and other creatures all at once. This all happens so often in so large of a space that it is impossible to keep track of all the events of life out at sea.
Recent history shows that, while many creatures appreciate the continuity of the ocean’s condition and functionality, many others have learned to fear the oceans, their tides, and the destructive force of its waves. Many people have lost businesses, properties, and lives because of the natural violence and power that can spring up from the ocean. Thankfully, though these occurrences are devastating when they happen, they are not the norm. According to the Bible, God has these things in check and keeps worse catastrophe from happening each day according to His power, sovereignty, mercy and grace. In Job 38:8-11, God explains how powerful the command of His Word is, using His control of the oceans and seas as an example.
When God addressed Job, He spoke to Job with the objective to restore him to humility. Job was a man of faith, but allowed his circumstances to spark self-righteousness and self-entitlement. Job knew many things about God, but his attitude towards God showed that Job had lost perspective about the true nature of God and the basic principles of His authority and power. Should a servant shake his fist at his master because they don’t like the circumstances that the master has created, especially if the master is good? Job had lost perspective about the truth. The LORD is God and there is no other. We as people are lucky to know anything about God based on the infinite greatness of His glory, holiness, power, wisdom, and righteousness. Yet, God is also merciful and makes Himself known to us in order to share the benefits of His greatness. The revelation of God’s righteousness can create difficult circumstances in our lives while He refines our character to conform us into His image, but this is a good thing. God intends to purge sin and corruption from our lives so that we can be with Him in eternal life. God uses the difficulties of our lives to reveal the superior goodness He has, especially compared to the corrupted and wicked things of this life. Job’s emotional response to the pains of his life caused him to forget these basic things, so God reminded Job about the full extent of His power to set Job’s mind right.
God asked Job a simple question to express the power that He has over all things:
“Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst forth and issued from the womb…”
The shape and scope of our planet is interesting. Science explains that 71% of our planet is water! The creation account in Genesis shows that, in the beginning, the world was 100% water, and when it came forth as a result of God’s command, it came out chaotically and without form. Can a person grasp and shape water with their hands to form a sphere? Water is a tricky thing to work with. Since it is liquid, it is hard to grasp. It seeps through cracks and gaps in our hands. The work required to control large bodies of water requires great planning, engineering, labor and money. For example, the Hoover Dam took five years to build and cost almost $50 million! The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation documents that 96 people died during this work. Yet, for all of this money, labor, and loss, the Hoover Dam only holds roughly 10 trillion gallons of water. This may seem like a large amount, but scientists estimate that the Pacific Ocean contains roughly 187 quintillion gallons of water!
When God addressed Job about His control of the oceans and seas, He reminded Job about how the world was formed. All of the waters of the planet were suddenly and perfectly formed and shaped. God placed boundaries like doors to the oceans by the power of His Word. Yet, there is no door that we can see. We can see the Hoover Dam and the incredible work that went into its construction. We can marvel at the accomplishment that was made to contain such a great volume of water. However, do we ever consider the shape and scope of our planet and how the oceans hold their form? The Hoover Dam requires walls that are 660 feet thick to contain the small percentage of water that it contains. Where are “the doors” that God placed to hold the oceans and seas in their place? We can certainly imagine the catastrophic results that would take place if something like the Hoover Dam were to fail and break. Have we considered what would happen if God opened “the door” that holds our planet’s waters in their place? Have we considered the goodness of God to restrain Himself from doing so despite the sins we have committed against Him? Do we even think about God in this way?
When God described His formation of Earth’s waters on the third day of creation, He referred to His handling of the oceans and seas as a father nurturing an infant child. In other words, as vast as the waters of our world seem, they are like an infant child to God! As easily as we could pick up a newborn baby to possess it in our arms, God is able to handle all of the world’s waters. God is able to pick up, mold, shape, and use the planets water resources like a parent has charge over an obedient child. God explained to Job that when He formed the waters of the world, He made the clouds like a garment! The clouds of the sky are like baby clothes to God. God made “swaddling bands” for the oceans by creating dark crevices, valleys, and storehouses in the ocean floors. He shaped the containers of our planet’s waters with the crust of the earth, mountains, valleys, and other land masses. Who is able to do this? Who has power and strength, not to move mountains, but to form them for functional purpose in a moment of time by the power of a word? God not only provided water to sustain life on this planet, but provided shape to it so that its volume is productive and not continually destructive to those who live on land. Did we ask God to do this? Do we thank God for doing this? Yet, Job questioned God’s goodness and doubted His good purposes. Job felt he was being treated unfairly by God, yet God had shown TREMENDOUS mercy and grace through His administration of the world’s waters, not just to Job, but to the entire world! How often do we consider this?
God also reminded Job that He fixed limits to the functionality and power of the waters that He shaped. Wherever there is a coast, there is a tide. Two times a day, we are reminded that the oceans of the world can intrude into our space. Often times, strong winds bring massive waves, and those who have been caught up in waves understand the power of the ocean. If not for the restraint that God causes for the oceans and seas, would there even be life on the ground? Consider the global flood during the days of Noah. There, God showed what the world would look like if He decided He wanted to relent in restraining the waters of the world. The testimony of the great flood shows that God opened up the doors of the storehouses underneath the earth to bring up waters we don’t normally consider. The waters covered the earth’s mountain tops and all but 8 people were killed. Since the flood during the days of Noah, God swore that He would never judge the world by a global flood again, providing the sign of a rainbow as assurance. Still, God has caused other oceanic catastrophes that were limited in scope, but devastating nonetheless. Since the great flood, the world has seen tsunamis obliterate entire communities with effortless power. Many areas of the world must deal with hurricanes and the destruction they cause. There are many people in the world that have to cope with the power of the ocean and learn how to live when the ocean interrupts and intrudes upon our lives.
The point of Job 38:8-11 shows that God is in charge of all that. Though many people have died at sea; though many have been killed by natural disasters that originate from the ocean; though many people have suffered by flooding waters and brutal waves; God has shown restraint. God has allowed these things to take place so as to remind us about the power He holds. If the waters can produce so much ruin, how much more the Hand that controls and contains them? Is God wrong for using His control over the waters to bring destruction against a sinful world? Or, is God merciful for restraining His wrath by restraining the waters from purging sin in the world again like in the days of Noah? Many people have suffered from the power of the seas, but compared to the total population of people, more have benefited from God’s authority to tell the seas and waves to stop at the times of high tide, causing them to recede back to their place of origin. Should a God with such authority and control be doubted, questioned, and criticized? Instead, we should remember the scope of God’s strength and authority, consider the goodness that He’s demonstrated by it, the mercy that comes forth from it, and humble ourselves before the Almighty with fear and trembling!