Terra Firma: The Temple Floor – Days 3 & 6

As we have seen, days 1 and 3 deal with the broad issue of what constitutes time, day and night, evening and morning, with corresponding light and darkness. Days 2 and 4 deal with the great celestial ceiling and weather, without which there can be no life. Now in days 3 and 6 we find ourselves on the earth, the floor of God’s great cosmic Cathedral.

As we have seen, separation is a key creation idea in days 1-3. Separation is established and maintained by boundaries. God’s nature Temple is rightly ordered with the boundaries of evening and morning that separates light and darkness, the firmament that separates the waters above and below. Here in day three the land is separated from the sea. The sea shores are not explicitly mentioned as boundaries here, but they are implicit. Without these natural boundaries, the elements of chaos would break their bounds and return to the pre-created state. The Hebrew was very sensitive to boundaries. To their back (i.e. the west, for they were oriented to the east, not the north) was the sea. They were not sea lovers like their northern Phoenician neighbors and avoided it. To their front they faced the desert (i.e. the east), a chaos of formless earth, which always seemed to menace them with its encroaching winds and sands.

Along with natural boundaries that made the world livable and wonderful were moral boundaries which made life livable and wonderful. Both boundaries were the law of God, one visible, the other invisible but made visible in the life of a man. In fact, a human being is a universe in miniature, a reflection of the great cosmic temple within which he is placed, if rightly ordered, and maintaining boundaries against moral chaos. Actually, the movement in these days of creation from chaos (Gen. 1:2), the ordering of days 1-6 (Gen. 1:3-31), culminating in the rest of day 7 (Gen. 2:1-3) is symbolic of the great interior movement of the soul from chaos to order to rest.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. With the separation of dry land from the watery deep, God calls forth plant life from the ground (day 3). This is in anticipation of the creation of land animals and humanity in day 6 which will need food. We see again that the creation of matter is not the issue here. Also, there is no attempt to explain the mystery of life; God calls it from the land, sea and sky. Everything is set forth in terms of function and purpose, form and beauty. The cadence of the days suggests a movement much like a celestial dance before God. For humanity, the crown of creation, this dance turns about him as he stands upon terra firma, the floor of this cosmic temple.

Humanity shares the floor, and we might even say the dance, with the animals (Gen. 1:24-25). God calls them forth from the earth. It is critical to see that the idea of order continues with these creatures in that they are to reproduce “after their kind.” Boundaries are what makes everything, down to the minutest detail, beautiful, and pronounced “good” by Him who calls them forth. Mixtures are by definition monstrous, unholy, and chaotic. Mixtures, the breaking of boundaries, dance to a different tune than was set at creation.

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