Want Abundant Life? It Only Grows on the Solid Rock—the Third Day of Creation
Have you ever noticed how sad people look in cafés? There we are with our hot coffee and a table heaving with Eggs Benedict, warm croissants, and smashed avocado on toast. And though we feast on foods that most will only ever see in a picture, we seem unhappy. Why so?
We are unhappy because though our stomachs are full of delicacies, our hearts are empty and our spirits are parched. We don’t know our Creator. We don’t know why we exist. God pours out love-gifts of sun and breath, food and family, and we don’t see him. We are dying, and we don’t want our lives to end. We don’t know where we are going, nor how to get there.
This must have been how the first readers of Genesis felt: Israel was enslaved and dying in Egypt at the hand of cruel and genocidal Pharaoh. The six days of Genesis 1 showed them God, who he is, and what he is about to do for them—and for all his people in the millennia ahead.
Creation began as a lightless, lifeless, formless, and watery chaos (Gen. 1:1-2). Then we see God laboring on this raw material over six days to make it habitable for humankind. Humanity needs light, and so on Day One God floodlit the blackness. Humanity needs air, and so on Day Two he created the sky—a “vault” where humanity could breathe and live.
But human beings cannot live on water alone.
Even to travel across it, or to build above or on it, we need the hard materials that only dry land can provide. And when you read about the sailors of centuries past, after six months at sea even the most hardened sea dogs crave to see vegetation and to feel the coarse sand between their toes. We need the land and all that it produces for us. Our feet crave terra firma. And this is what God does on Day Three:
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. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. (Gen. 1:9-13)
Note again the sheer power of God. God speaks, the waters gather, dry ground appears. By naming the ground and gathered waters he proves ownership and determines purpose: “The land and sea is mine: I made it, and I have named and determined its function.”
“God saw that it was good,” for everything he does is good.
Preparations for the arrival of his image-bearers proceed flawlessly: for now there is light, breathing space, and dry ground. But dry ground on its own is not sufficient: and though we might live off baked dessert, no one can survive in a baking desert. And so on this same day God said, “Let the land produce vegetation.” The language is lush and exuberant. Let me paraphrase a little:
“Let the land sprout, let it burst forth with green grass, and green plants that will generate seeds that will produce even more green plants! And fruit trees! Trees that will give fruit that generate seeds that will propagate even more trees and fruit!”
Notice the unnecessarily extravagant creativity and diversity of it all. There will be untold kinds and types of plants and trees: cactuses and crocuses, roses and redwoods, orchids and orchards, ferns and flame trees, vines and violets. Creation is fecund: abundant, full, plentiful, rich, and abounding.
All this life! What does it do?
First, it is going to feed humankind. There will be apricots, barley, cabbages, durian, eggplants, fennel, guava, hops, iceberg lettuce, java coffee beans, lemons, mushrooms, nashi pears, olives, pomegranates, quinces, raspberries, strawberries, berry tomatoes, usuma, vanilla beans, watermelon, xylocarp, yams, and zucchinis.
God unleashed life on earth, life that is self-perpetuating and self-multiplying, so that life would abound and accumulate and fill the four corners of the earth. He is Amazing.
What did Day Three teach Israel, the first readers of Genesis 1, while they were perishing in Egypt? When we come to Exodus 14-15, we see that they were trapped in their slavery by the Sea of Reeds (Exod. 13:18). And what did God do? He parted the waters, and sent a great wind to dry the seabed, and thus created dry ground on which Israel could escape from Egypt.
In the New Testament, we see that the Solid Rock is Jesus himself.
Day Three was a preview of this, a picture of salvation. And four centuries later, David sang in the eighteenth psalm:
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Ps. 18:2)
The wise person, like the man who built his house on the rock, builds their life on hearing and doing what Jesus commanded. Such a person will never be swept away in the floods (Matt. 7:24-25). And Jesus promised that he would build his church on the rock, the rock of Peter’s true confession that He “is the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16-19). He walked on the waters as though they were dry ground.
Jesus is the rock, and on this rock people will either stand and be saved, or stumble and be destroyed (Rom. 9:33). Paul, looking back to the rock from which Israel drank in the desert (Exod. 17:6), said “they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4).
Are you standing on the firm and dry ground, the rock of salvation Jesus Christ?
Jesus rescues us from disobedience and death, to obedience and life—abundant life! When he made vintage wedding wine he made a lot of it! (John 2:6). When he fed the five thousand with loaves and fishes, there were twelve baskets of leftovers (John 6:13). “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things!” (Ps. 107:9).
And look at the home that Jesus is preparing for us. The New Heaven and Earth, a place of unceasing abundance and life:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:1-2)
Without Christ, even the most delicious café dainties will fail to fill the emptiness. But when you are standing on the Rock, when you know you are going to His New Earth, then you will know deep joy even in the most vicious trials of this life.
Campbell Markham is a Presbyterian pastor in Hobart, Tasmania. He blogs at Campbell Markham: Thoughts and Letters.
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