Genesis: Keep’m Separated

02.08.2012 by Reed Dunn


This post is part of the contours in genesis series (click to view the other posts in this series).

Much of the creation account is about keeping things separated, with apologies to The Offspring, of course.  God separates the light from the dark (Gen 1:4), the water from the water (Gen 1:7), the water from the dry land (Gen 1:9) - and that is just in the first three days.  Once God starts to make stuff, he seems really interested in keeping things separated from each other.  That second kind of separation is communicated with the phrase, “according to its kind.”  Seeds, vegetation, birds, beasts, livestock and reptiles - all were created according to its kind.

But what does that mean?  Why bring it up?  And what does that tell us about God?

Explanatory note: Let me say that I do NOT believe that God was fending off the theory of evolution when he used that phrase.  If all you want from Genesis 1 is a defense against evolution then you can certainly find it; but that is all you will get.  Genesis 1, like all of the Bible, is something to be fulfilled, and it is hard to fulfill a treatise against evolution.

Separation & Israel
God makes it pretty clear that separation matters.  I believe the seed of a separation theology is planted in Genesis 1 because of how important being separate will matter down the road.  Jews were some categorizing folks - it was in their law, their culture, and even their creation story.  But it was there for a reason.  God was holy (i.e. separate).  They were to be like him.  In Leviticus 20, God gives the clearest reason.  God says that it is Israel who has been separated off from the rest of the world (20:24).  And, therefore, they should separate the clean from the unclean around them (20:25).  So God wanted separation in their DNA.  He wanted them to see themselves as separate.

Separation & Jesus
Enter Jesus.  Jesus begins the work of desegregating the Jewish world.  Jesus doesn’t do it by abolishing the laws of separation, he actually changes those that were separated.  His healing ministry changed those separated by their body, his ministry to the sinners and Gentiles brought them into the religion they’d been cut off from, and his actions on several occasions challenged the over separating of the Sabbath.  Jesus was always attacking the self-inflated and separation-crazed ideologies of the Jews.  They had taken God’s law and turned it into a badge.  Separation had become a thing of pride, not of service.  Of course, Jesus’ final act on earth was to actually destroy the veil of separation between God and his people (Matt 27:51)!

Separation & the New Creation
In his earthly ministry, Jesus simply began the work of desegregation.  In his later work, we will see it come to full bloom.  If this old world is marked by separation, then don’t you wonder about the new?  In Revelation 21 we find that the New Heavens and the New Earth will lack some of the categories so dominant in our current creation.  There will be no more sea, no more temple, no more sun or moon, and no gates.  All of these represent separation, and that world won’t have them.  There will be no night/day, land/sea, sun/moon, sacred/secular, us/them. 

You see, God wasn’t hinting at the work of Darwin when he made things “according to their kind,” he was hinting at the work of his Son.

This post is part of the contours in genesis series (click to view the other posts in this series).