Wednesday, July 10, 2013

God's Judgment Dismantles His Creation

Though a bit of an overstatement, there are two words used to describe the earth prior to God's spoken acts of creation: "formless" (tohu) and "void" (bohu) in Gen 1:2. These two words appear several other places in the OT, but not often do they appear together (so far, I have found one place).

Isaiah 34 is a chapter describing God's judgment against the nations who opposed Him by opposing or oppressing Israel, His chosen people. In particular, God singles out Edom for judgment. The chapter is soaked with bloody imagery:

"He has given them over to slaughter," (Isa 34:2).
"The mountains will be drenched with their blood," (Isa 34:3).
"The sword of the LORD is filled with blood," (Isa 34:6).
"Their land will be soaked with blood, and their dust become greasy with fat," (Isa 34:7).

He even describes the land in terms many have supposed envision hell. "Its streams will be turned into pitch, and its loose earth into brimstone, and its land will become burning pitch," (Isa 34:9).

Finally, he describes the desolation and emptiness, "He will stretch over it the line of desolation and the plumb line of emptiness," (Isa 34:11). In Hebrew, "desolation" is "tohu" translated "formless" in Gen 1:2. Also, "emptiness" is "bohu" translated "void" in Gen 1:2. Thus, there is an odd sense it which God intentionally dismantles these whom He is judging. His judgment is not simply destruction, but so complete it can be visualized as undoing the forming act of creation. Now, from the chapter it is obvious there is metaphoric language that may indeed be hyperbolic, but the metaphor is still disturbing - God's judgment dismantles His enemies removing them from God's orderly creation and placing back into the state of "formless and void".

As a word of warning, those of us who have the opportunity to become the people of God through the blood of Jesus Christ ought to cling to Him in faith and flee God's coming wrath in Jesus. John 3:36 again is apt, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him".

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