Apparently in the Hebrew frame of mind, there were two enemies to true life: emptiness and chaos. Yet from the beginning of the Scriptures, we see a Jehovah who is actively filling a void and subduing its disorder. “In the beginning . . . the earth was without form [chaotic, disordered, uncontrolled] and void [empty], and darkness was over the face of the deep. [But!] the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-3). The universe was an uncontrolled sea, stormy and black, lacking blessing and unfit for man to dwell in. Indeed, the seas have always been the enemy of mankind, a representation of all that we cannot subdue or control, all that threatens to drown us choke the life out of us.*
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof . . . for he has founded it upon the sea and established it upon the rivers.”
This phrase “the earth’s fullness” refers to more than just all that’s in the earth; it means that the earth is itself supposed to be “full”—full of God’s goodness, his life, his riches, his abundance. The psalter employs language of fullness, overflow, and abundance to show forth life (e.g., Psalm 65:9-12). Yet our lives often feel empty, lacking in meaning, in hope, in vigor. We run from one pleasure and pursuit to another, yet we feel . . . empty. Where is this plenitude of life?
At the same time, despite our best efforts, our lives are also out of control. We have chaos and disorder. The baby is crying; the casserole burns; your check bounces; you fall (read: step) into the same sins yet again; a loved one dies. When it rains, it pours. “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me” (Psalm 42:7). Who will come to still our seas and calm their waves?
“Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?”
The creation account of Genesis 1 may begin with chaos and void. But the story that follows—the story that introduces Yahweh and sets the tone for the rest of history—is, if nothing else, a hopeful story: for three “days” God gives shape and order to the universe, and for three days he works to fill the universe with bodies to give us time, light, and energy, plants for food, animals to help us, and—best of all—woman. (I’m sure some of you might instead be cursing God for that right now!)
The miracle of Christianity is not only that God has made the world, giving it order and fullness, but that he has personally entered it to save it from the death-curse brought on by the devil and by Adam’s sin, in which all humans share. God has come on the scene as the man Jesus of
Who is this King of glory? This King of glory is Jesus Christ: God incarnate and saving, “the LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8). This Rescuer has come to give us “life to the full,” a life lived in fellowship with our Maker and in his blessing as adopted and beloved children. He has broken the neck of the terrors of the deep and all that threatens our well-being, all that we cannot control and strips us of our life and hope, all that “comes only to kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). He speaks peace into our chaotic lives, a peace he has sealed to us by his sacrificial death. He comes as the One “who fills all in all” and who himself fills us with God’s life and presence (Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 2:9-10). And though only those who have clean hands and a pure heart may ascend to the hill of Zion, enter her gates, and approach God in worship, Christ gives us his very own purity and righteousness to wear as festal garments—“blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of [our] salvation” (Psalm 24:5; cf. Isaiah 61:10)—and gives us his Spirit’s power to overcome the sins that we can’t subdue on our own. So we can confidently storm the gates of
* What stands in the way of the fleeing Israelites at their exodus from