Day Two Takes a Toll
Day Two: Separation of Waters
God said: Let there be a dome amid the waters, And let it separate waters from waters!
—Genesis 1:6, Schocken
Day one simply put light on the chaos. In day two, improvement begins. But even with the light on, few consider the events of day two as an improvement; optimism is in short supply.
Day two gives you a feeling that the chaos is continuing, only now with the light of day one revealing it in all its lack of order. Yet as we continue on in the Genesis account, it becomes clear that the shaking of day two is purposeful and a sign of the order to come. Space is being created for future life. Water, a symbol for chaos, is being separated into two areas—above and below—and a new space between them is created. “An expanse in the midst of the waters,” verse 6 says.
Now this is very troubling, especially for the naturalist who barely survived the transition from day seven to day one. The duress of the near escape, followed by the sight of the destruction in day one and then another shaking in day two, often leads a person to give up and lose faith just at the crucial moment, even though the shaking of day two creates a space that will ultimately support life.
Remember in 1 Samuel 20 when King Saul was able to hold his peace about David on day one of the New Moon celebration, but day two got the best of him, exposing his true feelings about David even though he did not want them exposed.
This phenomenon is also well described in the stories of the Book of Numbers. Numbers recounts the events of year two in the wilderness. It is true that there were many trials and struggles in year one, as described thoroughly in Exodus; but in year one, the Israelites were given the Torah on Mount Sinai, and the survival of their escape was fresh in their minds. Year two, however, seemed to wear on the people’s patience in a whole new way. Many rebellions are described throughout the Book of Numbers.
For a time even Miriam and Aaron lost their willingness to follow their brother Moses, which is recorded in Numbers 12. Then at the peak of the growing season, twelve spies are sent into the Promised Land to bring back a report. Keep in mind that timewise they are now within a few short months of year three. As we will see, wonderful things happen in day three—but the people of Israel cannot hold on to the dream any longer. When the spies report of wonderful things but great dangers, the people simply hear the “but” of great dangers. They can no longer deal with the stress; they want a fix now. They are unwilling to go through the shaking needed to prepare them for the gift they are about to inherit.
It is my firm conviction that God intended to take them into the land in the third year. Caleb and Joshua knew it, and that is why they tore their clothes. They recognized that all they had been through, all the preparation that difficult times had produced, was about to be lost right on the doorstep of the Promised Land. Interestingly, the others soon recognized their mistake, but could not recover the lost years. So it was that, sadly, forty years would pass until a new generation could move forward with the dream.
In my experience, year two is often difficult. It has a grinding effect, especially for a leader who is trying to guide a people to a new paradigm. A stiff upper lip and firm faith are the only tools. And if Moses, Joshua, and Caleb failed to persuade their congregation to follow, what are our chances?
But the fact remains, the shaking of day two creates space for life. One needs to know what time it is in order to not lose hope as the space for the new life to come is being prepared.
First Corinthians 10:6 says that all these things were done as an example for us. Their example gives us hope and the ability to stay on task so that we can keep our courage as we build toward day three, fully prepared for the next amazing phase.
The message of the Book of Numbers is that failure to let the pressures of year two form us into what we are to become will produce subpar living for a long time. Knowing that you are living in a year two goes a long way toward giving you the ability to have the correct attitude.
Day two seems as chaotic as the events before day one. However, amid all the shaking, with water above and water below, suddenly a space develops or opens up in the middle of the chaos. A space for what?
We know it is a space for life, but without knowledge of the fact that it is day two and good things are coming, that space very well may seem like cold air when you come out of the water. The fact that this opening is space for life is not evident via natural observation, but we have the revealed knowledge that life will come. Those unaware of the revealed count have no idea what the space means. To them it just seems like more confusion.
Here is an interesting thought: In Hebrew, the alphabet is also a means of counting. The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet is beyt, which literally means “house.” In its original Paleo form, the letter was the floor plan of a two-room house or tent. A house or a tent is a space for life.
Knowing that it is day two can be very helpful in keeping your chin up and your plan on track. It also can give you the courage to step into a space that opens up, while others are still convinced that chaos is the only order of the day. The second segment of time in our set of seven is a time of continued testing. It has openings or space for future life, but you must have the means and be willing to step in when the water is still swirling above and below.
Another analogy is that of a planted seed. The first step is to plant; the second step is the decaying of the outer coating of the seed; before the third step, when the germ of life springs forth. Some breakdown is still happening in day two. It is a messy time. But our instructions are to remain steadfast, doing our part, working to help things move in the right direction.
To review, the light of day one has revealed chaos, and it also has given us hints about this new set of seven. As I showed earlier, the Genesis writer’s use of echad gives us some indication that day one has in it all the elements of, or has unity with, the six days of work to come. With this in mind, we watch day one intently for clues about the six days of work to come. As evening comes and the beginning of day two approaches, we need to prepare ourselves for the natural feeling that we are headed back to the chaos in the dark of Genesis 1:2. There is simply no sign in the natural elements that gives any hope of improvement.
Indeed, as I pointed out above, even the full and complete work of day two has no hopeful signs in it for a natural observer, unless he or she is aware of the revealed, which is that there will be space for life created amidst the chaos of water above and the chaos of water below.
This is a good time to point out a few fundamentals. Those who are aware of the revealed times are working from a different reality. As Deuteronomy explains, this reality gives direction for decision making that is unavailable to the uninformed.
The hidden things are for YHWH our God, but the revealed-things are for us and for our children, for the ages, to observe all the words of this instruction.
—Deuteronomy 29:29, Schocken
Certainly science and academics, in their study of the natural world, have done wonders for mankind, increasing our life spans and improving our health. But one has to wonder if certain things are hidden from the observer of nature. Keep this thought in mind as we move along, commenting on these segments of seven and the transitions. The instruction to work will be there when the natural feeling is that it is useless, and the temptation to work will be there when the instruction to rest is given.
So what is asked of us on days one and two is that with steady faith we work to improve the current condition without regard for how we feel. This is a moment when we need to look for even the slightest hint or direction from either the light of day one or an opening of space in day two.
Now we can see the great importance of day seven and the gift of rest on that day. To enter day one strong as an ox, one must have used day seven as a time to rest and strengthen in every way possible. In a practical sense, a large debt load at the end of day seven will likely be an unbearable burden and certainly will hinder taking advantage of new light and space in days one and two.
Being prepared for days one and two is crucial, resourcewise, but also emotionally, as few others will see what you are seeing. Observers of nature will see and feel only chaos on days one and two. Meanwhile, we will put forth effort and resources toward faithfully improving the path barely discernible to others.