Heads and tails, two sides of the same coin – inseparable without destroying the essence of the object. Peas in a pod, separate objects, yet one depends on the other for growth and development until it separates into its full purpose. A clock face and the two hands of time – the face with its numbers would be useless without the long and short hands of time to give clear indication of time passing, separate entities that work in concert, giving meaning to a circle and two sticks. Contemplate “separate” for a moment. Imagine if your fingers weren’t separate. You’d have one big mitten for a hand. Bummer. No thumbs. Typing would be much slower. How would you play a piano, hold a pencil, work a remote control? Yikes! These are the deep questions that keep me awake at night. Not really. But isn’t it cool how many things in this world God separated and yet still uses together? As my children are getting older, it’s important that I get a clearer understanding of this separate-together concept. As my parents are getting older, it’s important that I get a clearer understanding of separate-together. As I am getting older, it’s important to learn that even though God separates, He still unites in interesting ways….
Gen. 6:9-10 – “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.”
- Notice that Scripture said Noah walked with God, but it is silent about his sons’ character or relationship with God. Shem, Ham and Japheth were separate individuals, who in their own hearts had to make separate decisions about their faith; but they were included in the ark of salvation – it seems – because of their association with a father of faith. Today, there is no ark of salvation in which our family or friends can sneak in on the skirt-tails of our faith. Each one must decide to enter the Ark of Jesus Christ by his or her own personal faith; however, family units still have great influence in that decision process.
Gen. 6:11-13 – “Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’”
- In God’s sight, the earth and people are separate entities, and it was the people’s violence that caused the corruption of the earth. Our individual sin, from the very beginning, has affected more than just the individual. The next time temptation comes knocking on your heart’s door, please consider the innocents affected by your individual, separate-seeming sin.
Gen. 9:14-17 – “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.”
- Notice the separation in destruction. All life under the heavens, and only creatures that had breath, right? What about those that didn’t breathe – fish, for instance – did they perish? Even those who didn’t perish – the residents of the ark – were to be separated into lower, middle and upper decks. They’d be saved – separately, together. They’d survive – separately, together. They’d re-create the whole earth – separately, together. Separate yet together seems to be the recurring theme in everything God does – much more complicated than one or the other because it requires judgment, direction, wisdom.
Gen. 6:18-22 – “But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.’ Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”
- God was very explicit with Noah, huh? Male and female, birds, regular “animals”, and creatures that move along the ground. Elsewhere God distinguishes between livestock and beasts of the field. Here he talks about keeping the different kinds of food – for man and beast – separated for storage. Think of the immensity of this task. Noah had to store every kind of food in order to survive and then be able to reproduce that food later. Now, realize anew the weight of the words, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Not only did the life of those in the ark depend on it, but the future of the earth as well.
Lord, when the task required such intricate detail, Who better to give instruction than the Creator of countless variations of delicate flowers? When a task or project seems overwhelming to me, I often see the whole picture as too large. Teach me to listen for Your separate instructions, Lord, on each detail. Teach me to wait on You for each separate step and learn to put them together in Your time, with Your particular process in place for the whole.