The Great Separation

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Genesis 1 is a straight-forward account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. Multiple themes appear in this chapter, most of which highlight aspects of God’s character. His divine power is on display, His goodness is revealed, His creational intent is revealed—that mankind should fill and subdue the earth (this is not a command to exploit, but to be a steward exercising benevolent responsibility). His creative genius is manifested—an aspect of God’s character that becomes ever clearer the more we learn of the complex and symbiotic systems of both the animate and inanimate parts of the cosmos.

We also learn that God is a God of order, who brings forth order out of chaos. This is an attribute of God seen through the divine separations that appear in Genesis 1. He separates light from darkness (v 4), the waters below the expanse from those above (v 7), the waters below from the dry land (v 9), the heavenly bodies that separate day from night, again, separating light from darkness (vv 14, 18). And though the verb itself does not appear, He separates man from all other creatures by declaring him to be made “in His own image” (v 27).

God’s sense of order is further seen in the separation of the ability to reproduce: His created beings multiply after their “kind,” horses producing more horses, not producing birds. The principle of separation is revealed in the Law, as the children of Israel were not to mix seed in their fields, nor wear garments of mixed material (Leviticus 19:19), nor plow with a mixed team (Deuteronomy 22:10), and so on. These laws were designed to reinforce to the Israelites that God is a God who separates things according to their nature. The principle of separation is revealed in a spiritual sense as God calls His people to be separate from the rest of the world (Leviticus 20:24, 26). The Bible speaks of two separate spiritual seeds, or lineages: the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent—the Devil (Genesis 3:15).

So fast-forward to the present day. Creation has been finished for a long time, the Old Testament era is in the rear-view mirror, the Law has been fulfilled by Christ. In what sense is God’s attribute of order, manifested by separating things, still operative? Since God does not change in His essential character (Malachi 3:6), He must still be separating things as He maintains order in His creation. And indeed He does. For instance, He calls Christians to be separated from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17).

But there is a tragic, final separation coming when He makes a new heavens and earth (2 Peter 3:13). That final separation is mentioned many times in Scripture. One place is in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. There Jesus relates a parable of the kingdom of heaven in terms of a wheat field into which an enemy (Satan) secretly sows tares, or darnel. At the end of the age, the angels will separate the wheat, the “sons of the kingdom,” from the tares, the “the sons of the evil one.”

Into which group will you fall? Make no mistake—no matter when the final separation occurs, you will be alive and conscious. You will participate, willingly or not. When God separates you into your destination—whether heaven or hell—He is acting in complete consistency with His character. In Scripture He has forewarned us repeatedly, making it very clear what we must do to be saved, to be a “son of the kingdom.”

“… Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14–15)