May 14, 2022
THE SAND AND THE SEA
Over the years, Christian Media has published many articles related to prophetic metaphor, and one of the best examples is related to the setting we usually refer to as the Sand and the Sea. Perhaps the most obvious instance of this division is how we see the Antichrist beast of Revelation rises up out of the sea – whereas the False Prophet beast rises up out of the ground, or the land:
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns….And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon” (Revelation 13:1, 12).
Although a myriad of prophecy figures have addressed the two beasts (usually in a misguided attempt to link them to some earthly leader), it’s rare to find a commentator that notes the decidedly different settings of the earth and the oceans. The student of prophecy is even more unlikely to encounter anyone who makes the connection between the two sets of images in Daniel chapters 2 and 7, which make the same distinction. Unfortunately, most of the vision impaired seers of our time continue to assert the century’s old error which posits the four beast kingdoms represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s statue/dream on dry land, are the same four kingdoms that rise up out of the sea in Daniel’s vision.
Most prophecy aficionados are familiar with Daniel 2’s statue which had the head of gold, arms of silver, brass belly and iron legs, so we’ll spare the reader yet another rendition of the well established identification with the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. The central point is the imagery is clearly constructed on dry land, as the related story of the statue was attended by large masses of Babylonian subjects (see Daniel 3 for details).
The parallel vision in Daniel 7 plainly states the four beasts in the image “came up out of the sea” (Daniel 7:4) – and since the very same identifying attributes of the foursome (a lion, bear, leopard, and unique fourth beast) are assimilated into Revelation’s beast that rises “up out of the sea” (Revelation 13:1), there is a definitive connection between the prophetic images. The smoking gun is found in the connection between the statue prophecy, which, once again, is situated on dry land, even as the second beast of Revelation comes up from the ground:
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon” (Revelation 13:11).
To reiterate this unusual connection, the land based prophecy featuring the Old Testament kingdoms, imaged as a statue on dry land, connects to the False Prophet figure who comes up out of the earth, and the sea based prophecy featuring the New Testament era kingdoms, imaged as a beast coming up out of the sea, connects to the Antichrist figure who comes up out of the sea. Further, the land based kingdoms represented by the statue dream are the first set of kingdoms in Daniel, but they connect to the second beast in Revelation. Meanwhile the sea based kingdoms represented by the beasts are the second set of kingdoms in Daniel, but they connect to the first beast in Revelation – thus the timelines create an invisible cross which occurs between the two testaments.
Over the years, I’ve come to see this mysterious message reaches far beyond the example just cited, but extends throughout the Scriptures. The upshot is the “ground” (or the land, the earth, the sand, etc) represents the finite, earthly existence, whereas the “sea” (or water, lakes, rivers, etc) represents the realm of Spiritual existence.
The word-pictures found in all sorts of Scriptural accounts consistently convey this theme, and for us to fail (or refuse) to grasp these crucial identifications positions us as undiscerning individuals who cling to the finite/physical, and resist the knowledge of eternity the LORD desires to impart.
A careful examination of the sacred Word of God shows that vessels of the LORD have sought to use the distinction between “the sand and the sea” from the earliest time, in order to prepare our hearts and minds for the revelation of JESUS CHRIST. Moreover, the LORD consistently utilized this allegorical motif as a way of urging us to follow His Spiritual leadership into the realm of the unseen. For instance, the rite of baptism is not only representative of washing away our sins, in what John the Baptist represented as “the baptism of repentance,” it relates to the death of the physical being, and the birth of the new man in Christ, in the realm of the Spirit.
“John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” (Acts 19:4)
As far back as Israel in Egypt, we see a vivid example of the people the LORD has chosen being confronted with the necessity of journeying through the sea, in order to escape the certain death implicit in the will of Pharaoh, and his earthly Egyptian army, which was pursuing them. Not only do we see the sea as the metaphor representing the realm of the Spirit, we see the only way to survive in the Spiritual realm is to be in favor with the LORD of glory.
In this regard, Pharaoh and the Egyptian chariots (which traverse the land), was actually inside the Red Sea at the same time as the Israelites; but even before Moses called out for the walls of water to collapse upon the pursuing Egyptians, the LORD “troubled” those who had entered in to the realm of the Spirit (allegorically within the Red Sea) without His blessing, by miraculously disabling their ability to move their vehicles. In short, He caused the wheels to fall off of the chariots.
“And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, in the morning watch the Lord…troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels…” (Exodus 14:23-35).
It’s important to remind the reader that because we recognize the allegorical aspects of this amazing account, does not mean we reject the literal historicity of the episode. Indeed, every account in Scripture that is presented as historical, came to pass to help us recognize the truth concerning the eternal kingdom of God. In fact, in a chapter describing the very events of the Exodus just recounted, the Apostle Paul says precisely the same thing.
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Corinthians 10:11).
One of the more interesting aspects of the allegorical dimension, wherein the transition from the “sand” and into the “sea” occurs, is the idea of the involuntary nature of the pattern. This addresses the fact that every single one of us will ultimately move from this sphere of existence – the dimension of physical flesh and blood – into the Spiritual realm. Just as Israel had nowhere else to go, except into the “sea” as the Death inhabiting Pharaoh bore down on them, “Death” is stalking every one of us.
When we consider the fact the story of Noah and his famous ark is embedded with the identical metaphor, the deeper lesson provides even more detail. Even though Noah’s generation experienced an extreme longevity, the judgment of God on sinful man is inevitable, regardless of the time frame. In Noah’s case, his obedience in the building of the ark parallels the obedience of Moses, as he stretched forth his rod to perform the impossible and part the sea – the very act which enabled the survival of the chosen.
“And the Lord said unto Moses…speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forwards: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:15, 21).
Because both episodes deal with faith in the LORD as the catalyst for the action, there is a tendency to overlook the setting that God is calling the faithful into the “sea,” as a way of illustrating how He beckons His chosen to come out to the place where He reigns.
The New Testament further details the faith required to trigger the event, and the account of Noah is included.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world…” (Hebrews 11:7).
Most of us don’t make the connection, but JESUS CHRIST has been calling each of us into His kingdom – and the nature of that realm is just as it was described to Noah, when God instructed him of “things not seen as yet,” in the verse just cited from Hebrews. Further, the analogy of the sea as a figure of the Spiritual realm is also featured in many, many other metaphoric laden examples. For instance, in the New Testament we see the realm of the Spirit can be a dangerous place as the Pharaoh learned.
The reader will remember Jesus dispatched the disciples to cross over a waterway, and indicated He would meet them on the other side.
“And straitway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side” (Matthew 14:22).
As the ship carrying the disciples encountered stormy weather, they struggled with the oars, trying to steady their course.
“And when [evening] was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea….And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them” (Mark 6:47, 48).
Christ then demonstrated His complete mastery over all things, as He walked across the raging waters to reach those He had chosen to be His disciples.
“And in the fourth watch of the night [shortly before dawn] Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:25).
Obviously, the analogy indicates the realm of the Spirit can be a perilous place, as the Scriptures tell us it is also a place where warfare occurs.
“And there was war in heaven…[but] thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters” (Revelation 12:7, Psalm 74:13).
As Jesus reassured His followers who had become fearful through the tumultuous episode, using the Apostle Peter as symbolically representative of those who would serve Him, the LORD indicated He desires us to join Him in the heavenly abode represented by the sea:
“And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).
Probably everyone reading this account already knows that when Peter realized he was actually walking on the water (and saw the sea was still stormy), doubt entered into His earthly heart and mind and, as he began to sink, he cried out for Christ to save him. Obviously, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13), but the metaphor of the Sand (representing the world of flesh and blood) and the Sea (representing the realm of the Spirit) continues to this very day.
-- James Lloyd
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