Hi! First of all, I’m so grateful to be part of such a wonderful community! I’ve been so encouraged and motivated by the answers that I have found here to some of my questions! That’s why I’m asking you for some thoughts on a verse that I’ve struggled with a lot these days. It’s Jeremiah 5:22, which affirms that God “made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.”
What I find troubling about this verse is that, apparently, it suggests that the sea will always be bounded by sand, that it won’t cross the shoreline regardless of the intensity of sea storms or other natural factors. I’m aware that, in this verse in particular, and in other OT prophetic books in general, there is a lot of poetic language and there are also stylistic devices that need to be taken into account. But it seems to me that expressions such as “everlasting barrier”, “cannot cross” and “cannot prevail” go a bit beyond the boundary of metaphor, into the concrete, and appear to be postulating a sort of law of nature, that the sea is always meant to be bounded by the sand on the shoreline, regardless of the natural context.
And this is what puzzles me: if this interpretation is valid, and God did indeed establish the sand as an “everlasting barrier” between the sea and the dry land, a boundary which the sea is never to cross, then why do we observe natural phenomena such as tsunamis that do cross the “everlasting barrier”?
Or it might be that God is referring to a natural state that the people of Israel were aware of, that even the relatively intense storms on the sea did not make the sea go beyond the shoreline? As far as I know, the sea was viewed in ancient cultures as being something incomprehensibly large, uncontrollable, wild and dangerous. And God establishing an “everlasting barrier” which even a raging sea “cannot cross” is indeed a display of His power and sovereignty as Creator. But what can be said of the “everlasting” quality of the limit that God put to the sea? If understood in an universal, absolute kind of way, then this claim is falsified by the observation that tsunamis do cross this boundary.
And so I’m left with the possibility that the “law” of nature that this verse is apparently postulating is in some way not “everlasting” (at least not in an absolute sense). And if this is true, then this “law” should be “everlasting” only relative to the context of God’s will for a particular moment or period in history. So, for that specific period in Israel’s history, God’s will for the sea they had access to was that it should not cross the sand boundary, but this is not applicable to all of world’s history. We know from history that God does sometimes allow floods and tsunamis to take place so this second way of looking at Jeremiah 5:22 seems more plausible.
What are your thoughts on this verse and how can it be understood so that it will make sense both with the larger context of the Bible and with what we observe in the world? Is there something about the verse or its context that I’ve overlooked or have I made some errors in interpreting it?