In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
This is an indisputable fact, whether you take this verse in purely covenantal way, as I've seemingly done in a previous article, or whether you take it at face value, in a physically literal, even 'wooden', sense, as a scientifically precise description of the creation of the universe!
Did God create the universe and everything that therein resides? Most undoubtedly so! I think, however that when we claim that this passage is speaking of the creation, not of the physical heavens and the physical earth, or universe; but of the 'creation' of the covenant', and covenant man, in particular: I think that alot of people will ( and do! ) throw up 'walls', saying things like, 'Well; if Genesis One is merely about the creation of God's covenant with man, then where does the Bible say specifically that God made all that we see ( and don't see ) around us ( sun, moon, stars, etc. )?' My proposal is that we, as believers in and teachers of covenant eschatology, and thus of covenant creation, or what might be called 'the birth of the covenant', should be careful to qualify such statements with something like, 'Even though I believe that the Bible primarily teaches covenantal truths; it is a fact that the Scriptures also teach, or show that God created the physical universe and all that we see ( or don't see ) around us.'
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
For the purpose of this study; I want us to look closely at the word 'form' here , the Hebrew noun 'tohuw'. Although this word is translated 'form' only twice, this masculine noun is used twenty times in the Hebrew Scriptures: the other place that it is translated 'form' is in Jeremiah 4:23, wherein God, speaking through Jeremiah, forewarns of the impending doom upon Jerusalem. Other passages in the Old Testament prophets speak in a similar way; such as Isaiah 51:16, where God says, in reference to the establishment of His covenant with His people:
'I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion 'You are My people.'
Near the end of David's reign, when he would build a temple to the Lord God; God told him, in other words, 'not yet; but I have a better plan'!
9 Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 10 since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. Also I will subdue all your enemies. Furthermore I tell you that the LORD will build you a house.
Later on, in the 61st chapter of Isaiah; God says, concerning the New Covenant in Christ:
3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness,
Peter also has this to say, almost in fulfillment of the last part of verse 10 of
I Chronicles 17:
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
As I pointed out in a previous article: I believe that Scripture teaches that 'we', Christians, as the Body of Christ, are this 'new heaven and new earth' which God has now 're-formed' into His image, and, along with this theme; we are likened to 'living stones', to 'trees ( of righteousness )', and 'the planting of the Lord', all aspects of the man known as Jesus Christ!
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Viewing Genesis 1 in the light of the covenant, as I believe is the primary way in which we should view it; as prophecy ( in reverse, if you will ): we should easily, and quickly, see that the revealing of the light in the 'creation account' points to the revelation of the true Light as recorded in the Gospels, and especially in the Gospel of John.
As a matter of fact; it should not be too hard to see how the first chapter of John's gospel is a re-echo of the third verse of Genesis 1.
Isaiah has this to say, concerning that true Light:
1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
Several chapters earlier; God, through Isaiah, had revealed Whom this Light would be, and to whom He would be revealed:
6 Indeed He says, ‘ It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
This Light would come to those who previously had been in the darkness of sin, both the Jews, who thought that they could attain their own righteousness, and the Gentiles, who ignorantly wandered in an aimless rebelliousness.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
Two things that we should notice here, whether we view this verse from a covenantal standpoint, or in a more woodenly literal physical way: first; God said that His creation was good. I think that too often, man gets the notion in his finite mind that we can actually mess up God's plans, that we can make bad what He has made good. If the 'creation account' is indeed about the creation of the physical earth, moon; sun, and stars ( and I would argue: 'secondarily; it is!' ); then these passages from several of David's Psalms should ease our minds as to that account.
69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever.
37 It shall be established forever like the moon,
Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah
Isaiah also has this to say about the matter:
18 For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited:
I know that right now, many are concerned about polluting the environment, reasoning that through releasing 'greenhouse gases', we are 'ripping a hole in the ozone layer, thus bringing 'global warming', and the resultant floods, and eventually burning up the earth, or some such nonsense. NONSENSE!
If we are to believe the promises of God, as David wrote: I think that it is pretentious of us ( at the very least! ) to think that we, in our finiteness, can destroy, or mar so badly that it has to be destroyed; something that God made, and called good!
Secondly; we can't help but notice that God significantly 'divided the light from the darkness'.
David, in his Psalms, has this to say about the division of light and darkness:
28 For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
4 Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
David's son wrote that;
'light excels darkness.'
I think that most of us are pretty familiar with this passage in Isaiah:
The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
Much later then, in the book of Isaiah, in the 42nd chapter: God has this to say;
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.
Again; several chapters over, in Isaiah 45: God reminds His people that,
I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’
God reminds His people that, as He divided the light and darkness in the original creation; He rules them still, ordaining them to accomplish His purposes, metaphorically using physical creation language here, as so often in the Scriptures, to remind His subjects of His sovereignty.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
We now come to a portion of the creation account, which is not so easily viewed as 'mere' covenantal language. We have already studied the metaphorical usage in Scripture of the word 'light' and 'darkness', but let's look at a few that might give us a hint as to what the Author might have in mind by using the words 'night' and 'day'.
Jesus said, according to the 9th chapter of John's gospel,
4 I[a] must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.
A natural question here would be; 'why would no one be able to work when the night came?' Seemingly an easy question to answer: 'because they had no light to work by when in became dark!'; but somehow I don't think that is the meaning that Jesus had in mind. I believe that tradition bears me out in this matter as well: I don't think that anyone would argue that Jesus was talking about 'the end of all things', although there may be differing opinions as to what is meant by that 'end'.
Near the end of John's Revelation, speaking of the New Jerusalem/'new heavens and new earth'; John reports this feature of this great City:
5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans; has this to say:
The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
By this statement; Paul seemingly equates the old and new covenants with 'night' and 'day', speaking of the 'darkness' that the children of Israel were under because of their corrupt leaders and the 'hopelessness' of keeping the Law of Moses: the 'day' of course, came with Christ and the full implementation of the New Covenant.
Later, in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians; Paul had this to say:
5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
It sounds to me like Paul is further stressing the fact that, especially in prophetic writings; the words 'night' and 'day' are often indicative of the old and new covenants.
When I would read the creation account, as a child; I would often wonder why the Author wrote that 'the evening and the morning were the first day', the second day, and so forth; but now that I have come to a more covenantal understanding of Scripture, it is clear to me that He was pointing forward to the 'day' when the New Covenant in Christ, would overtake, would fulfill the old covenant law, given under Moses.
If you have read my previous article, 'Building ( up ) in 'The New Heavens and New Earth, and if you've studied the prophetic Scriptures much: you've seen how that the Christ was foreshadowed by, and was typified in much of the prophet's writings concerning the old covenant nation of Israel, the Law given on Mount Sinai, indeed, the Old Covenant itself!
6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
A small article that I wrote quite awhile ago ( it was just a post to a discussion group, actually ) proposed that the firmament which God created was typical of the separation, or distinction that God made between 'heaven' and 'earth', between Jew and Gentile ( the children of the promise and the children of the flesh ), even between the two covenants.
For the purpose of this article, at present, I want to just quote one passage from Paul's letter to the Galatians, in chapter 4;
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the[a] two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:
“ Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.”[b]
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”[c] 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Footnotes:'the children of the flesh' and 'the children of the promise'; or, in words that Paul used elsewhere, 'the middle wall of separation'.
In Psalm 148; of which I'll quote a few verses here, in passing: notice that David only mentions the 'waters above the heavens' as offering praises to God.
1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! 2 Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! 3 Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! 4 Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. 6 He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
Right off; I think that we should be able to see that this verse might be an indicator that the creation account, though physically and historically accurate, is by no means a scientifically precise description of the event. Until a bit later; God focuses on the 'waters' under the heavens.
When thinking in a covenantal, typological mode, as it is wont to do now; my mind immediately thinks of Revelation 21, where John records, in the first verse that,
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
As I read through the Scriptures; I have noticed several things about 'water'; first, it can stand metaphorically for a blessing; but it can also be for a curse!
Several examples from the Prophets:
In David's Psalm 23;
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
From his 73rd Psalm;
10 Therefore his people return here, And waters of a full cup are drained by them.
13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.
Isaiah has this to say about water, in the 32nd chapter:
20 Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
In this famous passage from Isaiah 35, speaking of the blessings of the New Covenant:
6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.
In like manner, he says, in chapter 43,
20 The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen.
Last, but not least; from Isaiah 55:
1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Almost in David's own words from Psalm 1; Jeremiah repeats, in chapter 17:
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Yet again describing, or picturing, the blessings of the 'New' Covenant, in Ezekiel 47;
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.
Lastly, from Zechariah 14:
8 And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur.
In the earlier examples from the Psalms; David regales the blessings of righteousness before God; but in the examples from the rest of the prophets: the future blessing of the New Covenant are pictured. There are many more examples in Scripture where 'waters' is a metaphorical term for blessing, in particular, maybe, the blessings of the New Covenant, but for sake of time and space; these will suffice.
As I said; 'water' is also used as a metaphor for cursing.
The first example that I think of, is in Genesis chapter 9, concerning the Great Flood of Noah's day:
11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
In a similar situation, where 'water' represents a blessing to one group and a cursing to yet another group; Moses records, in Exodus 14, that,
26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.
In the book of Numbers, chapter 5, the Levitical priesthood were given this command concerning 'water':
18 Then the priest shall stand the woman before the LORD, uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering for remembering in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 And the priest shall put her under oath, and say to the woman, “If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has lain with you”— 21 then the priest shall put the woman under the oath of the curse, and he shall say to the woman—“the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; 22 and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot.” Then the woman shall say, “Amen, so be it.”
In Psalm 32: David likens 'water' to the curse, or persecution at the hands of the ungodly ( Psalm 18 ).
6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him.
In language similar to the passage in Numbers, above: David, in his 109th Psalm, says this about the curse upon the ungodly:
18 As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, So let it enter his body like water, And like oil into his bones.
In the 1st chapter of Isaiah: in making His complaint, or suit, against the covenant-breaking children of Israel, God says,
22 Your silver has become dross, Your wine mixed with water.
Again; speaking of His case against covenant-breaking Israel: God says, in Jeremiah 9,
13 And the LORD said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, 14 but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,” 15 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
( see also, Jeremiah 23:15 )
Ezekiel ( as many of the Prophets ) speaks of the lack of water as a curse, in the 4 chapter:
16 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread, 17 that they may lack bread and water, and be dismayed with one another, and waste away because of their iniquity.
( see also Ezekiel 7:17 , Ezekiel 21:7 )
In the 5th chapter of Hosea; God warns,
10b " I will pour out My wrath on them like water".
Finally; from the gospel of Matthew: Jesus, in the course of healing two demon-possessed men, gives a preview of the destiny of the wicked, when Matthew relates of Him;
28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes,[c] there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away[d] into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. 33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.
11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
Here's where we get into another one of those areas where it's hard to apply a purely covenantal meaning, and say something like, 'the creation account is not a historical relation of the actual creation of the physical universe ( as the case may be ), but is simply allegory'; but, as I said before: I believe that the creation account found in Genesis 1 is primarily covenantal in it's revelation, but that it is also a literal historical account of the creation of the physical 'heavens and earth.
We may note here that God now relegates the earth itself to 'bring forth' things like grass, the herb that yields seed, and the tree that yields fruit. 'Bring forth' here, is the Hebrew word dasha, which means, 'to sprout, spring forth, grow green', which should tell us that God caused these things to grow from the earth itself, and not that they were created ( out of nothing ) as was the earth, the sun, the planets, the stars, and the 'heavens'. This is not to say that God did not 'bring forth', or cause to grow, for He indeed causes the rains to fall to the earth, thus, in effect, 'killing' the seed ( softening and splitting the outer shell ), and germinating it with the earth around it, causing it to sprout, and eventually bringing forth fruit as God cause the rains to fall upon it. However; God has enacted 'natural laws' with which He governs this universe, thus, in effect, granting ( limited ) powers of creation ( some might call this power 'pro-creation ) to the creation itself!
Let's look at some Scriptures that relate 'trees ( that yield fruit )' to God's human creation:
Some of my readers might be familiar with this passage in Judges chapter 9, where the youngest son of Jerubbaal, or Gideon, as he is more commonly known, counsels the men of Shechem against anointing Abimelech as their ruler; uses this parable to try to dissuade, or warn them:
7 Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and cried out. And he said to them: “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, That God may listen to you!
8 “The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them.
And they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us!’
9 But the olive tree said to them,
‘ Should I cease giving my oil,
With which they honor God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’
10 “Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us!’
11 But the fig tree said to them,
‘ Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?’
12 “Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us!’
13 But the vine said to them,
‘ Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’
14 “Then all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us!’
We have already seen how David, in His 1st Psalm, likens the righteous to a tree:
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
His son, Solomon, in like manner, in the 11th chapter of the book of Proverbs, say this about the righteous man:
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.
In the Song of Solomon, chapter 2: the Shulamite compares her spouse ( Solomon, a type of Christ ) to a tree:
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
In Isaiah chapter 37; in the midst of responding to the challenge of Sennacherib, king of Assyria: the Lord tells him,
24 By your servants you have reproached the Lord, And said, ‘By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, To the limits of Lebanon; I will cut down its tall cedars And its choice cypress trees; I will enter its farthest height, To its fruitful forest.
Instructing Jeremiah on the coming judgment of the covenant-breaking children of Israel; God, in the 11th chapter of Jeremiah, reminds Jeremiah that,
16 The LORD called your name, Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit. With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire on it, And its branches are broken.
Again; most of my readers have probably heard this next passage before. In the book of Daniel, chapter 4, we read that even the Gentiles, or the nations who were not brought into Covenant with Almighty God, were often compared with trees.
13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘ Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, In the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, And let him graze with the beasts On the grass of the earth. 16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times[a] pass over him. 17 ‘ This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.
In the 14th chapter of Hosea; our Lord 'lays it out' for us, when He says:
8 “ Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me.”
In the 2nd chapter of Joel; God makes this promise to the remnant of Israel:
22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
The Gospel according to Matthew, in chapter 3; records that John the Baptizer, in speaking to the un-repentant Jews, told them:
10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Over in chapter 7 of the same Gospel; Jesus, speaking of the Pharisees, and indeed, every nay-sayer, tells His followers,
16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
In our last, damning example: from the book of Jude, we read that,
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about[c] by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
- Jude 1:12 NU-Text and M-Text read along.
I think that it might be significant here, that God ( through pro-creation ) 'brought forth' all that grows from the earth, on the 3rd day, the very same day that the Gospels record that Jesus Christ our Lord rose from the grave, thus sealing and signifying our being raised from the dead, our resurrection!
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
This is yet another passage that might give us a clue that this 'creation account' is not meant to be read as a science 'textbook'. On the first day, God created the 'light', and whether it actually shone on that day, or He just prophesied of it's creation three days later; I think that it's pretty obvious that this account, although factual, is neither chronological nor scientifically precise.
Verses 14 & 15 record that God placed these 'lights' in the 'firmament' of the heavens, to yet again divide the 'day' from the 'night', and the 'light' from the 'darkness'. Remember that, earlier in this study; we saw that God had made the firmament as a divider between the waters that were above and the waters beneath, another reference, I think, to those who received the blessings of the covenant, and those who received the cursings, or the righteous in Christ, and the wicked without Christ.
In verse 16; we read that 'God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night' I find this interesting for a couple of reasons: First; we have seen from the previous 15 verses that 'the evening and the morning were the ? day'. Here God, as the Author, seems almost to switch the order! He first tells us that He made the 'greater light to rule the day' ( morning? ), then He records that He 'made the lesser light to rule the night' ( evening? ). Is it 'evening and morning', or is it 'day and night'? I think that the Author here reveals the True Light, that 'rules' the 'day'; while showing us too, that this 'greater light, although before the lesser light ( merely a reflector ), would have His 'revelation' after the 'lesser light' had attempted to shine in the darkness, without the power of that first, 'greater light'.
The second point of interest that I find here in verse 16 is that the word 'rule', interestingly enough, a noun, comes from the Hebrew memshalah, which means 'rule, dominion, realm', while later on, in verse 18; for the very same 'rule', this time, the Hebrew verb mashal, is used, which means 'to rule, have dominion'. This is interesting because, as we'll see later on in this study, this is the command given to Adam, after he is created, to 'have dominion' over the rest of God's lively creation.
Verse 16 ends, then, by saying that He also made the stars. In the book of Genesis, chapter 37; in one of several prophetic dreams that Joseph had, his whole family is referred to as 'heavenly beings'.
9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” 10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”
Previously, in Genesis 15; God in, His oath to Abraham;; God promised to make his descendants 'like the stars'.
5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
In the 26th chapter of Genesis; God repeats this promise to Abraham's son Isaac:
And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;
In the 32nd chapter of Exodus; Moses reminded God of these oaths when the Lord in His jealous fury, would have destroyed the idolatrous children of Israel.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”[a]
( see also, Deuteronomy 1:10 )
In the book of the Judges, chapter 5; it is recorded that,
20 They fought from the heavens; The stars from their courses fought against Sisera.
In the 38th chapter of Job; in what I call a 'biblical parallelism': God, in His questioning of Job, says this,
7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
In Davids 148th Psalm; we are told that God commands praise from these 'heavenly bodies':
3 Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Speaking of the coming judgment upon Babylon, in Isaiah 13; God prophesies through Isaiah,
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
Prophesying of the coming judgment on Egypt, in Ezekiel 32: God says,
7 When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, And the moon shall not give her light. 8 All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, And bring darkness upon your land,’ Says the Lord GOD.
In the book of Daniel, chapter 12: God says this,
3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
In speaking of the coming judgment on Judah at the hands of God's army, in Joel chapter 2; He says,
10 The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness.
Continuing a passage that I quoted above; Jude says this about the wicked deceivers of the 'last days':
13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
Finally, in II Peter 1; Peter refers to Jesus Christ as the morning star.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,[a] which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
There are, arguably, passages in Scripture that refer to actual stars, in fact, several of the verses that I quoted here seem to; but I think that it should be fairly clear by now that 'stars', especially in prophetic Scripture, most ofter refer, in some way, to people, whether they be the people of God, or those, who through rebelliousness, are about to be destroyed by God.
20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Something interesting here, is that, while the language at the beginning of this passage on the 5th day seems similar to the language at the beginning of the passage on the 3rd day; it is actually very different. In verse 11, above; God said 'Let the earth bring forth', and while 'Let the waters abound' may sound similar; the similarities end there, for in verse 12; the Author records that 'the earth brought forth', while in verse 21, on the 5th day: 'God created'. Slight, but significant difference here, and I think that the reason for this is nothing if not scientific: water does not grow things of itself, but earth, on the other hand, when coupled with water and seed, brings forth life.
On the 5th day; God tells His creation, for the first time, 'be fruitful and multiply'. In a limited sense; I guess you could say that grass, or trees, could 'be fruitful and multiply', but only in that limited sense. Remember that when God told it to; the earth 'brought forth' , but when living, breathing creatures were to be 'brought forth'; it required a special act, again, of God's creative powers!
As we have already seen: 'water', in prophetic Scripture, is most often indicative of a group of people, whether 'under' blessing or cursing. When God said 'let the waters abound, and then created 'great sea creatures' and every living thing'; I think that He was saying that it would take an act of God for 'water', or man, to abound, through creation, or, as the case may be, recreation. When God said 'let the earth bring forth' there was no need for special creative action on God's part: it 'brought forth', naturally, you might say. We've already seen above, how it 'rains on the just and the unjust' alike, and how 'the earth drinks in the rain which often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those who cultivate it, is blessed by God, but if it bears thorn and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed'. In not so many words, we are symbolized by the 'earth' as well, as we can see from the context of Hebrews 6, from which I just quoted. Could the earth, above, 'bring forth' as it was commanded, from itself, as it were? Yes; but only as it received the 'rain, that often comes upon it' Could the water 'abound' with an altogether different creation, on it's own? No; it took a special creative act of God! ( more on this subject in pt. 2 )
In Deuteronomy 33; Moses blesses the children of Israel with this blessing:
19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain; There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas And of treasures hidden in the sand.”
In the book of Job, chapter 12; Job tells his friends where to seek knowledge.
7 “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 8 Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
In Isaiah 27; speaking of judgment upon the nations, and subsequent salvation of Israel: God says,
1 In that day the LORD with His severe sword, great and strong,
Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
Leviathan that twisted serpent;
And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.
5 Then you shall see and become radiant, And your heart shall swell with joy; Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 38; speaking of His righteous judgment on the tools of His anger: God said,
19 For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: ‘Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, 20 so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.’
In Habakkuk 1; the prophet asks God, concerning His judgment on Israel;
14 Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them? 15 They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
In the very next chapter; speaking of the abundance of the new covenant in Christ: God speaks these comforting words, through Habakkuk;
14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.
Jesus Himself, in the 13th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, compares the Kingdom of Heaven with the abundance of the seas.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
Over and over in Scripture, particularly in prophetic Scripture; men are likened to fish. In several of the examples that I've quoted above; the 'abundance of the sea' is seen as a blessing from God; but in His judgments, whether it be to chasten His own people, or to punish and destroy a disobedient nation: He curses the 'abundance of the sea'.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Here again; we see the same sort of language used as on the 3rd and 5th day; 'Let the earth bring forth'. Here though, as with the filling of the seas and the air, or skies; God has to make these 'living creatures', in a definite act of His creative powers, in order for the earth to 'bring forth', or abound with them, showing, yet again that God is the only One that can truly 'bring forth'. Man can only 'bear fruit', or abound' as God causes growth, through the blessing of rain!
Scripture often compares men to beasts, or living creatures.
In the book of Leviticus, chapter 26: God levies this judgment, whether for obedience;
6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.
22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.
From the book of Job, in chapter 5: Eliphaz, speaking of the blessing of righteous living before God; tells Job,
22 You shall laugh at destruction and famine, And you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.23 For you shall have a covenant with the stones of the field,And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
David, in his 49th Psalm; realizes that without the blessing of God, man is no more than a beast!
12 Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain;[b] He is like the beasts that perish.
- Psalm 49:12 Following Masoretic Text and Targum; Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate read understand (compare verse 20).
9 All you beasts of the field, come to devour, All you beasts in the forest. 10 His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory.
In the book of Daniel, chapter 4, from which I've quoted already; Nebuchadnezzar, the proud king of Babylon, is literally 'changed' into a beast, in punishment for his willful pride and rebelliousness.
16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times[a] pass over him.
- Daniel 4:34 Literally days
17 ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings[c]which arise out of the earth.
Again, in speaking of the coming blessings of the New Covenant, in Hosea chapter 2; God compares the nations of the ungodly to beasts.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, With the birds of the air, And with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, To make them lie down safely.
In the 2nd chapter of Joel's prophecy; God, in speaking of the redemption and restoration of His people, gives them this promise:
22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Skipping forward, to the book of Acts, chapter 10; I'm sure that many of my readers are familiar with Peter's vision, in which God reveals to Peter His plan to evangelize the Gentiles.
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
This passage, I believe, is often used to show that meats, such as swine, and the other unclean animals that the children of Israel were commanded not to partake of, under the Old Covenant, are now clean, and permissible for us, the New Covenant people of God, to partake of, and rightly so; but Peter got the point, as you will see, later on in chapter 10, that he was not to refuse the good news of Jesus Christ to anyone, just because they were not born of the physical seed of Israel, or Abraham.
In Paul's letter to Titus; he reminds Titus that even their own prophets referred to the Cretans as beasts.
12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Latter on, in Peter's 2nd letter; he refers to the Judaizers themselves, as beasts!
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
Jude, then, refers to these false teachers in much the same way.
10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.
We should notice here, too; that all of these living creatures were made 'according to their kind', in other words, they were made to 'be fruitful and multiply' according to how they themselves were made, ie,. a bear would not beget a fish, a fish would not 'bear' a cow, a cow would not 'father a human being, etc................/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
- Genesis 1:26 Syriac reads all the wild animals of.
Notice here, that God first says ,'Let Us make man in our image'. The Hebrew word asah, here translated 'make' in this passage, means ,' to do, fashion, accomplish, make'. More on this subject in Part 2; but for now: suffice it to say that the emphasis here seems to me to be that God 'formed' man in His image, according to His likeness!
'Let them have dominion'!Here, I think; God reveals His reason for making, or creating man in His image. God's special people were created in His image that they might 'rule' over the rest of His creation. I think, in times past, the tradition has been to put the emphasis on the phrase, 'God created', or, in the next chapter; 'God formed', and rightly so, because we need to be clear that we are created beings, and thus we are subservient to our Creator; but I think that, concerning the Gospel message, and our being re-formed, or recreated, in His image: I think that we would do well here to place the emphasis on the phrase, 'in His image'!
In the 8th chapter of Romans; Paul says,
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Later; in his 1st letter to the Corinthian church, and chapter 11: he expressly says,
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God.
This is interesting, and possibly very significant, that here says this about the man, or the 'head', but says that a woman should 'wear a covering on her head', but I don't want to get very far off track here; it's just something to think about!
Notice, in verse 27, that 'male and female He created them'.
While He created them 'man and woman': Paul says, in Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
As Paul insinuates, even plainly declares; the whole story of how Adam & Eve, or the 'first' man and woman were created, and brought together, was a picture of the marriage of Christ and His church, and thusly, how man as the head of woman, and yet being 'one' with her, and inseparably so; is, together with the woman, 'the express image of God', through Christ, who is All of these things to the Church, His Body!
Again; in verse 28: we see the command to 'be fruitful and multiply' and 'have dominion'. Translated from the Hebrew radah; 'dominion' here, means, 'to rule, have dominion, dominate, tread down'. According to this definition then; 'man' was created in God's image, in order that he might tread down ( remember the serpent? ), subjugate, and rule over the lower parts of God's creation!
29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
God's ordination of His human 'creation' as co-ruler now extends to 'consuming' what the earth has 'brought forth'.
Some people; I understand: will read passages such as this and find a very compelling argument to become a vegetarian because, according to verse 29, neither man nor beast ate meat before the Fall. One could almost see their point here, except for passages like Acts 10:9-16, in which Peter, in a vision, is commanded to eat even unclean animals, animals which he, being a Jew, would be forbidden by law to eat! One could say something like, 'but this was after the Fall, so who's to say that either one ( man or beast ) was carnivorous before the Fall?': but think about it: these instructions ( never mind that the vision concerned men, and not animals ) were given by God, telling Peter to eat meat! This occurred after the resurrection of Jesus Christ: it could be argued that although Christ had inaugurated the New Covenant ( which is all about a return to Edenic conditions ), it was not yet full implemented, which in a sense was true, humanly speaking, of course; but in God's mind I think that it always was!
In my opinion; God would not tell Peter to eat meat ( clean or un-clean ) if man had not been made, naturally, to do so. I am by no means an expert on such things; but I think that nature itself would show us that both man and beast have always, to some extent, been meat-eaters.
We come now, to the final statements of this 1st chapter of Genesis; 'everything He had made..............was very good', and 'the evening and the morning were the sixth day'.
I had talked earlier of God's 'good creation'. The Hebrew word towb, here translated 'good', simply means, 'good, pleasant, agreeable'; in other words; God was very pleased with what He had done! After each successive day of creation, God pronounced His pleasure with the 'products' of His sovereign creative power, whether by actual creation, or by procreation. If God was pleased with His good creation, then I think that we would do well to be pleased, or content, with it too! I believe that there is too much discontentment, even among Christians, with the way that God has ordered His creation! I don't wish to say too much here, because I might end up intruding into a further study on chapter 3; but for now I will just say, that while some might complain that 'if only Adam had not sinned...', or words to that effect, thus implying that man ruined God's creation, or rather, maybe, His Plan for creation, thus creating the need for a re-creation: the fact remains, that God pronounced His creation 'very good'; and when man, in his impotence and finiteness, thinks that he could ruin, to the point that God must re-create, starting all over: I call that, as I mentioned earlier in this study; the height of impudence!
Finally; we have seen that 'the evening and the morning were the ? day'. As I had said earlier; I think that the evening being followed by the morning in this statement is significant, as we have constantly noted, I think, of the fact that the Mosaic covenant, although not the first covenant that was ratified by God, was 'formed' prior to the 'revelation' of the New Covenant in Christ; thus showing that the Light was sent to 'enlighten' the darkness, or to divide the night from the day, so that His special people might walk in the light, rather than in the darkness. In the apostle Paul's words:
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[b]is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“ Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
I hope that this study of the Gospel pre-figured in the very first chapter of the Bible, will be edifying to you, and that it might be a comfort to you to realize that the Gospel was not an after-thought in God's mind; to rectify, or make right, man's mistake: but that the Gospel was in God's Plan from the beginning, in fact was foreshadowed by the 'creation account' itself.
I urge you, as always, to be a Berean, and to search this out for yourself!
In Christ's love,
and for His Kingdom,