Having recently had a conversation with a brother, concerning the pitfalls of Full Preterism, and in particular, the 'damnable heresy' of Covenant Creation, I figured it was high time to offer yet another apology for the 'doctrine'!
This particular brother argued that 'by claiming that Genesis 1 is only talking about a spiritual creation, they wind up denying that the physical world was ever created' ( apparently, this is the logical conclusion of this view )!
Admittedly, one could reach this conclusion based on the fact that Genesis 1 DOES only speak of a spiritual, or covenant creation, but as we have discovered recently, no matter what theological path one takes, they will reach whatever 'logical conclusion' they want! ( this is not to discount the working of the Holy Spirit )
As far as we can tell, a belief in Covenant Creation has not logically led anyone to conclude that the physical world was not created, or even to debate whether God created it! The Scriptures alone are clear enough in places other than Genesis 1 that Yahweh is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, even the physical universe, but aside from that Revelation, there is the natural revelation of our Creator to show us that 'these things didn't and don't just happen'!
Most, if not all Scriptures which contain the term 'heaven and earth' refer to this covenant creation! There are, however, some Scriptures that are a bit clearer than others, for example; in Deuteronomy 4:26, 30:19, and 31:28, Moses calls for 'heaven and earth' to witness the covenant that has been established. Other examples, where the phrase is separated, are Deuteronomy 32:1, Job 20:27, Isaiah 13:13, 49:13, 51:6 & 16, Jeremiah 4:23, 51:48, and Lamentations 2:1. These are but a few of the references to the 'heavens and earth' that are pretty obviously referring to something other than what we, in our Western mind-set, are used to thinking of when we hear the phrase.
To be honest, ANY or most of these Scriptures could be explained away; for example, one could say 'I beheld the earth, and indeed [ it was ] without form, and void; and the heavens, they [ had ] no light.' ( Jeremiah 4:23 ) is a reference to the original creation. You might hear that 'Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and all its fullness' ( Psalm 96:11 ) is actually eliciting an almost human response from inanimate objects!
There are plenty of references that say very plainly that God DID create, or make the heavens and the earth. 'Our help [ is ] in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.' ( Psalm 124:8 ) the Psalms, especially toward the end of the Book, are full of references to this fact! It is mentioned as well throughout the Scriptures, that He is the One who formed them for His abode!
Most if not all of these references though, take on a whole new meaning when one realizes that the language of creation in Genesis 1 and subsequently Jeremiah 4:23 is pointing primarily to a covenant creation, the introduction of God to His Creation, where He began to 'step in' and interact with His people!
This, plus the fact that the Ancient Near Eastern writers were wont to use a very poetic and often flowery sort of prose, very often using a chiastic structure in their descriptions of things, and in the statements they made!
The Hebrew word translated 'created' in Genesis 1, et al, literally means 'to cut' ( as in a covenant ). According to Genesius' Hebrew/Chaldee Lexicon, the Hebrew 'bä·rä'' means 'to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting', giving us the picture of the cutting of a covenant, such as in Exodus 34:10 and Jeremiah 31:22. This explains why, for instance, in Genesis 1, the Light is revealed on Day One, though the Sun is not formed until Day Four!
That the physical heavens ( literally, 'sky' ) and earth ('terra firma' ), 'and all that in them is', were designed and are upheld by some Intelligence infinitely far beyond ours is without doubt! As Christians, we believe faithfully that this Intelligence is better known as Yahweh, the Only Living God, the God of Israel!
We know that the Scriptures are a Book of Covenant; it is full of direct and indirect references to covenant throughout, so it only makes sense that, as Israel, or the people with whom God first cut His Covenant are about the only peoples ( as well as those in the vicinity ) mentioned in Scripture, that the account of the beginning of Creation would have reference to their beginning.
The Covenant Creation model does indeed assign a 'spiritual meaning' to the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2, but does not deny, whether logically or illogically that our Heavenly Father is the Creator of the physical heavens, earth, sea, and all they contain!
To imply ( or outright say ) that the logical conclusion of Covenant Creation it a denial of the creative work of our Heavenly Father is not only ignorant; it is to deny the plain teachings of Scripture!
Charles Haddon Shank