GENESIS - CHAPTER 1
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
1:1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
When was the “beginning”? We aren’t told, but many Christians believe it was about 6,000 years ago, basing their belief on the chronology from Adam to the present. Science, on the other hand, indicates that it may have been several billion years ago.
In order to decide which is correct there are a few things we must examine carefully, and apart from preconceived ideas. Scripture states simply that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” but it does not say that it was at the time He created Adam. We’ll come back to this in a moment, because verse two has an important bearing on this first verse.
1:2. “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
That first verb was is the same verb which in chapter 19:26 is translated became, “But his (Lot’s) wife ... became a pillar of salt.” The Hebrew form of the verb is literally, “She was a pillar of salt,” but in modern English of course it is “She became, etc.,” and in verse 1 also the proper translation is, “And the earth became, etc.,” the translators obviously being influenced by the erroneous prevailing preconceived idea that the six days of Genesis 1 relate to the original creation, whereas a careful study of Scripture reveals, that with the exception of verse 1, this is not so. Isa 45:18 confirms that the earth became “without form and void” some time after God had created it, for there we read, “For thus saith the Lord who created the heavens, God himself who formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain....” Vain is the translation of the Hebrew word tohu, the same word translated in Ge 1:2 without form. (Void is the translation of a similar Hebrew word bohu).
Additional confirmation comes from realizing that nothing which God has ever created has been anything but perfect, and it is highly unlikely that the earth would be an exception.
Something else that must be considered in connection with the creation of the earth is the relationship which Satan bears to it. In Lk 4:5-7 it is written, “And the devil taking Him (Christ) up into a high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it.” The Lord didn’t deny Satan’s claim to have the power to dispose of the earth, for Scripture makes it clear that this world is indeed his kingdom, he being described as “the prince of this world” (Jn 12:31), and, “the god of this world” (2 Co 4:4). It is clear that that dominion had been given him long before the creation of Adam, leaving no other explanation than that it was given him prior to his fall, when he was Lucifer (shining one), “the anointed cherub” (Eze 28:14).
All the Scriptural evidence points to the fact that in the dateless past (millions or billions of years ago) the earth came from the hand of God in perfection, being called instantly into existence by His simply speaking, “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps 33:9); was given to Lucifer to rule for God’s glory, and that synchronous with his rebellion, became the dark water-covered waste described in Ge 1:2, the dark and ruined condition of the earth reflecting the spiritual state of its fallen ruined prince, now no longer Lucifer, the shining one, but Satan, the prince of darkness. That darkness and overwhelming waters are symbols of God’s wrath and judgment is made very clear in Scripture, see the Psalms which point symbolically to the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, e.g., Ps 42:7, “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” Ps 88:6-7, “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.” See also Ps 69:1,14,15. Rejection of the time gap between Ge 1:1 and 1:2 requires an explanation of why God’s first recorded creative act should have begun with what is so clearly the typological display of anger and judgment.
The same pattern, incidentally, is seen later in connection with Adam. He, in the perfection of untried innocence, reigned over this renovated earth as its human head, but when he fell his kingdom reflected his own fallen, ruined state. It brought forth thorns and thistles, the symbols of the curse, see Ge 3:18.
Scientific evidence of the earth’s vast age (perhaps at least two billion years), is therefore not a contradiction of Scripture, but rather a confirmation of its accuracy. (It is to be noted that true science is always in harmony with Scripture).
A further proof, which admittedly will have validity only in the eyes of those who understand Biblical typology, is that God’s remaking of the ruined earth during the six days of Genesis 1, is also a very clear symbolic picture of the process by which He recovers sinners from their fallen, ruined state, and makes them a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ. That typological picture is destroyed by rejection of the fact that the earth, originally perfect, became a ruined thing, and was then recovered from that ruined state by God’s work in the six days of Genesis 1. That God takes a very serious view of tampering with His typology is demonstrated in the fact that Moses was denied permission to enter Canaan for that very sin. The rock was to be smitten once, type of Christ being smitten at Calvary to make the water of life available to dying men. When Moses struck the rock on the second occasion, instead of just speaking to it as commanded, he spoiled the type by implying symbolically that Christ could die twice, see Ex 17:5-6; Nu 20:7-12; Dt 48-51.
There remains for consideration at this point the nature of the life forms on the preAdamic earth. The strata of the earth furnish abundant evidence of many and varied forms both vegetable and animal, and this in no way contradicts the Biblical record. It is necessary only to relegate these life forms to the pre-Adamic ages, recognizing that all of them were dest-royed in the judgment that overthrew that original, perfect creation, a judgment which left it in the dark, empty, water-covered, ruined state described in verse 2.
It was over that desolation that the Spirit of God moved, and it was out of that desolation that He began, not to create, but to remake the earth, which by a direct act of creation, He filled again with life in all its varied forms: fish, birds, animals, and as the crowning masterpiece of His great creative work, man, Adam.
A final question that can’t be ignored is whether man existed on the pre-Adamic earth. Where Scripture is silent speculation is unwise, and on this point Scripture is silent. If scientific proof of such human life is produced, there will still be no contradiction of Scripture. All animal life forms perished in the judgment that devastated that original creation. The life forms existing today are the result of a direct creative act of God by which He placed life again on this remade earth.
It is to be noted that the theory of evolution is just that - an unproven theory, without one shred of evidence to support it, and which, contrary to popular belief, is not accepted by the majority of true scientists. Furthermore it is a theory so puerile that it requires greater credulity to accept it than it does to accept the statement of Scripture, that, “In the beginning God created.”
The evolutionist can’t explain (nor can the true scientist) the origin of matter. He begins with a world already existing, but the origin of which he can’t explain, and by his theory, he places upon that already existing earth a simple one-cell life form, the origin and life of which he also can’t explain, but he then demands that we believe that from that one cell all other life forms have evolved!
On the contrary, everything in nature declares the opposite of evolution: regression governs everything on earth; and another of many facts ignored by the evolutionist is the law governing kind. Nothing can reproduce itself beyond its own kind. Mules, for example, the product of crossbreeding horses and donkeys, are always sterile. No creature on earth can reproduce outside its kind
As always in Scripture, however, the spiritual transcends the literal. These first two verses of Genesis present us with symbolic truth relative to man. Like the original earth, he came from the hand of God a perfect creation. But as that original earth became a ruin because of sin, so did Adam, and as literal darkness enveloped the globe, so has spiritual darkness enveloped the world since the day of Adam’s rebellion.
Following Satan’s rebellion, the earth lay under a ponderous weight of waters (Biblical symbol of death and judgment, see e.g., Ps 69:1,2,14,15; 88:6,7,16,17), and fallen ruined man likewise lies under the terrible weight of condemnation, judgment, and death, from which nothing but the power of God can deliver him, just as it delivered the once ruined earth.
As the Spirit of God brooded over the ruin of the once perfect creation, so does He also brood over the great sea (Isa 57:20) of ruined humanity. And as He restored an inanimate earth which had neither will nor power to resist His work, He will bring recovery to Adam’s ruined race, but on one condition: man must be willing to be recovered, for unlike the ruined earth, man has both the will and the power to resist the Spirit’s ministry, and God will not compel men to be made new creatures against their will.
The dark, lifeless water-covered waste that had once been a perfect earth, was the silent, but eloquent witness to the ruined state of its fallen ruined prince. As he had become, so also had his kingdom, the physical state of the one reflecting the spiritual state of the other. From that ruin the unresisting earth was recovered (Ge 1:3 - 2:35), and placed under the dominion of a human prince, Adam.
But the rebellion of its spiritual prince was repeated by its human ruler, and again the earth became a ruined thing, thorns and thistles springing up as the evidence that it now lies under the curse incurred by the rebellion of its human head, Adam.
And as the ruin of the earth was two-fold, once under its spiritual head, and now again under its human head, so is man’s ruin also two-fold: he is dead spiritually, and is dying physically, and unless saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, will die physically and go out into eternity to die the second death, Re 20:14. (That the earth is dying is beyond dispute, for not only does Scripture assure us that it has only about another thousand years to exist, but pollution, deforestation, depletion of the ozone layer, and of natural resources, a burgeoning population and a limited food supply, all declare the impossibility of its continuing indefinitely).
1:3. “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.”
Nothing in this verse refers to creation. The sun, moon, and stars had been created long before, but their light was shut off from the earth by the dense masses of water in vapor form that enveloped the globe like a shroud, as did the waters in liquid form lying everywhere on its surface.
There isn’t a word in this verse about the original creation of these heavenly bodies. God simply diffused the vapor, and permitted the light to reach the surface of the globe again as it had done prior to the destruction that had cast a shroud of water, liquid and vapor, over the earth.
Man’s restoration also begins with the operation of light, “The entrance of Thy words giveth light’ (Ps 119:130). “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.... For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Co 4:4-6).
On the first day of God’s re-creation of the ruined earth there was no human eye to behold either the ruin revealed by the light, or the God from Whom that light emanated, and Who would bring a new creation out of that ruin. But unlike that inanimate ruin which lay exposed in the light, man has the capacity to see himself exposed by the light of God’s Word, as a spiritual and physical ruin, of which the devastated earth was the symbol. It is God’s desire that the sight should impel man to cry, “What must I do to be saved?” and then, turning his eye to the source of that light, see Christ, the Light of the world, hanging as his Substitute on Calvary’s cross, and hear God’s command, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Ac 16:30-31).
Man, however, the masterpiece of God’s creation, has a free will, and may if he chooses, withdraw from the light into the darkness, or he may, “come to the light” and be saved. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (Jn 3:19-20). “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (Jn 5:40). “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12).
As the earth without the light must remain lifeless, so must man without Christ.
1:4. “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
The division of physical light from darkness reminds us that the same division has been ordained in the spiritual realm, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers ... what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co 6:14). “Ye were sometimes (once) darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8).
1:5. “And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
The division is further emphasized by the fact that God calls them by separate names. This introduces us to a Scriptural principle: a change of name indicates a change of state, e.g., Abram became Abraham; Sarai became Sarah; Jacob became Israel; and Saul the persecutor, became Paul the Apostle. In Re 22:4 it is promised God’s servants that they shall have His name in their foreheads eternally.
Another principle is introduced by the seemingly reverse order, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” We normally speak of the day as running from morning to evening, but God, Who is light, always moves from darkness to light, thus stating in symbol His desire for man’s salvation, that man should permit himself to be brought out of spiritual darkness into the light of eternal life. On the night of the Passover the redeemed Israelites, for example, were not to go out until the morning light (Ex 12:22). Redemption had made them typically children of light. The believer will go out from the darkness of earth to the eternal light of heaven where it is always day, “for there shall be no night there” (Re 21:25).
1:6. “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”
1:7. “And 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.”
1:8. “And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”
Having separated light from darkness, and having thereby declared symbolically that spiritual life, which is light, is also separated from spiritual death, which is darkness, God proceeds to emphasize the separation by use of another symbol, water.
Firmament simply means expanse, and the division of the waters refers to that fiat of God by which water in liquid form remains on the earth’s surface as oceans and seas, while water in vapor form is lifted up and suspended in the atmosphere. The suitability of the symbol is apparent when we read Isa 57:20, “The wicked (unconverted) are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” Earth’s restless masses of humanity are indeed a “troubled sea,” knowing no rest, and casting up on the shores of time, the mire and dirt of sin. The source of the
sea’s eternal restlessness are the winds, and again we encounter a symbol used consistently throughout Scripture. In Jn 3:8 it is written, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” and again in Ac 2:2-4 we read, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind.... and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” The wind (singular) is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. There is only one such Spirit. Winds (plural), however, almost invariably portray the evil spirits who do Satan’s bidding; and as the literal winds produce the restless activity of the ocean, so do the evil spirits of the air produce the ceaseless agitation of earth’s human masses.
That water drawn up out of the ocean into the realm of the air represents men and women born of the Spirit, and lifted up into the sphere of the Spirit at the moment of conversion, but then, like the literal water drawn up by evaporation, and returning in the form of rain and dew to bring life to the earth, so are believers sent back into the world to bring life to men and women through the Gospel.
Man can’t live without the fresh water that falls from the heavens. Christ came to earth to be the water of life (Jn 4:7-14), and all who drink of that living water have the responsibility and privilege of returning to the world with the life-giving message of salvation, water being one of the symbols of the Word, see, e.g., Eph 5:26. As sea water brings death to earth’s plant life, so does the natural man transmit death to everything with which he has contact. Salt, incidentally, is one of the Biblical symbols of judgment, e.g., Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt; and the wicked cities of the plain lie under the salt waters of the Dead Sea. As only the fresh water from the heavens can bring life to the earth, so can only the born-again man bring life to earth’s perishing masses through the Gospel.
One has commented that significantly this is the only part of His work of re-creation in regard to which God doesn’t say that it was good, the reason being that He takes no pleasure in having to separate men into two classes - saved and lost.
1:9. “And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”
This introduces another division. The earth is to be separated from the sea. The sea continues to represent man in his fallen state, but another symbol, the earth, is employed to represent the born-again man, and, as always with God, there is a reason.
(Before continuing, it is necessary to note that in verses 9 and 10 the word land is in italics, because it does not occur in the original manuscripts, but has been added by the translators to complete the sense in English. We use earth, land and ground interchangeably, but God doesn’t do so in Scripture, and for a very good reason. Earth is used as the Biblical symbol of genuine faith; the land, as the symbol of mere profession; and the ground, as the symbol of complete indifference to spiritual things; and that being so, it has to be realized that earth, as in verses 10-12, is the correct term here, land having been inserted wrongly by the translators, spoiling the typological picture. Only what is represented by the “earth,” i.e., the born-again man, can produce fruit for God).
In his new state man is light, and he is spirit, the first being portrayed by actual light in contrast with darkness; the second by that which is of the air in contrast with that which belongs to earth. Because the new man is light and spirit he must exhibit evidence of his new state by producing the good works that spring from his being light and spirit, and it is here on earth that the good works are to be brought forth. Accordingly therefore God chooses another symbol, the earth, to declare this truth, and as with the other symbols, its fitness is readily apparent. The earth has been brought out from the sea, as the believer has been brought out from the vast restless sea of unbelieving humanity. It is that, which separated from salt water, and in conjunction with fresh water and light, produces the vegetation necessary for life. It is by the activity of the new man, lighted by that knowledge of God, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, that the Gospel - apart from which man must die - is dispensed across the earth. The spiritual counterpart of the earth’s productivity is the believer’s production of the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” in contrast with the fruits of the old nature, “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like” (Ga 5:19-23).
1:10. “And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good.”
An aspect of the symbolic picture which shouldn’t be overlooked is that the earth, separated from the sea, also represents the nation of Israel separated from the “sea” of the nations, and responsible to produce fruit for God. Having failed to produce that fruit, she has been set aside for a little while, and the Church has been chosen to take her place, the practical lesson also being that my failure to produce fruit for God, will result in my being set aside, and my neglected privilege being given to another. I won’t lose my salvation, for that is dependent on Christ’s faithfulness, but I will lose my reward. Hence the warning given to the Church of Philadelphia, “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Re 3:11).
1:11. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.”
In connection with this third day’s work, there isn’t a word either stating or implying creation, for as might be expected in relation to the third day (number of resurrection), it was by resurrection that the earth was again clothed with vegetation.
1:12. “And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
1:13. “And the evening and the morning were the third day.”
The preAdamic earth was clothed with vegetation up till the moment of its destruction, but the waters of judgment destroyed that vegetation, as they did every other from of life. There was one difference, however, between the life of the vegetable kingdom, and that of the animal: the seeds of the vegetation didn’t die. They lay in the ground, buried under the waters, awaiting only the removal of those waters, and the shining of the sun upon the earth, to cause them to spring to life again.
That time came, when having dispelled the darkness, and having caused the sea to keep its appointed bounds, God commanded those seeds to germinate, and furnish the earth again with a covering of vegetation, that resurrection being the reminder that He is the God of resurrection.
That same power should be displayed in the life of every man who has known the life-giving touch of the God of resurrection. We who once were dead in trespasses and sins, should produce fruit that is the evidence of our having been called out of death into life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without that fruit, what evidence is there that we have divine life? “... by their fruits ye shall know them” (Mt 7:20).
1:14. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:”
1:15. “And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.”
1:16. “And 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.”
1:17. “And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,”
1:18. “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.”
1:19. “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
It is the same in connection with the fourth day’s work as it was with the third: there isn’t a word implying creation, but rather an appointment of function for these heavenly luminaries whose creation had already occurred “in the beginning” mentioned in verse 1. (Note that Ge 2:3 makes a very clear distinction between God’s creating, and His making. Only God can create, that is, bring into existence what had not existed in any previous form. Man can only make, that is, change the form of something already existing. In Genesis chapter 1 the only references to God’s creating are verses 1, 21 and 27: His other activity being that of making, that is, changing the form of what He had brought into existence in verse 1).
The first function assigned these luminaries was “to divide the day from the night,” accomplished by means of the earth’s rotating on its own axis, and thereby exposing part of its surface to the sun to give us day, while the unexposed side gives us night.
The spiritual analogy will be more easily seen if we stop and consider what the sun, moon and stars represent in the spiritual realm. Few will have difficulty seeing the sun - the source of earth’s physical light - as a figure or type of Christ Who declared Himself to be “the Light of the world” (Jn 8:12). See also additional references in the same context in John 1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12, together with the declaration of Malachi 4:2 concerning Christ’s coming again as God’s King, “But unto you that fear my Name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.”
The moon, having no light of its own, but reflecting the light of the absent sun amid the darkness produced by that absence, is a type or figure of corporate testimony. Israel was the “moon” of testimony to the nations during the spiritual darkness occasioned by Christ’s absence throughout the OT age. Having failed in that testimony, she has been set aside, and her privilege given to the Church, which is responsible to reflect to the nations, the light of the knowledge of Christ during the spiritual “night” of His absence between Pentecost and the Rapture, the word “rapture” being a term used to describe His coming to remove His Church from the earth, 1 Co 15:51-54; 1 Th 4:13-18. The “moon” of the Church’s witness is now also waning, and following her removal at the Rapture, will be replaced by a new Jewish “moon,” - the testimony of the remnant who will be converted in the coming Tribulation.
The propriety of the symbol is particularly striking when we realize that the light reflected by the moon fluctuates depending on whether the moon is waxing, waning, or full, and whether there are clouds to obscure its light. Israel and the Church have displayed the same inconsistency. Their testimony, like that of the individuals comprising them, has also waxed and waned, and been obscured at times.
In regard to corporate testimony, it is significant that the number twelve is connected, not only with the symbol, the moon, but also with Israel, and with the Church. The moon makes twelve revolutions of the earth in one year, giving us our twelve “moons” or months. Israel was made up of twelve tribes, and the Church is “built upon the foundation of the (twelve) Apostles” (Eph 2:20). (It was not the Apostles themselves who constitute the foundation of the Church, but rather the doctrine they taught. The Lord is the only Foundation of the Church). The number twelve, incidentally, is always associated in Scripture with those under the government of God, just as ten is the number always associated with Him as the Governor, the ten commandments being the expression of His government.
The stars are symbols or types of individual witness or testimony, “And many that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan 12:3). It was a star that guided the wise men to Christ at His incarnation. Every believer has the same responsibility to guide others to Him today.
It is interesting to note that Jude 13 likens reprobate apostate teachers to “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” We are either leading men to Christ, or away from Him!
A further point worth noting in connection with the work of the fourth day is related to God’s reckoning of time, but before examining this it is necessary to be clear about the seven days of Genesis 1 and 2. The repeated emphasis upon the fact that each day was bounded by evening and morning tells us that they were solar days of twenty-four hours. There is nothing in the Genesis record requiring those days to be anything else, and that exposition which would assign them a time span of millennia is without Scriptural foundation. Having stated that, however, it is necessary to recognize that God does sometimes choose to designate a millennium as a day and vice verse, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pe 3:8), but there is nothing in the first two chapters of Genesis to even hint that He has done so there.
That the time from Adam to the end of the Millennium - a period of seven thousand years - may be viewed as a great “week,” has been recognized by many. From Adam to Christ is approximately four thousand years, and from then to the present is another two thousand. The imminence of the Lord’s return is questioned by no intelligent Bible reader. The Rapture of the Church, and the ensuing seven years of the Tribulation, are the only events to occur before His millennial reign begins, so it is clear that the history of the world, beginning with Adam, will be confined to what in human reckoning is seven thousand years, but in divine reckoning, only seven “days,” the Millennium being the great Sabbath of rest that will conclude the “week” of earth’s history.
When we examine the fourth day of Genesis 1 in this context, then, it projects us to God’s fourth day in His scheme of earthly affairs, and brings us to that time when symbol gave place to reality. It was in the fourth millennium, by human reckoning, or the fourth “day” by divine reckoning, that earth was blessed by the appearance of Him Who is the true Light of the world, and it was at that same time that the “moon” of Jewish testimony was replaced by the appearance of a new “moon,” the Church, and it was at that time that God’s “stars” - believers of this Christian era - were appointed to lead men and women to Christ.
As well as being appointed to divide day from night, these heavenly bodies were also assigned the function of being “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years,” and the function of measuring time is readily understood, but their being “for signs” embraces far more than is generally understood.
There are frequent references to unusual phenomena relative to the sun, moon, and stars in connection with the Lord’s return to establish His millennial kingdom, e.g., Matthew 24, Joel 2 and 3, Isaiah 13, and Revelation 6 and 8, but above and beyond these cosmic disturbances yet future, there are indications in Scripture that these heavenly bodies were appointed to tell out the Gospel of God’s redemptive love and power in a time before that story was written with pen and ink.
It doesn’t come within the purview of this present work to enlarge upon this subject, but interested readers are referred to The Gospel in the Stars by Dr. Joseph A. Seiss, (Kregel Publications), and Kenneth C. Fleming’s God’s Voice in the Stars (Loizeaux Brothers, Publishers). These books set forth in layman’s language, incontrovertible evidence that before being corrupted and prostituted to the use of astrology, the message of the stars was of the redemption of creation by the death of the Creator, from the ruin wrought by the malign power of the great serpent Satan.
1:15. “And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.”
Our study of this fourth day’s work will have been wasted time if we have failed to learn the practical truth that as individuals (stars), and as Christ’s Church (the moon), we are to “shine as lights in the world” (Php 2:15). “Ye are the light of the world.... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt 5:14-16). We are responsible “to give light upon the earth.”
1:16. “And 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.”
It is emphasized again that there is nothing in the language relating to the fourth day’s work that indicates original creation. The two great lights, the sun and moon, had already been created in the dateless past. They are here being appointed to furnish light to the renovated earth. Whether this had been their function in the preAdamite earth we are not told.
In the rule of the greater light over the day, we have the symbolic presentation of the rule of Christ, the light of the world, over those who “are of the day,” i.e., believers. The reference to the rule of the lesser light, the moon, over the darkness, depicts, not as much actual, as potential rule. Israel’s dominion over the millennial earth hasn’t yet been realized, nor has the reign of the Church with Christ, but both will be realized in a soon-coming day.
The subdued light which the moon sheds over the earth is, of course, the reflected light of the sun, but it pictures the influence which both Israel and the Church have had over this world in the time of Christ’s absence. The light of the knowledge of God transmitted by Israel and by the Church, has restrained human wickedness to a greater degree than is generally comprehended. The extent of that rule will be more fully appreciated when it ends at the Rapture, and godless anarchy rules supreme during the seven years of the Tribulation.
The appointment of “the stars also” as light-givers to the earth, reminds us of our individual responsibility to be “lights” in this world’s darkness.
1:17. “And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.”
The literal sun, moon, and stars have one common role: “to give light upon the earth.” Christ, the Church, and individual believers have a similar common function: to give spiritual light to the earth during the present spiritual night of His absence.
The fluctuating light of moon and stars, in contrast with the unfailing light of the sun, points up the difference between Christ, the Light of the world, and the human testimony, corporate and individual. Our light is inconstant, dim at best, often totally obscured by the clouds of circumstance, but He is the same, yesterday, today, and for ever.
1:18. “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.”
This repeated reference to rule, echoed from verse 16, touches upon another principle that pervades Scripture. When God repeats something it is to emphasize the certainty of its fulfillment. The day is coming, is, in fact, very near, when Christ and His Church will indeed rule over that realm which has for so long suffered the tyrannous misrule of Satan.
1:19. “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
Inasmuch as four is the Biblical number of earth and testing, God’s activity in appointing the function of the heavenly bodies on that fourth day ought to remind us that earth is the place of testing. The judgment seat of Christ, Ro 14:10, will reveal the degree to which believers have fulfilled their divinely appointed function, while the great white throne, Re 20:11, will reveal the folly of unbelievers in having failed to believe in Christ during their brief sojourn on earth.
1:20. “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”
1:21. “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
Here we encounter for the second time in Genesis 1 the word create. Since the animal, bird and fish life of the preAdamic earth could not be preserved, as had been the vegetation in seed form, it was necessary for God to create them again for the renewed earth. Whether He created them exactly as they had been in that first creation is not stated, and isn’t important. It is sufficient that God can create when, and in any form He pleases. Since, however, the vegetation seems to have been the original vegetation resurrected, we may perhaps, conclude that the animal, bird, and fish life created on the fifth day was also similar to that which had perished.
The fact that the creatures of the sea are mentioned first has furnished the evolutionist with what he thinks is proof of his erroneous theory that life evolved from the sea. Spiritual minds discern a very different truth. Inasmuch as the sea represents earth’s unconverted masses, God’s mentioning first the creatures of the sea, simply emphasizes the truth taught throughout Scripture, and stated explicitly in 1 Co 15:46-47, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
The creation of fowls on that same fifth day is also significant, for as there is evil connected with man’s natural state, so is the thought of evil continued with the mention of fowls, they being the Biblical figures used to portray Satan’s evil hordes, see for example Mt 13: 4, 19. Physically and spiritually, man in his natural state is evil, and needs to be born again to save him from hell and fit him for heaven.
The evil connotation associated with the creatures of the sea, and with the fowls, however, requires that we explain the comment relative to the fifth day’s work, “God saw that it was good.” How could God pronounce good what is Scripturally symbolic of evil? The answer is that everything (including Satan, formerly Lucifer) was good when God first made it. The evil is the result of the creature’s permitted rebellion against the Creator, even that rebellion being eventually used to bring glory to God.
It is instructive to note that when the Lord called the first disciples it was from literal to spiritual fishing, “Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mk 1:17). Those who aren’t brought out of the “sea” of unbelieving humanity in the net of the Gospel, will die the second death, i.e., enter the lake of fire to endure eternal torment. It is to be further noted that the fish thus caught die, but by death become that which ministers life to men. So is it with the believer. Caught in God’s net through faith in Christ, he dies to his former state, but as one who has become dead to the world through the cross of Christ, he is used of God to bring life to others through his witness in the Gospel. Two (number of witness or testimony) fish were used of the Lord to help feed a multitude. Men and women drawn out of the sea of unbelieving humanity, “dead to sin, but alive unto God” (Ro 6:11) can be similarly used to help meet the need of perishing humanity through their testimony in the Gospel.
1:22. “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
1:23. “And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.”
Five is the Biblical number of responsibility, and God’s command to be fruitful reminds us that believers are responsible to reproduce their kind on the earth, i.e., to lead others to Christ.
1:24. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”
1:25. “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.’
Relative to the creation of animal life, the phrase after its kind is repeated seven times, a statement ignored by the evolutionist, because it destroys the foundation of his false theory, which is that all life evolved from a common ancestor. Reproduction beyond the boundary of kind is impossible. Birds can only produce birds; dogs, dogs; cats, cats; elephants, elephants, etc. Where there is crossing of kind, the offspring is always sterile, as for example the mule produced by crossing a male donkey and a mare. There is not a shred of evidence to show that this God-appointed boundary has ever been crossed!
1:26. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
The perennial question is, Who were the speakers here? and the answer of course is, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And relative to the distinction between image and likeness, image refers to man’s governmental authority over all creation, while likeness refers to his nature as a creature of intelligence, emotion, and will. He was Godlike, sinless until the fall.
In considering man as being in the image of God we must begin by dismissing any idea of mere physical resemblance, for in Jn 4:24 it is written, “God is a Spirit,” and in Lk 24:39 the additional information is given that, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones.” The explanation is found when we stop to examine what we know of God. First, He is a Being of intelligence. He is the Supreme Intelligence. (Incidentally, the designation of man as a being is scarcely correct. Only God is a Being, for He alone has had no beginning, just as He will have no ending. He is the Eternal I AM. Man is a creature. He has been created. He has had a beginning).
God is also a Being of emotion. He hates sin, but loves sinners. He is also a Being Who has a will. What He wills to be done is done.
All that we know of God is comprehended in these three attributes, and it is in his also possessing these attributes that man reflects the divine image, for all that comprises man is comprehended in these same three attributes - intelligence, emotion, and will.
1:27. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Scripture is silent as to whether there was human life on the pre-Adamic earth. If it is ever proved that there was, there would be no contradiction of Scripture, for it neither denies nor asserts anything on the subject. The point to be emphasized is that the human race upon the earth today is descended from Adam, who came from God’s hand by a direct creative act approximately six thousand years ago.
Scripture isn’t concerned with gratifying curiosity about ages antecedent to Adam, for the obvious reason that those ages have no bearing on man’s present state. Man is what he is, a fallen, ruined creature, because he comes from a fallen, ruined root, Adam; and the great objective of Scripture is to present, not science, history or religion, but Jesus Christ as the only Remedy for the recovery of that ruin. The first Adam, by his disobedience, brought ruin to the human race: the last Adam, 1 Co 15:45, Jesus Christ, by His obedience, has brought redemption, but a redemption effective only to those who are willing to receive it by accepting Him as their Savior.
The reference to man’s being created “male and female” is related to what he is physically, for God, as noted already, is a Spirit, and as such is sexless, He and the angels always being spoken of in the masculine gender.
1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Having created man, God proceeded immediately to bless him, and the whole message of the Bible is the revelation of God’s pursuit of that original purpose to bless. In spite of the intelligent opposition of Satan, and the unwitting opposition of man, that purpose will be ultimately fulfilled.
And as it was in verse 22 with the animal creation, so is it here in regard to man: God first blessed, and then commanded both to be fruitful. The truth being taught is that it is not only man who is to be blessed finally through the redemptive work of Christ, it is the whole creation, as it is written, “The creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Ro 8:21).
In regard to the word “replenish,” there is no valid reason to assign any other meaning to it than the obvious and usual, i.e., to fill again, the implication being that there may have been upon the pre-Adamic earth a race which perished of course with everything else on that early earth. It is the recognition of this possibility that has led some Bible scholars to suggest that the demons may be the spirits of those creatures, their desire for embodiment indicating a former embodied state. That demons are not the fallen angels is made clear in Jude 6, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” It is obvious that the demons are not imprisoned.
1:29. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (food).”
Sin had not yet appeared in the renewed earth, and the absence of sin ensured also the absence of death, for it is sin which brings death. Man’s food, therefore, in the beginning was herb rather than flesh, and the significance of the addition of flesh will be examined when we come, God willing, to chapter 9:3 which records the divine appointment of flesh as part of man’s diet.
1:30. “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so.”
As it was with man, so was it with every creature: the herb, not flesh, was given for food, thus emphasizing that man’s folly has brought ruin and death, not just to man, but to the whole creation. Until man, the head of all creation, sinned, everything was fair, and death unknown.
1:31. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
As God surveyed His week’s work, well might He declare that “it was very good.” There, suspended in space by the word of His power, hung a perfect earth, clothed with vegetation which was in itself a perfect blending of utility and beauty. Everything in that renewed earth bore testimony to the Creator as the God of resurrection. In its unmarred beauty it hung in space as the evidence that God can bring light out of darkness, cosmos out of chaos, life out of death, the renewed earth being itself the symbolic picture of the renewed man.
A brief summation, then, of this first chapter of Genesis is that in the dateless past God created a perfect heavens and earth, apparently to be the kingdom of Lucifer, the shining one, the anointed cherub. His ambition to be as God, however, resulted, not only in his fall and his becoming Satan, the prince of darkness, but in the reduction of his once perfect realm to the ruin described in verse 2.
The work that occupied God for the six days was the remaking of the once perfect earth now become a desolate ruin, the purpose of that redemptive work being to prepare the earth for the dominion of a new sovereign, Adam. The fact that Satan is still referred to as the prince of this world, indicates that the dominion given him in the beginning didn’t end with his fall, but became limited to the invisible, but none-the-less real realm of the spirit, the rule of Adam being limited to the physical. The human prince duplicated the folly of the spiritual, with the result that earth has again become a blighted ruin, suffering the misrule of both of its fallen princes, Satan, the spiritual ruler, and Adam, man, the physical.
The work of the six days during which God remade the earthly kingdom of the fallen Lucifer, and prepared it for presentation to Adam as his kingdom, foreshadows the process by which He will make ruined man into a new creation, the only difference being that whereas the earth was incapable of choosing whether it would be recalled from its ruined state, man is permitted to make a choice. He may remain in his fallen state, or he may submit himself to God’s redemptive power and become “a new creation” (2 Co 5:17), by accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior.
The first step in that work corresponds to the first day. The light of God’s Word shines upon ruined man revealing the terrible extent of that ruin, but revealing also the Remedy, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The second step corresponds to the second day. The new creation, the born-again man, is separated from his former state, just as the fresh water suspended in the firmament, is separated from its former state as a part of the salt ocean water.
The third step answers to the third day. The born-again man, brought out from the sea of ruined humanity, as the fruitful earth was brought out from the enveloping ocean, is to be fruitful for God. Works or fruits of righteousness are to characterize him.
The fourth step answers to the fourth day, when sun, moon, and stars were appointed to function as light-givers. The man who is God’s new creation is similarly responsible to shed around him the light of the knowledge of God.
The fifth step corresponds to the fifth day in which God, having produced earth’s living creatures,
commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. The man who has become God’s new creation through faith in Jesus Christ is also to be fruitful and multiply. He is to reproduce his kind by sowing the good seed of the Gospel, thereby producing spiritual sons and daughters.
The sixth step corresponds to the sixth day when God made Adam - the crowning masterpiece of His week’s work - in His own image. There stood man in all the glory of perfection not yet marred, the image of his Creator, the image of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, God the Son. So will the born-again man stand one day, the perfect image of his Maker, for it is written, “Whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro 8:29).
Before leaving this first chapter of Genesis, there is another line of truth presented in it which we should examine: that is the significance of numbers as we encounter them in the Scriptures.
Most people who have any knowledge of the Bible realize, even if only vaguely, that there is special meaning consistently associated with certain numbers, e.g., resurrection with three; completeness or perfection with seven; and a new beginning with eight. There is, however, nothing vague about the spiritual significance of the Bible’s numbers, and the student who takes the time to acquaint himself with the knowledge of it will make himself the possessor of a key that will unlock the door to many a Scriptural treasure.
As might be expected, since Genesis is the seed plot of the Bible where we are introduced to every truth enlarged upon in the other books, it is in Genesis, and here in the first chapter, that God introduces us to His numerical system. Not only do the seven days introduce the system, they define it by showing us that it consists of seven numerals, each day, in the activity connected with it, revealing the spiritual meaning of each number.
It doesn’t come within the purview of this work to do more than introduce the reader to the numerology of Scripture, but those wishing to pursue that study further are referred to The Numerical Bible by F. W. Grant, and published by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, N.J.
We’ll begin by indicating very briefly the meaning of each number, and then we’ll examine the seven days of Genesis 1 and 2 in the light of that meaning, and hopefully see that the activity of each day does indeed correspond with that meaning.
One is the number of God, and fittingly so. It is the beginning of the numerical system, as He is the Beginning of all things. It is independent of any other number for its existence, as He is independent of anything else for His. All other numbers are derived from one by the process of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. All things have their origin in God. Everything else owes its existence to Him. As an ordinal, it is the number associated with what is best, e.g., first prize, first rate, etc. But it is Scripture itself which associates the number with God, for it is written, “In that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zec 14:9).
Two is the number of witness or testimony. The Bible, which is the written witness to man’s ruin, and God’s love, is in two parts, the Old and New Testaments. The Lord Jesus Christ, the living witness to those same truths, is the second person of the Godhead, combining in Himself two natures, the one human, the other divine. Only he who has had a second birth can be a witness for God, the conflict between his new nature received at his second birth, and the old received at his natural birth, being the witness to the truth that he has had a second birth.
Three is the number of resurrection, and of manifestation, God, for example, being fully manifested in the three Persons of the Godhead. The Lord Himself was raised on the third day.
Four is the number of earth and testing. Only four empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome were given world-wide dominion. (Their power didn’t actually embrace the whole world, but in the context of that day, it did so potentially). There are four major compass directions, four principal wind currents, four seasons, etc.
To be noted in connection with Biblical numbers is the fact that multiplication by ten doesn’t altar the basic meaning, e.g., the testing of the antediluvian world was by the forty days and nights of the Flood; the testing of Christ followed forty days of fasting; and Israel was tested in the wilderness for forty years.
Five is the Biblical number of responsibility, man’s body proclaiming that he is responsible to serve his Creator, e.g., it is by his five senses that man functions as a rational responsible creature. He has five fingers on each hand, the hand being the Biblical symbol of service, and he has five toes on each foot, the foot being the Biblical symbol of the walk or manner of life. His responsibility is further witnessed by the law written upon two tables of stone, suggesting the division of the Decalogue into two fives, a further division being its division into those commands relating to man’s responsibility to God, and those relating to his responsibility to man.
Six is the number of man, weakness, and sin. Man was created on the sixth day, his appointed work-week is six days, and his life span is sixty years, with ten being added as an appendage. For all practical purposes man’s life ends in the sixties.
As already noted, one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Counting from Adam, man’s misrule of the earth has lasted for six thousand years (by divine reckoning six days), and will be climaxed by the reign of the beast in the Tribulation, he being designated as the man whose number is 666, Re 13:18. The scepter of earth will then be taken up by God’s Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the final thousand years of earth’s history will close as a great seventh day or sabbath in which creation will enjoy the rest and peace of the reign of the Prince of peace.
Seven is the number of perfection, completeness, and rest. On the seventh day God rested and enjoyed the result of His six day’s work. The seventh day has been appointed as a day of rest for man and beast. Israel’s great year of jubilee climaxed seven sevens of years. There are only seven notes in the musical scale (what would be the eighth note simply begins the sequence in a higher octave); and a ray of light refracted through a prism is shown to consist of only seven basic colors.
As a general rule the odd numbers are frequently associated with God, and therefore, with good, while the even numbers are frequently connected with man and evil. This does not, however, exclude the application of any number to either good or evil, as witness the number three, for example. There is the divine Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but there is also the Satanic trinity: Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. It is the context which reveals the proper application of the number.
As we should expect in connection with a numerical system based on seven, the number eight is always connected with a new beginning, e.g., the eight souls emerging from the ark were the new beginning of the post-diluvian earth population.
Two numbers deserving special mention are ten and twelve. They are governmental numbers, ten pointing to God as the Governor of all things, and twelve being associated with the governed, e.g., the Ten Commandments express God’s law, the twelve tribes of Israel comprising the nation under that law. The Church also is characterized by the number twelve, being built upon the foundation of the Apostles (twelve) and prophets.
Nor should we overlook the heavens which declare the glory of the Creator. They too testify to His government, the constellations, named and arranged by Him into the twelve signs of the Zodiac, being themselves the testimony of the heavens to God’s complete control of all things. Those constellations, arranged into twelve great groups, the Zodiac, have hung in the night sky since before the dawn of history, assuring all who take the trouble to read their message, that the government of God will triumph through the redeeming work of the Good Shepherd, Who in slaying the great serpent, dies Himself, but rises again to reign as the mighty Lion of Judah over a redeemed creation.
The spiritual significance of all other numbers is ascertained by factorizing, the meanings of the factors combining to yield the message of the whole number. In regard to prime numbers larger than seven, the method of interpretation appears to be to subtract one the number of God, and then to factorize the remainder, but it is emphasized that this is only a suggestion, for there are some numbers which don’t conform to this method.
Biblical numerology is an area of study in which very little work has been done. That, however, hasn’t prevented many from employing imagination rather than tested and proven principles, to evaluate the meaning of the Bible’s numbers. This presumption has unfortunately done for Biblical numerology what it has also done for Biblical prophecy: brought it into disrepute. No matter what area of Bible study is involved, imagination should never be allowed to supply what the Holy Spirit has chosen not to disclose. There are sufficient of the numbers which can be translated, to provide an extensive and very fruitful field of Bible study.
With this brief look at the significance of the Bible’s numbers, we will now take an equally brief look at the seven days of Genesis 1 and 2, seeing how the activity of God during each day corresponds to the number of that day.
On the first day God said, “Let there be light.” One, as we have learned, is the number of God, for His name is One. But God also is light (1 Jn 1:5), so that in causing the light to be seen, He was symbolically revealing Himself. Apart from His activity there could be no recovery of the ruined earth, nor, apart from His activity can there be recovery of ruined men.
On the second day, the number of witness or testimony, God made the firmament, and that firmament became the sphere of testimony or witness to His glory, for in Ps 19:1 it is written, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.”
On the third day (number of resurrection) God brought the earth out of its watery tomb, and the vegetation from its grave on the earth’s surface. It was a resurrection of the once dead and buried earth, as the conversion of a sinner is his resurrection from spiritual death.
On the fourth day God appointed sun, moon, and stars to function as dividers of day and night, to be for signs, and to mark off seasons, and days and years. But those days and nights, months, seasons and years are simply the divisions of that brief moment of eternity known as time, in which man is tested before going out into the great eternal future to receive the eternal results of his testing. The great test is whether he will accept or reject Jesus Christ as his Savior, the result of that test being whether he will be for ever in heaven or in the lake of fire.
On the fifth day, number of responsibility, God, having created the living creatures, gave them a command, “Be fruitful, and multiply.” The creature is responsible to obey the Creator, life being the reward of obedience; death, the recompense of disobedience.
On the sixth day, number of man, “God created man in His own image,” the significance of six being so obvious as to require no further comment.
And so also with the seventh day, the number of completeness, perfection, rest. “God rested from all His work” because “the heavens and the earth were finished.”