Hello John! Here’s my second article about Genesis. You may remember me saying that we should leave the first TOLEDOTH for another time – in other words, the first chapter of Genesis, down to the first four verses of chapter two. I think the time’s right to consider it now. It’s a very interesting passage, one that has been a bone of contention to some, but the source of stability to others.
So where do we start? I’ll repeat what I said last time, in that this is the ONLY toledoth that doesn’t have a NAME attached. It just says, “This is the record of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” But as you begin reading it you keep coming across the expression “And God said – -.” To whom was He speaking? To Himself? Surely not. The most sensible suggestion is that He was speaking to Adam. And then we read “And God called the darkness ‘night’ and the light ‘day.'” For whose sake was He giving these names? It must have been for Adam. There could have been no other reason why He should have wanted to speak thus. Wiseman argued the matter out in this manner in his book, and I agree with his conclusions. He suggested that the six days of ‘making’ were in reality six days of God revealing to Adam what He had already done. And of course, it must have been that way, because Adam was there to receive the information. God was speaking to him, even though Adam wasn’t mentioned until the sixth day. Likewise both Adam AND Eve were mentioned on the sixth day, but in fact Eve was not created till some time after Adam. So the six days are days of revelation, rather than creation.
Wiseman suggests that the time element involved in God’s acts of creation doesn’t appear at all in the record, other than in the COLOPHON at the end – “in the day when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” I know that I have presented his conclusion rather rapidly, without all the rest of the evidence he produced, but I thought it would be better to state it quite simply at the beginning of this article, rather than leave it until later. As we proceed, I’ll reproduce some of the other points he raised. I never cease to marvel at the sheer economy of words in the Hebrew text. When, for example, we read in our A.V. Bibles “Let there be light, and there was light,” the Hebrew says “Light be and light was.” Most of these early records are of this type. We have to supply the extra words to make it read in the style we are used to today. But it’s so interesting to look at the original and try to think in accordance with language as it was spoken at the foundation of the world.
One point at a time. First of all, “days.” The days are numbered simply from one to seven. But in the Hebrew a little more information is available that doesn’t come over in translation. Numbers can be presented as either CARDINAL, (one, two, three etc.) or ORDINAL (first second, third, etc.). And we find “day one” (Cardinal), “day second,” to “day seventh”, (all Ordinal). Also, the “definite article” is found attached to the last two numbers, making them read “THE sixth day” and “THE seventh day.” And when we find this little word, it usually carries a slight emphasis with it, making the 6th and the 7th days rather special.
Now why did the author of the record use the CARDINAL number for “day one”, but the ORDINAL for the rest? Can there be any logical reason, or are we looking for something unnecessarily? I think there may be a reason, and so I’ll suggest it. Wiseman overlooked this point. In Hebrew “day one” is YOM ECHAD. But if it had been “first day” it would have beenYOM HA-RISHON. It’s a different word. Likewise in English, “one” and “first” have no likeness to each other. RISHON comes from the word ROSH meaning “Head”. And what is more, it is the very first word of Genesis. IN THE BEGINNING isB’RESHITH, meaning “At the head” or “At the very first”. It was then that God created “the heavens and the earth”. But when we read about “day one” it represents, not the “first” day, but “day one” of a series of seven days which the Lord wanted to use to convey to Adam what He had accomplished. I think that’s a reasonable assumption, and one that augments Wiseman’s thesis.
Now what about the use of the definite article “the” for the 6th and 7th days? The sixth day was the final day of God’s revelation to man about His creation. Hence it was picked out by this slight emphasis. Likewise, the seventh day was a special day, and so had to be picked out in like manner. Wiseman made this point, and I don’t think it’s splitting hairs. I’m sure there was a good reason for the use of the article.
Point number two. The expression “And the evening and the morning” needs examination. “Evening” is EREV, and “morning” is BOQER in Hebrew. EREV comes from a verb meaning “to become dark.” (Hence OREV means a raven, which is black.) Hence EREV means darkness, or night-time, even though it comes from a word that speaks about the BEGINNING of night. BOQER comes from a verb meaning “to break forth” into light. Hence it is the opposite of EREV. It speaks about the END of the night, and hence takes on the meaning of daytime. Wiseman believed that the expression ONLY signified the hours of darkness, the time between when it BEGAN to get dark, to when it BEGAN to get light. Strictly speaking of course, this would be true. But as is often the case, language is not quite so exact as that. My own understanding comes from Daniel 8:14, where Daniel asks how long it will be before the Sanctuary is cleansed. And he is told, “Unto 2300 days.” But in the Hebrew it is “2300 evenings and mornings.” I cannot see how the expression can mean anything but “days”, as in the A.V. Surely the Angel didn’t just mean 2300 nights? In addition, it would make the night-time the END of that day’s revelation, rather than the beginning, and the whole tenor of the Hebrew record is such that nightPRECEEDS day, rather than following it. And so we read from the Hebrew as follows, “And evening was and morning was, day one.” The whole period of 24 hours had passed. The first part of the day was the “evening” (i.e. the night-time), and the second part of the day was “morning” (i.e. the day-time). This is why the Jews continue to observe the beginning of their days at sundown. We in the Western World have grown used to days starting at midnight, but in the ancient world the day started at around 6 p.m.
Now this expression “evening and morning” has something to tell us. Surely the rotation of the earth, and the advent of night, was not holding up the process of creation? The Almighty God was not tied down to the daylight hours for His great works? We are told in Psalm 139:12, “Darkness hides not from Thee, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.” How different to man’s lot, declared in Psalm 104:23 “Man goes forth unto his work and to his labour until evening.” In other words, the expression “evening and morning” was related SOLELY to the man, Adam, to whom God was revealing His great works. Each day the Lord revealed something extra to him, and at sundown it could be said, “evening and morning were day one, second, third” etc. when Adam would stop, and await the Lord’s presence the following morning.
And so we can rebuild the scene as it was. God speaks, and Adam listens. God tells Adam what He has done, but He also decides on a scheme, not to reveal it all at one time, but over a period of seven days. Why was this? Why wasn’t it all written down in a single day? Undoubtedly it could have been conveyed quite simply in a day. After all it doesn’t take a whole day to write down Genesis 1:1 – 2:4. So there must have been a purpose. And I think the answer is two-fold. In the first place, man needed rest each night because it was dark, and in the second place, he needed every seventh day as a complete rest from his labour, or his business, or his regular activity. It couldn’t have had anything to do with being tired at the end of a day. Neither can I imagine Adam and Eve being exhausted at the end of each week. But God had another purpose in view. He intended the seventh day to be a “holy” day, in other words a day set apart for Himself, a day in which His man and woman might give themselves more specifically to Him, a time when they might “walk and talk” with their Creator, and learn lessons for life, find out God’s purpose in their existence, expand their God-given minds, and so on. (I also see a generous provision being made here for man’s lot after the fall.)
Our Lord made a valuable and instructive comment about the Sabbath. In Mark’s gospel (2:27-28) we read “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” What emerges from this statement is that God didn’t rest for HIS OWN SAKE in Genesis 1-2. He rested, (or more strictly, He stopped what He was doing) for man’s sake. He made the seventh day separate from the other six days to show man that it was His own very special present to man. And in days ahead, when sin entered, that present was never withdrawn, and has not been withdrawn even to this present day. Jesus is STILL the Lord of the Sabbath, (in other words, Saturday, not Sunday, which is the first day of the week.)
But I believe there is much more to the basic pattern of seven days. Although the Sabbath Day was made for man, for his health, his well-being, for his contemplation of divine things and so on, the Bible shows that God also has a Sabbath. In Hebrews 4:9-10 we read “There remains therefore a Sabbath-Rest for the people of God, and he who has entered into His Rest has ceased from his own works, even as God ceased from His.” But others fail in their endeavour, because the Lord says to them, “They shall not enter into My Rest.” (Heb.4:3) What then is God’s Rest, His Sabbatism? I believe this to be the period of time mentioned in Revelation 20, and called the “thousand years”, or the Millennium. In that day those who are deemed worthy will reign with Christ for a thousand years. They will have entered into God’s Sabbath Rest. And I believe this to be so very important in regard to the seven days of Genesis, because it gives us an understanding of WHY God should have chosen the pattern of the week. Not only is it a present to man, but it is a type of the future Millennium. Man’s weekly rest typifies God’s Millennial Rest.
Although some may wish to disagree with me here, having a different understanding of time-periods in history, I am of the opinion that the Bible covers roughly four thousand years of human history on earth. And since then there have been two thousand more years. Our Lord entered the arena of this world after about 4000 years had passed. Paul called it the“fullness of time”, and it was related to “the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world.” The instructions God gave Moses about the Passover Lamb contained this truth. The Lamb had to be CHOSEN on the 10th day, andSLAIN on the 14th day of Nisan. Hence there was a FOUR DAY gap, representing the 4000 years from Adam to Christ. Since then we have had another 2000 years, and counting on this time scale, we are about to enter the seventh millennial day of earth-history.
This fills me with excitement and awe. Excitement, because I believe God is about to inaugurate His Sabbath-Rest, and awe, because of the great responsibility that we have to be ready for His coming. I am indebted to two dear friends for the understanding contained in the previous paragraph. First of all Eustace J. Mills, the author of “Sabbatical Typology”, and secondly, Charles Ozanne, whom I have known and had fellowship with for more than thirty years. And his book, “The First Seven Thousand Years” has been a great stabilising influence to my understanding of chronology. And lest the Millennial concept should be considered a recent invention, I should mention that it is found in an ancient apocryphal work known as“The Epistle of Barnabas,” in which we read the words, “God made in the six days the works of His hands, and He finished them on the seventh day and sanctified it. Consider my children what that signifies, He finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this: that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with Him one day is a thousand years.” (12:4-5) Apparently this tradition was very widespread in the early church, as may be seefrom Coteler’s works, page 90, in his Oxford Edition.
Point number three. Several times through Genesis One we read “And God called – -.” I have briefly mentioned this already. The darkness was called night, the light was called day, the firmament was called heaven, the dry land was called earth, the waters were called seas. I repeat, God was not giving names to these things for His own benefit, but to instruct Adam in the art of naming things. How important it is to have names for things. Let us go out into the garden and look at the summer flowers. We could walk round and say “Look at this bright orange flower with many petals.” But it is so much easier to say, “Look at this Marigold,” (or “Calendula”, if you want to impress your friends!) You see, everyone else refers to this orange flower by its commonly accepted name, and without the use of NOUNS in our language, we should spend half our time engaged in lengthy, and very tiresome descriptive speech.
Now in Genesis chapter two we learn that at some later time, the Lord asked Adam to do the same himself. He brought the various species of animals and birds to him, and Adam gave them names. It is valuable to understand that God had already instructed Adam in the art of naming things. It was a lesson for him. This also shows that quite a time must have passed before Eve was created, thereby substantiating what I said before about the days being of “revelation” rather than “creation.” Point number four. Over the years I have often been puzzled as to why the sun, moon and stars are not mentioned until the fourth day. Surely they must have been created right at the start? Do they not constitute “the heavens” mentioned in the first verse? If we insist on making these six days the actual days of creation, then we shall have a great problem before us. On the first day we are told of light and darkness, and God called them day and night. Day and night are the result of a rotating earth facing the sun, and when the sun is finally mentioned in the fourth day, God said that part of its purpose was to distinguish days from nights. Hence this proves that the heavenly orbs were created RIGHT AT THE START, when the earth was created. Why then do we not have them mentioned earlier than the fourth day? The reason can only be in respect of the typical and prophetic meaning contained in these days. But as Wiseman so ably pointed out, the six days are very simply divided into two groups of three, like this –
4. LIGHTS. Light and darkness, Great light, lesser light, stars day and night. Dividing day from night, Signs, seasons, days, years.
2. WATER AND ATMOSPHERE
5. WATER AND ATMOSPHERE. Atmosphere separating the waters Fish life in the waters below from those above. Bird life in the atmosphere.
3. LAND AND VEGETATION
6. LAND AND VEGETATION. Land produced Land animals and Man Green vegetation and trees Green vegetation and trees assigned to animals and man.
Because of this division, it is reasonable to assume that in fact the progress of God’s creation took place in a progression of steps only partially paralleled by the six days. We should not try to envisage just how or in what sequence the creation occurred, because the “days of revelation” served an altogether different purpose. It would of course have been totally adequate for God to say to Adam, “I created everything you see in this world in which you find yourself. And the heavens are the work of my hands as well.” But He wrapped it up in a mystery, the meaning of which is only being unveiled in these later times, after six Millennial Days have rolled by.
At this stage John, (and I hope you have been able to follow me so far,) I should like to discuss a popular interpretation of Genesis One, known as “The Gap Theory.” It was introduced in 1833 by a Christian expositor by the name of Dr Chalmers. And I have a feeling that the theory was born of an attempt to equate the Bible with the growing understanding of science in those days, that the earth was a great deal older than Genesis One seemed to allow. This date (1833) was 26 years beforeDarwin published his book on Evolution, but he was by no means the first to postulate a long earth history. The Gap Theory rested on the meaning of a word in the second verse of Genesis One. Where we read “And the earth WAS without form and void” Dr Chalmers said it should read “And the earth BECAME without form and void.” This, he maintained, indicated a catastrophe of great magnitude, and so the six days were assigned to “restoration” rather than “creation.” To substantiate his view, he quoted Isaiah 45:18 where it reads “God created the heavens, – – He formed the earth and made it. He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.” The words “in vain” are the same as “without form” in Genesis. So God didn’t create the earth “without form and void”! It must have BECOME without form and void, he declared. And this was proof to him that there had to be a GAP between these two verses in Genesis One. This theory became very popular in the last century, and persists in certain quarters even today. It was espoused by such eminent scholars asG.H.Pember, G.H.Lang, and Dr E.W.Bullinger. It became the ideal “dumping ground” for all the fossil remains. It also gave the expositors a field day imagining what could have caused this great catastrophe.
Many years ago, when I first became a Christian, I was drawn to this theory, believing it to have all the answers to Geology and Palaeontology, but I was advised of its obvious errors in the mid-nineteen-sixties, and for reasons which I must now spell out.
1. Hebrew scholars, and Jewish friends I have spoken to, all declare that it is impossible to read such a break into the text of Genesis 1:1-2. The presence of the figure POLYSYNDETON (or many “ands”) precludes it. The narrative reads “and – – and – – and – – and – -” without a break from verse one to the end of the story in 2:4. In other words, from a literary point of view, it is just one continuous story without any possibility of a break of this sort.
2. If there was an earlier catastrophe, then there must have been an earlier race of men who must have sinned and brought the wrath of God upon the world in a fashion similar to the Flood of Noah’s day. But Paul declares in 1 Cor.15:45 “The first man Adam was made a living soul.” And in Romans 5:12 “By one man sin entered the world, and death by means of sin.” These statements cannot be true if there was a pre-adamic race.
3. Some say that Satan fell long before Genesis 3. But the account suggests quite clearly that it was AT THAT TIME that Satan was cursed, not before. Even if sin had been developing in his heart, it had not produced fruit until he acted upon it, and deceived Eve. God doesn’t condemn people for having doubts or asking questions. As James said in his letter (1:15) “A man is tempted when he is drawn away (from the truth) by his own passions, and enticed. Then, when the passion has conceived, it brings forth sin, which on completion brings forth death.” I know of no clearer definition of how sin comes into being. And I’m sure there is no evidence at all for assuming that Satan brought an earlier disaster on this world, prior to the Garden of Eden.
4. About Isaiah 45:18 “God did not create it ‘without form’; He created it to be inhabited.” The meaning of this statement seems to demand the simplest possible understanding, in other words, “God didn’t intend the world to REMAIN in that original state of formlessness. Rather did He create it to be inhabited.“
5. The “Gap Theorists” find it very difficult to explain the creation of the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day of the “Restoration”, and for obvious reasons. They have to assume that such heavenly bodies existed in the pre-adamic world. It would be equally difficult to envisage such an interpretation by combining the Gap Theory with the “Revelation in Six Days” outlined above.
6. “Without form and void” in Hebrew is TOHO VA-VOHU, which even sounds “empty”! And that is what is meant. There is nothing basically suggesting a catastrophe in these words, but exactly what the A.V. says, “without form and void”. Days 1-3 showed the creation of “form”, and days 4-6 filled the void by the creation of livestock.
7. “Was” or “Became”? Of course the verb means “became” sometimes, as in Genesis 19:26, when Lot’s wife “became” a pillar of salt, which she was not before! But equally, the earth “became” (or came into being) without form, and empty. That is how it first appeared after creation. It doesn’t mean that it suffered a catastrophe. But whereas the Greek of the Septuagint used the verb “became” for Lot’s wife, the translators preferred the simple verb “was” for Genesis 1:2. And I think their judgment was correct. The earth WAS without form and void. That was the appearance of our planet before the Lord made it ready for habitation.
Years ago, whilst still living in Reading, I entertained a group of four young men from Reading University, who were all Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of them was a lecturer there, having a doctorate. On this particular evening we had agreed to discuss Genesis One together. They outlined the Witnesses’ basic understanding of the “days” as being periods of seven thousand years. All went well in their drive to convert me to their understanding until I asked a certain question. “How is it,” I said, “that the vegetation was created on the third day, but no insects to pollinate the flowers until perhaps ten thousand years later, in the fifth day? Plants cannot survive that long. But they COULD survive a couple of literal days.” It was the end of the discussion. They saw the error of their theory, and went away agreeing with me. Sadly, they never returned to enable me to speak about the Saviour in more clarity. But God knows. He has them in His hands. The J.Ws still keep to the seven-thousand year idea in their literature, so Dr Dakin presumably never managed to convince the hierarchy of the movement!
I have introduced this little historical snatch for a reason. In these days much scorn is poured upon those who take the Genesis Days as literal periods of 24 hours. But I fail to see how, if they are any longer, the SEVENTH DAY can be understood as a weekly Sabbath with any sense attached. In fact, when the Sabbath Day is introduced in the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20), there is even less doubt about the days being limited to 24-hour periods. And if Wiseman’s assertion is correct, and I for one believe it is, then there is no puzzle attached to the days at all. They were seven actual days during which the Lord spoke to Adam, and gave him all the information he needed about creation. They gave no indication at all as to how long God took in creating the world in which Adam found himself. This to me does NOT allow for great ages, for the same reason I gave the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I no longer seek to know the answer to the question “how long?” I am satisfied that God took as long as He needed, and as long as He wanted. It could have been accomplished in a few minutes, so great is the ability of our God. “For He spoke, and it was done.” If I believe in a God Who is capable of creating the Universe as we know it today, then the time factor fades into insignificance. It becomes pointless asking “how long”?
Large numbers of clay tablets have been unearthed in the Middle East, as I said earlier. And amongst them several copies of an ancient “Creation Epic” have been found. It is entitled “Enuma Elish“, which are the first two words of the Epic, meaning “When on high.” This story is quite long, much longer than the Genesis Creation record. Also, it is “polytheistic”, meaning “many gods”. Most Bible-believing scholars see the Epic as a gross departure from original truth. Probably the story grew ever more diversified from generation to generation, age to age, because the tablets date from the days of King Solomon, about 1000 B.C. yet give the impression of being very ancient in origin. The same may be said about some of the stories of Greek mythology. I have a good reason for mentioning this. The Creation Epic was recorded on SIX TABLETS. Whenever the Epic re-appears amongst unearthed collections, it is always on SIX tablets. Isn’t this significant? Even though there must have been a serious decline in true understanding amongst the families that issued from Noah’s three sons after the Flood, yet certain facts were remembered. And presumably they must have known that Father Noah carried with him in the Ark a precious cargo of Tablets as antediluvial records, and the “Record of the Heavens and the Earth” was on SIX TABLETS.
I accept Wiseman’s conclusion here. He believed that Adam received the creation record from God, written on six tablets. Likewise Moses received the Ten Commandments from God written upon TWO TABLETS of stone. But Adam received a SEVENTH TABLET, giving details of what came to be called the SABBATH DAY. It was not given that title in the beginning, but contained the idea of “rest” clearly enough. The Babylonians were not so keen on the idea of the “rest day”. They treated it as an “unlucky day.” They had a law which commanded people (from the King down to the merest slave) to stop all work on the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st and 28th days of the month. Regardless of it being a defiled system, it does at least show the evidence of Sabbath observance from the very earliest days. Incidentally, the 19th day is 49 days (i.e. 7 X 7) from the beginning of the previous month, presumably a “doubly-unlucky day” for doing work. They had the idea that to work on such days meant that you might get clobbered by the gods. It was superstition rather than true Sabbath observance. The first two lines of the Creation Epic are as follows- “When on high the heaven had not been named, Firm ground below had not been called by name,” See how the importance of NAMING was in the minds of those who wrote the Epic. This is yet another remembrance of the Genesis Creation story, and how God told Adam the names of certain things from the beginning.
And that must be enough John! I’m sure you’ll find this number a bit difficult to get through, but if you persevere, I think you’ll find the whole concept fascinating and enjoyable. Remember, Genesis One is from the hands of God Himself. No wonder it is such an important document for everyone.