As a new year commences, we turn once again in our daily reading of the Word to the “book of beginnings”—Genesis. Reviewing the staggering events of fulfilling prophecy during the past twelve months, it is a wonder that we could see the dawning of 2006, but in the unquestionable wisdom of Yahweh, who has the times and seasons perfectly adjusted to His will, we are required to “occupy until he comes”. It is therefore our wisdom to “redeem the time in these evil days”, drawing deeply and consistently from the well of living water in His Word. Only by this means can we prepare to enter into salvation and glory, by His grace, when His Son, our Saviour, returns to bring His purpose to completion.

It is generally accepted that Genesis, along with the following four books of the Bible, were the work of inspiration through Moses; hence they are sometimes called “the first five books of Moses” or the “Pentateuch”, from a Greek term meaning “fivefold book”. The title “Genesis” (Greek, meaning “generations”) is the name given in the Septuagint: the correct title appears in the Hebrew of the opening words of the book—berayshith, “In the beginning”.

Genesis has been described as the “seed-plot” of the Bible from whence all the rest of Scripture springs forth. The principles revealed and expanded throughout the Bible had their origins in the book before us. Even the most complex subjects are found there in their embryo stage.

For example, the Atonement is clearly foreshadowed in its early chapters. The principle of Acts 15:14, that God is calling out of the nations a “people for His Name”, is beautifully demonstrated in the blessing on Noah’s sons (9:26,27). The origins of the Apostasy and the beginnings of Babylon are there in chapters 10 and 11. Armageddon is typed in the battle of the kings (chapter 14). Future developments of history, and of God’s dealings with men and nations, are set forth in the form of allegory (Gal 4:24-31). Paul tells us that the Gospel was first preached to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. It has been said, in fact, that it is impossible to properly understand the purpose of God without some comprehension of the book of Genesis.

Genesis is closely linked with the Book of Revelation, the first book with the last. One book tells us how it all began, the other reveals how it will all conclude, and so we have the following contrasts.

Genesis                                              Revelation

Natural creation (ch 1)                  Spiritual creation (3:14)

Serpent speaks (ch 3)                   Serpent restrained (20:2)

Curse imposed (3:17)                     Curse removed (22:3)

Sorrow, death appear (3:16-19)    Sorrow, death removed (21:4)

Access to tree of life denied (3:24)   Access opened (2:7)

Paradise closed to man (3:23)         Paradise restored (21:25)

In relation to the natural giving us the image of the spiritual—upon the principle of interpreting “spiritual things in spiritual words” (1 Cor 2:10–14)—let us look at the creation account through God’s eyes. Whilst the record of creation in Genesis is an account of what literally happened, it is set out in a manner which is designed to teach us something more than simply HOW God created the heavens and the earth. Had God desired to give a scientific description, He could have done so. But why should He? This record is intended to teach us WHY God created and not merely HOW. The real significance of Genesis chapter 1 can be discovered by examining the way in which it is quoted in other parts of the Bible. It will be seen that it presents a pattern of creation which Yahweh has also used in other ways, such as developing the spiritual creation in Christ Jesus.

First Day—Genesis 1:3–5 “And God said, LET THERE BE LIGHT.” God is the source of all light, therefore Light is the foundation principle of God’s creative work (John 1:1–5). The knowledge of the Gospel of the Kingdom in the name of Jesus Christ is the light which Paul alludes to in 2 Corinthians 4:6, where he quotes Genesis 1. “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.” As the dividing of light from darkness was the first work of the natural creation, it is also the first stage in developing the spiritual creation and thus represents the truth (cp Elpis Israel p137–142).

Second Day—Genesis 1:6–8 “And God said, LET THERE BE A FIRMAMENT.” The Firmament, called Heaven, is a symbol of the exalted position of the saints (separated ones) in their present mortal state in Christ Jesus. Those who are drawn to the light have been “evaporated” out of the sea of nations (Rev 17:15)—that is, “the waters below”—to become a people for His Name. They have been made to sit in “the heaven lies in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:3; 2:6) and are symbolised by clouds (cp 1 Thess 4:17).

Third Day—Genesis 1:9–13 “And God said, LET THE DRY LAND APPEAR.” This is a further symbol of the saints in their separated state in Christ Jesus. As the dry land, they are separated from the sea of nations; that is, they are in the world but not of the world (John 17:16-18).

“And God said, LET THE EARTH BRING FORTH GRASS” (the climax of the first three days); another spiritual symbol of the saints in Christ who, although flesh, are striving to bring forth fruits of the Spirit by their association with heavenly things (Gal 5:22).

Summary of the First Three Days

The order of creation is:

  • first, enlightenment through the truth of God’s Word
  • second, by being baptised, exalted to sit “in heavenly places in Christ”
  • third, having been separated from the world, though still in it, bringing forth fruit to God’s glory.

Then and only then, are they able to develop that character which is pleasing to God.

Fourth Day—Genesis 1:14–19 “And God said, LET THERE BE LIGHTS IN THE FIRMAMENT OF THE HEAVEN”; in other words, ‘light-bearers’ or ‘luminaries’. The same word occurs in verses 14, 15 and 16, but is different from that translated “light” in verses 3,4,5,17 and 18. It is a further symbol of the saints, now shining as light-bearers. In the Scriptures Christ is seen as the SUN, the saints collectively as the MOON and individually as the STARS (cp Gen 37:9–10; also Dan 12:3).

“The shining of the Truth in the darkness of the nations was considerably increased by the apostolic labours; for their sound went into all the land, and their words unto the end of the habitable” (Elpis Israel, p139). Note how Romans 10:17–18 is a quotation from Psalm 19:1–4, which in turn is a reference to the fourth day in Genesis 1.

Fifth Day—Genesis 1:20–23 “And God said, LET THE WATERS BRING FORTH ABUNDANTLY.” In the Scripture this phrase often has reference to the multitudes among the nations (seas; cp Matt 13:47–49; John 2l:6).

“AND FOWL THAT MAY FLY ABOVE THE EARTH.” This is frequently used in reference to the birds of prey (cp Gen 13:4,19; 15:11).

These two are often combined with the creatures of the sixth day (excluding man), and used as a symbol of the flesh (the carnal mind) and all its manifestations (cp Gen 1:26 with Psalm 8:6–8 and 1 Cor 15:25–28).

Sixth Day Genesis 1:24–31 “And God said, LET THE EARTH BRING FOR THE LIVING CREATURE.” This part of the sixth day is an extension of the animal creation described in the fifth day. Consider Ezekiel 38:19,20 and 39:17 in this context.

“And God said, LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE AND AFTER OUR LIKENESS.” This is quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:7 and rendered as the “image and glory of God”. Thus the work of Creation being finished, the Elohim shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Brother Thomas writes; “Behold then the consummation! Mortal and corruptible beings like ourselves become Elohim, mighty in strength, and framers of new worlds, of which the planet we inhabit, even in its present state, is a grand and glorious specimen. ‘Behold’, says Jesus, once an infant at the breast, powerless in death, but now endued with all power, ‘I make all things new’. He will educe from the things which now exist, a new and magnificent world, as a fit and appropriate habitation for his companions, redeemed by his blood from the sons of men. This is the destiny set before those who shall become ‘equal to the angels’ by a resurrection to eternal life” (Elpis Israel, p187).

An analysis of this book would be incomplete without reference to the ‘natural divisions’ occurring throughout. The division is shown by the recurring phrase, “The generation of…”. This phrase is repeated eleven times throughout the book, so that, together with the introductory section, Genesis is divided into twelve sections. The Hebrew word translated “generations” is toledot, which Hebraists (such as Gesenius) tell us means “history” or “origins”. Thus when we read in Genesis 2:4 of the “generations of the heavens and of the earth…” it is their “origins” or “history” to which we are directed.

 

                                Man in the Image and Likeness of                                                           ElohimGenesis 1:26–28

“And God said”

The Hebrew word for ‘God’ is Elohim

“Let us make man”

The Hebrew word for ‘man’ is adam

“In our image”

The Hebrew word for ‘image’ is tselem, which means bodily shape or form

“After our likeness”

The Hebrew word for ‘likeness’ is demuth, which means mental constitution or capacity

While ‘image’ then has reference to form or shape, ‘likeness’ has regard to mental constitution. In form and capacity he was made like to the angels, though in nature he was inferior to them.

Elpis Israel, page 39

 

                          Man—the Image and Glory of GodIMAGE               Man was made to look like the angels (elohim) in bodily shape.LIKENESS       Man was given a mental and moral capacity to develop a character like the angels (elohim) and thus show forth the glory of God. Cp 1 Corinthians 11:7 where Paul quotes Genesis 1:26 but substitutes the word “glory” for “likeness”.

NATURE           Man was made “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5), but with the hope that when Christ returns he may become “equal to the angels and die no more” (Luke 20:36).

 

A break-down of the book is suggested as follows:

1 Creation—Introduction

A foundation laid 1:1 to 2:3

2 The Generations of the Heavens and Earth

Law, sin and death, the promise of redemption 2:4 to 4:26

3 The Book of the Generations of Adam

Development of the human race 5:1 to 6:8

4 The Generations of Noah, A Just Man

The flood, judgment of the old world, and the preservation of a remnant 6:9 to 9:29

5 The Generations of the Sons Of Noah

The development of nations 10:1 to 11:9

6 The Generations of Shem

The separation of a people for the Name 11:10–26

7 The Generations of Terah

The calling out of a family 11:27 to 25:11

8 The Generations of Ishmael

The separation of natural from spiritual 25:12–18

9 The Generations of Isaac

The development of the seed of promise 25:19 to 35:29

10 The Generations of Esau

The development of the man of sin 36:1–8

11 The Generations of the Sons of Esau

The development of the seed of the serpent 36:9–43

12 The Generations of Jacob

The development of Israel 37:1 to 50:26

Brother Thomas has stated that if we wish to understand the Bible and be equipped as a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”, then “…we must proceed as we would with any other book, or in teaching any of the arts and sciences; namely, begin at the beginning, or with the elements of things. This was the method adopted by the spirit of God in the instruction of the Israelites by Moses. He began His revelations by giving them, and us through them, an account of the creation of the heavens and the earth; of animals; and of man. This then would seem to be the proper place for us to start from; and as we have the system completely revealed, which they had not, we may extend our enquiries into the reason, or philosophy of things farther than they. Be this, then, our commencement; and may the Lord Himself prosper our endeavours to decipher and understand His Word…” (Elpis Israel, p8).

May this, then, be our earnest and consistent endeavour in the days ahead—few though they may be—that at the coming of our Master, we may be gathered unto him, along with Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and all the Elohim of that new and wonderful creation who shall sing the praises of their Redeemer throughout the ages of eternity.