Scope and Divisions of Genesis.
Its Scope Literally. — Creation, and the ages of promise before the law (man having fallen). The promise of life before the ages; the call of Noah and the sovereignty over the earth renewed; the call of Abram and the promise to him; the seed called in Isaac; the election of Jacob and the beginning of the nation; its infancy sheltered of God in Egypt.
Its Scope Spiritually. — New creation foreshown in the old; the promise of life in Christ; the law of life (Seth); resurrection life (Noah); the call of God (Abram); the child's place (Isaac); election to holiness (Jacob); supremacy over the world (Joseph).
Its Divisions are —
1. (Gen. 1, 2.) Creation, — type of new creation; its stages, whether in the individual or in the dispensations.
2. (Gen. 3 — 50.) In the Literal Application. — The breach with God having come in, separation between the world and His people, who are the recipients and witnesses of His salvation in it.
Typically. — Sin having divided from God, the creative steps become a "growth up unto salvation" (1 Peter 2:2); in which the divine life is distinguished and separated from the life of nature.
Division 1. (Gen. 1, 2.)
Creation, — type of new creation; its stages, whether in the individual or in the dispensations.
Subdivision 1. (Gen. 1 — 2:3.)
God's work, of and by Himself.
Seven words describe the original creation of the first verse. In the second, the earth, — emphasized in contrast with the heavens — is waste and void. Darkness is on the "face of the deep" — not every where, — and the light of the first day is not created then, but called into existence there where (now) it was not. The "deep," too, is not a true chaos, (nor is the earth that,) but "waters," under which the earth lies buried, and which are removed on the third day, so that the dry land appears. All this shows a state of things quite in accordance with the idea of some cataclysmic overthrow succeeding the geologic ages whose remains are entombed in the strata, and immediately preceding the introduction of man and the animals that came in with him.
This thought of a ruined condition of the earth succeeding its original creation, so far from being merely an attempt to meet the demands of geology, is no less required by the typical view. It is the new birth of a fallen creature which is depicted in the first day's work. Here how truly the ruin and vanity of the natural - man are only concealed by the moral darkness which is the result of being away from God! The Word of God acts in conjunction with the Spirit, and man is brought into the presence of God, who is light, — a light by which we are discovered to ourselves. All that we become sensible of is ruin — a lost condition, — and yet here, in repentance, true judgment of ourselves before God, the first step in fellowship with Him is found. This is the type in its individual application, and it is easy enough to read.
Dispensationally, it is the age of promise that is pictured, — the time before the flood, when simply the prophecy of the woman's Seed and the enjoined sin-offering (see Gen. 4:7) cast light upon man's condition, and cheer with the commencement of a new day. But as to the earth, God does not interfere with it, and the general state is such that it ends in almost universal judgment.
The evening and the morning throughout these days are in beautiful accordance with the typical significance. The darkness is called "Night" but, in fact, when light is once come, there is never again absolute night. Evening" already tells of the influence of light, and is followed by the morning. Man, according to his reckoning of it, begins and ends his day in darkness. How different is God's! See the beautiful use of the expression "evening-mornings" in that darkest of times for Israel depicted in Dan. 8:14, while the sanctuary and host are being trodden under foot. But the end brings deliverance and blessing.
In the expanse of the second day, again, we have not the absolute heavens of the beginning, but the earth-heavens, — although through these alone the higher ones are seen. The expanse is the effect of the atmosphere when in its normal condition, lifting by evaporation the clouds from the waters beneath, that, purged of their saltness, they may become the fertilizing "bottles of heaven." What is this ethereal, purifying, fructifying agency but the type of the new nature in the child of God? By and by, in these heavens a sun will shine, and below, the enfranchized earth will repay these influences with fruits and harvests. At first, there is rather conflict and unrest; but it is a step, and an important one, to the full blessing.
Dispensationally, we shall easily read the type if we remember that in Scripture, at least, the "heavens" always "rule." (Dan. 4:26.) But the type of supreme authority, the sun, is yet wanting. There is an "above" and "below," but only waters, the very type of instability, are separated from the waters. Hence it is an apt representation of human government, established first in Noah's time in the divine injunction, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." But how unstable are all human governments! and how little difference really in the distinctions of upper and under among men! — it is but still "waters" from "waters."
And now the earth is brought up from under the waters. These stand, as we have seen, for the evil within us, of which the restless sea is the type. "The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." This last is the action of the surf upon the shore, and such chafing against its bounds is typically characteristic: "The mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
The flesh is not removed as long as we are here: "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin." (Rom. 8:10.) But when the true power of resurrection is known in the soul, and the law of the Spirit delivers from the law — the dominion — of sin and death, our third day is reached, and the true sanctification of the Christian man is known. With stability — the dry ground — fruit is found, — fruit, too, whose seed is ever in itself. Upon the doctrine of all this I cannot, however, enter here; it will be considered elsewhere.
Dispensationally, we have the sanctification of Israel to God — the earth separated from the waters; for the Gentile is just man left to himself, and his picture the "sea" has already given us: comp. Rev. 17:15.
On the fourth day, the luminaries are presented in their practical relation to the earth; and it is as the glory of Christ shines on us we become practically the "epistle of Christ, known and read of all men" (comp. 2 Cor. 3:3, 18; 2 Cor. 4:4, 6). It is the practical effect of occupation with Christ which comes under the eye of men, and which is emphasized here. In this way the numerical stamp is seen here. It is now night; for Christ (the sun) is absent, and we (moon-like) are His representatives.
Dispensationally, the number may therefore easily speak of the present going forth of the gospel, world-wide in its aspect, and characteristically Gentile, as the Church is. As the third day speaks of separation, so does the fourth day of dispersion.
The fifth and sixth days are in some of their details most difficult to read, and yet their general application is quite easy. The waters speak, as we have seen, of the sin and evil in man; and here yet we see produced by the waters, through the fiat of God, the living soul, — type of the affections and emotions, which in Scripture are associated with the "soul," and not with the spirit. So "tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope." The very sin within, over which we groan, makes us long for the redemption which is yet to come. (Rom. 8:23.) This seems clearly the lesson here.
Dispensationally, Scripture teaches us to anticipate, after the present day of grace is over, a time of trouble such as never was, and such as never again will be upon earth (Matt. 24:21, 30), closed only by the coming of the Son of Man from heaven; — a time which will be that of Israel's travail-pains, when the nation comes to the birth and is born in one day, and out of this "great tribulation" a countless multitude of all nations will be brought who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This will be the preparation-time for millennial blessing. Those who know it as the time of Antichrist and other forms of portentous evil will not wonder to hear of the great "sea-monsters" here; for Antichrist himself; with all the powers and faculties he perverts to his own destruction, is still the creature of God and in His hand: "He that made him," as God says of behemoth (Job 40:19), "can make His sword approach unto him."
Finally, on the sixth day, it is the earth produces the living soul, and then the lord of the whole scene, the summit of God's work, is introduced into it, and all is put into his hand. He is to "subdue" and "hold" it "in subjection." Mastery is evidently here a principal thought, as we see it is in what we shall find to be in designed connection with this sixth day's work, — the life of Joseph.
And if Christ be the true "Image of God," Joseph is more than any other of the types of Genesis the image of Christ. Would we could tell more of what this type is! But just enough is plain to make us long for more.
Dispensationally, we have undoubtedly the millennial reign of Christ and His bride over the earth. The limiting of food to fruit and herb seems to speak of the reign of peace under the Prince of Peace.
The seventh, as the day of God's rest, is surely typical of that full rest, which is necessarily God's, into which the saints shall enter. It is called a "sabbatism," a Sabbath-keeping: "There remaineth therefore a sabbatism to the people of God." (Heb. 4:9.) Here, what we call "dispensations" end; for their work is done.
Only three times in this account is creation spoken of: first, it is of the heavens and earth at the beginning; secondly, of the living soul, — the animal creation; thirdly, of man, who is spirit, as well as soul. In each case in which it is used, therefore, a new thing is brought into being, not developed out of pre-existing material. That the word is used elsewhere in a less exact way is true, and not hard to understand either; but to the six days' work as a whole it is never applied: "in six days the Lord made," not "created." The closing words, which I have rendered literally, make a distinction between creating and making, and affirm the making here to be a purpose of the original creation.
When men are born again, here also they are "created" in Christ Jesus, and have a new, "divine nature," which is "eternal life."
In spite of what seems the general tendency of modern thought, Scripture shows plainly enough that the "days" are literal days. 1. The terms "evening" and "morning" naturally convey this thought; these having reference to the "light" which had just been called forth. The puzzle which would make the preceding darkness part of the first day is thus very simply set aside; for "evening" already speaks of the action of light, and shows that the first day begins with that. But a long period, divided thus into an "evening and a morning" by the absence or presence of light, can hardly be contended for.
2. The "fruit-tree bearing fruit" on the third day evidently implies the presence of man, or at least animals, without ages to intervene. The tender reference to man all through indeed is unmistakable.
3. Man himself is created the sixth day, and on the seventh, the whole creation was pronounced very good: how long must he have lived in paradise unfallen, if the period-theory be true? or was it only at the very end that he was brought into being? Notice, too, that God appoints their food, to beast and man respectively, after the creation of the latter, and the following "and it was so" shows that this actually began at that time. Were they all created at the end of the sixth period, not the beginning?
Yet the days being literal does not at all forbid the thought that the geological periods may be represented — find their type and similitude in the literal days. And the researches of geologists have really developed such a correspondence. They have shown us in the periods (1) the earth brought up from under the waters; (2) a progress in the development of life upon it; (3) man as the end of this progressive series. Thus the different views are not contradictory, save as they assume, on either side, to be exclusive of the other. It is quite according to what we know of the divine working, that the six days, though really that, should exhibit the same plan as the strata have disclosed to us. There is here a testimony to the truth of the record which challenges the reverence and faith of the true inquirer.
Light Before the Sun.
The typical meaning may here, as elsewhere, confirm the literal interpretation. That "God is light," Scripture declares, and science in the most beautiful way illustrates it. Light it has proved to be a trinity of color, the blue, red, and yellow rays uniting to produce the one white one; while it is a trinity of power also, the luminous, heat-giving, and actinic, or chemical, rays being similarly distinct, and yet united; the chemical rays, in their invisible, impalpable operation, seem to set forth in a striking way the analogous working of the Spirit of God.
But if God be light, Christ is the sun; in which the earth-body is clothed with the glory of the light, and radiates it to us. But Christ came in the fourth day of the world's history, not its first, — exactly according to the order here. The literal and typical meanings mutually confirm each other, and bear united witness to the truth of this wondrous revelation.
The Image and Likeness of God.
It is in the possession of spirit that man is by creation "the offspring of God" (Acts 17:29), who is "Spirit" (John 4:24), and "the God" and "Father of spirits (Num. 16:22; Heb. 12:9); — that is, of angels, who are "sons of God" (Job 38:7), and of men; not beasts, who yet have and are living souls." The son is in the image of his parent, and in man, in whom the spirit controls (of right) both soul and body, the image of God is plainly found. Were he soul and body alone, as many teach, he would be but in the image of the beast. The image of God consists, not in his sovereignty over the earth, (for he was created in it,) but it fitted him for this. But we must not confound this natural image, which every one has, with the "image in righteousness and true holiness," which only the new-born child of God has. (Eph. 4:24.)
The question of "likeness" is more difficult. I think, however, that "in our image as our likeness" identifies one with the other. Man is in God's likeness, not from his bodily form, nor merely from his dominion over the creatures, but from a real resemblance: an image is not always "like."
Man's Sovereignty Over the Earth.
I have translated "hold in subjection." (v. 26.) The word (radah) is literally "tread down," and connects plainly in thought with the subduing" of the earth in the twenty-eighth verse. There is, in fact, a certain plasticity of nature in man's hand which marks, in a peculiar way, his sovereignty. The fruits of the earth, under his cultivation, mellow and throw off even poisonous qualities, developing in a multitude of varieties, from which he chooses, retaining or rejecting according to his will. The domestic animals, as the dog, similarly develop, in a single species, what might well seem generic differences. Ignorance of the meaning of this fact has favored the modern theories of evolution. But if man does not hold nature in subjection, it soon re-asserts its independence, and the forms thus produced are merged into the uniformity of the wild condition.}
Subdivision 2. (Gen. 2:4-25.)
Relationships of the Man.
The second subdivision is not a new account of the divine work, written by another hand. Its purpose is quite different, namely, to show us the relationships of the man to the whole scene into which he is introduced, and to his Maker. This is why it is not simply "God" in this chapter, but "the Lord God." "The Lord" is here, in the original, "Jehovah." It is the title by which God entered into covenant with Israel afterward, and is expanded for us in the book of Revelation as "He who is and who was and who is to come," — the best translation of which in one word would be, as in the French, "The Eternal." But I retain for it the word "Lord," as in the Septuagint and our common version, this being in some sense sanctioned by the New Testament use, and giving more the thought of relationship, which it is evidently intended to convey. Where it stands by itself, however, I have simply transferred the Hebrew word, "Jehovah."
In the first section, we have necessarily man's first relationship, the foundation of every other — that to God; and here, God's breathing into him is characteristic of this. No beast has it; and although there is no direct statement, — the language is, as we say, phenomenal, — yet there is implied in this certainly some communication from God Himself, by which (and not by the bodily form,) is conveyed the idea of kinship. Yet the language is more phenomenal even than in the common version, which we have followed. It is literally, "God breathed into his nostrils the breathing of life," where indeed the fact that it is in the nostrils shows what is meant. Compare the full expression in Gen. 7:22 as we have given it. Neshamah is always the activity of the ruach, whether this stands for "breath" or "spirit." The effect, and the effect as seen, is alone depicted. This is in reality favorable to the deeper thought. It is not mere "breath of life" which is imparted, but the whole living activity, as expressed in this, is the result of the divine impartation. And if man thus becomes a living soul, good reason it is why his soul should not die, as the beast does. (Matt. 10:28.) In the fact of being a living soul, he does not differ from the beast, but he does in the way he becomes one.
The inbreathing is thus essential to relationship, and given for this reason in this place. But the junction of something thus in relationship to God with the dust-formed creature makes Adam in this way a proper foreshadowing of the "last Adam" (Rom. 5:14), — Deity incarnate. He, however, in contrast with the first Adam, in resurrection, breathes upon His own. He uses this action, so significant in the creation of man, to symbolize the introduction of His people into a new creation, of which He is the Head: taking Himself the divine place as "quickening Spirit." (John 20:22; 1 Cor. 15:45.)
We have next the lesson of dependence taught man, upon One whose goodness makes the very need of His creatures the occasion of ministering care. Every thing is provided that can gratify as well as satisfy. But the tree of life shows him that he has not life in himself, and the prohibited tree of knowledge teaches him practically to recognize this dependence upon Another.
The ministry of the whole triune Godhead to man is typically indicated here. For the tree of knowledge indicates paternal government, where indeed "rule" is service (Rom. 12:8); the tree of life speaks of Christ, in whom our life is; while the gushing fullness of these bounteous rivers is a plain type of the renewing power of the Holy Ghost. All this we shall find again in the paradise of God, of which this is a true picture. Would we could more enter into it!
The third section shows us Adam's relationship to his wife; and for this, he is first taken to look at the beasts, and to see that no union can be here. Man is man by that spirit by which he differs from the beast. What a prophetic rebuke to the infidel science of the day!
The application of what we have here to Christ and the Church is shown us by the apostle. Adam, to find his wife, passes through the image of death, and she is "builded" out of him, to whom she is afterward united. So are we chosen in Christ, the fruit of His death, raised up with Christ, and by the Spirit united to Christ. Here, once more, however, the last Adam shows His essential difference from the first: He will present the Church to Himself. (Eph. 5:27.)
Man as a Living Soul.
The error of holding man to be soul and body only is the parent of many modern heresies. It omits just what makes him man. But why, then, is it said here, "Man became a living soul"? — why not a spirit? The question is a fair one, and should be fairly answered.
Let us note first, then, that angels are spirits and that the angels had already fallen; also that the condemnation of the devil is for pride. (1 Tim. 3:6.) Now all through this account there seems the constant endeavor (which, to speak humanly, is God's, we know,) to "hide pride from man." (Job 33:17.) Thus he is called "Adam," from adamah, the ground, as if to remind him of his origin — "Dust thou art." Yet he was assuredly something more than "dust." Here, in the same way, his being a living soul reminds him of his kinship with the beasts; yet it does not show that he is not more. Among spiritual beings, this is, indeed, his real distinction, — that he is a "living soul."
The "soul" is in Scripture the seat of the passions, emotions, sensibility, as the spirit is of the mental and moral judgment. These latter, in any real sense, the beast has not. The spirit it is which is in man, which knows the things of a man. (1 Cor. 11.) But he learns them, gathering the materials of judgment through the soul — the senses; and as the body begins to develop before even the soul, so does the soul before the spirit. Spirit in man depends, thus, really upon the soul; and it is striking that just when absent from the body his real distinction begins to manifest itself. The soul survives, indeed, the stroke of death; but man is now called, what he never was before, a "spirit." (Luke 24:37, 39; Acts 23:8, 9; Heb. 12:23; 1 Peter 3:19.)
The Penalty on Adam.
The penalty of eating of the tree of knowledge was, for Adam, death — physical death; but this necessarily the sign of the judgment of God, of separation between himself and God, of which the other is the image. For if death is the separation between soul and body, the separation of God from the soul is death also.
But "dying, thou shalt die," which is literally the penalty here, does not convey the thought of two deaths; it is simply a very common Hebrew idiom, as, "eating, thou mayest eat," in the verse preceding, and meant to express, as all translations probably give it, the certainty of it.
Nor does "in the day" involve more than that in the day that he sinned the penalty would be certain: it does not mean necessarily that it would be inflicted then. (Comp. Ezek. 33:12.)
The second death, let us remember, is always for a man's own sins, and is in contrast with the first, which it brings to an end.}