The first chapter of Genesis, with the first three verses of the second, evidently forms a distinct section of the book. It represents creation as the work of God, and the rest consequent upon the work being finished. Nothing else is allowed to mix itself up with this. It is God's work and God's rest.
I believe it also to be a type of new creation; meaning by that God's work of recovery when creation was fallen - recovery, whether of the individual fallen man or in general of the world, from the time the first ray of light from the promise broke upon her darkness until the glory of God lights up a "new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
I find in it accordingly two distinct applications, yet interwoven one with another - one dispensational, the other moral, and relating to the individual.
Let us take first the dispensational view.
We have presented to us at the outset the necessity for God's working - "Earth was without form, and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep." The language seems to suggest that this was not its primitive condition, but one into which it had lapsed after the hand of God had first created it. However this might be, it needed, that is certain, God's interference. There was no "womb of nature," as one speaks, out of which the present fair order of earth and heaven - fair still, even while bearing the sad marks of defilement - could be produced. God must come in to produce it. How true of a ruined world!
The agents in new creation are the Word and the Spirit of God, the Spirit making the word effectual. And "the entrance of thy word giveth light." So it is here: "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." And so we find it in Gen. 3, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." There the light shone upon the darkness of the world, and Adam's heart received it with joy. "He called his wife's name" (her name by whom death came) "Eve; because she was the mother of all living."
Yet it was long before the sun came, He whose rays had begun to light the earth from the beginning. Long men looked and waited. Day after day passed over, and then He came. It was after "the third day" - after resurrection the lights were placed (Christ and the Church) in heaven. His is a full-orbed, unchanging, underived light; hers a reflected, inconstant one. Yet is it said, "The moon to govern the night," just as it is, "The sun to rule the day." "Ye are the light of the world," just as "I am the light of the world." But Christ is absent, and it is now night; although, thank. God, "the night is far spent, the day is at hand." How strange would a day be for the world - and yet many look for it - without the sun!
On the fourth day, therefore, I find in type the present or church period come in. But on the sixth day man is created in the image of God, and set over the lower creation, the woman being united with him in this glory; just as in the coming kingdom the Church reigns with Him who is the "image of the invisible God," the last Adam; beautiful little picture of millennial days is suggested by the limiting of the food of man and beast, which follows in the concluding verses of the chapter. A picture of that time when there shall be no more bloodshedding; but, under the reign of the true Solomon, "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;" when "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid; and the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox."
The three verses of the second chapter, which belong rather to this, show absolute rest - a day without any following "evening," and in it only God. Work is at an end, for creation is finished: rest follows absolute and unbroken, but the creature is not seen in it; God only is there. So, past the millennial age, beyond the final outbreak of Satan's enmity, all trace of sin gone; death, the last enemy, destroyed; we look on to the perfect rest that remaineth, where no shadow lengthens, no voice of discord breaks the ineffable peace, to see redemption-work completely finished, and the full harvest of joy and gladness gathered in. "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son Himself also be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all."
We go back now to consider the individual application. Man is a fallen being. So fallen that he needs, just as much as "earth without form and void" ever needed, the interference of the divine power. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
In this case also the entrance of the Word giveth light, and the Spirit of God is the agent. We are "born of the Word" - "born of the Spirit." This is man's quickening - regeneration. But here too, although there be light from the first, a full-orbed Christ does not necessarily shine upon the soul at once. Resurrection-day must come to it before this can be. Often there is a long interval between. And when the light breaks in first, darkness is not banished by it: only limited, having still its times of return, and seasons of prevalence. And, moreover, the light brings out nothing lovely - a waste of unquiet waters was all that met the sight during the first day; yet God blessed the light, and divided, it from the darkness; "and the evening and the morning were the first day." With us too, blessed be God, it is first evening, and then the morning; and when the morning shall be fully come, the shadows and the sorrows of night shall have fled for ever. It is said of new Jerusalem, "There is no night there."
The next day sees the heavens made, though not yet has the finger of God garnished them with splendour. So when light has broken in upon the soul, immediately we find that heaven and heavenly things begin to take their proper place in it. Faith, the "evidence of things unseen," has come, even although yet all is as disquiet and seemingly as barren as ever.
But now the waters must give place, and the dry land appear. On the third day, resurrection-day, this is accomplished; for "the power of resurrection" known gives to the soul firmness and fertility. As it was with the darkness, so with the waters now; they are not wholly removed, but controlled and bounded. So we may say of all that causes the uncertainty, disquietude and barrenness of the soul, It is not removed; but God has given it its bounds, which it cannot pass, nor turn again to cover the earth; and the time comes when it will be said, As "there is no night" more, so also "there is no more sea."
And earth becomes fertile too. Fruit is brought forth, "whose seed is in itself." True of all Christian fruit - it is reproductive. If you "let your light shine before men, they shall glorify your Father which is in heaven."
And now, when resurrection-power is fully known, the third day ended, Christ is seen, full-orbed, in the heaven. And with the sun, the moon; with Christ the church. The relationship between the two is grace; on the one part merely giving, on the other merely receiving. "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?"
The soul established in grace, higher fruits of life appear. Earth, hitherto bringing forth the herb and tree, now brings forth the living creature. And even the waters - in the love of Him who makes all things work together for our good - become productive. Even the sadness of evil experienced innate in the soul, giving thoughts of the quiet and joy of home - of its holiness, changeless and eternal.
Accordingly, at the close of the sixth day the joy and perfectness we long for is come in the "kingdom which cannot be moved." Man is in the image of God; the conflict is over for ever, and the victory is come: he too "shall not learn war any more."
What remains but the joy of Him whose work we are - of Him who calls us children, and whom we call Father, and whose rest from His work finished shall not again be disturbed, no, not for ever!