The book of Genesis gives us the origin of things. Doubtless that which immediately occasioned the writing of it was the various ideas that had been prevalent as to the creation; to meet these, the Spirit of God gives us an accurate account of things. The mind of man would attribute the creation to various causes, as we know the heathen do. I suppose the thought of the Spirit was to connect things with God – to show that He is the Author of the universe. This, indeed, comports with the testimony in a general way, for in it the soul of man is connected with God. By “faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear,” Heb.11:3
The beginning here, no doubt, refers to the same period as is referred to in John 1. It is the outset of the divine operations. In John 1 the Person of Christ is the subject. In the beginning He was there. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The point in Genesis 1 is to connect the physical universe, what man is cognisant of, with God.
Verse 1 stands alone – it is not included in the operations of the six days. Of the time that may have elapsed between verses 1 and 2, God has not been pleased to tell us, but the second verse reveals a condition that one could not believe was the original state of the earth as created by God. Chaos and darkness marked it.
This state aptly describes that which resulted from sin in the moral system of things. Therefore the operations of the successive days serve to show how that out from a chaotic moral state God can bring the most perfect order. Chaos and darkness describe the state of man’s soul as away from God, but God acts in this state, and the result is that the soul reaches His rest (God’s rest). God said, “Let there be light.” This passage is directly connected with the gospel in 2 Corinthians 4.
Direct divine creative power is needed in the moral system of things so as to bring order into it, and to render it suitable to God’s rest; this power is always in accord with the testimony presented to us. I think that each day suggests a certain feature of the testimony, and the order in which the work of each day occurs, accords with that in which the truth is received into our souls from the time the light first reaches us.
“The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” I think we may connect this with John 3. At the end of John 2 it is stated that the Lord knew what was in man; He did not commit Himself to men. That is, there was nothing to trust in man; but the early part of Genesis 3 answers to the hovering of the Spirit. It is the sovereign action of the Spirit so as to produce something for God where there was nothing. That of which a man born again realises the need at the outset is light. In verse 3 we get light. Here it is no question of the kind of light. When a person is in darkness he wants light. The presence of Christ as the true light here brought out fully the darkness and disorder which prevailed in the moral state of things; hence the need for the sovereign action of the Spirit, and the gospel (the light commanded, as it were) following in John 3. The first day, therefore, is analogous to the gospel as first presented to one born anew.
As to the second day: “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…and God called the firmament Heaven.” There can be no doubt that there is a moral point in this; that is, at a certain time in the history of a soul heaven comes into view. Christ is in heaven. When He was down here, He connected the souls of His people with heaven. In the second day there is indicated another sphere, as distinct from the earth, and this came out very clearly in the Lord’s ministry. “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven”; “your Father which is in heaven”; “the Son of man which is in heaven.”
The earth comes into view in its own place. When we get clear as to heaven we are prepared for the earth. We see in John 3 how heaven takes precedence of the earth. On the third day great stress is laid on what suggests resurrection: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth.” Fruitfulness is in resurrection. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God,” Rom.7.
The fourth day is a wonderful day for Christians: Christ is now known in heaven as the source of light and rule. The light of the first day, doubtless, came from the sun; this is so, at any rate, if applied morally, for there is no moral light save what comes from Christ. The first day may be taken to represent Christ as here on earth, and the light shone on all. Christ as Man here inaugurates the day, and henceforth the day always attaches to Him, so that when the Lord withdrew from the earth there was a formal separation of light from darkness. In the first day it is light as such: what it was, or its source, is not stated. The light appearing, it is separated from the darkness. The day really went with Christ, and the earth is left in total darkness. But the fourth day provides for this, for the “lesser light” was to rule the night. The lesser light points to the church, and inasmuch as the moon is not light in herself, she cannot be light to the earth during the night unless she remain in the light of the sun; so the church cannot be light now unless it abides in the light of Christ.
The lights in the heavens were to be for signs and for seasons. Seasons have reference to the course of things on earth. Eras of this world have largely been introduced by certain human events; but divine eras are regulated by Christ in heaven. The stars are representative of Christ, and also of the saints individually. Scripture speaks of them in this way. Christ is the bright morning Star, and “they that turn many to righteousness” shine “as the stars for ever and ever,” Dan. 12. It is just possible that stars may take in the Jewish remnant in the latter days. The value of the stars is particularly seen during the night when the moon is hidden. When the church is removed there will still be light, though not so bright. In the fourth day we come into practical righteousness as recognising Christ as Lord in heaven. We understand our place in connection with a settled order of things.
In the fifth day we get life in a visible, energetic way. “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” – the activity of life in an intelligent way, one might almost say, although man has not yet come into view. It is the introduction of life.