Gleanings in Genesis
by A. W. Pink
2. Christ In Genesis 1
In our first meditation upon this wonderful book of beginnings we pointed out some of the striking analogies which exist between the order followed by God in His work of creation and His method of procedure in the "new creation,’’ the spiritual creation in the believer. First, there was darkness, then the action of the Holy Spirit, then the word of power going forth, and then light as the result, and later resurrection and fruit. There is also a striking foreshadowment of God’s great dispensational dealings with our race, in this record of His work in the six days, but as this has already received attention from more capable pens than ours, we pass on to still another application of this scripture. There is much concerning Christ in this first chapter of Genesis if only we have eyes to see, and it is the typical application of Genesis 1 to Christ and His work we would here direct attention.
Christ is the key which unlocks the golden doors into the temple of Divine truth. "Search the Scriptures," is His command, "for they are they which testify of Me." And again, He declares, "In the volume of the Book it is written of Me." In every section of the written Word the Personal Word is enshrined—in Genesis as much as in Matthew. And we would now submit that on the frontispiece of Divine Revelation we have a typical program of the entire Work of Redemption.
In the opening statements of this chapter we discover, in type, the great need of Redemption. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This carries us back to the primal creation which, like everything else that comes from the hand of God, must have been perfect, beautiful, glorious. Such also was the original condition of man. Made in the image of his Creator, endowed with the breath of Elohim, he was pronounced "very good."
But the next words present a very different picture—"And the earth was without form and void," or, as the original Hebrew might be more literally translated, "The earth became a ruin." Between the first two verses in Genesis 1 a terrible calamity occurred. Sin entered the universe. The heart of the mightiest of all God’s creatures was filled with pride—Satan had dared to oppose the will of the Almighty. The dire effects of his fall reached to our earth, and what was originally created by God fair and beautiful, became a ruin. Again we see in this a striking analogy to the history of man. He too fell. He also became a ruin. The effects of his sin likewise reached beyond himself—the generations of an unborn humanity being cursed as the result of the sin of our first parents.
"And darkness was upon the face of the deep." Darkness is the opposite of light. God is light. Darkness is the emblem of Satan. Well do these words describe the natural condition of our fallen race. Judicially separated from God, morally and spiritually blind, experimentally the slaves of Satan, an awful pall of darkness rests upon the entire mass of an unregenerate humanity. But this only furnishes a black background upon which can be displayed the glories of Divine Grace. "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound." The method of this "abounding of grace" is, in type, outlined in God’s work during the six days. In the work of the first four days we have a most remarkable foreshadowment of the four great stages in the Work of Redemption. We cannot now do much more than call attention to the outlines of this marvelous primitive picture. But as we approach it, to gaze upon it in awe and wonderment, may the Spirit of God take of the things of Christ and show them unto us.
I. In the first day’s work the Divine Incarnation is typically set forth.
If fallen and sinful men are to be reconciled to the thrice holy God what must be done? How can the infinite chasm separating Deity from humanity be bridged? What ladder shall be able to rest here upon earth and yet reach right into heaven itself? Only one answer is possible to these questions. The initial step in the work of human redemption must be the Incarnation of Deity. Of necessity this must be the starting point. The Word must become flesh. God Himself must come right down to the very pit where a ruined humanity helplessly lies, if it is ever to be lifted out of the miry clay and transported to heavenly places. The Son of God must take upon Himself the form of a servant and be made in the likeness of men.
This is precisely what the first day’s work typifies in its foreshadowment of the initial step in the Work of Redemption, namely, the Incarnation of the Divine Redeemer. Notice here five things.
First, there is the work of the Holy Spirit. "And the Spirit of God moved (Heb. ‘brooded’) upon the face of the waters" (v. 2). So also was this the order in the Divine Incarnation. Concerning the mother of the Savior we read, "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Second, the word issues forth as light. "And God said (the word) let there be light and there was light" (v. 3). So also as soon as Mary brings forth the Holy Child "The glory of the Lord shone round about" the shepherds on Bethlehem’s plains (Luke 2:9). And when He is presented in the temple, Simeon was moved by the Holy Spirit to say, "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel."
Third, the light is approved by God. "And God saw the light, that it was good" (v. 4). We cannot now enlarge much upon the deep typical import of this statement, but would remark in passing that the Hebrew word here translated "good" is also in (Ecclesiastes 3:11) rendered "beautiful"—"He hath made everything beautiful in his time." God saw that the light was good, beautiful! How obvious is the application to our incarnate Lord! After His advent into this world we are told that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52), and the first words of the Father concerning Him were, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Yes, good and beautiful was the light in the sight of the Father. How blind was man that he should see in Him no beauty that he should desire Him!
Fourth, the light was separated from the darkness. "And God divided the light from the darkness" (v. 4). How jealously did the Holy Spirit guard the types! How careful is He to call our attention to the immeasurable difference between the Son of Man and the sons of men! Though in His infinite condescension He saw fit to share our humanity, yet He shared not our depravity. The light of Christ was divided from the darkness (fallen humanity). "For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26).
Fifth, the light was named by God. "And God called the light Day" (v. 5). So also was it with Him who is the Light of the world. It was not left to Joseph and Mary to select the name for the Holy Child. Of old the prophet had declared, "Listen, O isles unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; the Lord hath called Me from the womb; from the bowels of My mother hath He made mention of My name" (Isa. 49:1). And in fulfillment thereof, while yet in His mother’s womb, an angel is sent by God to Joseph, saying, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus."
II. In the second day’s work the Cross of Christ is typically set forth.
What was the next thing necessary in the accomplishment of the Work of Redemption? The Incarnation by itself would not meet our need. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24). The Incarnate Christ reveals the spotless and perfect life which alone meets the Divine mind, but it helps not to bridge the awful gulf between a holy God and a ruined sinner. For this, sin must put away, and that cannot be done except death comes in. "For without shedding of blood is no remission." The Lamb of God must be slain. The Holy One must lay down His life. The Cross is the only place where the righteous claims of God’s throne can be met.
And in the second day’s work this second step in the accomplishment of human redemption is typically set forth. The prominent thing in this second day’s work is division, separation, isolation. "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so" (vv. 6-7). It is striking to note here that there is a twofold division. First there is a firmament in the midst of the waters and this firmament divides the waters from the waters, and secondly, the firmament divided the waters which were under it from those which were above it. We believe that the "firmament" here typifies the Cross, and sets forth its twofold aspect. There our blessed Lord was divided or separated from God Himself—"My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"; and there also He was separated from man "Cut off out of the land of the living."
That the "firmament" here does foreshadow the Cross seems to be clearly borne out by the marvelous analogy between what is here told us concerning it and its typical agreement with the Cross of Christ. Observe four things.
First, the firmament was purposed by God before it was actually made. In verse 6 it reads, "And God said let there be a firmament," and in verse 7, "And God made the firmament." How perfect is the agreement between type and antitype! Long, long before the Cross was erected on Golgotha’s heights, it was purposed by God. Christ was "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).
Second, the firmament was set in the midst of the waters. It is well known to Bible students that in Scripture "waters" symbolize peoples, nations (cf. Revelation 17:15). In its typical application then, these words would seem to signify, "Let there be a Cross in the midst of the peoples." Manifold are the applications suggested by these words. Accurate beyond degree is the type. Our minds immediately turn to the words, "They crucified Him, and two others with Him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst" (John 19:18). The geographical situation of Calvary is likewise a fulfillment: Palestine being practically the center or midst of the earth.
Third, the firmament divided the waters. So the Cross has divided the "peoples." The Cross of Christ is the great divider of mankind. So it was historically, for it divided the believing thief from the impotent thief. So it has been ever since, and so it is today. On the one hand, "The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish, foolishness," but on the other, "unto us which are saved, it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18).
Fourth, the firmament was designed by God. "And God made the firmament." So was it announced on the Day of Pentecost concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). So was it declared of old, "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief." The Cross was of Divine design and appointment.
Is it not also deeply significant that the words, "And God saw that it was good" are omitted at the close of this second day’s work? Had they been included here the type would have been marred. The second day’s work pointed forward to the Cross, and at the Cross God was dealing with sin. There His wrath was being expended on the Just One who was dying for the unjust. Though He was without any sin, yet was He "made sin for us" and dealt with accordingly. Does not then the omission here of the usual expression "God saw that it was good" assume a deeper significance than has been hitherto allowed.
III. In the third day’s work our Lord’s Resurrection is typically set forth.
Our article has already exceeded the limits we originally designed, so perforce, we must abbreviate.
The third thing necessary in the accomplishment of the Work of Redemption was the Resurrection of the Crucified One. A dead Savior could not save anyone. "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him"; Why? "Seeing He ever liveth" (Heb. 7:25).
Thus it is in our type. Beyond doubt, that which is foreshadowed on the third day’s work is resurrection. It is in the record concerning this third day that we read "Let the dry land appear" (v. 9). Previously the earth had been submerged, buried beneath the waters. But now the land is raised above the level of the seas; there is resurrection, the earth appears. But this is not all. In verse 11 we read, "And let the earth bring forth grass, etc." Hitherto death had reigned supreme. No life appeared upon the surface of the ruined earth. But on the third day the earth is commanded to "bring forth." Not on the second, not on the fourth, but on the third day was life seen upon the barren earth! Perfect is the type for all who have eyes to see. Wonderfully pregnant are the words, "Let the earth bring forth" to all who have ears to hear. It was on the third day that our Lord rose again from the dead "according to the Scriptures." According to what Scriptures? Do we not have in these 9th and 11th verses of Genesis 1 the first of these scriptures, as well as the primitive picture of our Lord’s Resurrection!
IV. In the fourth day’s work our Lord’s Ascension is typically suggested.
The Resurrection did not complete our Lord’s redemption work. In order for that He must enter the Heavenly Place not made with hands. He must take His seat on the right hand of the Majesty on high. He must go "into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24).
Once more we find the type corresponds with the Anti-type. In the fourth day’s work our eyes are removed from the earth and all its affairs and are turned to the heavens! (See verses 14-19). As we read these verses and gather something of their typical import, do we not hear the Holy Spirit saying, "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1, 2).
And as we lift our eyes heavenwards what do we see? "Two great lights"—typically, Christ and His people. The sun which speaks to us of "the Sun of Righteousness" (Malachi 4:2), and the moon which tells of Israel and the Church (Rev. 12:1), borrowing its light from, and reflecting the light of, the sun. And observe their functions. First, they are "to give light upon the earth (v. 17), and secondly, they are "to rule over the day and over the night" (v. 18). So it is with Christ and His people. During the present interval of darkness, the world’s night, Christ and His people are "the light of the world," but during the Millennium they shall rule and reign over the earth.
Thus in the first four days’ work in Genesis 1, we have foreshadowed the four great stages or crises in the accomplishment of the Work of Redemption. The Incarnation, the Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of our blessed Lord are respectively typified. In the light of this how precious are those words at the close of the six days’ work: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made" (Gen. 2:1, 2). The work of Redemption is completed, and in that work God finds His rest!
As we continue our meditations on the book of Genesis may God in His condescending grace reveal unto us "wondrous things out of His Law."