Studying the Bible brings great satisfaction and joy. Lately, the prophecies of the Bible, especially the less understood ones, have captivated my attention. But I was taken completely by surprise to discover prophetic gems in its very first chapter!
The Prophecy's Platform:
It all started when my attention was drawn one morning to the following verse: "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter 3:8) Notwithstanding the admonishment, I had been ignorant. Psalm 90:4 reinforces the thousand-year day as God's viewpoint: "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past."
Later that same day, by "coincidence," I read again the story of creation. But as I read, a picture slowly unfolded to my understanding which I might never have expected. I had for several years been studying the timeline of the Bible, from creation until now, and in the last year or two had especially examined the events in their chronological order, trying find out some of the interesting things, like, well.did you know that Adam was the only patriarch who died without knowing that God had taken Enoch to heaven?
Thinking of Adam brings me to the next point. Remembering what God had said to Adam and realizing that Adam lived 930 years before he died, the thought came clearly to my mind that God had kept His promise. The same "day" that Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he died! To God's way of thinking a thousand years are as one day. His words to Adam were prophetic, and should be prophetically understood. As I considered further, I realized that not only were God's words prophetic, but they had at least a double fulfillment. God had said, "But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17) When Adam disobeyed this commandment; in that literal day he died spiritually, and in that spiritual day he died literally.
This, as it turned out, proved one of the least of my discoveries. As you read about the others, keep in mind that there is both literal and spiritual application to all of this. We will focus mostly on the spiritual application; however, it does not change the literal or physical meaning.
Genesis 1:3 tells us what God did on His first (literal) day of creation. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
Light represents truth. This light emanates from God. God created Adam a perfect being. He walked with God. He talked with God. He learned of God and the angels face to face before his sin.
Do you recall what happened to Moses' face after he saw God's glory on the mountain? Imagine how Adam and Eve must have shone with the light of God's glory! This light must surely have faded after their sin, but the Bible says that angels of God stood with flaming swords to guard the entrance to the garden of Eden. The garden thus stood until the time of the flood. For this entire time, no one questioned the existence of God. Everyone could choose whether or not to follow God, but atheism would have been an unknown concept.
During this time, the light of truth shone brightly. The first "day," then, was light. The first thousand years were spiritually filled with light!
"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. And God called the firmament Heaven.." (Genesis 1:6-8)
In the middle of the second thousand-year period, a very critical event occurred. The parallels to the second day of creation are astounding.
In many of the biblical prophecies the scriptures use "waters" or "seas" to a consistent theme. You may recall that in Daniel and Revelation, the beasts come up out of the waters, or seas. The earth is said to have "swallowed up the flood" that came out of the mouth of the dragon. Many theologians will agree that in prophecy the waters represent people.
Careful study shows that the "firmament" which separated the waters is our atmosphere. God named it "Heaven" (Gen. 1:8) and it also is known as "the heavens". If waters exist in the heavens, and if they represent people, then those people should logically be those whose minds dwell on heavenly things.
The waters under the firmament represent those caught up in the cares of this earth, with worldly things. It appears that following the great patriarch Adam's death, a rapid degradation of humanity occurred, such that a mere 600 years later God was moved to the point of declaring "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.." But "Noah walked with God" and God saved him and his family from the destruction by flood. Thus did God divide the righteous, the heavenly-minded, from the wicked on the second millennial "day."
"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 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: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:9-12)
Two days, the third and the sixth, have a natural division in God's creativity. It is interesting to note that these days both precede, prophetically, a coming of the Lord. The first portion of the third day could easily be interpreted in other ways, but my observation leads me to the following conclusions:
Not long after the flood, the land mass which then existed broke apart. Genesis 10:25 records that "unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided." Peleg was born 100 years after the flood. Because people were still "gathered together" and even the animals had not fully dispersed over all the available land mass, the continents which evolved had an unequal distribution. Some of them had no people.
If water represents people, what should dry land represent? Revelation chapter 12 portrays the scene of a dragon casting out of its mouth a flood of waters and the earth opening its mouth to swallow the flood. The earth, or dry land, in this passage symbolized a relatively unpopulated, uncivilized America. The same conditions prevailed at the start of the third millennium. People had spread out by then, but had not had opportunity to organize forms of government (Babel had been destroyed).
Would you like to be called a grass? I am a grass. Some of us may also be trees. How do I know? Check out these verses! "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass." Isaiah 40:6-7. "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth." Psalm 103:15. "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away." 1 Peter 1:24. "Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field." Zechariah 10:1
Trees represent leaders among the grass. We must look up to the trees which tower over us, just as we look up to our leaders. God showed King Nebuchadnezzar his status in God's eyes as a tree. As Daniel interprets to the king: "The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth."
Trees also symbolize spiritual leaders, not just political ones. I have a feeling that God intends for all of His people to be trees in this sense. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:3. "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever." Psalm 52:8. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon." Psalm 92:12.
At the time of the flood, with the exception of just eight souls, all others perished. No longer did the grass carpet the earth. No longer did the trees among the grass tower high above them. The earth lay low and barren. Civilization would have to be rebuilt. Not until the third "day" did civilization with all of its populace, leadership, and government make a comeback. During the third millennium several civilizations and kingdoms came into being including Egypt, Philistia, and Israel.
"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:14-18)
Upon reading this portion the hair on the back of my neck nearly stood up in wonder! At the proverbial "final hour" of this fourth "day", Christ came to earth as the world's Messiah and Redeemer. Many passages in scripture compare Christ to the light of the sun, and in Revelation 22:16 He calls himself "the bright and morning star." Almost without debate, Christ shines as the greatest light the universe will ever know. The creation account makes no mention of the sun, but instead refers to a "greater light" and a "lesser light." Clearly, no greater light exists than that of God Himself.
Nearly all of the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament, from Elijah to Malachi, lived within the fourth "day" of this earth's history. Collectively, these prophets represent the "lesser light" for several reasons. Just like the moon, which cannot create light but only serves to reflect the light of the sun, these prophets could not speak "by the will of man" but only "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21) While God gives us His law, the prophets remind us of the law and give us more specific instruction. "Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name." (Jeremiah 31:35)
The stars may symbolize two things: the saints of God, and the holy angels. Notably, the star which rested above Bethlehem's manger, and which guided the wise men to Jerusalem gave its light as a group of heavenly angels sent as messengers of the glad news of Jesus' birth. A star might be thought of as one who has so closely come into contact with God that it glows with light just as did Moses' face after his time with God. Interestingly, the stars appear as but a footnote to the fourth day of creation, indicating the sun and moon as the more prominent features.
This prophecy puts the creation week into a new perspective. I had never fully understood why God created light on the first day, and the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day until this bigger picture revealed itself. It casts a new meaning upon the record of "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:8) Surely, from the very creation of this earth God not only foresaw the dark future, but put into action His plan to be created on earth among us, that we might see His light!
"And God said, 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. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth." (Genesis 1:20-22)
I'm still studying these verses, but I have a good idea as to what this is predicting. Fortunately, the Bible gives many references to both fish and fowl, and at least three other references to "whales," though only one of these uses the same Hebrew word.
Fowl are foul. That is what Revelation 18:2 says! "Babylon...is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Other examples of this throughout scripture include the many references to birds eating the dead flesh of men. Jesus' parable of the sower portrays the birds as thieves of the gospel seed. Matthew 24:28 notes that "wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." Deuteronomy 28:26 broadens this to all kinds of birds in saying "thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air...."
Based on these texts and many others, it can be understood that one of the primary definitions of fowl in symbolic use, is that of the demons themselves. Of course, Satan and his angels like to see humans dead both spiritually and physically. How fitting, too, that both birds and angels possess wings. The heavenly angels, or "good angels," may also be represented at times with the bird analogy, though this appears less common.
Typically we think of fish as being created on the fifth day along with the birds, yet neither of these words is used in the genesis record. In place of "fish" the text speaks of "every living creature that moveth." Remember that water represents the human populace and economy, and these creatures that exist in the water swim in the water which is said to be "under the earth," implying people who live outside of the heavenly atmosphere, caught up in the affairs of the world.
Whales, the largest of all living animals, might symbolize the superpowers in the spiritual or political realm. With huge, gaping mouths, whales consume the much smaller creatures, similar to the way in which the papal powers of the fifth millennium gathered in the wealth of the common people and subjugated all both politically and religiously.
Looking back to this fifth millennium many call it "the dark ages." During this time spiritual darkness prevailed as the demonic agencies gained much ground against the truth. Those who dared to know and keep God's law were persecuted. This period may actually extend into the sixth "day" when God creates the animals that "creep" on the face of the earth.
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:24-28)
First, God makes the creatures that move upon the earth. The verse mentions three categories of these; cattle, creeping things, and beasts of the earth.
Cattle represent creatures which do not speak but are mute. Isaiah 53:7 speaks of sheep before their shearers being dumb. Many references use sheep as a comparison to people. Usually, the sheep imply people who try to follow the Lord but who may often stray away as well. On the contrary, goats usually represent the unrighteous. Both classes walk on the face of the earth.
Creeping things would include all manner of reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and other small animals. It could very well include all the invertebrates like insects, spiders and worms. These animals often consume dead or decaying organisms, and because of this they remind me of those which seek to prey upon the spiritually dead.
Revelation and Daniel speak of beasts, rising up out of the sea, symbolically presenting the future of nations to come. In the sixth thousand-year period the earth blossoms with nations. Never before has the whole world known so many nations as now. With countries numbering in the hundreds, I cannot help but think the "beasts" of the sixth day, in parallel with the beasts of Daniel and Revelation, fulfill this prophecy in verity.
Now God presents His masterpiece: Mankind. Not only was this to be called the crowning act of creation, but it was to become the most precious gem of its day in prophecy. In it lies an exquisite promise for us; a promise of salvation, of freedom from sin. "And God said, Let us make man in our image.." In the image of God!
As the earth nears the end of its week, God's standard of success and of righteousness reaches new heights. At last, at long last, God will have a people whose character resembles that of God Himself! Referring to this very moment in time, Ellen White was inspired to pen these words: "When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own." (COL 69.1)
And the prophecy doesn't end there! Not content only to perfect His people, God promises to give them dominion, or victory, over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and all the creatures on the earth. Throughout scripture fish represent simple creatures which can but follow one another or be hooked or ensnared. These represent the inattentive class of people caught up in the cares of this life, little knowing what their fate will be. Fowl, again, represent the demonic agencies. And beasts symbolize the very countries or political systems in which we live. Over all of these, the righteous are to be conquerors.
Nor does it end there! God commands the righteous to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it." Does this remind you of some of Jesus' final words to the disciples while still on this earth? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.... And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:15,17-18)
"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. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." (Genesis 2:1-3)
Rest is a deeply spiritual word. It implies peace of mind. A student can only experience a good night's rest after the final exams have been taken, after the work is done. In the seventh millennium, God rests. The work of judgment complete, His people rescued from the earth, God now rests. No longer must the angels of heaven rush to and from the earth to aid the weary, wandering sinners in their plight. No longer can Satan and his host tempt and entrap the multitudes with the purpose of striking pain at the very heart of God. God has come and claimed His own. The wicked lie in their graves. Satan is bound in chains, cast in the bottomless pit, having nought but one more "day" to think about all he has done. The whole earth rests. The universe rests.
Some special messages for our time emerge from a study of creation's prophecy. We see a Creator God whose foreknowledge and wisdom surpass the barrier of time, and who shapes the pattern of events with His own strong hand. We see the plan of salvation, including our redemption, and take comfort in knowing that God had laid it all out before the creation of the earth. We see especially that God has promised to perfect His own character in us, that He's given us a work to do, and that He will come in the "day of the LORD" to reunite with His faithful children! May we be ready!