The Evidence of the Typical Teaching of the Passage

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F. W. Grant points out that the pattern seen in Genesis 1—of generation (vs. 1), degeneration (vs. 2), and regeneration (vss. 3-31)—is consistent with the pattern of God's ways with men elsewhere in Scripture. Thus, the typology in the chapter supports the interpretation that there was an original creation of God that was laid waste, and then, after an undisclosed amount of time (a gap), He made the present heavens and earth.
There are two ways in which the account can be interpreted typically. Firstly, it can be interpreted as representing the moral work of God in the souls of men—from new birth and salvation, to their growth and full development in the truth. This is the way the Apostle Paul speaks of Genesis 1 in 2 Corinthians 4:6. He says, "For God, who commanded [spoke] the light to shine out of the darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light [for the shining forth] of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." He correlates the movements of God in the reconstruction of the earth with the divine workings in the hearts of fallen men to bring them to salvation, thus showing that Genesis 1 can be interpreted for its typical significance.
Just as the original creation of God, which was set up in pristine beauty, came under judgment as a result of Satan's operations, so also has the human race followed in that same course. Man was set up in a sinless condition in the Garden of Eden, but he was corrupted by Satan's work; thus being a responsible sinner, he came under the judgment of God (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:17-19; Eccl. 7:29). The condition of "darkness" that lay over the whole scene depicts the moral and spiritual darkness that has engulfed fallen race of man (Luke 22:53; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:13).
The First Day
The Genesis record tells us that God did not leave the creation in a waste. On the first day, He began to work toward recovery by undertaking a massive renovation of the earth. He used two agents to accomplish this—the Spirit of God ("And the Spirit of God moved...") and the Word of God ("And God said..."). This is exactly what God has done with certain men (believers) in the fallen race of Adam. He has begun a moral and spiritual work in men, whereby they are recovered from their fallen condition and blessed. The beginning of this process of divine operation in souls is called new birth (John 3:3-8; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25) or quickening (Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 2:13). It is solely a divine operation by which God uses the same two agents He used in the reconstruction of the earth (John 3:5). The Spirit of God applies the Word of God to souls and thereby communicates divine life to them. Just as "light" was the first effect in God's work in the reconstruction of the earth, so also is spiritual light the first effect in born again souls. This is what Paul was referring to in 2 Corinthians 4:6 when he said, "God hath shined in our hearts." Men, born of God, for the first time are able to "see the kingdom of God," and thus, they have capacity for the understanding of divine subjects (John 3:3). Hence, the first day (vss. 3-5) answers to God's work in new birth.
The Second Day
On the second day (vss. 6-8), a "firmament [expanse]" (the atmosphere) was made for man to breathe, and thus, he would be able to "live and move" in fellowship with God (Acts 17:28). However, at this point, there were no men to benefit from what God had made. While this was a necessary step in the process of the reconstruction, God does not call this stage "good." (It is the only day that is not pronounced so.) Perhaps the reason for this lies in what the second day represents typically. At this point, there was air and water, but no land. There were "waters which were under [beneath] the firmament" and "waters which were above the firmament," but no solid ground upon which man could set his foot. It perhaps answers to the unstable state of soul depicted in Romans 7:14-24, where a person has been born of God (having life and a degree of light) but does not have a clear understanding regarding the finished work of Christ in redemption. Hence, there is nothing solid upon which the soul can rest spiritually. While it is an experience necessary for souls to pass through in reaching deliverance, it is not a state in which God delights to see His children. Hence, He does not call it good.
The Third Day
On the third day (vss. 9-13), God provided a solid foundation on which men could stand and bring forth fruit for God. He made "the dry [land]" appear by gathering the waters "unto one place." It has been suggested that this place, figuratively speaking, was at the cross. It was there that the waters of judgment gathered and swept over the Lord Jesus (Amos 5:24; Psa. 42:7; Psa. 88:6-7, etc.), and as a result, redemption's ground was laid. The dry land speaks (typically) of the foundation that God lays in believers through resting in faith on the death and resurrection of Christ—of which the third day typifies. Mr. F. W. Grant states that Romans 8 depicts this solid state in believers. As a result of this action, on the third day there was a progression of life—from grass, to herbs (bushes), to trees. It depicts the growth that ought to result in the life of believers who understand their position in Christ and who enjoy deliverance.
The Fourth Day
On the fourth day (vss. 14-19), the sun, moon, and stars were set in their places in the sky. Since the heavens were untouched by the upheaval that swept over the earth in verse 2, on this fourth day, when God made the heavenly lights in the sky, it was a repositioning of them in newly ordered places relative to the earth (ESV footnote – "appointed;" Psa. 74:16 – "prepared;" Psa. 104:19). This was all done with a view to the good and blessing of the earth's future inhabitants. The purpose of these heavenly orbs was to give light on earth and also to measure time. (Scientists tell us that the earth is placed in some insignificant spot in an insignificant galaxy in the universe, but these verses show that the earth is God's moral center of the universe.) Likewise, after a believer has been established by faith on the solid foundation of Christ's death and resurrection, God would set before him heavenly objects and blessings that are his to behold and enjoy in Christ, and would use those heavenly things as light to order his course on earth. The epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians particularly focus on this heavenly side of things
The Fifth Day
On the fifth day (vss. 20-23), higher forms of life were brought forth, and for the first time in the reconstruction process, God created—He created living creatures and blessed them. As to the spiritual application, this suggests that God has granted to Christians a life of higher privileges than that which other forms of life have been given—including angels and saints of other ages.
The Sixth Day
On the sixth day (vss. 24-31), God reached the pinnacle of His work in creating, making, and forming Adam and Eve. They were then set on the earth in fellowship with Himself. This suggests God's work of regulating the affections of believers toward Himself and each other, in intelligent communion. Since a community of saints dwelling in the love of God is the pinnacle of Christian experience, it is fitting that God closed His work on that day with this crowning act.
The Seventh Day
The seventh day (Gen. 2:1-3), God rested in fellowship with His creatures.
Dispensational Interpretation
The other way in which the passage can be interpreted typically, is dispensationally—actually, "the ages of time" (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2). Again, the same order of generation, degeneration, and regeneration occurs. The chapter presents an outline of God's ways with men through the course of time. It is fitting that it should be given at the outset of God's Word (Acts 15:18).
The original creation in its pristine beauty, before the destruction of the earth, represents the age of innocence (before the fall – Genesis 3), when man was set upon the earth in a sinless state.
The first day would answer to the age after man sinned when he and his posterity acquired the light of conscience.
The second day answers to the age after the flood when men were put under self-government, but with much instability.
The third day, wherein the earth rose out of the waters, represents the emergence of Israel (the land) from among the Gentile nations (the seas), in the call of Abraham and his family.
The fourth day the lights in the heavens (the sun and moon) were set in their places. This typifies the Church (the moon) being called into existence in relation to Christ (the sun) as His body—a heavenly company of believers.
The fifth day had a troubling of the waters, but out of it came blessing. This speaks of the troubled times of Great Tribulation through which Israel and the Gentile nations will pass (Jer. 30:7; Mark 13:8) before blessing will be reached.
The sixth day represents the millennial day when Christ and the Church (the antitype of Adam and Eve) will have dominion over the universe.
The seventh day answers to the eternal rest of God. 1
Our point in delineating both themes of typical teaching in the chapter (moral and dispensational) is to show that both applications follow the generation, degeneration, regeneration pattern. And, if this pattern is not in the text—as Young Earth Creationists say—then the typical teaching of the passage becomes null and void. Hence, the "young earth" interpretation destroys the typology in the passage, and therefore, could not be correct.
1. See F. W. Grant's, "Genesis in the Light of the New Testament" for a fuller explanation of the typical teaching of the passage.)