O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I have already stated previously that there is no smoking gun verse or scripture that is going to come right out and tell you how to interpret Gen 1 just as there is none for Rev 21 &22. We develop these inferences from what is called the preponderance of the evidence from intertextual scriptural applications and a study of the earliest writers and external older Jewish type commentaries illustrating how the Jews even before Christ were applying Gen 1. Consequently there is not going to be a scripture that you can point to that categorically demands that Gen 1 should be taken in a modern material view as is common and traditional in the church. The material idea is assumed and so it depends on who can make the best intertextual case and the one I’m presenting appears to have a significant scriptural edge and fits best the typical application of scriptures. So continuing to point out the lack of “one specific scripture” is a straw man argument when sized up in the proper perspective.
Next let’s examine the Usage of the Image of God more closely in Gen 9. The implicit usage of the “Image of God” in Gen 1:26 IMO demonstrates that this image is the eschatological end and desire of God and that those who are consummated with God’s Image is therefore the plan of salvation. Just as prophetically inferring the Spirit upon the Dead bones of Israel in Ezk 37 it portends a promise to bring God’s spirit fully upon the faithful. If one studies carefully the indwelling of the Spirit it becomes apparent that the Spirit and the Image of God are one and the same. It becomes very problematic theologically to try to infer a philosophical Image of God upon mankind in General as that idea emanates from Greek philosophy that infiltrated the church very early on and still has its grip upon us (see Sam Frost and his Clarkian view as exhibit #1?) Therefore the statement of what is being specified in Gen 9 about the Image does not necessarily imply that faithful man has already obtained the full Image of God yet but appears to stipulate a continuance and reaffirmation of the implied reality of the prophecy from Gen 1:26. (It is well understood that Gen 9 is a recapitulation of Gen 1:26-31 by many scholars)
Let’s consider the shedding of blood statement related to the Image of God in Gen 9. The reality is that faithful man cannot have his blood shed without due recompense from God who avenges for the faithful man created in His Image. We see this illustrated in the NT day when the faithful are exhorted to not take vengeance upon the ones shedding their blood but expect God too: who alone declares vengeance is mine. This is not speaking about humanity at large but is speaking only of the faithful covenant man and is instructive to him. Genesis is a Hebrew application and stands outside of a general application to man in General. Also one needs to keep in mind that although the ancient faithful were not fully endowed with the Spirit due to the nature of the Old covenant body yet they would join in with all the faithful church together in this rising. So in a manner of speaking any faithful man or woman of old such as those found in Hebrews 11 also bears the Image of God through the redemptive promise. I would call it the promise but not yet Hope of Israel to become complete at the Parousia.
Heb 11:39-40 And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, (40) God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Now I’m not alone in this analysis of Gen 1 as I have found James Jordan also speaks similar about Gen 9 and 1 concerning the Image of God. G. K. Beale also equates and develops the Image of Godin Gen 1:26-28 as instructive to the eschatological fulfillment of God’s Temple(see his book “The Temple and the Church’s Mission”). Jordan goes the same route that I do in stating that “man” there is not speaking about humanity at large but is speaking about the faithful covenant man or in his words the ancient “church” body. This is Hebrew history and it is concerned with the foundation of Israel’s establishment and hope yet it folds in the Gentile in subtle and nuanced ways throughout OT scripture.
Gen 9:5-6 `And only your blood for your lives do I require; from the hand of every living thing I require it, and from the hand of man (Adam), from the hand of every man's(eesh) brother I require the life of man (Adams); (6) whoso sheddeth man's (Adam’s) blood, by man (Adam) is his blood shed: for in the image of God hath He made man (Adam).
The shedding of the faithful Covenant mans (adams) blood is a continual theme found in scripture. And Gods judgment will fall upon those who shed the innocent “mans” (adams) blood and As Jordan points out this appears to be prophetic and instructional for the welfare of both the old and new church body and was not instructive for mankind at large. It has prophetic and eschatological overtones as is illustrated by the constant referencing of this principle throughout scripture and its fulfillment in judgment against the murderous brothers at AD70.Here are a few examples of the flow throughout scripture culminating in Revelation.
Isa 26:20-21 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. (21) For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
Isa 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
Jer 26:15 But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof:
Lam 4:13 For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,
Eze 36:18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land,
Mat 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel …
Rev 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Let’s examine some of what Jordan writes concerning Gen 9. Make no mistake that I do not agree with substantial premises of Jordan’s especially his lack of embracing full Preterism but he sheds some important light on certain attributes of Gen 9 that I do agree with but not completely.
“It is commonly held in Reformed thought that the Noahic Covenant is given to all men equally. The Noahic Covenant concerns "man," not simply "church," and establishes civil government as an institution among "mankind" — that is the theory. Sometimes the Noahic Covenant is regarded as a "covenant of common grace," guaranteeing God’s sustenance of all human life, whether faithful or wicked; but one way or another the idea that the Noahic Covenant is addressed to "man qua man" is found throughout evangelical and Reformed literature.
The purpose of this essay is to challenge this assumption, and to point to the true meaning of the Noahic Covenant. We shall see that the Noahic Covenant was not addressed to man as man, but to covenant-man, to the Church. The benefits and duties of the Noahic Covenant are not addressed to all mankind, but only to believers.
“It is essential to see that it is the Church that is addressed here (see 1 Pet. 3:20-21). There are only eight people, and all of them are faithful covenant members. Though Ham will fall into sin later on, at this point he is nearly 500 years old and has been faithful to God all those years. God is not speaking here to "humanity in general" or to "man as man," but to the covenant-keeping community of the Church. As we shall see, those who break the covenant lose the regal benefits of the Noahic Covenant.
It is the Church that is commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (9:1; as in Gen. 1:26-28). God does not want the wicked to multiply. Before the Flood God did not cut the wicked out of the commands and benefits of the covenant as regards the world, and the wicked multiplied on the earth. After the Flood God acts to cut back the wicked, and it is only the righteous who multiply (cf. Ex. 1).
God says that His people may eat the flesh of any animal, clean or unclean, except that they are not to eat the blood with it (9:3-4).” Emphasis mine.
Let me insert here that it was not until Peter’s vision that the fulfillment of eating the flesh of the unclean animal was permitted to the Jews. Noah was already following the guidance of clean and unclean animals when he sacrificed only the clean animals. (Gen 8:20)
Act 10:11-13 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: (12) Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. (13) And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. … What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Jordan also talks about the Blood retribution:
“God says that He will require the blood of His people from the hands of those who slay them, specifically from the hand of "every man’s brother" (9:5). This is a direct allusion back to Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. God did not require Abel’s blood at the hand of Cain, and protected Cain. God allowed Cain and the unbelievers to remain "inside" the covenant grant before the Flood, but now things are going to be different.
The covenant and its provisions are actually addressed only to believers. God says here that if the courts do not act to avenge His saints, He will do so Himself: "I will require . . . I will require . . . I will require"!
Verse 5 says "from the hand of every beast I will require it." Now that the animals are repositioned into union with the Church, they are accountable in a new way if they attack covenant-man. Throughout the Bible, unbelievers are symbolized by beasts, and possibly they are also in view here. It may be that the "man" here is covenant man, while unbelievers are included among "beasts."
End Jordan quote:
You can see above that Jordan toys with the understanding that man is the faithful man while the beast represents the unbeliever specifically those opposed to God. This is very often the way beast is utilized throughout scripture even until Revelation. John will use the illustration of Cain who is depicted as the example of the murderous Jews representing the seed of the Devil their father as the ones whom this especially will pertain to.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field
2Pe 2:9-11 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished … 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
Again I will remind that the Genesis stories are often applied much more in line with eschatological end time events and their implications appear to comport greatly with common themes that continually resonate within scripture. These observations by Jordan are simply reflections of these common themes and my premise is that they underscore the messianic theme primarily of Genesis that continues on until the end. We have the choice of reading either a literal view into Genesis that is not found throughout scripture or we can match Genesis with the rest of the theme of scripture and actually do justice to the consistency of scripture. This is and always has been the theme of the Covenant creation hermeneutic. It simply takes what we have learned concerning the eschatological end and applied that premise to the rest of scripture and we start to unravel what literalist thought was about physical creation and physical end and find that the status quo does not hold for either end.
Jordan now gets into some of his thoughts on the Image of God. I believe Jordan is on the correct path below but I also believe that he hedges his bets by throwing in with the conventional Greek Philosophical understanding of the Image of God as all men that has taken over the church. Jordan makes the case that the Image of God finds its fulfillment in the church which incidentally entails the old faithful and the new covenant faithful who stand at judgment. He doesn’t present any scriptural or logical case for the idea that all humanity is created in God’s Image but just tosses it in as an afterthought to remain somewhat orthodox in todays environment.
“Verse 6b says, "For in the image of God He made man." This phrase has been interpreted three ways. First, it has been put with the second part of 6a, "By man his blood shall be shed." This view says that the right to execute capital punishment is given to "man" because "man" is the image of God. The problem with this interpretation is that Adam was the image of God, but Adam did not have the right/duty of executing capital punishment (Gen. 4:15). Indeed, ascension to rule and authority is an aspect of maturing in the likeness of God, not an aspect of the image. (See Jordan, "The Dominion Trap," Biblical Horizons No. 15.)
The second interpretation puts 6b with all of 6a, "Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed." In other words, killing a human being is an attempt to kill God, an attack on the image of God, and thus merits the death penalty. This is the usual interpretation, and I can live with it. The third interpretation, however, does justice to this idea while taking the context into account in a better way.
G. Ch. Aalders in his commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981) points out that it is most likely that 6b refers to everything from 9:1-6a. He notes that in Genesis 1, man is given dominion over the animals, given the right to eat God-given food, and told to multiply. In Genesis 1:26-30 are spelled out, in part at least, what it means to be the "image" of God. These provisions are repeated in a new form in Genesis 9:1-3, and so 6a most likely refers back to the entire paragraph.
We have seen, and we shall see again, that it is the Church that is being addressed in Genesis 9, not humanity in general. The fact that the Church is in view means that the Church is going to fulfill God’s original intention regarding the "image." All men are images of God, but the Church is the undistorted and true image.
In the wider sense, all men are God’s images, for better or worse, but in the narrow or moral sense, only the faithful show forth God’s image.
Genesis 9, however, is not simply a repetition of Genesis 1. It is not addressed to unfallen man, but to redeemed and covenant-keeping man. The creation ordinances of Genesis 1 are republished within the sphere of redemption. In terms of redemption, only covenant-keepers are manifesting the image of God properly.
Rom 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (29) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Col 1:15 He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
I believe I have introduced enough substantiation concerning the image of God in Gen 1 and 9 that one should start to determine patterns in biblical literature that sheds light upon the context of the Image of God in both places. But let’s not stop there lets go back to the 4th Century and see what Augustine has to say about the Image of God. Also I remind to keep in focus the considerable scripture in the NT that “clearly” designates the Image of God through Christ indwelling the faithful only after the resurrection of Christ. Jordan fundamentally reinforces that understanding by applying it to the church both old and New. Again I remind that Jordan uses the church as the embodiment of only the faithful whether old covenant or new and this would naturally exclude the apostate and unfaithful Jew from this consideration. Paul explains this basically in Rom 9:6-8 when he says that true Israel is not of the flesh but of the Promise which comports with what the worthies of Heb 11 were looking for as well.
Here again is the quote from Augustine where he lays out the allegorical application of the Days of Genesis 1 as representing all the ages of the time of Israel from Adam until his day. Augustine being a futurist did not recognize that he was not still living in the sixth age but had entered into the 7th age Sabbath Rest and beyond. Notice that Augustine is reflecting already the common idea of his day that they were in the sixth millennium Day and had not entered the Sabbath rest. He missed the Parousia but seemed to understand the nature of Gen 1 much different than has come into vogue in more recent times.
6. But observe what Himself says, The things which were written in the law, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me. And we know that the law extends from the time of which we have record, that is, from the beginning of the world: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 Thence down to the time in which we are now living are six ages, this being the sixth, as you have often heard and know. The first age is reckoned from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; and, as Matthew the evangelist duly follows and distinguishes, the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from the carrying away into Babylon to John the Baptist; Matthew 1:17 the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world.
Moreover, God made man after His own image on the sixth day, because in this sixth age is manifested the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us; Colossians 3:10 and the water is turned into wine, that we may taste of Christ, now manifested in the law and the prophets. Hence there were there six water-pots, which He bade be filled with water. Now the six water-pots signify the six ages, which were not without prophecy. And those six periods, divided and separated as it were by joints, would be as empty vessels unless they were filled by Christ. Why did I say, the periods which would run fruitlessly on, unless the Lord Jesus were preached in them? Prophecies are fulfilled, the water-pots are full; but that the water may be turned into wine, Christ must be understood in that whole prophecy.
The question becomes where did Augustine and others get this idea about Genesis as he says that living in the sixth age was common knowledge. This goes back to the middle of the first Century and can be verified through the Barnabas letter which gives us a snapshot of the mindset of the Christian community with the impact of the Apostles in place. Here again is how Barnabas explains Genesis 1 concerning the “Image of God”. Notice how this reinforces what Augustine says about the Image and how it correlates with the scriptures that I have been pointing to such as Rom 8:28-29 and it also reinforces what Jordan has been presenting to a large degree in Genesis concerning the Image fulfilled through the church only.
Barn 5:5 Moreover, my brethren, if the Lord endured to suffer for our life, though he is the Lord of all the world, to whom God said before the foundation of the world, "Let us make man in our image and likeness," how, then, did he endure to suffer at the hand of man?
6 Learn: -- The Prophets who received grace from him prophesied of him, and he, in order that he "might destroy death," and show forth the Resurrection from the dead, because he needs must be made "manifest in the flesh," endured
7 in order to fulfil the promise made to the fathers, and himself prepare for himself the new people and show while he was on earth that he himself will raise the dead and judge the risen.
11 So then the Son of God came in the flesh for this reason, that he might complete the total of the sins of those who persecuted his prophets to death.
(Notice again the fulfillment of the Gen 9 declaration concerning the spilling of the faithful mans blood.)
Barn 6:11 Since then he made us new by the remission of sins he made us another type, that we should have the soul of children, as though he were creating us afresh.
12 For it is concerning us that the scripture says that he says to the Son, "Let us make man after our image and likeness, and let them rule the beasts of the earth, and the birds of heaven, and the fishes of the sea." And the Lord said, when he saw our fair creation, "Increase and multiply and fill the earth"; these things were spoken to the Son.
Notice above the clear understanding of Barnabas in his explanation to the church that Genesis 1 is specifically targeted toward the time of Christ and the fulfillment of the sixth Day Image of God upon the faithful.
13 Again I will show you how he speaks to us. In the last days he made a second creation; and the Lord says, "See, I make the last things as the first." To this then the Prophet referred when he proclaimed, "Enter into a land flowing with milk and honey, and rule over it."
14 See then, we have been created afresh, as he says again in another Prophet, "See," saith the Lord, "I will take out from them" (that is those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw) "the hearts of stone and I will put in hearts of flesh." Because he himself was going to be manifest in the flesh and to dwell among us.
15 For, my brethren, the habitation of our hearts is a shrine holy to the Lord.
18 And we have said above, "And let them increase and multiply and rule over the fishes." Who then is it who is now able to rule over beasts or fishes or the birds of heaven? For we ought to understand that to rule implies authority, so that one may give commandments and have domination.
19 If then this does not happen at present he has told us the time when it will; -- when we ourselves also have been made perfect as heirs of the covenant of the Lord.
Notice the understanding that there was an anticipation of the coming perfect as Paul says in 1 Cor 13 but also backup and look and see that Dominion rule is being recognized for the saints just as prophesied in Gen1 and 9 in which the writer alludes to. This is also sustained in Daniel 7 in which the demise of the Beast occurs and the Saints will be given the dominion and rule over them.
Dan 7:24-27 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. … (26) But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. (27) And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.'
The Barnabas epistle picks up on Daniel 7 as well.
Barn 4:4 And the Prophet also says thus: "Ten kingdoms shall reign upon the earth and there shall rise up after them a little king, who shall subdue three of the kings under one."
5 Daniel says likewise concerning the same: "And I beheld the fourth Beast, wicked and powerful and fiercer than all the beasts of the sea, and that ten horns sprang from it, and out of them a little excrescent horn, and that it subdued under one three of the great horns."
But that is not all the commentary that the mid First century Christian commentary explains about Genesis 1. Take a look at this.
3 He speaks of the Sabbath at the beginning of the Creation, "And God made in six days the works of his hands and on the seventh day he made an end, and rested in it and sanctified it."
4 Notice, children, what is the meaning of "He made an end in six days"? He means this: that the Lord will make an end of everything in six thousand years, for a day with him means a thousand years. And he himself is my witness when he says, "Lo, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years." So then, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything will be completed.
5 "And he rested on the seventh day." This means, when his Son comes he will destroy the time of the wicked one, and will judge the godless, and will change the sun and the moon and the stars, and then he will truly rest on the seventh day.
(Notice the correspondence with Rev 21:23 in which there is no more need for the sun and the moon as the old covenant passes.)
7 See that we shall indeed keep it holy at that time, when we enjoy true rest, when we shall be able to do so because we have been made righteous ourselves and have received the promise, when there is no more sin, but all things have been made new by the Lord: then we shall be able to keep it holy because we ourselves have first been made holy.
8 Furthermore he says to them, "Your new moons and the sabbaths I cannot away with." Do you see what he means? The present sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but that which I have made, in which I will give rest to all things and make the beginning of an eighth day, that is the beginning of another world.
The six Days of creation from Genesis 1 is fully embraced here in the Barnabas epistle to represent six ages or millenniums similar to how we full Preterist recognize it as used by John and Peter. It does not denote a literal six 1000 years but bears an eternal fulfilling completion. However the church again lost the symbolic meaning of the 1000 years quickly over the years and they literalize it until this day in which some still believe that physical earth has only been in existence for 6000 years. It’s a common mistake from not understanding Hebrew numerology and literalizing it at first glance. This common phrase that Peter and Barnabas employ is found 200 years earlier in the Book of Jubilees regarding Adam’s death in which he failed to reach 1000 years which signifies eternal salvation. That is why 1000 is used by John in Revelation to indicate those who live and reign for a 1000 years have the equivalent of eternal life through Christ. The key message about the Jubilees quote is that Adam because of his failure in disobedience to the commandment failed to attain the 1000 year life. That was reserved for all the old worthies as mentioned in Heb 11:39-40 to only be obtained at the consummation of the Ages. The end of the sixth Day.
Jub 4:29Adam died … And he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; for one thousand years are as one day in the testimony of the heavens and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: "On the day that ye eat thereof ye will die." For this reason he did not complete the years of this day; for he died during it.
Notice above that even 200 years before Christ the literature was reflecting the saying of the thousand years as a Day and also notice that the Day is considered symbolic and metaphorical by the Jews. This establishes over 2000 years ago that the modern YEC that reject a allegorical Day of Genesis are going against the ancient thinking of the Jews and the earliest Christians. Whom should we follow the modern futurist minded church that doesn’t understand the symbolism of Revelation or the ancients that understood both ends of the story symbolically?
Finally the Image of God as understood by many contemporary scholars is starting to be recognized in a similar vein.
So far I have been discussing primarily the sixth Day as representing the last day before the consummating 7th Day Sabbath Rest. We can see from Heb 4 that the 7th Day Sabbath rest was considered to be an upcoming event. This would be the Day of Rest in which God has finished creating His Temple yet it is not one in which is made with hands but one in which dwells within man as the Image of God. This is fully established through Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit upon the faithful believer. But let’s consider the language now of the 5th Day of Genesis 1 in which Augustine says correlates to the first Temple destruction and the dispersion of God’s people among the Nations. This also correlates with Matthew’s Genealogical breakdown division of 14 Generations removed from John the Baptist and the beginning of the sixth Day.
I also want to point out that translators often provide words that do not truly reflect the eschatological meaning. For example the use of “age” is typically glossed over in the NT by translating it Universe or world when it has no such connotation as its being employed. Here is an example in which Ages fit comfortably into the idea of the end of the Old Covenant H &E or the end of the “ages” but many translations use “world” which typifies a subtle difference to moderns.
Heb 11:3 by faith we understand the ages to have been prepared by a saying of God, in regard to the things seen not having come out of things appearing;
Heb 1:2 in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages;
However can we find support that Gen 1’s description of Day 5 would somehow support the language of the OT concerning the period from the first Temple destruction until Christ? Let’s look at the language carefully. Does this figurative language match up with similar language written during this OT time and thus reflect a common identity?
18 And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens."
19 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."
the fifth day
If we look we find that the swarms of Living creatures correspond with Ezekiel 47 in which the peoples of the oikoumene (the Nations) have been brought into contact with the People of God through the exile of the Ten Tribes, and then finally Judah living and sharing their ways with the Kings and peoples of Babylon and Assyria. The Sea creatures are rendered as the Gentiles, and specifically, the Great Sea Monster are those rulers of these Nations, such as Pharaoh of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, etc. God is the God of all peoples and Kings as illustrated time and again in the OT when judgment is declared on them because they did not acknowledge that God had established them.
Let’s consider Ezekiel 47.
Eze 47:7-12 Now when I had returned, behold, upon the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. (8) Then said he unto me, These waters issue forth toward the eastern region, and shall go down into the Arabah; and they shall go toward the sea; into the sea shall the waters go which were made to issue forth; and the waters shall be healed. (9) And it shall come to pass, that every living creature which swarmeth, in every place whither the rivers come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters are come thither, and the waters of the sea shall be healed, and everything shall live whithersoever the river cometh. (10) And it shall come to pass, that fishers shall stand by it: from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim shall be a place for the spreading of nets; their fish shall be after their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. … And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food, whose leaf shall not whither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail: it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters thereof issue out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for healing.
Daniel and Ezekiel describe the Kings of Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon as Great Trees established by God. These Trees were to protect the people in their dominion but each of these trees fell leaving the creatures (peoples) without. This is contrasted above to the living water of the Messianic Temple water that will not fail, but brings life and healing.
Dan 2:37-38 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, (38) and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all--you are the head of gold.
4:14 He proclaimed aloud and said thus: 'Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches.
21 whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived--
Also, the fishermen casting nets is an important motif of the Apostles as fishers of men in the New Testament.
Joh 21:6-11 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. … But the other disciples came in the little boat … dragging the net full of fishes. … (10) Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now taken. (11) Simon Peter therefore went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, the net was not rent.
Do we maybe have an idea now why the early Gentile Christians adopted the sign of the Fish as emblematic of themselves?
Let’s spend a little more time with these “living creatures” found in Ezekiel 47 who are going to live. We see that they are indeed established in Genesis 1 day 5 which is the time of the 70 year exile of God’s people into the heart of the Gentile world (cast back into the Sea as Jonah might say). The saints were cast into the Sea and during this time, like Jonah’s time, they perform a precursor of what will happen from Pentecost to the Parousia; that is, they will convert and influence some of the Gentiles such as King Neb and King Cyrus.
Next, The Great sea monsters are identified also here in Ezekiel and are very similar to the Beast from the Sea in Daniel 7. We see this fulfilled in Revelation where the Beast and the monster of the Sea, along with the Serpent, all meet their final demise.
Eze 32:2 "Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: "You consider yourself a lion of the nations, but you are like a dragon (Monster) in the seas;
Isa 27:1 In that day Jehovah with his hard and great and strong sword will punish leviathan the swift serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent; and he will slay the monster that is in the sea.
However, again back to the Living Creatures, as we find them also described in Ezekiel 10, illustrated with four faces of a man, lion, eagle, and cherub. Now, that is a strange creature indeed but it reappears in Rev 4 again as a Living Creature, except the Cherub is replaced with an Ox (which represents a priestly position in Hebrew animal symbolism). So, in effect we have a designation of the living creatures as those who are seeking God, both Gentile animals and Jewish clean animals, but also with Covenant Man included.
Eze 10:14-15 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. (15) And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.
Rev 4:6-7 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: (7) the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 9 And when the living creatures shall give glory and honor and thanks to him that sitteth on the throne, to him that liveth for ever and ever,
These living creatures that first appear in Gen Day 5 are also designated as attributes of Adam and of the animals in Gen 2. and onwards.
Gen 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Gen 2:19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man (adam) to see what he would call them. And whatever the man (adam) called every living creature, that was its name.
Lev 11:44-47 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. (serpent types) (45) For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (46) This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, (47) to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.
Ultimately, we know Peter was told to kill and eat those unclean creatures in Acts 10’s vision, symbolically representing the end of a covenant distinction between clean and unclean, or Jew and Gentile peoples. This is a mystical understanding that the Jews developed in telling this story, but it is not one that is always easily grasped in its entire covenant nuance. In the New Spiritual Kingdom, all these old covenant designations would pass into oblivion.
We see in Isaiah 11 that the Day of the Messiah would bring about the time when the clean and unclean animals will lie down together at rest. Also, Hosea prophesied that Israel and Judah will come into covenant with these various animals and lie down together in a similar manner to Peter’s vision of Acts 10.
Hos 2:18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.
Isa 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Act 10:12-15 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. (13) And there came a voice to him: "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." (14) But Peter said, "By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." (15) And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has made clean, do not call common."
The important message, in my opinion, to glean from the fifth Day is that it was a movement toward all men becoming more acquainted with God through Israel’s dispersion to prepare the rest of humanity surrounding Israel to become fruitful receptacles for the coming Messiah. This would be accomplished through His body, the church, moving within the Sea and bringing healing to the Living Creatures as Ezekiel 47 describes.
Again I return to Ezekiel but to chapter 38 in which Israel as illustrated in Hosea 2:18 will be ultimately tied together with the Gentile creatures in covenant. It will be a time of judgment and the Jews as the domestic sheep hold these unclean creatures outside the wall of separation will find that they now indeed will lay down with the wild unclean animals just as Peter’s vision demonstrates.
Eze 38:19-21 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; (20) So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men (Adams) that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. (21) And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.
Eze 47:21-23 So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel. (22) And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you and to the strangers that sojourn among you, who shall beget children among you; and they shall be unto you as the home-born among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. (23) And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord Jehovah.
Revelation 7 illustrates this consummated fulfillment of the New Land and the Gentile together.
Rev 7:4 And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel: … 9 After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands;
The consummation of the Ages brings both the Jew and the Gentile together as illustrated above. This language here in Revelation derives especially from Ezekiel and Ezekiel draws its language from Genesis. It is most often assumed that Genesis is an ancient science exploration of the creation of physical earth when it in reality is not. Genesis1 is primarily an Ancient Near East Temple creation account and is the introductory prologue to a deeper and more extensive examination of God creating His H&E Temple beginning with the introduction of Adam in Gen 5. As long as we try to pigeonhole Genesis 1-11 as literal history instead of what it was intended for by the Jews then it like Revelation will continue to confuse the average biblical reader. Again I would recommend G. K. Beale’s book on the development of the Temple of God for a deeper understanding of how the Image of God ties in with the consummation of the Ages through Christ.
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