GENESIS IN THE
LIGHT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
GODS COUNSELS IN CREATION.
(Chap. i. & ii.) Introductory
IN seeking to develop (as is now my purpose) the truths of
the New Testament from the history of the Old, it is the typical meaning with
which we have to do. The divine glory, as seen in Moses face, was vailed
to the people addressed; for us, the vail is done away in Christ. The words of
the apostle with reference to Israels history, it can scarcely be
doubted, apply no less to that which was but prefatory to theirs - "Now, all
these things happened unto them for ensamples [lit, types]; and are written for
our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are."
He gives us, moreover, many of the details, - Adam, a type of Christ; Eve, of the Church; Abels offering, of the sinners acceptance; Noahs salvation by the ark, of our own in Christ; Melchizedek, king of righteousness and peace; the story of Abrahams two sons; and a hint, at least, as to the offering up of Isaac (Gal. iii. i6, i7.). Nor is this all that is commonly recognized as typical, though some no doubt would have us stop where the inspired explanation stops. But in that case, how large a part of what is plainly symbolical would be lost to us - the larger part of the Levitical ordinances, not a few of the parables of the Lord Himself, and almost the whole of the book of Revelation. Surely none could deliberately accept a principle which would lock up from us so large a part of the inspired Word.
Still many have the thought that it would be safer to refrain from typical applications of the historical portions where no inspired statement authenticates them as types at all. Take, however, such a history as that of Joseph, which no direct scripture speaks of as a type, yet the common consent of almost all receives as such; or Isaacs sacrifice, of the significance of which we have the merest hint. The more we consider it, the more we find it impossible to stop short here. Fancy, no doubt, is to be dreaded. Sobriety and reverent caution are abundantly needful. But so are they every where. If we profess wisdom, we become fools: subjection to the blessed Spirit of God, and to the Word inspired of Him, are our only safeguards here and elsewhere.
When we look a little closer, we find that the types are not scattered haphazard in the Old Testament books. On the contrary, they are connected together and arranged in an order and with a symmetry which bear witness to the divine band which has been at work throughout. We find Exodus thus to be the book of redemption; Leviticus, to speak of what suits God with us in the sanctuary - of sanctification; then Numbers, to give the wilderness history our walk with God (after redemption and being brought to Him where He is) through the world. Each individual type in these different books will be found to have most intimate and significant relation to the great central thought pervading the book. This, when laid hold of, confirms immensely our apprehension of the general and particular meaning, and gives it a force little if at all short of absolute demonstration.
The great central truth in Genesis is "LIFE." It thus begins where all begins actually for the soul. God is seen in it as Life-giver, Creator; this involving necessarily also that He is sovereign in purpose and Almighty* in execution. This is why Genesis is, as it has been called, "the seed-plot of the Bible," because it is the book of the counsels of the sovereign and almighty God.
*Which is plainly Gods revelation of Himself to Abraham, to Isaac, an Jacob, as distinct from Jehovah to Israel (see Exod. vi. 8). In the rest of the Pentateuch the word occurs only in Balaams prophecy (Num. xxiv.), and only in Ruth besides of all the historical books where God has wrought, and where the "flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other." Next, Noahs passage through the judgment of the old world into a new scene, accepted of God in the sweet savor of sacrifice, is the type of where salvation puts us - "in Christ, a new creation: old things passed away, and all things become new." (Chap. vi. - xi. 9.)
But "life" is, so to speak, the key-note - the thread upon which all else is strung. Genesis is plainly almost entirely a series of biographies. It divides, after the introductory account of creation, in chapters i. and ii, into seven of these, in which we have a perfect picture of divine life in the soul, from its almost imperceptible beginning to its full maturity.
Adam gives us the beginning, when, with the entrance of Gods Word, light comes into the soul of a sinner, and God meets him as such with the provision of His grace. (Chap. iii.)
Then, (Chap. iv. and v.) we have the history of the two "seeds," and their antagonism, - a story which has its counterpart in the history of the world at large, but also in every individual soul
Abrahams Canaan life - pilgrim and stranger, but a worshipper, gives us the fruit and consequence of this - a "walk in Him" whom we have received. (Chap. xi. 10 - 21.)
Then, Isaac, our type as "sons, (Gal. iv. 28.) speaks to us of a self-surrender into a Fathers hands, the door into a life of quiet and enjoyment, as it surely is. (Chap. xxii. - xxiv. 33.)
Jacob speaks of the discipline of sons, by which the crooked and deceitful man becomes Israel, a prince with God, - a chastening of love, dealing with the fruits of the old nature in us. (Chap. xxvi. 34 - xxxvii. 1.)
While Joseph, the fullest image of Christ, suffers, not for sin, but for righteousness sake, and attains supremacy over the world, and fullness of blessing from the almighty One, his strength. (Chap. xxxvii. 2 - 1.)
All this we may more fully see hereafter. Even this hint of it may make plain what I have already stated to be the main feature of the hook, with which the first section corresponds in the closest way. Like many another first section, but perhaps beyond any other, it is really a sort of table of contents to the rest of the book. It is of course much more than that, as we shall see, if the Lord give wisdom to unfold what this story of creation gives us.
It is, as all else here, a type, while it is none the less on that account a literal history. Its spiritual meaning in no wise turns it into myth or fable, as some would assume. "All these things happened unto them," says the apostle, - so the things really happened, but - "for types." What importance must attach, then, to a "type," to produce which God has actually modelled the history of the world from the beginning! With what reverence should we listen to the utterances so strangely given, so marvellously "written for our admonition"! Instead of setting aside the literal record of creation, it surely confirms it in the highest degree that the Creator should demonstrate Himself the new Creator, and show how in laying the foundations of the earth which sin has cursed and death has scarred, He who seeth the end from the beginning had even then before Him, in the depths and counsels of His heart, a scene into which, secure in its unchanging Head, sin and death no more should enter - which they should nevermore defile! It is divine, this record: true, of course, then, and infinitely more - although faith be needed for the realization of it.
I do not doubt that the story before us is not merely even a single, but a twofold type; finding its fulfillment in two spheres, which are very generally correspondent to one another. The world without has its reflection in the world within us. So the steps in the divine dealing with the world at large have their correspondence with His dealing with us as individuals. In our consideration of them, this individual application will come first. It is that which is most prominent all through, and which links the whole series of types together; and this has its significance for us. In mens thoughts you will find, as what they imagine to be advanced and liberal views, the progress of the race putting out of sight the interest of the individual: they speak much of man, think little of men.* It is not so with God; the blessing of the race is reached (with Him) through the blessing of the individual, and not one is overlooked. Nay, "not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father." This is what is in His heart, whatever the perplexity which sin has introduced; and oh how profoundly needful for us the assurance of this! It may do for philosophy to proclaim the grandeur of general laws, to which the individual good must give place; but the grip of this iron machinery has none of the comfort of the grasp of a Fathers hand. The heart of God alone suffices the hearts which He has made.
Let us take, then, this individual application first, and let creation preach to us lessons which may be happily familiar to us, and yet have a new charm as preached thus, where (as all preaching should be,) the sermon is an anthem, and the anthem is in the many voices of the universe - the revelation-chorus to which all will come at last: "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever!"
*As, e. g. Dr. Temples "Education of the World," in Essays and Reviews."
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