From Egypt to Canaan
By Arlen L. Chitwood
The Septenary Arrangement of Scripture
There remains therefore a rest [Sabbath rest] to the people of God.
Hebrews 4:1-11 deals with a rest that will be realized by “the people of God” during the seventh millennium dating from the restoration of the earth and the creation of man in Genesis chapter one.
Teachings surrounding this rest, textually and contextually, viewed from the standpoint of the way matters are outlined in the book of Hebrews, are based on three portions of Old Testament Scripture:
1) The experiences of the Israelites under Moses, and later under Joshua (Hebrews 3:2-19).
2) Reference back to God’s work and subsequent rest during the seven days of Genesis chapters one and two (Hebrews 4:4).
3) The Sabbath given to Israel, which the nation was to keep week after week following six days of work (Hebrews 4:9).
The experiences of the Israelites under Moses, and later under Joshua, during a past dispensation, form the type; and the experiences of Christians under Christ during the present dispensation, leading into the coming dispensation, form the antitype.
Then, teachings surrounding a rest lying before both the Israelites in the type and Christians in the antitype are drawn from the rest that God entered into following six days of work in Genesis chapters one and two.
And the Sabbath was given to the Jewish people to keep ever before them, throughout their generations, that which was foreshadowed by events in the opening two chapters of Genesis (cf. Exodus 20:8-11; 31:13-17).
Teachings drawn from Genesis chapters one and two form the key to the entire matter, and a correct understanding and interpretation of these opening chapters is not something that should be taken lightly. Scripture is built upon a structure that is laid down in these two chapters, and an individual’s understanding and interpretation of numerous things throughout the remainder of Scripture will be governed by his understanding and interpretation of this opening section of Scripture.
If one understands these opening verses correctly, he will understand how God has structured His revelation to man, allowing him to grasp numerous things that he could not otherwise understand. However, if one fails to understand these opening verses correctly, the opposite will be true. He will not have gone in a correct direction at the beginning, which can only reflect negatively on his understanding of related matters in all future studies.
The preceding, for example, is the reason many individuals fail to see the proper relationship of the Sabbath rest in Hebrews 4:9 to God’s rest following six days of work in Genesis 2:2, 3 (cf. Hebrews 4:4). They attempt to relate this rest to something that Christians enter into during the present day and time, which is a time prior to the seventh day, a time not even in view. Or, this is the reason many individuals attempt to understand 2 Peter 3:8 in the light of Psalm 90:4, when, contextually, 2 Peter 3:8 must be understood in the light of the septenary structure of Scripture, introduced at the beginning, in Genesis chapters one and two (cf. 2 Peter 1:16-18; 3:3-7).
With these things in mind, material in the next two sections of this chapter will deal with the structure of the Hebrew text in parts of Genesis chapter one — particularly verse two — allowing the septenary structure of this opening section of Scripture to be properly seen and understood from the standpoint of an exact rendering of the text itself. Then, the remaining section in this chapter will deal with this septenary structure as seen in subsequent parts of Scripture.
One MUST FIRST understand that which is revealed at the beginning. This is the KEY. Only then can an individual be in a position to move forward and properly understand the remainder.
“Was” or “Became”
It would go without saying that there has been a great deal of controversy over the years among theologians and Christians in general concerning exactly how the opening two chapters of Genesis should be understood. And it would also go without saying that, resultantly, confusion has reigned supreme in Christian circles concerning not only these chapters but the general tenor of the remainder of Scripture as well.
There are actually two major schools of thought surrounding the interpretation of these opening two chapters, though there are a number of variations within that are held by those in each school.
Those in one school (probably the position held by the majority today) view the six days in the first chapter as time revealing and describing God’s creative activity from verse one.
And those in the other school view these six days as time revealing God’s restoration of a ruined creation (creation seen in v. 1, a ruin of this creation seen in v. 2a, and God’s restoration of the ruined creation seen in vv. 2b ff).
Then, there is a variation of the second school that is held by quite a few individuals and could be looked upon as a third school of thought. Those holding to this view see Genesis 1:1 as other than an absolute beginning. They see this verse as an opening statement dealing with restoration, not creation. That is, they see the verse dealing, not with God’s creation of the heavens and the earth in an absolute sense (as most view the verse), but with the beginning of God’s restoration (reforming, remolding, refashioning) of a previously perfect creation that had been reduced to a ruin (with the creation of the heavens and the earth per se not seen in these opening verses).
Much of the controversy surrounding these different views is centered in the linguistics of verse two. Grammarians go back to the Hebrew text and deal with two areas, and good Hebrew grammarians reach different conclusions in both realms:
1) The relationship of the three circumstantial clauses that form verse two to that which is stated in verse one.
2) The meaning of the Hebrew word hayah in verse two (translated “was”).
The Three Circumstantial Clauses
The three circumstantial clauses in Genesis 1:2 (KJV) are simply the three clauses that form the verse:
1) And the earth was without form, and void;
2) And darkness was upon the face of the deep.
3) And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
In the Hebrew text there is what is called a “waw” beginning verse two (a conjunctive or disjunctive particle [actually, a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the waw, prefixed to a word], usually translated “and” in most English texts). Some grammarians view this particle prefixed to the word beginning verse two in a conjunctive sense (showing a connection between v. 1 and v. 2), and other grammarians view it in a disjunctive sense (showing a separation between v. 1 and v. 2).
(The other two circumstantial clauses in verse two each begin with a “waw” prefixed to their words as well, which will be discussed later.
The Hebrew text of the Old Testament uses the “waw” more frequently in a conjunctive [“and”] rather than a disjunctive [“but”] sense. Of the approximately 28,000 usages of this particle, some 25,000 appear to be conjunctive and some 3,000 disjunctive.
Normally the context determines how the particle is to be understood.)
Those viewing the “waw” prefixed to the word beginning Genesis 1:2 in a conjunctive sense would usually see the three circumstantial clauses as inseparably connected with verse one; and those viewing this “waw” in a disjunctive sense would, instead, see a separation between these two verses.
If there is an inseparable connection of the clauses in verse two with verse one (in a conjunctive sense), and verse one describes an absolute beginning in relation to the heavens and the earth (God’s actual creation of the heavens and the earth in the beginning), then verse two would have to describe how God created the earth in the beginning (i.e., “without form, and void”).
Understanding the structure of the Hebrew text after this fashion would necessitate viewing that which is described at the beginning of verse two as the condition of the earth at the conclusion of the action described in verse one. That is to say, God would have initially created the earth (v. 1) in the condition described in verse two. Then the six subsequent days would have to be looked upon as time in which God, step by step, performed and completed His creative work introduced in verse one.
The preceding view of the structure of the Hebrew text is the main reason for the position held by some that Genesis 1:1 describes the beginning of God’s restorative work rather than an absolute beginning. Those holding this view see the three circumstantial clauses in verse two as inseparably connected with verse one. But they also see that Scripture teaches a subsequent ruin of the earth following God’s creation of the heavens and the earth in the beginning (e.g., cf. Genesis 1:2 and Isaiah 45:18 [the Hebrew word tohu, translated “without form” in Genesis 1:2 is translated “in vain” in Isaiah 45:18; and this verse in Isaiah specifically states that God did not create the earth tohu, i.e., after the fashion in which it is seen in Genesis 1:2]).
Thus, those who see God’s perfect creation undergoing a subsequent ruin but also view the three circumstantial clauses in verse two as inseparably connected with verse one (in a conjunctive sense) are, in a respect, forced into a particular position concerning the interpretation of the opening verses of Genesis. They are forced into the position of seeing the actual creation of the heavens and the earth, and also the ruin of the heavens and the earth, as occurring at a time prior to Genesis 1:1, events which they would see as not being dealt with per se in the opening verses of Scripture at all.
Then there are those grammarians who see the “waw” prefixed to the word beginning verse two as disjunctive. These grammarians would understand this Hebrew “waw” in a similar sense to the way in which the Greek word de is used in the New Testament (normally disjunctive), as opposed to the Greek word kai (the word usually used to show a conjunctive sense). In this respect, the translators of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) used de to translate the first “waw” in what was apparently meant to be a disjunctive sense beginning Genesis 1:2 (with the conjunctive kai used to translate the remaining two “waws” prefixed to the words beginning the other two circumstantial clauses in the verse).
Using the KJV text to illustrate, the translators of the Septuagint used de and kai to translate the three Hebrew “waws” in this manner:
But [de] the earth was without form, and void; and [kai] darkness was upon the face of the deep. And [kai] the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And, viewing the verse beginning in a disjunctive sense of the preceding nature, there would be no connection between the first two verses of Genesis. Rather, a separation would exist instead. Within this view, one would normally see verse one revealing an absolute beginning, with verse two (along with the verses following) revealing events occurring at later points in time.
(Most individuals holding this linguistic view see verse two as a description of God’s perfect creation [from verse one] being brought into a ruined state, separated from verse one by an unrevealed period of time. And they would, accordingly, see God’s activity during the six days as activity surrounding the restoration of this ruined creation.
Some individuals holding this linguistic view though still see the six days as time revealing God’s creative activity. They view verse one as describing a “grand summary declaration that God created the universe in the beginning.” Then, apart from seeing a connection between v. 1 and v. 2, they view God’s activity during the six days as a revelation concerning how God accomplished that which He had previously stated in verse one.)
The Hebrew Word “Hayah”
The Hebrew word hayah is translated “was” in most English versions of Genesis 1:2 (“And the earth was . . . .”). The word is found twenty-seven times throughout chapter one and about 3,570 times in the entire Old Testament.
The etymology of the word is somewhat questionable (most look at the probable primary meaning of hayah as “falling” or “to fall”). Hebrew scholars though see the word used over and over in the Old Testament in the sense of “to be,” “to become,” or “to come to pass.”
And through attempts to trace the etymology of the word, comparing Hebrew with Arabic (a related Semitic language), and seeing how the word is used in the Old Testament, many scholars have come to look upon the word in the sense of a verb of “being” (“to be”). But scholars also recognize that it is not completely accurate to equate the word with the English verb of being after this fashion.
The word is translated different ways in English versions — e.g., “was” or “were” (Genesis 1:2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13, etc.), “be” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 14, 29, etc.), “became [or, ‘to become’]” (Genesis 2:7, 10; 3:22, etc.). But that’s in English versions. In the Latin Vulgate there are thirteen instances where hayah has been translated in the sense of “became” in Genesis chapter one alone; and in the Septuagint there are twenty-two such instances in this one chapter (out of the twenty-seven times hayah appears in chapter one).
The first use of hayah in Scripture is in Genesis 1:2 — the verse being discussed. But going beyond this verse for a moment, note how the word is used elsewhere in chapter one.
Hayah appears twice in verse three, translated “be” and “was.” And translating, “Let light be [or ‘become’]: and light became,” would actually best convey the thought of that which occurred.
Then note verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. The word hayah appears two times in the latter part of each verse (both translated in a combined sense in the English text by one word — “were”). Translating literally from the Hebrew, using “was” in the translation, the text would read, “. . . And there was evening, and there was morning, [comprising] the first day . . . the second day . . . the third day,” etc.
Actually though, “became” would really better convey the thought surrounding that which occurred, for evening and morning came to pass, “became,” comprising each of the six different days.
(Leupold, a Hebrew grammarian from past years, in his commentary on Genesis, appears to capture the overall thought of hayah to mark beginning and/or ending points in each day quite well by translating, “. . . Then came evening, then came morning — the first day . . . the second day . . . the third day,” etc.)
Then note the words, “. . . and it was so,” at the end of verses 7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30. “Was” in each reference is a translation of the word hayah, and it is easy to see that “became” rather than “was” would really provide a better description of that which occurred in each instance, translating, “. . . and it became so” (cf. “Let there be [a translation of hayah] . . . .” [vv. 3, 6, 14]).
Though hayah has been translated “was,” “were,” or “be” throughout the first chapter of Genesis, the word is actually used mainly throughout this chapter in the sense of “be,” “became,” or “had become.”
Attention is called to this fact because numerous individuals look at translating hayah “became [or ‘had become’]” as so rare in the Old Testament that serious consideration should not be given to the thought of translating Genesis 1:2, “And [or ‘But’] the earth became [or ‘had become’] . . . .”
But the rarity is in the English translations, not in a literal Hebrew rendering or in certain other translations (e.g., in the KJV there are only 17 instances in all of Genesis where hayah has been translated “became [or, ‘become’]” [2:7, 10; 3:22; 9:15; 18:18; 19:26; 20:12; 21:20; 24:67; 32:10; 34:16; 37:20; 47:20, 26; 48:19]; but in the Septuagint there are at least 146 instances [and some 1,500 instances in the entire Old Testament]).
The Hebrew Text Alone
Can linguistic questions surrounding the first two verses of Genesis be resolved from the Hebrew text alone? Can one determine from the Hebrew text alone whether the “waw” beginning verse two should be understood as conjunctive or disjunctive? Or, can one determine from the Hebrew text alone how the word hayah should be translated in verse two? Or, can one determine from the Hebrew structure of verse two alone how the remainder of the first chapter should be understood in an overall sense?
Some Hebrew scholars would answer in the affirmative. But, because of the different ways in which a number of Hebrew scholars view the matter at hand, using the Hebrew text alone, the issue could only be resolved within their minds and possibly within the minds of others who would follow their same line of reasoning. And note that the issue would be resolved by different scholars after entirely different fashions, all based on their understanding of the grammatical structure of the Hebrew text.
However, there is another way to approach the matter; and that other way is to see how the whole of Scripture deals with the issue at hand. If the whole of Scripture can be shown to support one view alone — which it can — then the correct linguistic understanding of Genesis 1:2 and the corresponding correct interpretation of chapter one can easily and unquestionably be demonstrated.
This is not to say that Genesis 1:2 or the first chapter of Genesis as a whole cannot be understood correctly apart from first going to the remainder of Scripture, for that cannot be the case. God would not have begun His revelation to man after a fashion that man could not have understood apart from subsequent revelation (requiring approx. 1,500 years to complete). But this is to say that the correct linguistic position for Genesis 1:2 and the correct corresponding interpretation of the entire chapter — which can be shown by going to the remainder of Scripture — is a position that God would have expected man to see as evident when he began reading at this point in Genesis, though man many times has not done so (past) and does not do so (present).
Thus, in this respect, knowledge of the way in which the Hebrew text is structured is really not going to resolve the issue at hand. And time has been spent in the Hebrew construction of Genesis 1:2 and other related passages, not in an attempt to resolve the issue, but to demonstrate two basic things:
1) There are good, reputable Hebrew scholars who hold varying views on the opening verses of Genesis, which are many times based strictly on their understanding of the structure of the Hebrew text, apart from contextual considerations.
2) Though the linguistics of the Hebrew text (within the different ways scholars understand the linguistics of the text) will support any one of these views, all but one are out of line with the remainder of Scripture and, are consequently wrong.
That is to say, though it may be possible to support different views from the structure of the Hebrew text alone (the way different scholars understand the syntax of the Hebrew text), different views cannot be supported when the remainder of Scripture is taken into consideration — with or without the Hebrew text. Scripture will support only one view, and that one view is the position alluded to in the opening portion of this chapter.
Scripture will support:
1) “Creation” (an absolute creation [v. 1]).
2) “Ruin” of the creation (which means that the “waw” prefixed to the word beginning v. 2 must be understood in a disjunctive sense [“but”], and the Hebrew word hayah must be understood in the sense of “became [or ‘had become’]” [v. 2a]).
3) “Restoration” of the ruined creation (vv. 2b-25).
4) “Rest,” following six days of restorative work (1:2b-2:3). And to illustrate this is not difficult at all. In fact, the opposite is true. It is a very simple matter to illustrate, from other Scripture, exactly how the opening verses of Genesis must be understood.
In this respect, first note the words tohu wavohu from the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:2.
The words tohu wavohu are translated “without form and void” in the KJV/NKJV English text (“formless and void,” NASB; “formless and empty,” NIV; “waste and void,” ASV). These two Hebrew words are used together only two other places throughout all of the Old Testament — in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23. And both of these passages present a ruin of that previously seen existing in an orderly state.
In Isaiah 34:11, Edom (v. 6) was destined to become tohu wavohu (translated “confusion” and “emptiness” [KJV/NKJV], “desolation” and “emptiness” [NASB]).
And in Jeremiah 4:23-28, there is a comparison of that which had previously occurred relative to the earth in Genesis 1:2a to that which was about to occur relative to the land of Israel.
The land of Israel was about to become tohu wavohu. That is, as seen in Jeremiah 4:23-28, God was about to do the same thing to the land of Israel (cf. vv. 14-22) that He had previously done to the earth in Genesis 1:2a. And the reason for both of these actions — that which God had done to the earth, and that which He was about to do to the land of Israel — was the same. Sin had entered (sin on the part of Satan in the former, and sin on the part of the Jewish people in the latter).
And, in complete keeping with this type of understanding of the use of tohu wavohu in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, Isaiah 45:18 (where the Hebrew word tohu is used, translated “in vain”) clearly states that God did not create the earth (in Genesis 1:1) in the manner described in Genesis 1:2a. Isaiah 45:18 states that God “created it [the earth] not in vain [not ‘tohu,’ not ‘without form,’].”
Thus, if Genesis 1:2a is to be understood in the light of related Scripture bearing on the subject (which it must be [cf. Psalm 12:6; Isaiah 8:20; 28:10; 1 Corinthians 2:13]), there can be only one possible interpretation — the ruin of a prior existing creation (from v. 1), because of sin. The earth from verse one “became” tohu wavohu.
The ruin seen in both Genesis 1:2a and Jeremiah 4:23, for a purpose, is with a view to eventual restoration. And the restoration seen in the continuing text of Genesis 1:2 (vv. 2b-25) and in the overall passage of Jeremiah 4:23ff (v. 27b), as well as in related Scripture (e.g., Isaiah 35:1ff), is also for a purpose.
Then all subsequent Scripture is perfectly in line with this type of understanding of the opening section of Scripture. The whole of subsequent Scripture is built on a septenary structure, with the foundation established and set in an unchangeable fashion at the beginning, in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
That is to say:
The heavens and the earth were created, there was a ruin of the material creation (because of sin), God took six days to restore the ruined creation, and He rested the seventh day.
Man was created on the sixth day, man fell into a state of ruin (because of sin), God is presently taking six days (6,000 years) to restore man, and God will rest the seventh day (the seventh 1,000-year period [cf. 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8]).
And the latter restoration, patterned after the former restoration, is what the whole of Scripture is about. The whole of Scripture is about the same thing initially introduced and established in an unchangeable fashion in the opening thirty-four verses of Genesis (1:1-2:3).
The whole of Scripture is about the creation of man, his ruin, his restoration over a six-day period (over a 6,000-year period), followed by a seventh day of rest (a seventh 1,000-year period — the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God [Hebrews 4:9; cf. vv. 3, 4], the Messianic Era).
As previously stated, man would have been expected to understand this opening section of Scripture after the preceding fashion at the time it was written. And subsequent Scripture simply verifies the correctness of the way man would have been expected to understand this opening section at that time, apart from other revelation.
Days in Scripture
The structure of God’s revelation to man will be set forth briefly under three headings (“The Sign of the Sabbath,” “The Structure of the Gospel of John,” and “The Structure of 2 Peter), and material discussed under these three headings will relate specifically to how particular sections of Scripture handle the matter at hand. Then attention will be called to other related Scriptures outside these sections to better present the overall picture from the whole of Scripture.
The Sign of the Sabbath
The Sabbath was given to Israel as a sign, and the Sabbath was to be observed by the Jewish people “throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16). In this respect, God stated concerning the Sabbath,
It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made [restored] the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17)
When giving the Sabbath to Israel (cf. Exodus 20:11) or referring to the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God in the book of Hebrews (4:4-9), in each instance, for a very good reason, God called attention to that which had occurred in Genesis chapters one and two.
There is a latter work of restoration, followed by rest, which is based on a former work of restoration, followed by rest; and the Sabbath was given to the Jewish people to keep this thought ever before them.
That is, though the sign of the Sabbath concerned a present work and future rest, it was based on a past work and rest. God worked six days to restore a ruined creation in the opening chapter of Genesis; and on the sixth day, along with the completion of His work of restoration, He brought man into existence to rule over the restored material creation (Genesis 1:26-28). Then God rested on the seventh day.
But a ruin ensued once again. Man, an entirely new creation in the universe, fell; and, as a result, the restored material creation was brought under a curse (Genesis 3:17), leaving God with two ruined creations: man, and the material creation.
With that in mind, how did God, in the Genesis account, set about to restore these two ruined creations? The answer is not only clearly revealed but it is also very simple.
According to Scripture, God set about to restore the subsequent ruined creations in exactly the same manner thaat He had used to restore the former ruined creation in the opening chapter of Genesis. God set about to restore the two subsequent ruined creations over a six-day period (in keeping with Genesis 1:2b-25); and, in keeping with Genesis 2:2, 3, following His restorative work, God would then rest on the seventh day.
The latter restoration must occur in complete keeping with the former restoration. A divinely-designed pattern had been set in the former restoration — a pattern set perfectly in the beginning, which, accordingly, could never change.
Thus, the latter restoration must occur over a six-day period. And this six-day period of restorative work must, as the former, be followed by a day of rest.
From a biblical standpoint, it is not possible for the matter to occur in any other manner. And the Sabbath, following six days of work, was given to Israel to keep the thought ever before the Jewish people that, in accord with the opening verses of Genesis, God was going to once again rest for one day following six days of work to effect the restoration of that which is presently in a ruined state (both man and the material creation).
The Sabbath was a “sign,” and a sign in Scripture points to something beyond itself. This “sign,” the Sabbath, points to a seventh-day rest that God will enter into with His people (“the people of God” in Hebrews 4:9) following six previous days of restorative work.
Each day in the former restoration and rest was twenty-four hours in length, but each day in the latter restoration and rest is revealed to be one thousand years in length (2 Peter 1:16-18; 3:3-8; cf. Matthew 16:28-17:5). Based on the pattern set forth in Genesis chapters one and two, God is going to work for six thousand years during the present restoration and then rest the seventh one-thousand-year period.
Scripture begins by laying the foundational basis for this septenary arrangement of time in the opening verses (Genesis 1:1-2:3). Then, accordingly, this is something seen or alluded to throughout Scripture (Exodus 31:13-17; Numbers 19:12; Hosea 5:15-6:2; Jonah 1:17; Matthew 17:1; Luke 24:21; John 1:29, 35, 43; 2:1; 5:9; 9:14; 11:6, 7; Hebrews 4:1, 4, 9). And the matter is then brought to a conclusion in Revelation chapter twenty, where the 1,000-year Messianic Era is mentioned six times (vv. 2-7), immediately prior to the eternal ages that are seen to follow (chapters 21, 22).
Scripture deals with 7,000 years of time — time extending from the restoration of the earth and the creation of man to the end of the Messianic Kingdom. Scripture has very little to say about that which occurred prior to these 7,000 years, and it also has very little to say about that which will occur following these 7,000 years. Scripture is built on this septenary arrangement of time, which is based on the opening two chapters of Genesis; and this is an evident fact that must be recognized if one would correctly understand God’s redemptive plans and purposes that He has revealed in His Word.
The Structure of the Gospel of John
The Gospel of John is built around eight signs; and, as in the sign of the Sabbath, the signs in this gospel point to things beyond the signs themselves.
It is the Jew who requires a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22); and these signs, taken from numerous signs that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, are directed (as was His ministry in that day) to the Jewish people.
Jesus performed signs of this nature for one central purpose:
. . . that you [the Jewish people] may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name [“life” having to do with the subject at hand, the proffered kingdom, not eternal life]. (John 20:30, 31; cf. John 2:11; 5:46, 47; 6:14, 21; 11:45)
Seven of the eight signs in John’s gospel were performed in connection with particular days, all in perfect keeping with one another, all in perfect keeping with the sign of the Sabbath, and all in perfect keeping with the septenary arrangement of Scripture. And all of the signs refer, after different fashions, to the same thing. They all refer to things surrounding Israel’s coming salvation and restoration, which will occur after six days (after 6,000 years), in the seventh day (in the seventh 1,000-year period).
But note the structure of the gospel of John as a whole. The gospel is not only built around eight signs, which are all in keeping with the septenary arrangement of Scripture, but the complete gospel is built around this structure. John’s gospel, in the opening two chapters, begins exactly as Genesis begins in the opening two chapters.
The gospel, as Genesis, opens with the words, “In the beginning [lit., ‘In beginning,’ in both Genesis (Hebrew text) and John (Greek text)].” Then, the gospel of John continues to parallel Genesis. In the opening two chapters of each, there is a creation, a ruin of the creation, a restoration of the ruined creation over six days, and a seventh day of rest.
Genesis deals with the preceding in relation to the ruined material creation, but the gospel of John deals with the matter in relation to ruined man.
In John chapter one, note “creation” in verse three and a “ruin” and beginning “restoration” in verse five. Then most of the remainder of the chapter deals with the One who would bring about the restoration of ruined man (vv. 6ff), with this restoration occurring over six days time, followed by events of the seventh day — events foreshadowing those occurring in the coming Sabbath of rest (cf. 1:29, 35, 43, 2:1ff).
Then, from that point, the remainder of the gospel of John continues to parallel Genesis, with the same subject matter dealt with throughout in both books. Genesis deals with the subject matter through the use of types, and John deals with the subject matter through the use of signs.
And whether dealing with the types in Genesis or the signs in John, the end of the matter is the same as set forth in the first two chapters of each — that which will occur in the seventh day, the seventh 1,000-year period.
(Note in the preceding respect that the gospel of John should be set at the beginning of the New Testament, the first of the four gospels, as Genesis is set at the beginning of the Old Testament, the first of the five books of Moses. Genesis tells the reader what the Old Testament is about, and the gospel of John tells the reader what the New Testament is about, with both Testaments relating exactly the same central message.
For additional information on Moses and John, see the author’s books, Had Ye Believed Moses and Signs in John’s Gospel.)
The Structure of 2 Peter
Second Peter parallels Jude in the sense that both deal with the Word of the Kingdom and apostasy after a similar fashion.
Both epistles begin the same way. The first chapter of 2 Peter is taken up with that which is stated in one verse in Jude (v. 3). Then the matter of apostasy is dealt with throughout most of the remainder of both epistles. However, there are things dealt with in chapters one and three of 2 Peter, showing the septenary structure of the epistle, which are not dealt with at all in Jude.
Peter exhorts his readers to make their “calling [pertaining to the kingdom] and election [‘selection’ for a position of power and authority in the kingdom] sure” (1:1-15); and Jude states the same thing in Jude 3 when he exhorts his readers to “earnestly contend for [‘earnestly strive (Greek: epagonizomai, meaning to earnestly strain every muscle of one’s being) with respect to’] the faith” (cf. 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8). Then the thought of apostasy relative to “the faith” comes into view in both epistles.
However, Peter does something that Jude does not do. Before beginning his dissertation on apostasy he calls attention to that which occurred on the Mount in Matthew 17:1-8 (2 Peter 1:16-18), which has to do with the Son of Man coming in His kingdom, after six days, on the seventh day (cf. Matthew 16:28-17:1).
Then toward the end of his epistle, Peter, unlike Jude, moves from thoughts surrounding apostasy to thoughts surrounding the existence and subsequent destruction of the heavens and the earth at two different times.
1) At a time following the creation of the heavens and the earth (“the heavens . . . of old,” and “the world that then was [the world existing at the time of ‘the heavens…of old’ (in Genesis 1:1, not during the days of Noah)]” [2 Peter 3:5, 6]).
2) At a time following the restoration of the heavens and the earth (“the heavens and the earth that are now,” existing since the restoration in Genesis 1:2b-25 [2 Peter 3:7]).
The destruction of the former is seen in Genesis 1:2a (“But the earth had become without form, and void; and darkness [the sun had ceased to give its light] was upon the face of the deep [‘the raging waters’]”), and the destruction of the latter — a destruction by fire — is seen in succeeding verses in 2 Peter (3:10ff).
Peter then draws the entire matter to a climax by stating that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8). Understood contextually (vv. 3-7), the verse is self-explanatory. The “heavens and the earth, which are now” (v. 7) must cover the entire septenary period from chapter one (vv. 16-18), else 2 Peter 3:8 would be meaningless. And each day in this period is revealed to be one thousand years in length — six millenniuia of work, followed by one millennium of rest, based on the opening verses of Genesis.
(Note one thing about the restoration in Genesis 1:2b-25 that should be understood. This restoration could only have been a complete restoration. No trace of “the world that then was” [the world preceding the ruin seen in Genesis 1:2a], or the subsequent ruined earth [in Genesis 1:2a], can be seen “in the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
A complete restoration would have removed all traces of anything having to do with “the world that then was” or with that world during that time when it lay in a ruined state.
That is to say, geology today cannot show evidence of any type of pre-existing creation or a ruin of that pre-existing creation, for a complete restoration — the only type of restoration possible through the divine work seen in Genesis chapter one — would have removed all traces of a pre-existing creation and ruin.
In this respect, all that exists in the present secular world of history and science — e.g., the complete fossil record, the dinosaurs, topographical formations such as the Grand Canyon, etc. — would all have to be placed this side of the restoration seen in Genesis 1:2b-25, within time covered by “the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
That which occurred during and resulted from the Noachian Flood, 1,656 years following the restoration of the earth [Genesis 6-8], along with later topographical changes on the earth during the days of Peleg [born 100 years after the Flood (Genesis 10:25)], must be looked to for an explanation of numerous things of the preceding nature, not to a world lying in ruins in Genesis 1:2a, or to a world existing prior to that time.)
Viewing the whole of Scripture, the correct interpretation of the opening verses of Genesis can be clearly and unquestionably presented and understood through:
1) The manner in which the Hebrew words from Genesis 1:2a, tohu wavohu, are used elsewhere in Scripture (interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture [Isaiah 34:11; 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23]).
2) And the typical nature of Old Testament history (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11), which has been set forth in a very evident divinely established septenary arrangement.
And these opening verses, providing the divinely established basis for that which follows, must be understood accordingly.
The Bible is a book of redemption; and only a correct view of the opening verses of Genesis can reflect positively, at the very outset, on God’s redemptive message as a whole — the restoration of a ruined creation, performed in its entirety through divine intervention, for a revealed purpose.
An incorrect view can, on the other hand, only have negative ramifications. Creation alone, apart from a ruin and restoration of the creation, fails to convey the complete message at the outset of the Word; and Restoration alone (viewing the opening verse as other than an absolute beginning), apart from a record of the preceding creation and ruin, likewise fails to convey the complete message at this opening point in Scripture.
It is as F. W. Grant stated years ago relative to the existing parallel between the creation and ruin of the earth and the subsequent creation and ruin of man:
“The thought of a ruined condition of the earth succeeding its original creation . . . is . . . required by the typical view [that is, the earth’s creation, ruin, and subsequent restoration forms a type of (foreshadows) man’s creation, ruin, and subsequent restoration].”
Accordingly, the opening verses of Genesis cannot deal strictly with Creation; nor can these verses deal strictly with Restoration. Either view would be out of line with the whole of Scripture, beginning with the central theme of Scripture, the message of redemption.
The only interpretative view that will fit — at all points — within the divinely established septenary arrangement of Scripture (which has it basis in these opening verses) is:
Creation (an absolute beginning, and a perfect creation [v. 1]).
A Ruin of the Creation (v. 2a).
A Restoration of the Ruined Creation (vv. 2b-25).
Rest (in the type — six twenty-four-hour days of restorative work, followed by a twenty-four-hour day of rest; in the antitype — six 1,000-year days of restorative work, followed by a 1,000-year day of rest [1:2b-2:3]).