In this model Genesis 1 and the 7 days are symbolic. There is no requirement for them to map to some physical or natural reality. The whole Bible is a story about God and Man and their natures and relationship. You just read it and come to understand these things.
In defence of this very simple model, Genesis 1 is page 1 of 720 pages in the Old Testament and another 202 in the New Testament. If it was important to know the mechanical details of all of creation, God would have given it more detail. But God does not lie and it is beautiful to see how the symbols reveal more that any human author could imagine.
Well that’s where I initially planned to stop this model. Then, as I had conceived all the other models, the following ideas were opening up and seemed to fit here.
There are many symbolic issues raised in the Game Start articles, but here I explore the “Ingredients of Life”. We understand that all “natural” life revolves around water. Water is the major element in our bodies. A man is a just a few kilograms of chemicals (dust) plus water. It is within us and sustains us. This is where day 1 starts with water covering the face of the earth. But every high school student is taught that sunlight, through photosynthesis provides the energy that sustains all life on earth, and that is day 1. Day 2 describes the creation of the atmosphere – the gap between the water below and that above. This points to the oxygen and carbon dioxide which are also prerequisites for life.
With these ingredients in place day 3 sees dry ground and vegetation appear. Note that plants in the sea and on land need to be anchored to the ground. Virtually all plants in the sea need the shallower water around islands and continents to establish themselves. That is why both dry ground and plants appear together.
I’ll get back to day 4 in a minute, but let’s just close off the obvious chain of events that follow. Day 5 has life appearing that populated the fluid mediums of water and air and then day 6 has life on solid ground.
Each day specifies evening and morning; the natural and necessary work and rest cycle that impacts all life. Day 7 expands on this cycle by setting aside the 7th day as additional rest and establishes the weekly cycle. Day 4 describes the sun, moon and stars for signs and seasons, that is, for the annual and lunar cycles. These cycles are also prerequisites of life. Plants that yield fruit and seed follow the annual cycle and so all life that depends on them. God reinforces these cycles. He commanded 3 annual feasts and new moon festivals. He introduced a 7 year cycle to give the land rest and a 50 year or jubilee cycle.
In all the models, day 4, with the creation of the sun, moon and stars after light, air, dry ground and plants, seems strange. What I observe in this model is that they are created just before the life forms that had eyes to see them. In fact it says that they are there to be seen and to give light to see, so they are introduced in just the right place as God lays down the ingredients of life.
I really like the day night cycle. At the end of each day God looks and says it is good, then there is evening and morning. When I go to bed and the business of the day is over, it is then that I can reflect on the day and on the things of God. It’s in these quiet times, the cool of the day, that God would walk with Adam in the Garden. I also need the weekly cycle. Without that I would get totally preoccupied with my work. I need it to get my head out of work and back on my family and my God. As the days of the month roll by all too quickly, each new month seems to break up my year into manageable chunks. I can image how the new moon festivals were so important to regularly bring people together for celebration as well as rest. It’s another cycle to keep them focused on God. These cycles, ordained by God are essential to a God focused life.
But wait; there is one more ingredient of life not covered by Genesis 1. Without this ingredient nothing that is important can work. Everything else I have said here is really simplistic and you probably don’t need me to tell you. But by seeing the ingredients of life in Genesis 1 it draws attention to the quintessential ingredient introduced in Genesis 2; the breath of life. This is the life that is in the spirit, which is the only life that can fellowship with God!
This Model is beautiful in simplicity. But where does it stop becoming symbolic and where does it start getting real? If you get it wrong then heaps of important theology is undermined.
We’ve got the whole universe suddenly springing into existence; we’ve got trees that give knowledge and trees that give life; we’ve got talking snakes and God walking with man; we’ve got people living a thousand years; we’ve got the fall and the flood. What we have is a mixture of natural, supernatural but real, prophetic, and symbolic events all mixed together, and a few mysteries as well. I started here and so I will just give a little detail of my story.
My poor little brain couldn’t handle all this when I first started reading the Old Testament. I recall assuming it was symbolic. By the time I got to Abraham I think I had made the transition to real people and real events. But before I started reading the Old Testament I had already read a New Testament and Psalms Bible and even after borrowing mum’s big Bible, with the Old Testament, I continued reading a couple of chapters from the Old and New Testaments each night. So I had grasped Jesus. There were heaps of things I did not understand but I seemed to just cruise along because it was doing something in me. Later I learned to discern how the truth it held just fed my spirit even when I didn’t understand.
One day I heard a preacher talking about Adam as a real individual and I suddenly realised that there had to be a first man, that is, a real Adam. This was the way God worked all through the Bible. He always chose just one man. Suddenly the boundary of real and symbolic leapt back to Adam in Genesis 2. Genesis 1 still seemed symbolic but I was confused because Genesis 2 seemed to be a more detailed account of day 6 in Genesis 1 but with problems, and that is what the Game Start article is all about, so read on.