With the creation of the throne of God in verse one, it should be no surprise that the whole first chapter is filled with kingdom language. There are the obvious statements regarding "ruling." Moses writes regarding the sun and the moon, “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night…. And to rule over the day and over the night” (Gen 1:16, 18 KJV). God told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28). But the concept of kingdom extends well beyond the use of “rule.”
As Adam and Eve were to fill the earth in their kingdom rule, so the birds of the air and fish of the sea were to fill their respective domains. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth” (Gen 1:22). So too, the land animals would fill their domain. The domains created on the first three days would be ruled and filled by their kings created the next three days.
Day 1 Light Day 4 The Luminaries
Day 2 Sky & Sea Day 5 Birds & Fish
Day 3 Land Day 6 Animals & Man
Man, the image of the King of heaven, would rule over the whole of the earth. Each of the days of creation the King declared forth His edict from heaven which was carried out in earth. Moses writes, “Then God said…” (Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 26). His edict was fulfilled, “it was so” (Gen 1:7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 24).
The culmination in the Sabbath “rest” is no less a reference to the kingdom. God created on six days and “rested” on the seventh day. This was not recuperative slumber! He ceased creating and sat enthroned. Isaiah writes, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is the footstool for My feet. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest” (Isa 66:1)?
The kingdom of heaven was to be replicated on earth. Heaven was the King’s throne, the earth His footstool. Jesus taught the disciples to pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:9-10).
The King of heaven would be replicated by His image, Adam, on earth.
Moses presents this kingdom replication in verse 2,
“And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”
The reference to the “Spirit” is not merely a reference to the Holy Spirit. The original reader would have seen parallels with Deuteronomy 32 where Moses writes,
He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions (Deut 32:10-11).
Though the word is translated “waste” in Deuteronomy 32 and “formless” in Genesis 1, the same word is used in Hebrew, tohu. Additionally, in both passages "hover" (Hebrew rachaph) is used. The rare use of these two words connects the passages for the reader. The exodus is the new creation for Israel. The Spirit hovered over Israel to make them in His image, His kingdom people.
Nehemiah wrote of the Spirit theophany over Israel,
You, in Your great compassion,
Did not forsake them in the wilderness;
The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day,
To guide them on their way,
Nor the pillar of fire by night,
to light for them the way in which they were to go (Neh 9:19).
Isaiah calls this cloud theophany the “Spirit” (Isa 63:10-14). The theophany was the visible manifestation of the invisible throne of heaven. So when Moses refers to the “Spirit… hovering” he is also referring to the throne of heaven, the place filled with the glory of the Holy One. God created His throne in heaven, and He then creates His kingdom on earth.
Central to this relationship of heaven and earth are the Suzerain, God, and the vassal, Adam. Adam would image the King of heaven on earth. As the King had all dominion, so Adam would rule on earth. As the King was righteous, Adam was to rule in righteousness. As the King of glory sat enthroned in “unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16) having entered His Sabbath, so Adam was promised Sabbath enthronement.
Paul understood that Adam acted as the legal representative (federal head) of all in his covenant relationship with God. Paul writes,
"So then, as through one offense to condemnation to all men, so also through one act of righteousness to justification of life to all men" (Rom 5:18; trans.)
Or again, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Hosea wrote, "...like Adam they have violated the covenant" (Hosea 6:7). Chapters 2 and 3 give the covenant probation and tragic outcome.
In the first chapter of Genesis, Moses gives the metanarrative of creation. The eternal God created His throne in heaven and image bearer, Adam, on earth to bring forth His kingdom. Once Adam had done so, he was promised entrance into the Sabbath rest of the King. Heaven and earth would be one. So John describes the culmination of this original purpose in the new heavens and new earth. John writes, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven" (Rev 21:1). The city of God is described as a bride with her husband (Rev 21:2). But how would God respond to the bride's unfaithfulness before the wedding day?
Meredith G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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