George C. Lubbers is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The Cosmological-Christological Import: The Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 2:4ff.)
Then we desire to have a glance into the “heavens,” as the heaven of heavens, Scripture restrains us and bids us to wait a bit. We should never forget that Genesis 1:1reads “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” However, there is not one iota in the entire first chapter of Genesis which speaks of any particulars concerning the creation of the heavens, nor of the creation of the thousands upon thousands, the myriads of angelic hosts. Genesis 1 tells us of the six-day creation of the earthly cosmos, and ends with telling us of the grand and wonderful creation of man. Such ought to be obvious to any attentive reader.
And, yet, when the Holy Spirit unfolds before ourbelieving eyes the wonders of the six-day creation (Hexaimeron) of the earth, we see that the perspective here is not limited to the work of God’s earthly creation. If the earth is God’s footstool, then the throne which is heaven too is created. God did not create the one without the other (Matt. 5:33-35). Therefore no man can swear by the earth without swearing by the other. Do not forget that the veil is lifted just a bit in Genesis 2:1, where we read “and the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them.” Yes, also the angels sang their trisagions already in heaven at the time of the Sabbath of creation. Job seems to refer to this very poetically when he tells us what Jehovah spoke to him out of the whirlwind: “Where wast thou when . I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Did the angels from their heavenly heights of their proper habitation (Jude 1:6) view with heavenly angelic desire the formation of the light, the firmament, the day and the night, the forming of the dry land and the seas, the wondrous, boundless lights in the firmament to rule the day and the night? And did not their interest heighten when God made living creatures on the fifth and sixth days? And was not the creation of man in God’s own image and likeness the breath-taking joy of the angels, when they saw “Adam the son of God,” in whose service they would stand forever?
Yes, the veil is lifted here a bit.
God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning!
The “Toledoth” of the Heavens and of the Earth (Gen. 2:4)
We believe that in Genesis 2:4 we have a backward glance; however, it is far more a forward look into the distant, dim future. It is really a statement full of the prophetic word, reaching from the first Adam to the last Adam. It extends from the first Adam, who is of the earth earthy, to the last Adam, the Second, Who is the Lord from heaven. Yes, it is a prophetic light which shines as a beacon light across-the ages. And it really is such that it speaks of the “generations” of the heavens and of the earth.
The order is this: the heavens and the earth!
This is the consistent and trustworthy form of doctrine to which we have been delivered.
We believe that here in this pregnant statement we have the keynote of all Scripture. It is, so to speak, the substratum of world-history which is church-history! Here is not the dualistic view of “common grace”, which makes the influence of God’s common, non-saving grace the substratum of world-history, on which the special grace of God is then somewhat related. Nay, here is another life-and-world-view, a quite different Weltanschauung. It is the Scriptural view of “Sin and Grace.” Here we stand squarely on the teaching of Creation, Fall, and Redemption.
All things were made by the Son of God and unto Him (Col. 1:15-20).
The burden of this chapter of this series of essays is to shew that there is something indeed unique in the term “generations” of the heavens and of the earth.
In the Hebrew text the term which reads “generations” in our English Version is toledoth. The term refers in every place in the book of Genesis to humangenerations. It does not refer to the creatures generally, nor can it ever designate the hosts of the angel-world. It ever refers to generations of the Seed of the Woman, except when it is employed in reference to Ishmael’s generations in Genesis 25:12, and to Esau’s generations in Genesis 36:1, 9. The term occurs in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Ruth, and I Chronicles. The term occurs thirty-eight times in the Bible. Once it is translated “births” (in Ex. 28:10) in the KJV of the Bible. However, even in this latter passage the term has the basic idea of toledoth, generations. Only here the stones in the breastplate of the high priest are according to the birth, twelve in number, the twelve tribes, whose names are now written upon the gates of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12-25).
There is some very good commentary on the idea of the “toledoth” of Scripture in Matthew 1:1. We read here “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” There must have been a “Biblos” in Israel. The recording is of the “genealogy” of Christ. In a sense that is the very heart of the Old Testament Scriptures. I once read a “version” of the entire Old Testament in which all the “genealogy” of Christ was removed. In that “version” there was aToledoth neither of heaven nor of earth; it left an empty shell, a Christless “bible,” a mere saga, a modern heroic story of some Jewish heroes. This “Book” is the inspired record of the prophetic, revelation world which shines until Christ comes, when we will hear angels sing redemption’s song in Bethlehem-Ephratha: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.” As is commonly known among students of Scriptures the Greek here reads “men of good pleasure.”
It is interesting to observe that in the Septuagint version we find the translation here of this toledoth by the Greek terms he bibles geneseoos = the book of the becoming of Jesus Christ. This is the exact verbiage which we read in Matthew 1:1, 18. This places the meaning of this term in a strikingly significant light. In line with the foregoing observations we find that theStaten Vertaling (official Dutch translation of 1618) translates toledoth by the noun geboorten, births. Now this is a good translation of the Hebrew. For the verb from which the term toledoth is derived means “to give birth.” From this we may conclude, in passing, that this term could not refer to the angelic hosts of heaven, where there is no marriage, nor bringing forth of children. There in the angel-world there are no believers and their spiritual seed. Christ did not assume the nature of angels, but He took upon Himself the seed of Abraham.
In our considered judgment we must understand by the “book” the record of the genealogy which has its beginning in Adam, and is continued in the heads of Noah, Shem, Terah, Isaac, Jacob, Judah. For it is expressly stated in I Chronicles 5:1, 2 that the genealogy was not reckoned after the (fleshly) birthright, Rueben, but after the fourth son, Judah. In Judah, therefore, thetoledoth runs to David, and then to Christ. Hence, here is revelation of the covenant of the promise, written by the Spirit through Moses in the desert. Was not the shout of the “King” in Israel in Judah (Num. 23:21; Gen. 49:8-10)?
We are standing on sure ground here.
In Matthew 1:1-18 we read of this great “book” of the generations of Jesus Christ. And this is then summed upon in the grand final, the climax of the song of the saints of all the Old Testament dispensation. “Now the birth (Toledoth) of Jesus Christ was on this wise” (Matt. 1:18-24). Yes, it was the Wonder of grace, that the Son of God was born from the virgin Mary, as the Immanuel child, prophesied by Isaiah centuries before (Is. 7:14; Is. 9:6, 7).
Here is the hope of heaven and earth. As a little child I sang with my little peers in the highest and chiefest notes of the “precious name of Jesus.” Was it not “the hope of earth and the joy of heaven”? Little did we small children understand the full import. We still sing like these little children, touching only the hem of the garment of this Mystery, which was hid from the ages, but which has been revealed in these last days. We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when “heaven” will be revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, then shall we know even as we are known (Rom. 16:25, 27;I Pet. 1:20).
Someone will opine, “But the text in Genesis 2:4 precedes the account of the creation of Adam from the dust of the earth, and of Eve from Adam’s rib. How can this now all refer in Genesis 2:4 to the Generations which were to be born from this “Woman” spoken of in Genesis 2:23?” We answer that the Toledoth of the heavens and of the earth are not born from a woman per se. The Woman (ishah) never had any children prior to the “Fall” of all mankind, represented by Adam; but all the children were born after the “Fall” from her who was surnamed “Eve,” the mother of the living. For the Toledoth of heaven and earth do not include the children of Cain at all, but they are in the line of the generations which were born from Adam-Seth as they are under the blood, as they are clothed with the righteousness of the saints. They stand with their children in the Christ, the Seed, Who is the Seed of the Woman, Who will crush the head of the serpent in His church, by His death and resurrection.
Let it be said here and now: Adam and Eve fell by willful and horrible sinful disobedience. The Fall was by “one man” (Rom. 5:12). After the “disobedience” God had another Man through Whom out of many offenses there is brought about the free gift of grace. Adam and the whole human race, head for head and soul for soul, did not fall into the arms of Jesus Christ, but Adam is from here on an individual, a redeemed member with Eve, in the multitude of the redeemed. O, blessed thought, the man Adam, husband of his wife, fell into the arms of mercy. He did not fall into the arms of Christ as representative of the entire human race. He now with Eve belongs to the “many” which are saved in Christ.
Such is the unfolding of the Toledoth of the heavens and of the earth.