|Parallels in the Creative Work
Old Creation, New Creation
If any one be in Christ, he is a New Creation; the old things have passed away; behold they have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Wilson Diaglott
Those who closely examine the Genesis account of Creation will notice some striking parallels between the work sequenced in the creative days of Genesis 1 and the sequence of symbols which describe the developing work of the Gospel Age in Revelation.
But years before Revelation was composed, before those symbols had ever been revealed to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, the Apostle Paul recognized a parallel between the ancient creation of things mundane and the new work of the Spirit, the New Creation. Paul mentions one feature of this comparison in 2 Corinthians 4:6. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Probably this was more than just a poetic comparison. Perhaps Paul saw the seeds of this comparison in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, in the fourth chapter. That chapter contains the prophets rebuke against Israel in his day, but as one reads the language it is easy to see that the words contain a deeper meaning for a later time.
"If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me ... then shalt thou not remove [but they did not heed, and were scattered abroad]. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him [the gentiles who received Christ did just that] ... For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem ... Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart [circumcision is that of the heart, Romans 2:29]" (Jeremiah 4:14).
Jeremiah recognized such repentance was not forthcoming, and predicted the consequences (verses 713). The Babylonians worked this vengeance in Jeremiahs day, and the Romans in Jesus day. Then Jeremiah expressed the sad conditions in Judaism in terms drawn from Genesis. "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light" (Jeremiah 4:23). Was this perhaps the key for Pauls analogy?
The Step-by-Step Comparison with Revelation
It is not our purpose here to interpret all the symbols involved, but merely to notice the similarities which suggest a divinely intended comparison between the creations.
The Genesis account of creation is in seven parts, frequently styled the seven creative days. When Revelation describes the Gospel Age during which the New Creation is produced, it also breaks the work into seven parts, and does so in a sequence of three visions the seven churches, seven seals, and seven trumpets. Each of these traverses the Gospel Age from a different perspective.
It is in the last series, the trumpets, that we find the symbols comparing to the Genesis narrative. The seven trumpets of Revelation are the pronounced judgments of God through the age, the one place among the three narratives where Gods voice, as it were, is trumpeted out with commanding authority. This reminds us of the Genesis narrative in which the work of each day is preceded with the commanding declaration: "And God said."
In both narratives the "earth" simply "is" before the sequence of seven unfolds, and in both it is the subject of the following activity (Genesis 1:1, 2, Revelation 8:5, 6). Then the sequence proceeds.
(1) "Let there be Light" (Genesis 1:3). In the first trumpet period, as the Gospel Age opened, the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6) shone out into the world. But this blessing of truth implied some hard judgments upon Judaism, which rejected their Messiah, and therefore it is represented by the symbols hail and fire in the first trumpet.
(2) In the second trumpet the sea is affected (Revelation 8:8); in the second creative day the vast terrestrial ocean was distinguished from the vapors above by the intervening firmament.
(3) In the third trumpet the rivers were affected (8:10); in the third day the rivers were produced by the draining of the rising land surfaces.
(4) In the fourth trumpet the sun, moon and stars were affected (8:12); in the fourth day the sun, moon and stars were appointed to shine distinctly.
(5) In the fifth trumpet the "air" was affected (9:2); in the fifth day the fowls which fly through the air were created.
(6) In the sixth trumpet 200,000,000 powerful horses are unleashed (9:16); in the sixth day the large land animals were created.
(7) The seventh trumpet introduces the Kingdom of Christ, the millennial Sabbath when mankind rests from the burden of sin and the curse; the seventh day began Gods rest from his creative activity.
Each of these stages was important in the development of the New Creation as a corporate whole during the age. Before the gospel could spread and develop prolifically, first Judaism and then the Roman Empire had to be overturned, and this was the work of the first two trumpets. The Jewish "trees" were burned, and the Roman "mountain" was subdued by the "sea" of barbarian invaders from the north.
Perhaps Jesus symbolically predicted the pending doom of both these institutions when he told the disciples "If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree [which had withered as Israel would], but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea [as would happen to the Pagan Roman Empire]; it shall be done" (Matthew 21:21). Even the time of our Lords statement was significant, for as he walked on into the temple area that morning he was accosted by his enemies, who subsequently sent "Pharisees [representing Judaism] and ... Herodians [partial to Rome] to catch him in his words" (Mark 12:13).
As the Gospel Age would go on, because "the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12), the precious truth Christ brought would become perverted. This is represented in trumpet periods three and four, when the rivers of refreshing water were turned putrid, and the light of the gospel (sun), the types of the law (moon), and the apostolic lights (stars) were darkened.
But in time the Lord would send a powerful messenger to unlock the dormant truths of the Bible, causing great commotion and confusion in the ecclesiastical heavens. This was the work of Luther in the fifth trumpet, and its successor stage was even more devastating, as the 200,000,000 horses arrayed for war symbolized the ravaging of Christendom during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
All of this was necessary that the Two Witnesses, the Old and New Testaments, could shed the sackcloth of the dark ages and ascend to heavenly prominence (Revelation 11:12) in renewed splendor and popularity to prepare for the harvest of the age. And then the fateful announcement of the Seventh Trumpet, "The Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ," introduced the work of our returned King, the Lord of Harvest, to complete his church and put an end to the false perpetrators.
Working on His Rest Day
There is an apparent contradiction in God developing the New Creation during the seventh creative day which he declared his day of rest. On one occasion during our Lords ministry when he was accused of "working" on the Sabbath day because he healed the afflicted, Jesus alluded to this matter. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). But how is work on the day of rest permissible?
Jesus answered this on another occasion when he was also challenged for healing on the sabbath. "He said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days" (Matthew 12:11, 12).
This is the answer. Works of kindness, of mercy, of goodness, are not excluded on the Sabbath. And Gods work of developing the New Creation is all of these, not only toward themselves, the chief beneficiaries, but also to the whole world, who will receive a raising back to life through the ministry of the New Creation during the Kingdom. (Revelation 20:6)
In this kind of work we can be energetically engaged. He who has "entered into his rest ... [and] ceased from his own works," is nevertheless admonished to "labor ... to enter into that rest" which remains for us beyond the veil (Hebrews 4:10, 11).