In my own research, I came across this rather academic treatise on Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony by Meredith G. Kline.
It appeared to support some of the conjectures that I have made regarding the two triads represented in the literary structure of Genesis 1. I have expanded on some of these ideas in the article, One, Two, Three.
I suggest that the triads represent trimesters in a gestation process that Paul refers to as a waiting period:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Each day in the Genesis narrative represents a trimester in the process of pregnancy: conception, gestation, birth.
After the first three days of gestation, which involve three separations (light from darkness, sky from water, land from water), the land gives birth to vegetative life.
The word “and” is used to suggest the increase in complexity as the earth is actively transformed through the process of separation and differentiation by the addition of meaning and purpose. The following three days of gestation represent the filling of the three separate environments — water, sky, and land — with new forms of life. In the end, the process gives birth to a new form of life that is made in the image of God.
So, trying to understand Genesis in terms of enlightenment philosophy or modern science is missing the point, as much as the divine act of speaking could allude to the introduction of genetic codes, and separations could allude to mitosis, and differentiation could allude to evolution in a diversifying ecosystem. Key to the narrative was the actions of a deity communicating in the simplest of terms the categories and symbols that will be used throughout the following narratives to help us to understand our own identities in the context of an ordered system with specific characteristics, which in turn are physical symbols of spiritual realities that can explain the identity and character of our Creator.
The gestation process also occurs in a physical sense through the conception, formation, and birth of the nation of Israel, a light to the Gentiles, brought through the waters, to a promised land.
This gestation process leads to the same process in microcosm in the life of Christ. Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days. The death of Christ and his resurrection lead to the birth of a new creation: the church.
Now, the church has been going through its own gestation process. That is why we can say that the Kingdom of God is at hand: now but not yet. The gestation process is more difficult to discern, because it has been confused by the physical representation of the church as a Christian Empire, that is, Christendom, which is an oxymoron if ever there was one. Power has distorted the image of truth, beauty, and goodness. To see the church, one must see with spiritual eyes to discern where there is growth and fruit, where there is a true likeness being formed of the image of God, who is the Son:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
As you can see, the symbolism of pregnancy and birth is used throughout.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
—2 Corinthians 5:17
We are being fearfully and wonderfully made into the body of Christ.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my motherʼs womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand —
when I awake, I am still with you.
If Paul had understood modern science, he might have used cell biology as the metaphor instead of “living stones.” But it does have this idea of the second Adam meaning the second Earth, the renewing, restoration, and transformation of the garden of Eden.
As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
—1 Peter 2:4–5
It’s like this third rock from the Sun is actually a multi-celled organism called Earth.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The name of our planet Earth is synonymous with Adam. But the earth is more like a physical womb for a new living being that is spiritual instead of physical.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
—1 Corinthians 15:44–49
That is the mystery of the church. The church is the bride of Christ.
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
When does the wedding take place? Jesus inaugurates his ministry with a wedding in Cana. Notice the day on which the wedding takes place.
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesusʼ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesusʼ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
It is at the wedding that the disciples first believe.
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Jesus has already given his “Yes” to the marriage proposal. He is here so that his mother, the Spirit, can seal the promise.
But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us — by me and Silas and Timothy — was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
—2 Corinthians 1:18–22
Jesus has been betrothed to the church since before his birth. It has been his destiny to be joined as one with the one he loves.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
At the point of belief, the Spirit seals the engagement. The union between the bridegroom and his bride begins as soon as the disciples believe, but the consummation of the relationship will come after the wedding day.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Godʼs possession — to the praise of his glory.
Jesus is the bridegroom.
“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroomʼs voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”
Jesus himself is the bread.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
— John 6:35
Jesus, as the bridegroom, brings his own wine to the celebration.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
The first thing that Jesus does as a bridegroom is to take his disciples to the place prepared for them to live together: the temple. Naturally, he wants to make sure that their house is a safe, secure place where he and his bride can feel at home and have a sense of belonging. This is where a husband and wife will experience the deepest sense of intimacy. So, the first thing that Jesus does is cleanse the house.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Fatherʼs house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
But this is a symbolic cleansing. The work of cleansing the hands and hearts of all people for all time is no small feat.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
So, he himself is the house. The actual work of cleansing the house would happen later.
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Because the defilement and contamination of the house has been persistent after many attempts to cleanse the house, the house must be torn down.
It must be torn down — its stones, timbers and all the plaster — and taken out of the town to an unclean place.
He will be taking the contamination of the world upon himself. By taking the pain, suffering, punishment, afflictions, transgressions, iniquities, and sins of the world on himself. He will bear the weight of it all himself, and he will intercede for all mankind.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
This is the promise that God made to his people:
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
Now, let’s say that three years go by from the time of the wedding in Cana until the day Jesus brings his disciples to the place where he and his disciples would celebrate the Passover Festival together. We could say that this three-year period was a courtship between the bridegroom and the bride. Then, the actual wedding banquet happens that night.
Interestingly, weddings in ancient cultures tend to span multiple days. For example, in a traditional Indian wedding, the wedding will last an average of three days:
Jesus invites his disciples [the church, his bride] to a private room where Jesus offers himself in service to his disciples [the church, his bride] with the most intimate displays of affection and personal disclosures. He begins by disrobing and washing the feet of his disciples. And he declares his disciples to be clean.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciplesʼ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one anotherʼs feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
At the Lord’s Supper, Jesus tells the disciples that they are to remember him by eating bread and drinking wine.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lordʼs death until he comes.
—1 Corinthians 11:23–26
Some people accused early followers of the way of Jesus of being cannibals. Jesus did say some rather surprising things which might have lead to these allegations. What he appears to be doing here is to use the metaphors of eating and drinking to signify belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and obedience to the law of love: to love each other as he had loved them. By consuming something, that food becomes the physical material that forms our bodies. In effect, by loving others, we become love to other people. We take on the likeness of Jesus.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Now, recall that Jesus has already used this metaphor before when the disciples were wondering if someone else had brought food to Jesus.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
Jesus also compares his followers to kernels of wheat that fall to the ground and die. Wheat seeds can be food, or they can be used to plant and grow crops to multiply the harvest.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Jesus is the Word. In contrast to the law that Moses brought, Jesus embodied grace and truth. The law is death, but the Spirit of truth brings resurrection and life. By eating the “flesh” of Jesus, we are consuming the words of Jesus and understanding his example of love. When we live according to the Spirit, according to the law of love, we know truth, we make beauty, and we do good. By these creative acts of love, we multiply love in the world.
The following passage uses maternal language to describe God. It is as if we are a foetus, being formed within the womb of God. We depend on God for life and breath and everything else, as if we are joined by an umbilical cord. In “her” we live and move and have our being.
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
The Family of God
The image of a mother is symbolic of this dependent relationship that humankind has with God. The Sun is symbolic of the Father, the source of the warmth, energy, and gravitational force that holds the solar system together. The Sun represents truth and life. The Earth is our mother, Eve, the “living one” and “source of life,” containing all the elements and the necessary environment, designed and finely tuned to provide the necessary characteristics, conditions, and information to create and support life. The Son is the head of the ecclesia, the invisible, creative collective who are followers of the way of faith, hope, and love.
In that sense, the Gaia hypothesis might be closer to the idea of Earth as a sort of womb for the new creation.
It is interesting that John later refers to the story of a wedding as a metaphor for the union of the Lamb, Jesus, with his bride, God’s holy people.
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of Godʼs holy people.)
The Lord’s Supper was to be the first day of a three-day wedding celebration. Instead, the first day led to the death of the bridegroom. The third day, Jesus rises from the dead. The wedding day ends up becoming a day of celebration after all. That day was symbolic of a greater spiritual reality.
As a spiritual reality, the wedding celebration continues to this day. The bridegroom has left to prepare a place, so that he can bring his bride home. As you recall, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and I will build it in three days.” He rose from the dead in three days, so he rebuilt his physical body. But Jesus also referred to building a church. Was Jesus also referring to the church when he was talking about this temple? The temple is also used as a metaphor for the body and for the church.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
—1 Corinthians 6:19–20
I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to say that Jesus intended there to be a three-day process to rebuild the house that was destroyed. In AD 70, the second temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, as he predicted it would be.
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
Jesus intended his church to be built over the next three days. As we have noticed from the Genesis narrative, the days are symbolic of a gestational process that leads to the creation of a new form of life, as is the case with the church, which is a “new creation.”
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
—2 Corinthians 5:17
But the new creation is in a gestational process, awaiting a time of apocalypse, an unveiling, a revelation of the reality of this new form of life that none of us can fathom.
The last book of the Bible brings us full circle. If we understand the original creation as God’s original building process for a type of temple, the place where mankind communed with God, then the Revelation of Christ ends with the renewal, restoration, and transformation of the garden into a new dwelling place where God communes with his holy people. At the center of the story is the Holy City of Jerusalem.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! Godʼs dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
What we discover in the end is that the whole narrative represents a love story between God and his creation. From the beginning, he had in mind a love affair that would lead to marriage. And they would live happily ever after.
Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
It is the archetypal fairy tale, a Cinderella story.
Unrecognized virtue at last recognized. It’s the same story as the Tortoise and the Hare. Cinderella doesn’t have to be a girl, nor does it even have to be a love story. What is essential is that the good is despised, but is recognized in the end, something that we all want to believe.
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The twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of the sweeping narrative of scripture. I would venture to say that the woman represents the presence of the Spirit on earth, the comforter, the maternal nature of God. This is the embodiment of the invisible, creative collective. The clue is the last verse of the chapter.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring — those who keep Godʼs commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
The woman is the Eve of Genesis, the “living one” and the “source of life”. Her offspring are the remnant, the faithful believers, whether the physical descendants of Adam, Abraham, or the spiritual descendants of Jesus.
As John has said previously, these are those who are born of the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
These must be the spiritual children of God, the Mother. That is, God, the Spirit, the maternal nature of God. She has been incarnated in the form of the faithful resistance, as she has made her dwelling in the hearts of those who believe, and she feels the pain of her children throughout the centuries.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbandʼs will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
She fights bravely against the red dragon, the deceiving serpent, the black snake, who originally initiated the struggle with Eve in the garden of Eden. She is the bride of the Lamb mentioned in the Revelation.
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
She is the lady chosen by God in John’s second epistle.
To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth — and not I only, but also all who know the truth — because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever
—2 John 1:1–2
According to the book, we know the ending. In the end, good triumphs over evil and love wins. If there are casualties in the end, one has to believe that the weight of all the pain and suffering was for a reason that will make it all worthwhile. Or, how could one believe in the goodness of God? That is truly the question that needs to be answered. How can such evil exist in the face of a good and loving God? Yet, if we have a comforter who dwells in our hearts, giving us the words to say against our accusers, filling us with the power of love, she also experiences pain and suffering along with us. It is the incarnation of love in the world that gives us hope.
It also gives us a means of discerning those who resist the Spirit. Often, the evil disguise themselves as righteous, religiously upholding the scriptures, yet by their actions reveal their evil intent. They speak of law and order, but they neglect love and mercy. They raise up representatives for their own cause who misrepresent truth and justice, looking only to their own interests, but not to the interests of others. They speak of security, peace and prosperity, but it is the loss of their own security, peace and prosperity that they fear. A perverse logic turns the world into a competition in the struggle over scarce resources, and over who is the greatest. They believe they can be great again, that they live in the richest nation in the world, but they do not realize that they are spiritually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
To follow in the footsteps of Jesus means giving up aspirations of greatness to be a servant to all, to be God’s representative of love to the least of these. We can’t expect to know the details of the plot leading to the story’s climax and conclusion. We can only dimly grasp the inevitable outcome, the amazing transformation to come. Until then, we hold on to faith, hope, and love, the only true constants in the spiritual universe.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
—1 Corinthians 13:8–13
Is the story too good to be true? To be continued… Stay tuned.