La ciencia, la Biblia y la tierra prometida

Hay un genio en Génesis 1-3 que a menudo está oculto por las interpretaciones modernas del texto. El genio de estos capítulos es el profundo significado que le dan al destino de los redimidos al establecer una unidad entre la obra de creación de Dios y el plan de redención. Desafortunadamente, muchas interpretaciones modernas de Génesis oscurecen este genio al suponer que los seis días de Génesis 1 tratan sobre la creación de todo el universo. Además, esta suposición coloca a Génesis en oposición directa a lo que parecen ser los sólidos hallazgos de la ciencia moderna sobre la edad y la creación del universo.

"Debido a este error", escribe el Dr. John Sailhamer en su provocativo libro Genesis Unbound, "muchos cristianos se han sentido divididos entre una lealtad a la Biblia y un reconocimiento de los hallazgos de la ciencia moderna, una lágrima que no es necesaria ni útil. "(John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound [Hermanas, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996], p. 13). El propósito de Genesis Unbound es mostrar que esta lágrima no es necesaria porque "cuando Génesis 1 y 2 se entienden como ... Moisés pretendía que se entendieran, casi todas las dificultades que dejan perplejos a los lectores modernos desaparecen instantáneamente" (13-14) .

El convincente análisis de Génesis de Sailhamer no solo resuelve el aparente conflicto entre la ciencia y la Biblia, sino que también (y, diría, lo más importante) nos abre las profundidades del plan de Dios para bendecir a su pueblo. Genesis Unbound revela el genio de Génesis 1-3 que está tan oscurecido por muchas interpretaciones modernas y, en consecuencia, te hará maravillarte de los caminos de Dios en la creación y la redención y te dará una mejor comprensión de la profunda unidad de la Biblia.

Mi propósito en este análisis de Genesis Unbound es exponer la comprensión de Génesis 1-3 que Sailhamer defiende (llamado "creacionismo histórico"), por qué creo que su comprensión es correcta y desarrollar más plenamente las sorprendentes implicaciones de su ver que él saca a relucir. Por esta razón, esto no será estrictamente una revisión del libro, sino más bien un análisis "expansivo" del libro. Mi motivo y oración en este trabajo es el mismo que el objetivo de Sailhamer al escribir Genesis Unbound, es decir, "saldrás con una nueva apreciación y comprensión del genio de estos dos primeros capítulos de la Biblia. Deberíamos estar asombrados y agradecidos ¡que Dios eligió darnos esta visión extraordinaria de sus poderosas obras al amanecer de los tiempos! " (dieciséis).

Visión de conjunto

Genesis Unbound se divide en cuatro partes. La primera parte explica por qué el tema de la ciencia y la Biblia es importante. La segunda parte reúne la evidencia del creacionismo histórico y por qué resuelve el aparente conflicto de la ciencia y la Biblia. Es, por lo tanto, "el corazón del libro" (15). La tercera parte busca aclarar la imagen llevando al lector a través de una breve exposición de Génesis 1: 1-2: 4a. Como tal, se construye "sobre los cimientos establecidos previamente en el libro" en la segunda parte (16). Finalmente, la cuarta parte está escrita para darnos "un mejor sentido de los problemas históricos, filosóficos e interpretativos que nos llevaron a donde estamos hoy" (16). Muestra que el punto de vista de Sailhamer no es nuevo, pero fue sostenido por muchos antes del surgimiento de la ciencia moderna. Y muestra de dónde provienen las interpretaciones erróneas de Génesis.

En este análisis, no seguiré estrictamente el formato de Sailhamer. En lugar de ordenar la evidencia y luego aclarar la imagen en dos etapas separadas como lo hace Sailhamer, trataré de aclarar la imagen mientras reúno la evidencia. Luego, trataré de mostrar la gloria que revela el genio de Génesis 1-3 dando un paso atrás para contemplar la imagen completa en relación con el resto de la Biblia.

Cómo establecer su caso

Hay dos formas principales de establecer su caso para algo. La primera forma es construir su caso a medida que revisa los argumentos y luego lo desvela en su totalidad al final. En este método, los argumentos funcionan casi como piezas de un rompecabezas que no se unen en toda su unidad hasta el final. El beneficio de este método es que conserva el misterio y, por lo tanto, tal vez una mayor experiencia "ajá" cuando finalmente se revela el rompecabezas completo. Pero la dificultad es que es difícil hacer esto de una manera coherente que no "pierda" al lector debido a la falta de un sistema en el que colocar los argumentos mientras lee.

La segunda forma de argumentar su caso es exponer su punto de vista primero y luego defenderlo. Esto a menudo le da mayor coherencia a su caso cuando construye sus argumentos porque el lector tendrá un marco general en el cual ubicarlos. En otras palabras, no se perderá porque le habrá dado un mapa que le muestra a dónde se dirige. Por lo tanto, el lector puede ver más directamente cómo cada argumento sucesivo encaja en el gran esquema de cosas, cómo se conectan entre sí y cómo se conectan a su objetivo general por escrito. El resultado es que su caso generalmente será más fácil de seguir y probablemente estimulará más conexiones entre sus argumentos en la mente del lector.

Este es el enfoque que adopta Sailhamer. Primero revela su punto de vista en su totalidad y luego retrocede para construir su caso. Esta es, creo, una de las principales fortalezas del libro porque le da al lector un marco en el que integrar los argumentos y, por lo tanto, hace que sea más fácil evaluarlos. Pero, por supuesto, revela que Sailhamer "no es ni un tiburón de las cartas ni un novelista exitoso", ya que, como él mismo dice, "justo al principio quiero mostrarte mi mano y revelar algunos de mis mejores giros en la trama" (13 )

El creacionismo histórico y la "desvinculación" del Génesis

Para ver la singularidad de Genesis Unbound, debemos reconocer que hay tres posiciones principales sobre el aparente conflicto entre la ciencia y la Biblia. El creacionismo, en primer lugar, enseña que, según Génesis, Dios hizo el universo en seis días de veinticuatro horas y, por lo tanto, la tierra es muy joven (ya que los humanos, que fueron creados en el sexto día, solo han existido durante aproximadamente 10 años). a 20 mil años). Este punto de vista declara que la ciencia moderna está equivocada en su creencia de que la tierra es vieja y generalmente intenta proporcionar su propia evidencia científica para contrarrestar la evidencia de una tierra vieja.

En segundo lugar, el creacionismo progresivo enseña que los días del Génesis no son períodos de veinticuatro horas, sino períodos de tiempo (edades) no especificados en los que Dios creó el universo. Esta visión, a diferencia del creacionismo, está de acuerdo con la evidencia científica de una tierra vieja, pero, como el creacionismo, no acepta la evolución. La evolución teísta, por otro lado, enseña que la tierra es vieja y que Dios usó la evolución para crear el universo.

El punto de vista de Sailhamer, llamado creacionismo histórico, afirma la inerrancia de la Biblia, defiende la historicidad del Génesis y rechaza la evolución, al igual que el creacionismo y el creacionismo progresivo. Como Sailhamer escribe, el autor de Génesis "no espera ser entendido como escribiendo mitología o poesía. Su relato, tal como lo entiende, es un relato histórico de la creación" (45) .1 La principal diferencia es que el creacionismo histórico niega tres supuestos centrales detrás de las otras tres vistas. Estas tres suposiciones son, primero, "que el propósito principal de los capítulos es simplemente describir cómo Dios creó el mundo. Otra es que originalmente el mundo era una masa sin forma, que Dios formó en el mundo que conocemos hoy. Un tercero es 'el la tierra 'que Dios hizo durante los seis días es' la tierra 'en su totalidad, tal como la conocemos hoy "(11).

Los primeros capítulos de Génesis están "obligados" por varias malas traducciones en la Biblia en inglés "porque esas suposiciones incorrectas se encuentran detrás de las traducciones al inglés de Génesis 1 y 2 que usamos hoy. Nos guste o no, Génesis en la Biblia en inglés está" vinculado "por esos supuestos. Una parte importante de mi tarea en este libro es perder esos lazos y liberar los capítulos para hablar por sí mismos. De ahí el título" (11). ¿Cuál es, entonces, el significado de estos primeros capítulos en Génesis que ha estado "obligado" tan a menudo por estos supuestos? A esta pregunta nos referiremos ahora.

El significado de Génesis 1 y 2

Sailhamer sostiene que Génesis 1 y 2 relatan "dos grandes actos de Dios" (14). El primer gran acto es la creación de todo el universo: nuestro planeta, los animales, el sol, la luna, las estrellas, etc. Esto se relata en 1: 1, que declara que "en el principio Dios creó los cielos y la tierra. " La palabra hebrea traducida "comienzo" no significa un instante de tiempo, sino un "período de tiempo indefinido". Como, entonces, Dios creó el universo entero en un período de tiempo no especificado, "no podemos decir con certeza cuándo creó Dios el mundo o cuánto tiempo tardó en crearlo" (14). Por esta razón, la evidencia científica de un viejo universo no contradice Génesis uno. Y este es el caso incluso si interpretamos los "días" como períodos de veinticuatro horas y no como edades.

El segundo gran acto de Dios se relata en 1: 2-2: 24 y "trata con un alcance y período de tiempo mucho más limitado. Comenzando con Génesis 1: 2, la narración bíblica relata la preparación de Dios de una tierra para el hombre y mujer que iba a crear. Esa 'tierra' era la misma tierra que luego le prometieron a Abraham y a sus descendientes ... Según Génesis 1, Dios preparó esa tierra dentro de un período de seis días a la semana laboral. En el sexto día de ese semana, Dios creó a los seres humanos. Dios descansó el séptimo día "(14). Una de las asombrosas verdades que esto trae a la luz es que "cuando a Israel se le prometió una tierra para vivir las bendiciones de Dios (Génesis 15: 8), no fue la primera vez que Dios les había preparado un lugar. Desde el principio, Dios había preparado ese lugar para su pueblo elegido "(p. 92). Cuando entendemos esto, vemos que la tierra es un tema central unificador de los actos de creación y redención de Dios.

En resumen, Sailhamer argumenta que Génesis 1: 1 se refiere a la creación de todo el universo y que Dios lo hizo durante un período de tiempo no especificado que podría haber sido un año o quince mil millones de años. El texto simplemente no dice. Génesis 1: 2 y siguientes, que relatan los actos de Dios durante los seis días, por lo tanto, no se refieren a la creación del universo. Hablan de un tiempo después de la creación del universo cuando Dios preparó una tierra (que es la misma tierra que luego se prometió a Israel) para Adán y Eva, a quienes debía crear en el sexto día. Y la razón por la que Dios tuvo que preparar el Jardín para Adán y Eva fue, entre otras cosas, porque "la tierra [la tierra prometida] no tenía forma y estaba vacía [un desierto desierto], y la oscuridad estaba sobre la superficie del abismo" (v 2)

Esta visión es muy poco común para nosotros hoy, por lo que tomará mucha defensa. Por lo tanto, el resto de este análisis consistirá principalmente en el desarrollo de los principales argumentos para el creacionismo histórico. En otras palabras, ahora que se ha revelado la "imagen completa" del creacionismo histórico, retrocederé y argumentaré sobre la imagen completa. Sin embargo, guardaré el desempaque de algunas de las mayores implicaciones de la visión de Sailhamer hasta el final.

¿Es nuevo el creacionismo histórico?

Antes de exponer y argumentar a favor del creacionismo histórico, creo que uno de los mayores escollos debe eliminarse: que este punto de vista parece nuevo y, por lo tanto, probablemente no sea cierto. Si algo realmente está en la Biblia, sería difícil argumentar que la iglesia lo ha pasado por alto por 2, 000 años.

La elección de Sailhamer del nombre creacionismo histórico está parcialmente motivada por su deseo de llamar la atención sobre el hecho de que su punto de vista no es nuevo. Más bien, muchos teólogos del pasado se aferraron a los elementos centrales de la visión de Sailhamer. Él escribe que "el término 'histórico' apunta al hecho de que esta visión del relato de la creación de Génesis se remonta a una forma de leer Génesis 1 y 2 que floreció antes del surgimiento de la ciencia y su uso en la interpretación bíblica. Antes del progreso en navegación y transporte hizo posible la exploración global de nuestro mundo, los eruditos bíblicos y la gente común leen Génesis 1 dentro de un alcance geográfico bastante limitado ... en consecuencia, mi opinión a menudo se encuentra en trabajos anteriores "(45).

La evidencia de esto es que muchos teólogos judíos de la Edad Media creían que 1: 2ff. ("ff." significa "y los siguientes versos") se referían a la tierra prometida, no al planeta entero (214). Además,

a estos comentaristas judíos medievales les siguieron algunos notables eruditos cristianos. Según John Lightfoote, un exégeta bíblico, teólogo y erudito cristiano de gran prestigio, el relato del Génesis de la creación describe la preparación de Dios de un área específica de tierra que identificó como el jardín del Edén. Lightfoote sostuvo que 1: 1 afirma que Dios creó el universo, pero desde 1: 2 hasta el final del capítulo, el pasaje se enfoca en la preparación de Dios de la tierra que iba a ser el jardín del Edén. El punto de vista de Lightfoote fue desarrollado aún más por eruditos cristianos posteriores (216).

Muchos otros estudiosos anteriores han sostenido que el Jardín del Edén estaba dentro de la tierra prometida. Johann Heidegger del siglo XVII es un ejemplo. Otro ejemplo son los primeros rabinos judíos que pensaban que Adán fue creado a partir del suelo sobre el que se construyó el templo (220).

La creación del universo entero: Génesis 1: 1

El significado de "En el principio ..."

Sailhamer sostiene que

La palabra hebrea reshit, que es el término para 'principio' usado en [Génesis 1: 1], tiene un sentido muy específico en las Escrituras. En la Biblia, el término siempre se refiere a una duración de tiempo extendida pero indeterminada, no a un momento específico. Es un bloque de tiempo que precede a una serie extendida de períodos de tiempo. Es un "tiempo antes del tiempo". El término no se refiere a un punto en el tiempo sino a un período o duración de tiempo que cae antes de una serie de eventos (38).

Como evidencia, se refiere a Job 8: 7, que usa la palabra para referirse no a un solo momento en la vida de Job, sino a "la primera parte de la vida de Job, antes de que su desgracia lo alcanzara" (38). Aunque no habla temporalmente, Génesis 10:10 usa la palabra reshit (comienzo) para referirse "a la primera parte del reino de Nimrod", no un punto específico en el reino (38). Especialmente buena evidencia proviene de la forma en que Israel habló del reinado de sus reyes. Él escribe:

Era común en el antiguo Israel comenzar a contar los años del reinado de un rey desde el primero del año, es decir, el primer día del mes de Nisan. Si el rey asumió el cargo antes de ese día, como era el caso con frecuencia, el tiempo que precedió al primero del año no se calculó como parte de su reinado. Ese tiempo se llamó 'el principio ( reshit ). En algunos casos bíblicos, 'el comienzo' del reinado de un rey ascendió a varios años. Según Jeremías 28: 1, por ejemplo, el "comienzo" del reinado del rey Sedequías incluyó eventos que ocurrieron cuatro años después de haber asumido el trono. En este caso, la NVI tradujo la palabra 'principio' simplemente como 'temprano en el reinado de Sedequías' (39).

Finalmente, "es importante darse cuenta de que otras palabras hebreas estaban disponibles para el autor para transmitir el concepto temporal de un 'principio'. De hecho, a lo largo del Pentateuco, el autor usa otras palabras hebreas para expresar tal concepto "(40).

Por lo tanto, "el comienzo" en Génesis 1: 1 habla de un período de tiempo no especificado, ni un solo instante de tiempo. ¿Y qué hizo Dios en este "principio"? El texto dice que él "creó los cielos y la tierra". Antes de que podamos ver más claramente las implicaciones de esto, debemos entender lo que Moisés quiso decir con la frase "cielos y tierra". Y para entender el significado de la frase "cielos y tierra" también debemos entender el significado de las palabras "tierra" y "cielo". Luego volveremos y juntaremos las piezas.

El significado de "tierra"

Debemos tener cuidado de no llenar palabras antiguas con significados modernos. Cuando escuchamos la palabra "tierra" en nuestra era científica, generalmente pensamos en la gran joya en la que estamos que orbita alrededor del sol. Pero el término generalmente no sugirió tal significado a aquellos en el tiempo anterior a la era espacial cuando se escribió Génesis, ya que generalmente no sabían de las dimensiones "globales" del planeta. Por lo tanto, el término "tierra" ( eretz en hebreo) en Génesis generalmente no se refiere a todo el planeta, sino a una sección específica de la tierra . A veces, eretz se refiere al mundo entero (Génesis 18:25). Pero la mayoría de las veces no. La mayoría de las veces eretz ("tierra") se refiere a un segmento localizado del planeta, como la "tierra de Egipto" (Génesis 45: 8), la "tierra seca" (Génesis 1:10), o la tierra prometida a Abraham (Génesis 15:18). En estos casos, eretz se traduce mejor como "tierra", no "tierra", como reflejan muchas traducciones.

El significado de los "cielos"

La palabra traducida como "cielos" ( shamayim ), como la palabra para tierra ( eretz ), generalmente se refiere a un área localizada. En los escritos anteriores a la era espacial, por lo general no significa "espacio exterior" como lo conocemos hoy, sino que generalmente se refiere a una sección localizada del cielo, el área sobre la "tierra". En Génesis 1:20, por ejemplo, es el lugar donde vuelan las aves. En tales casos, se representa mejor como "cielo" y no como "cielos".

El significado de "cielos y la tierra"

Es importante tener esta comprensión general del uso de los términos "cielo" y "tierra" para entender si "tierra" tiene el mismo significado en el versículo uno ("... Dios creó los cielos y la tierra ") como lo hace en el versículo dos ("Y la tierra estaba sin forma y vacía"). Sailhamer argumenta que no lo hacen. En el versículo dos, "tierra" se refiere a una sección de tierra localizada. Pero en el versículo uno, el hecho de que esté conectado con la palabra "cielos" muestra que se está usando de manera diferente. Esto se debe a que "cuando estos dos términos [cielo y tierra] se usan juntos como una forma de hablar, adquieren un significado distinto de los suyos. Juntos, significan mucho más que la suma de los significados de las dos palabras individuales" ( 55) Muchas combinaciones de palabras son así. Por ejemplo, la palabra "pizarra" significa más de lo que sugiere la combinación de las palabras "negro" y "pizarra". Pizarrón no significa simplemente un tablero que es negro. Significa una pizarra en la que se escribe con tiza. A veces, el pizarrón es verde o blanco, pero por lo general todavía se llama "pizarrón" porque "las dos palabras juntas significan algo muy diferente a cada una por separado" (55).

Es lo mismo con la frase "cielos y tierra" (es decir, "cielo y tierra"). Cuando se usan juntos, "forman una figura retórica llamada" merismo ". Un merismo combina dos palabras para expresar una sola idea. Un merismo expresa 'totalidad' al combinar dos contrastes o dos extremos "(56). Vemos esto, por ejemplo, en el Salmo 139: 2 donde David dice que Dios sabe que se sienta y se levanta. David señala el conocimiento de Dios sobre estos dos extremos, sentarse y levantarse, para mostrar que Dios sabe todo sobre él. Como Dios sabe que David se levantó y se sentó, Dios también debe saber todo lo que está en el medio. Por lo tanto, "el concepto de 'todo' se expresa combinando los dos opuestos 'mi sentado' y 'mi levantamiento'" (56).

Del mismo modo, "cielo" y "tierra" representan dos extremos. Por lo tanto, "al vincular estos dos extremos en una sola expresión:" cielo y tierra "o" cielos y tierra ", el idioma hebreo expresa la totalidad de todo lo que existe. A diferencia del inglés, el hebreo no tiene una sola palabra para expresar el concepto de 'el universo'; debe hacerlo por medio de un merismo. La expresión 'cielo y tierra' representa la 'totalidad del universo' "(56).

Vemos "cielo y tierra" usados ​​de esta manera, por ejemplo, en Isaías 44:24: "Yo, el Señor, soy el hacedor de todas las cosas, extendiendo los cielos por mí mismo y extendiendo la tierra solo". Dios ilustra el hecho de que creó todas las cosas señalando su creación de los dos extremos del cielo y la tierra.

Cómo "El principio" se relaciona con "Los cielos y la tierra"

Cuando unimos el significado de las frases "al principio" y "cielos y tierra", vemos la idea central de la visión de Sailhamer. Cuando Génesis 1: 1 dice: "En el principio Dios creó los cielos y la tierra", afirma que Dios creó el universo entero en un período de tiempo no especificado. Al usar el merismo "cielos y tierra", Génesis 1: 1 declara que Dios creó todo . Y al usar la frase "al principio", está afirmando que Dios no lo hizo en un instante de tiempo, sino en un período de tiempo. Por lo tanto, Génesis 1: 1 afirma que Dios creó todo lo que hay en un período de tiempo que no se especifica.

La relación de Génesis 1: 1 con el resto del capítulo

La pregunta que esto plantea es si "el principio" incluye los siete días de los siguientes versículos (1: 2-2: 4) o si "el principio" se refiere a un período de tiempo que transcurrió antes de los días de la creación registrados en Génesis 1: 2-2: 4. En otras palabras, ¿es Génesis 1: 1 ("en el principio Dios creó los cielos y la tierra") un título para todo el capítulo que resume el contenido de los siguientes versículos, o es Génesis 1: 1 un acto distinto que viene secuencialmente antes de los eventos de los siguientes versos?

Si Génesis 1: 1 es un título para el capítulo, entonces los versículos 1 y 2 juntos dicen: "Al principio Dios creó los cielos y la tierra. Ahora, lo que sigue en el resto del capítulo es el relato de cómo lo hizo. ". Pero si Génesis 1: 1 no es un título para el capítulo, entonces los versículos 1 y 2 juntos dicen: "En el principio Dios creó los cielos y la tierra. Después de haber hecho esto, se dio cuenta del hecho de que la tierra [donde planeó colocar al hombre, como veremos] estaba desierto y oscuro. Entonces Dios comenzó a preparar esta sección de tierra para la habitación del hombre. Primero, dijo 'Que haya luz ...' "

Sailhamer argumenta con éxito la segunda alternativa: que "el comienzo" no es un título del capítulo sino un acto distintivo de Dios que ocurrió en un período de tiempo que transcurrió antes de los seis días enumerados en 1: 2ff.

Primero, argumenta, Génesis 1: 1 no es un título que resume el resto del capítulo porque los títulos en hebreo consisten en frases simples. Pero Génesis 1: 1 es una oración completa y hace una declaración. Así no se forman los títulos en hebreo. Por ejemplo, Génesis 5: 1, que funciona como un título para los siguientes versículos, dice así: "Este es el libro de las generaciones de Adán".

Segundo, Génesis 1: 1 no puede ser un título para el resto del capítulo porque el siguiente versículo comienza con la conjunción "y". Pero si 1: 1 fuera un título en hebreo, "la sección que sigue inmediatamente seguramente no comenzaría con la conjunción 'y'" (103). El hecho de que Sailhamer sea considerado un experto en hebreo bíblico hace que uno esté seguro de que sabe de qué está hablando aquí.

Tercero y finalmente, Génesis 1: 1 no puede ser un título para el resto del capítulo porque hay un título resumido al final de la unidad de pensamiento comenzada en el capítulo uno (Génesis 2: 1). Esto haría un título al principio redundante. Es muy poco probable que haya dos títulos para la misma cuenta.

Por estas tres razones, debemos concluir que "el resto del capítulo no es una elaboración de Génesis 1: 1; más bien, es un relato de un acto diferente y posterior de Dios" (103). Por lo tanto, mientras que el versículo 1 dice que Dios creó todo, los seis días que comienzan en el versículo 2 y continúan durante el resto del capítulo son un relato de algo diferente a la creación del universo .

Las implicaciones para la ciencia y la Biblia

Cuando conectamos el hecho de que el "principio" en el que Dios creó el universo ocurrió antes de los seis días de 1: 2-2: 4 con el hecho de que la palabra hebrea traducida "principio" en 1: 1 significa un período de tiempo no especificado y ni un solo instante de tiempo, vemos que Génesis no nos dice cuánto tiempo hace que Dios creó el universo o cuánto tiempo tardó en hacerlo . Por lo tanto, podría haberlo creado hace miles de millones de años o miles de años. Puede haber tomado una semana, o puede haber tomado eones. El texto no dice. La Escritura dice que Dios creó el mundo en un período de tiempo llamado "el principio", pero no dice cuánto tiempo fue ese período o cuándo comenzó. Por lo tanto, la Biblia no discute con la abrumadora evidencia científica de que la tierra tiene miles de millones de años.2 Un cristiano es libre de contemplar la gloria de Dios en las verdades que la ciencia está descubriendo sobre el universo sin tener que proteger estos hechos de contradecir cierta comprensión de Génesis.

La preparación de la tierra prometida: Génesis 1: 2 y sig.

Pero si Génesis 1: 1 se refiere a la creación de todo el universo en una duración de tiempo no especificada, surgen varias preguntas. Primero, si Génesis 1: 2 y sig. no se trata de creación, entonces, ¿de qué se trata? Segundo, Génesis 1: 2 y sig. ¿concierne a todo el universo como lo hace el versículo uno, o registra eventos que ocurrieron en una sección particular del planeta? Tercero, si es el último, ¿cuál es la identidad de esta sección del planeta? Estas tres preguntas se pueden resumir en una: dado que la creación del universo se termina antes de que comiencen los seis días de Génesis, entonces, ¿qué está haciendo Dios durante los seis días a lo largo del resto del capítulo?

La respuesta que da Sailhamer es el corazón del libro: Dios está preparando la Tierra Prometida para la habitación de la raza humana que él creará el sexto día . Habiendo afirmado que Dios es el creador de todas las cosas en el versículo uno, Moisés inmediatamente continúa en el versículo dos para enfatizar la obra de Dios al preparar un lugar especial dentro de esta creación para sus criaturas. Es la preparación de cierta tierra, no la creación del universo entero, lo que se relata en los seis días de Génesis uno.

Ahora retrocederé e intentaré mostrar esto en tres pasos que corresponden a las tres preguntas planteadas anteriormente. Primero, intentaré mostrar que 1: 2ff. no concierne al universo o al planeta tierra en su conjunto, sino a una sección de tierra localizada dentro de la tierra. Segundo, intentaré demostrar que en los seis días de la creación, Dios está preparando esta tierra para el hombre y no la está creando . Tercero, intentaré demostrar que esta tierra es la Tierra Prometida.

¿Qué se entiende por "tierra" en el versículo 2?

Hay varias razones que establecen que los seis días de Génesis no se refieren al universo entero ni al planeta entero, sino que se refieren a un pedazo de tierra localizado en la tierra.

Génesis 1: 2 reduce el enfoque a "la tierra"

Primero, el versículo dos sirve para alterar el enfoque de la narrativa de "los cielos y la tierra" (es decir, el universo entero), que era el enfoque del versículo uno, simplemente a "la tierra". Esto es evidente solo al leer el pasaje: "En el principio Dios creó los cielos y la tierra. Y la tierra estaba sin forma y vacía ..." Como veremos a continuación, todo lo que Dios hace en los seis días del capítulo uno implica transformar la tierra fuera de este estado de ser "sin forma y vacía". En otras palabras, el enfoque cambia del universo a "la tierra" en el versículo dos y el enfoque sigue siendo "la tierra" por el resto del capítulo. Entonces, el capítulo no se refiere a algo que Dios está haciendo a todo el universo, sino a algo que está haciendo en la tierra.

Que "la tierra" es una sección de tierra localizada en el versículo dos y no todo el planeta es evidente por lo que vimos anteriormente sobre el significado de la palabra "tierra". Como vimos, la palabra traducida "tierra" en Génesis 1: 2 ( eretz ) generalmente no sugería a aquellos en el día anterior a la era espacial de Moisés la gran bola en la que orbitan el sol. Más bien, eretz generalmente significa una sección localizada de la tierra, no todo el planeta, y por lo tanto, generalmente se traduce mejor como tierra .

El contexto de la cuenta de la creación en sí sugiere que debemos interpretar a Eretz en el versículo dos como "tierra" y no "planeta entero". En Génesis 1:10, "tierra" [ eretz ] se define como la tierra seca donde Adán y Eva habitarían en lugar de los mares. Sailhamer señala que "los 'mares' no cubren la 'tierra', como sería el caso si el término significara 'tierra'. Más bien, los 'mares' yacen adyacentes a la 'tierra' y dentro de ella "(49). Además, "tierra" se define por su contraste con los mares (Génesis 1:10) y el cielo (Génesis 1:20), no en contraste con las estrellas y los planetas como sería el caso si se estuviera "tierra" ( eretz ) solía significar "planeta tierra". Por lo tanto, hay un buen precedente en el texto para entender eretz en un sentido restringido en el versículo 2. En consecuencia, dado que el versículo dos se refiere a un determinado pedazo de tierra y no a todo el planeta, el resto del capítulo, que describe la obra de Dios en este tierra para hacerla habitada, no se trata de todo el planeta sino de una sección de tierra dentro del planeta.

Génesis 2 muestra que el enfoque de Génesis 1 es "la tierra"

Segundo, que la ubicación de la actividad de Dios en los seis días es una sección localizada de la tierra es apoyada por la estrecha relación entre Génesis capítulo uno y Génesis capítulo dos. Era una estrategia literaria común de los hebreos dar una descripción general de un evento seguido de una descripción más específica de ese mismo evento. Por ejemplo, Génesis 10 ofrece una descripción general de las distintas naciones según sus idiomas y países, y luego el capítulo 11 respalda para explicar el origen de los distintos idiomas y países. Del mismo modo, Génesis 1 ofrece una visión general de la obra de Dios y Génesis 2 ofrece una visión más específica de esa misma obra. Esto parece evidente incluso de una lectura rápida de los capítulos.

Entonces parece que ambos capítulos son sobre los mismos eventos vistos desde diferentes perspectivas . Dado que el escenario del capítulo dos es claramente una sección de tierra localizada, y no el planeta entero, se deduce que los seis días del capítulo uno se refieren a un segmento de tierra localizado y no a todo el planeta o universo.

Lo que Dios está haciendo en 1: 2 y sig.

Esto nos lleva a la segunda pregunta: ¿qué le está haciendo Dios a esta tierra en 1: 2ff. si él no lo está creando? La respuesta es que, aunque la tierra ya fue creada "al principio", ya que fue entonces cuando Dios creó todo ("los cielos y la tierra"), la tierra aún no era un lugar apropiado para los humanos que Dios debía crear en el sexto día. Fue "sin forma y vacío" (v. 2). Entonces, los seis días son la cuenta de cómo Dios preparó la tierra para la habitación del hombre. Hay varias razones que demuestran esto.

El flujo de pensamiento

Primero, esto se muestra por el flujo de pensamiento. A medida que la narración se abre en el versículo 2, la tierra no es inexistente, sino deshabitada, cubierta por agua y envuelta en la oscuridad (v. 2). Luego, en los versículos 1: 3-2: 1, "Dios trae tierra liviana y seca y la llena de árboles frutales y animales", que saca la tierra no de la inexistencia, sino de la mala condición del versículo 2. Por lo tanto, "para el sexto día, 'la tierra' es un lugar adecuado para que el hombre y la mujer vivan" (30). La tierra pasa del desorden al orden en 1: 2 ss., No de la no existencia a la existencia. Esto se hará más evidente a continuación.

El significado de "sin forma y vacío"

The second reason to believe that 1:2ff is the account of God preparing the land is from the meaning of the Hebrew phrase tohu wabohu in verse two, which is translated in most versions as "formless and void." Sailhamer points out that the early English translators of the Bible were influenced to a great extent by the prevailing Greek view of creation in their day and therefore thought this phrase meant that "God did not originally create the world in the condition in which we now see it. Instead, He created the universe as a shapeless mass of material, only later forming the world we now know....In this way, the biblical account of creation could be shown to be 'true' because it conformed to the generally accepted Greek cosmologies" (62). Therefore, they translated tohu wabu as "formless and void."

Many Jewish-Greek translations of the middle ages disagreed with this translation. Likewise, Jewish interpreters around the era 300-200 BC rendered tohu wabohu not as "formless and void" but as "desolate without human beings or beasts and void of all cultivation of plants and trees" (64). This early view, Sailhamer argues, is essentially correct. Tohu wabohu conveys the idea of "uninhabitable wilderness" and not "formless and void chaos." Thus, Genesis 1:2, in saying that the land was " tohu wabohu, " is simply stating that it was a deserted wilderness-and thus not yet fit for mankind's inhabitation. This, of course, presupposes its existence and focuses the readers attention on what God will do to make the land fit for man.

"Uninhabitable wilderness" is the meaning of tohu wabohu throughout the Scriptures. For example, it is this phrase which describes the wilderness in which Israel wandered for forty years before entering the promised land (Deuteronomy 32:10). Ironically, later on Jeremiah 4:23-26 uses tohu wabohu to describe the promised land after Israel has been exiled from it because of disobedience. Verse 23 says, "I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void ( tohu wabohu ); and to the heavens, and they had no light (cf. Genesis 1:2)." The following verses in Jeremiah describe the land as a wilderness (v.26-"the fruitful land was a wilderness") that is void of humans and birds (v. 25-"there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled"). Thus, the land that is said to be "formless and void" is described as an uninhabited wilderness. Which means that the land is called "formless and void" because it is an uninhabited wilderness.

Consequently, "formless and void" in Jeremiah 4:23 means "uninhabited wilderness" and not "unformed mass." Just as the land in Genesis one was a wilderness before it was made fit for man, so also Israel wandered through a wilderness to get to the land God had promised them-a land which later became a wilderness as a consequence of Israel's disobedience. As we will see, this parallel points to the fact that the "land" in Genesis 1 is specifically the promised land. For it is hard to escape the conclusion that, in calling the promised land "formless and void" after the exile of Israel, Jeremiah is alluding to Genesis 1:2 to show that this judgment upon Israel returned the land to the state it was in before mankind had existed.

In summary, the correct translation of tohu wabohu is not "formless and void, " as if the earth was an unformed mass that God's work of creation brought to its present form, but "deserted wilderness"-a phrase which presupposes the land's existence and sets the stage for what God will do to make the land inhabitable. Therefore, the six days of Genesis one are the account of how God transformed the land into a fruitful habitation for man, not the account of how he shaped the world from an unformed mass.

From "deserted" to "good"

Third, there is an interesting word play in the Hebrew which further suggests that what God is doing in 1:2ff is not creating, but transforming the land from a wilderness to a fruitful dwelling for humans. Sailhamer writes, "Even a quick reading of the Hebrew text reveals an obvious wordplay between the terms tohu ('deserted') and tob ('good'). Before God began His work, the land was 'deserted' ( tohu ); then God made it 'good' ( tob )"-that is, the opposite of deserted and thus fit for man (64). The land, thus, went from deserted to inhabited, not uncreated to created .

Because of these and other reasons we have seen, I think it is right to conclude with Sailhamer that "God does not create 'the land' in Genesis 1:2-2:4a; He has already created the land and the rest of the universe 'in the beginning' in Genesis 1:1. In the remainder of the chapter, God is at work preparing the land for human habitation" (30). This truth is perhaps made more clear by briefly looking at the details of how God prepared the land. This will probably also answer many questions that this raises.

An Exposition of Genesis 1:2-1:31

The need for the land to be prepared

To understand the structure of what God does to prepare the land for man in the six days of Genesis one, we must understand the reason the land was not originally suitable for man's inhabitation. As we saw above, verse two gives the answer: "And the earth was a deserted wilderness [not 'formless and void, ' as we have seen], and darkness was over the surface of the deep." That is, the land was (1) a wilderness and (2) uninhabited. It had no life in it (was uninhabited) because it was not fit for life (it was a wilderness)-which is probably because it was dark and covered with water.

God's method of meeting this need

The following six days explain how God transformed the land from this state into a state that was suitable for man's inhabitation. These six days may be divided into two parts. On the first set of three days God brought forth light, prepared the sky with clouds, gathered the seas together, made the ground dry, and brought forth vegetation-all so that the land would no longer be a disorderly wilderness . On the second series of three days God declared his purpose for the lights in the sky, filled the sky with birds and waters with fish, and filled the dry ground with animals-all so that the land would not be uninhabited .3

It is significant to recognize that on the first three days, when God brings the land out of its wilderness state, He focuses first on the sky (the first and second day), then on the seas (the second day), and then on the ground (the second and third day). Likewise, in the second set of three days, when God fills the land, He focuses first on the sky (the fourth and fifth days), then on the seas (the fifth day), and then on the ground (the sixth day).

The first three day period: transforming the wilderness

Day one . God's command on the first day, "let there be light, " was the decree for the sun to rise. Sailhamer writes that, "The phrase 'let there be light' doesn't have to mean 'let the light come into existence.' Elsewhere in the Bible, this same phrase is used to describe the sunrise (see Exodus 10:23; Nehemiah 8:3; Genesis 44:3)" (113). That God's command on day one did not concern the creation of light is evident from the fact that the creation of light, sun, moon, and stars would all have been included in the creation of "the heavens and the earth" in verse one. For, as we saw earlier, the phrase "heavens and earth" refers to all that exists. It is a confirmation of this understanding that, in many places in the Old Testament, the phrase "heavens and earth" is expressly shown, it seems, to include the sun, moon, and stars (see Joel 3:15-16).

While God, of course, brings about all sunrises by His decree, this sunrise is emphasized to make the point that a new work of God is commencing. On the first day, God called forth the sunlight, as He does each day, in order to "reveal His work" (113). In bringing out the implications of this, Sailhamer shows just how well this understanding of the first day fits with God's purposes in creation (Genesis 1 and 2) and redemption (Genesis 3-Revelation 22).

The description of the land in Genesis 1:2 fits well with the prophetic vision of the future. After God created the universe, the land lay empty, dark, and barren. It awaited God's call to light and life. Just as the light of the sun broke in upon the primeval darkness, hearlding the dawn of God's fist blessing (1:3), so also the prophets and the apostles mark the beginning of the new kingdom age of salvation with the light that breaks through the darkness (Isaiah 8:22-9:2; Matthew 4:13-17; John 1:5, 8-9). In that age, God's people will again enjoy the blessings of living in the promised land (Deuteronomy 30:1-5). Later biblical texts make it clear that such a vision was already at work in the composition of the first chapter of Genesis. The future messianic salvation would be marked by a flowering of the 'desert' wilderness (Isaiah 35:1-2). In the same way, in Genesis 1 God turned the 'wilderness' into the garden of Eden. God's final acts of salvation are thus foreshadowed in His initial acts of creation. The wilderness awaits its restoration. Henceforth the call to prepare for the coming day of salvation while waiting in the wilderness would become the hallmark of the prophets' vision of the future (Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:4ff; Revelation 12:6, 14f) (110).

Day two . On the second day, God "prepared the sky with clouds to provide rain for the land. The rain would prepare the land for producing vegetation on the next day" (122). By forming clouds from the dense fog over the land, God made a wide open space between the waters below and the clouds above. This is what God decreed to happen when he said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters" (1:6). God caused clouds to form out of the deep waters that covered the land, and between the clouds above and the waters below there resulted an open space to keep them distinct-the sky.

Day three . This prepared the way for God's act on the third day of causing dry land to come forth. He did this by saying, "let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear" (1:9). Having removed the obstacle the water made to man's inhabitation of the land, God commanded the land to be filled with plants and fruit trees. As a result of God's decree, "the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit..." (1:12). This was not when God originally created vegetation. It had already been created "in the beginning" (v. 1). Rather, on this day God caused the land, which had previously been empty of vegetation, to bring forth vegetation so that it would no longer be a wilderness. After this day was over, the land was no longer a wilderness.

The second three day period: Filling the previously uninhabited land

Day four. On day four, God did not create the sun, moon, and stars (they had been created in the beginning, as we have seen), but declared the purpose for which He had created them . This is made most evident from comparing verse 6, which speaks of God bringing into existence an expanse that had not been there before, and verse 14, which speaks of God's command concerning the heavenly bodies that had been there from the beginning. While the text in verse six clearly says that God brought about an expanse that had not been there before, in verse 14 the syntax is different-which suggests that God is doing something other than bringing about what had not been there before.

Sailhamer writes that the "Hebrew verbal construction in verse 14 is significantly different from verse 6" even though

our English translations don't always reflect that difference. In the Hebrew text of verse 14, God does not say, 'Let there be lights in the expanse to separate the day and night...' as if there were no lights before His command and afterward they came into being [which is the way it was with the expanse in verse 6]. Rather according to the Hebrew text, God said, 'Let the lights in the expanse be for separating the day and night...' God's command, in other words, assumes that the lights already exist in the expanse. To be sure, there has been no mention of these 'lights' earlier in Genesis 1, but their existence is assumed in the expression 'heavens and earth' in Gen 1:1. (131-132).

Thus, on the fourth day God was not creating the sun and stars, but stating the purpose for which he had already created them "in the beginning"-to provide light on the land for man and to be measurements for keeping time. It is amazing that God had His purpose for man in mind eons earlier when He created these heavenly bodies!

But weren't the heavenly bodies already providing light before the fourth day and already capable of marking time before then? If so, isn't it kind of superfluous for God to declare His purpose for them on day four? Sailhamer explains

certainly it is true that the sun, moon, and stars were already marking the day and night. Potentially, at least, they were fit to mark the seasons, days, and years. But just as the significance of the rainbow was given long after it had been created (Genesis 9:13), so also God announced His purpose for creating the sun, moon, and stars, on the fourth day-long after they had been created.... The fact that God announced the purpose for the lights on the fourth day does not mean they had not already been performing that purpose since 'the beginning.' The point of the narrative is to show that God waited until the fourth day to explain His purpose for creating the sun, moon, and stars in 'the beginning' (134, 135).

But why, Sailhamer asks, did God wait until the fourth day to declare His purpose in making the celestial bodies? There are two reasons. First, Moses "is intent on showing that the whole world depends on the word of God. The world owes not merely its existence to the word of God, but also its order and purpose" (134). The second reason "lies in the overall structure of the creation account" (135). As we saw above, there is a "parallel relationship between the events of the first three days and the last three days" (135). On the first set of three days, God focuses on the sky (days one and two), then the seas (day three), and then the dry ground (days three and four). On the second set of three days, God again focuses on the sky (days four and five), then the seas (day five), and then the dry ground (day six). Thus, Sailhamer writes that

Having prepared, in consecutive order, the skies, the seas, and the land on the first three days, God, on the last three days, proclaimed the purpose for those things which were to fill the skies, the seas, and the land. God waited, therefore, until the fourth day to make known His plan for the signs that were to fill the skies (135).

After declaring his purpose for the celestial bodies in verse 14-15, Moses goes on to say "And God made the two great lights...He made the stars also" (v. 16). Sailhamer writes that this verse "looks back to God's creating 'the universe' in Genesis 1:1. Verse 16 could be translated, 'So God (and not anyone else) made the lights and put them in the sky.' This does not say when God created 'the lights, ' but given the overall meaning of Genesis 1:1, it is naturally assumed that they were created 'in the beginning'" (134).

Day five . On the fifth day God populated the sky and seas that he had prepared on day two with birds and sea creatures. As with the celestial bodies, these creatures had already been created "in the beginning." But since the land had been a deserted wilderness up until this point, God had to bring forth these creatures to populate the land. The Hebrew expression translated "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures" in Genesis 1:20 is also found in Exodus 8:3 to describe the filling of the Nile with frogs when Moses stretched forth his staff. Clearly this expression in Exodus 8:3 does not mean that God created frogs for the first time at that point. Rather, it means that He populated the Nile with them. Likewise, the expression in Genesis 1:20 need not mean that God created the sea creatures for the first time on day five. In light of Genesis 1:1, we must understand it to mean that God was populating "the promised land with the various creatures that were created 'in the beginning'" (141).

Day six . Finally, on the sixth day God populated the ground he had made dry on the third day with living creatures. And it is important to remember that the purpose of God's commands for the living creatures to fill the sky, ground, and sea "is not the creation of various animals over all the earth, but the specific task of populating the land He is preparing for mankind" (139).

But this raises a problem when it comes to the creation of human beings. Since Genesis 1:1 teaches that God created the universe and all it contains (such as the species of animals which populate the land on day six) "in the beginning, " it would seem that humans also were created at this time and thus existed before God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day. Sailhamer, however, rightly points out that Genesis makes clear that humans are excepted from what God created "in the beginning." This is because, among other reasons, no genealogies in Genesis go back before Adam, but instead presuppose that he was the first man. Also, Eve is referred to as "the mother of all the living, " which suggests that all humans are ultimately descendants of her.

How long were the days?

At this point one may wonder whether Sailhamer believes the days of Genesis 1 to be twenty-four hour periods, or "ages." While he does not deal with this question in great detail, he does believe the six days to be twenty-four hour periods. There is good evidence for this understanding, especially since the days are marked off by evening and morning.

However, there are also good reasons to believe that the six days are intended by Moses to be understood as ages of unspecified duration. On this view, the "evening and morning" is understood metaphorically. In my article, "Does the Bible Teach a Young Earth, " I set forth the evidence for this view. While this evidence is persuasive to my mind at this point in time, I am nonetheless open to the understanding that the days are intended to be twenty-four hour periods.

It should be pointed out, however, that the position one adopts as to the length of the days has no bearing on whether Sailhamer's view is correct. If the days are twenty-four hour periods, then God prepared the Promised Land in six solar days. If the days are actually ages, then there would be no problem in affirming that God prepared the Promised Land over a period of six ages of unspecified length. Either view of the days works with historical creationism.

The Land of Genesis 1-2 Is the Promised Land

Now that we have seen that Genesis 1:2ff. is about the preparation of a particular land for man's inhabitation and not the creation of the entire universe or planet, we are in a position to ask, "What is the identity of this land?"

As we saw above, Genesis 2 is an account of the same events as Genesis 1 from a more specific perspective.4 Thus, since Genesis 2 concerns the land which contained the Garden of Eden, it follows that the land of Genesis 1 is the land inwhich God placed the Garden of Eden. But the answer goes even deeper than this. Sailhamer makes a solid case that the land in Genesis 1 is specifically the Promised Land. The Garden of Eden was located in the same land that God promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, and it is the preparation of this land that we are told about in Genesis 1. To establish this, I will set forth many of the arguments Sailhamer gives together with some of my own that I have discovered in my examination of the Scriptures.

The borders are the same

First, the boundaries of the land prepared for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:10-14) are the same as the boundaries of the promised land (Genesis 15:18). This means that the promised land is the land that had been originally prepared for Adam and Eve. Sailhamer summarizes this well:

The garden of Eden extended from the 'river that flows through all the land of Cush [the Gihon] ' to the 'River Euphrates.' Since in Genesis the land of Cush is linked to Egypt (Genesis 10:6), the second river, the Gihon (Genesis 2:13), was apparently understood by the author as 'the river of Egypt'.... When we move to Genesis 15, we find that the land promised to Abraham-the promised land-is marked off by these same two rivers, the Euphrates and the River of Egypt (Genesis 15:18)....When the general boundaries are compared, it becomes clear that the writer of the Pentateuch intends us to identify the two locations with each other. God's promise of the land to the patriarchs is thus textually linked to His original 'blessing' of all humanity in the garden of Eden (72).

What is even more astounding is that, since the land originally prepared for Adam and Eve was the land later promised to Abraham, "the events of [Genesis 1-3] foreshadow the events of the remainder of the Pentateuch" and Old Testament (15). In Genesis 1-3, God prepared a land for His people, Adam and Eve, and gave it to them on condition that they would obey him. They disobey and are thus expelled from the Garden. Later, God promises to Abraham's descendants a land, and gives it to them upon condition that they obey him. But, as the Pentateuch predicts, they eventually disobey and, like Adam and Eve, are banished. Not until God brings forth the New Covenant will God's people finally be restored to the land, remain faithful to God, and therefore remain safe in the land forever.

The locations with respect to "the east" are the same

The fact that judgment is represented by going east from both the Garden of Eden and the promised land indicates that they are the same land. In the author's mind, the Garden and Promised Land seem to represent the blessing of a homeland because they are prepared as places where His people would dwell in blessing and peace. Likewise, east of the Garden and Promised Land seems to represent the judgment of exile from a homeland because it is to the east that God exiled both Adam and Israel for disobedience (Genesis 3:24; Jeremiah 52:12-16). Thus, it would seem that the parallel the author of the Pentateuch is drawing is intended to show that the Garden and Promised Land are the same land because they were both prepared as homelands for God's people, and exile from both takes one to the east.

This can be made even more evident. The city of Babylon, which is to the east of the promised land and is where Israel was exiled to, has a reputation in the Bible for wickedness and judgment. It gained this reputation in Genesis 11 because it was built out of humanity's prideful desire to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). It retained this reputation until the end (Revelation 17). Likewise, the Promised Land has a reputation in the Bible for purity and blessing. It has this reputation because it is where God desires to plant His faithful people and make them prosper if they obey and keep themselves pure (Deuteronomy 30:16). The contrasting reputations of Babylon and the Promised Land help us see why God blesses His people by keeping them in the land when they keep themselves pure through obedience, and judges His people by removing them from the land when they make themselves impure through disobedience.

What is significant here is that, like the Promised Land, the land God prepared for Adam and Eve was a land for their blessing if they remained pure. And just as Babylon is the specific city which is to the east of the Promised Land, so also Babylon was built when humanity moved east from the land that is the focus of Genesis 1-11. In Genesis 11:1 we read "the whole earth used the same language and the same words." "Whole earth" here doesn't mean the entire planet, but "whole land" because verse two speaks of them journeying east. It would indeed be odd for this verse to read "And it came about as they [the whole planet] journeyed east, that they [the whole planet] found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there." Thus, it seems that "whole earth" in 11:1 is best understood as "whole land."

But what land is the author speaking of? It seems it is the land that had been prepared for man in Genesis 1 and 2 because it appears Genesis 11 is intended as a parallel to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. Just as they sinned and were cast out eastward, so also the people of the land traveled eastward to manifest their sin by making a name for themselves. Thus, it seems that the author here understands Babylon to be east of the land God had originally prepared for Adam and Eve. Since Babylon is also the city which is east of the Promised Land, it seems that the Promised Land is the land that had originally been prepared for Adam and Eve.

The entrances to both the Garden and the Promised Land were guarded by an angel

Next, it is signficant that the entrance to both the Garden of Eden and the Promised Land is guarded by an angel. When Adam and Eve were cast out, God stationed at the east of Eden a "cherubim....to guard the way to the tree of life" (3:24). Likewise, when Jacob returned to the promised land from the east he was met by angels of God (Genesis 32:1-2), and finally had to wrestle with an angel in order to reenter the land (32:22-32). Finally, Joshua also encountered angels as he entered the promised land (Joshua 5:13-15). It is hard to escape the notion that the author marked the exit of the Garden of Eden and the entrance of the Promised land with an angel to show that to enter the Promised Land is to "return to Eden." Thus, God's giving of the Promised Land to Israel aims at restoring humanity to His original purposes for us.

Jeremiah 4:23-26 sees the promised land in Genesis 1

Jeremiah 4:23-26 refers to the state of the promised land after God's judgment on Israel for their sins, which invovled destroying the land and casting Israel away from the land into exile. That this verse is about the promised land is evident from the context, which concerns the destruction that God is bringing upon the land where Israel dwells--not the whole planet. Thus, due to the context, "earth" in this passage must mean "promised land."

What is astounding here is that the description of the promised land in Jeremiah 4:23-26 after it had been destroyed on account of man parallels the description of "the land" in Genesis 1:2 before it had been prepared for man:

"I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void ; and to the heavens, and they had no light " (Jeremiah 4:23). "And the earth was formless and void, and darknes was over the surface of the deep...Then God said, 'Let there be ligh t'; and there was light" (Genesis 1:2-3).

The phrase translated as "formless and void" in Jeremiah 4:23 is the same phrase translated as "formless and void" in Genesis 1:2. This is a striking parallel, especially when we recognize that in both passages the phrase is used to describe "the earth." Further, like the promised land in Jeremiah 4:23, the land in Genesis 1:2 is also said to be dark. The difference is that when God prepared the land for Adam and Eve it went from dark to light, but when He exiled Israel from"the land" it went from light to dark. The exile of Israel from the land was a reversal of the preparation of the land for Adam and Eve.

Further, Jeremiah 4:25 announces that after God's judgment on Israel the promised land was deserted: "I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled." Likewise, before the land of Genesis 1:2 had been prepared for man, it was deserted. When God seeks to bless man in the land, the land is made fruitful (cf. Isaiah 35:1-10;51:3; Ezekiel 36:35; Genesis 1:2-2:1). But when man sins and brings down God's curse, he is exiled from the land and the land is made into a wilderness like it was before it had been prepared for man: "I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness " (v 26; cf. Genesis 3:17-19, 24).

Thus, since the land in Jeremiah 4:23-26 is the promised land, it is likely that, due to the parallels with Genesis 1:2, the land in Genesis 1:2 is also the promised land. It seems that, by alluding to Genesis 1:2, Jeremiah is trying to highlight the tragedy of Israel's sin by pointing out that the judgment of God on Israel for their sins puts the promised land back into the state it was before it had even been prepared for man. Israel's sin is a great tragedy because it resulted in their homeland being made as if there were no humans to bless--just as there were no humans to bless yet in Genesis 1:2. The expulsion of Israel from the Promised Land is a reversal of the preparation of the land for Adam and Eve.

It is also significant to note that just as before Adam and Eve inhabited the Garden it was a "wilderness" (Genesis 1:2), Israel's time of waiting to enter the promised land is depicted as a wandering in the "wilderness" (Deuteronomy 32:10). As Sailhamer draws out, "God's people must go through the wilderness to reach the promised land . Likewise, when Israel disobeyed and was expelled from the land, it once again became 'uninhabitable' ( tohu ) (Jeremiah 4:23-26)" (65).

Jeremiah 27:5 sees the Promised Land in Genesis 1

Jeremiah 27:5 also understands Genesis 1 as an account of the preparation of the promised land. In this verse, which scholars generally recognize as a reference to the account of Genesis 1, God says, "I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight."

First, it is evident from the statement "I have made the earth" that this verse is a reference to the events of Genesis 1 and 2, for that is the account where God makes the earth. Second, we know that this passage "refers to Gen 1:2-2:4a and not Genesis 1:1" because "Jeremiah used the Hebrew term "to make" ( asah ) and not the term "to create" ( bara )" (54). Thus, this passage is not a reference to the creation ( bara ) of the heavens and earth (Genesis 1:1), but to the preparation ( asah ) of "the earth" (Genesis 1:2ff).

Third, "the earth" here is not a reference to the whole planet, but to the promised land. This is evident from the context. In verses 3-4, God tells Jeremiah to have a message sent to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. The content of this message, which begins in verse 5 and continues through verse 14, is basically that their lands will be given to Nebuchadnezzar and that they must submit to him. Because of the false prophets who are saying that they will not have to serve the king of Babylon (vv. 9-10), God establishes at the beginning of the message the reason He has the authority to give their lands over to Nebuchadnezzar (v. 5). The reason He gives is that He "made the land" and therefore "will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight." Thus, it seems that since verse five establishes the reason God has the authority to give the land of the kings mentioned in verse three to Nebuchadnezzar, the "land" mentioned in verse three is the land where the kings listed in verse three reside. And a brief glance at a Bible map reveals that that land is the promised land.

This case is strengthened by verse six where God identifies the land that he spoke of in verse five with the land that He was going to give to Nebuchadnezzar. Whereas verse five established the right God has to give "the land" to whoever He wants, verse six says that God actually is going to give "the land" to Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, the land spoken of in verse six appears to be the same land which God said He "made" in verse five. And the land spoken of in verse six, which he was about to give to Nebuchadnezzar, was the "lands" of Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. All of these "lands, " as we mentioned above, are actually "lands" within the promised land. Thus, the land of verse six that God is going to give to Nebuchadnezzar (and therefore the land of verse five, which is the land God prepared in Genesis 1) is the land of Ammon, Tyre, Sidon, Edom, and Moab, which is the promised land. Further, we know from later biblical history (such as Jeremiah 52:12-16) that the land which God gave to Nebuchadnezzer was specifically the Promised Land, for he was the rod of God's judgment used to remove Israel from their land for disobdience. Thus, when Jeremiah 27:5 looks back on the events of Genesis one, it sees them as an account of the preparation of the promised land.

Exodus 20:11 sees the Promised Land in Genesis 1

It is becoming apparent that "later interbiblical interpretation clearly saw the promised land as the focus of the creation account" (53). Exodus 20:11 is yet another verse which understands the six days of Genesis 1 as a reference to the preparation of the promised land: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day..."

It might first appear that the opposite is the case, for doesn't the term "heavens and earth, " as we saw earlier, refer to the entire universe? And doesn't this verse say that God created the "heavens and the earth" in six days, not an unspecified period of time? If this was the case, it would clearly mean that the six days of Genesis 1 are the account of God's creation of the entire universe and not preparation of the promised land as I maintain.

Exodus 20:11 does not teach that the entire universe is the scope of God's work in the six days of Genesis 1 . Sailhamer resolves the apparent difficulty raised by the reference to the "heavens and the earth" in Exodus 20:11 very well. Él escribe:

...this passage in Exodus does not use the merism 'heavens and earth' to describe God's work of six days. Rather, it gives us a list of God's distinct works during the six days....That list refers to God's work in Genesis 1:2-2:4, not to His creation of the universe in Genesis 1:1. Exodus 20:11 does not say God created 'the heavens and earth' in six days; it says God made three things in six days-the sky, the land, and the seas-and then filled them during that same period (106).

Thus, Exodus 20:11 does not state that the six days concern the entire universe, but the "sky, the land, the sea, and all that is in them." It is interesting that the list of four things in Ex 20:11 corresponds exactly to what God made in Gen 1:2ff. First, he prepared the sky. Then He prepared the seas. And then He prepared the ground. This was the first three days. This corresponds to the statement that "in six days the Lord made [not the heavens and the earth, but] the heavens, the earth, the sea..." In the remaining three days, he filled these three things. This corresponds to the statement that after preparing the sky, the land, and the sea God made "all that is in them."

Exodus 20:11 does not see the six days of Genesis 1 as creation, but as prepration. So we see that Exodus 20:11 is not stating that God's creation of the entire universe occured over a six day period, but that his work on the sky, ground, and sea occurred over a six day period. That this is a reference to the preparation of the sky, land, and seas for man and not their creation is evident from their use of the word "made" and not "created." The word "created" is used in Genesis 1:1. But the word "made, " which is used here,

means the same as the English expression 'to make' a bed. Elsewhere in the Bible the same Hebrew word is used to describe cutting one's fingernails (deut 21:12), washing ones feet (2 Samuel 19:25), and trimming one's beard (2 Samuel 19:24)....The word means to put something in good order, to make it right. Thus, Ex 20 actually seems to support the view that Gen 1:2ff. refers to the preparation, not creation, of the land.

Exodus 20:11 sees the scope of God's work in the six days of Genesis 1 as the Promised Land. Having seen, then, that Exodus 20:11 does not see the six days of Genesis 1 as the creation of the universe but the preparation of the sky, sea, and ground, the question becomes whether the text specifically identifies the location of God's work during these six days as the Promised Land. That it does is evident by comparing it with Jeremiah 27:5 (which we will see also strengthens our case that Jeremiah 27:5 is a reference to the promised land).

After commanding Israel to keep the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-10, God then gives the reason in verse 11: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day..." The next commandment, given in verse 12, is to honor one's father and mother. And the reason for this commandment is "that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you." The "land which the Lord your God gives you" is by definition the promised land.

So we see that the command to keep the Sabbath is based on the fact that God is the one who made the sky, land, and ground. And we also see that the keeping of the command to honor one's father and mother is to be motivated by the fact that God is the one who gives the promised land to whom He wants. So what land is at the foundation of the command for a Sabbath rest? Most likely, the same land that lies at the foundation of the next command to honor one's father and mother-namely, "the land which the Lord your God gives you, " which is the promised land. In other words, the sky, seas, and ground of verse 11 are those of the promised land which is referred to in verse 12.

The correlation in Jeremiah 27:5 between God's preparing the land and God's giving the land is significant: "I have made the land...and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight." This seems to be the same correlation we find in Exodus 20:11-12. God prepared the land (v. 11) and God gives the land (v. 12) Like Jeremiah 27:5, Exodus 20:11-12 stresses that God made the land, and God gives the land. Thus, if one of these passages is referring to the promised land, it seems that the other must be as well.

The Theme of the Petateuch reveals the land to be the focus in Genesis 1:2ff

The word translated "earth" in 1:2 ( eretz ) not only normally means "land" instead of the whole planet (as we have already seen), but "usually refers specifically to the land promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18)" (50). It seems that a reader familiar with the theme of the Pentateuch would naturally understand "land" in this sense in Genesis 1:2 because "the central theme of the Pentateuch is the Sinai Covenant and God's gift of the land" (52).

And if the "land" in verse two is the promised land, then it follows that the six days of creation are the account of God's activity on this same land because, as we saw above, verse two "sets the stage for the account of God's actions in the remainder of the chapter. It turns the reader's attention away from the universe as a whole and onto the promised land, which is the central setting of the remainder of the Pentateuch" (109). "Unfortunately, " he writes elsewhere, "by not rendering eretz in Genesis 1:1-2 as 'land, ' our English translations have blurred the connection of these early verses of Genesis to the central theme of the land in the Pentateuch" (52).

To make this argument more firm, two things must be made more evident. First, we must show why, if the central theme of the Pentateuch is the giving of the land, it would lead one to conclude that it is this same land that is referred to in verse two. Second, we must establish that the giving of the land is indeed the central theme of the Pentateuch.

How the theme of the Pentateuch uncovers the meaning of Genesis 1:2. First, the reason a reader familiar with the central theme of the Pentateuch as the giving of the promised land would see the "land" mentioned in 1:2 as the promised land is because Genesis 1-3 "present a general description of the world in which the subsequent historical events will take place. They set the stage" for the events of the remainder of the Pentateuch (81).

These chapters set the stage for the remainder of the chapter because, at the end of the sixth day, Adam and Eve have been provided with a homeland. This is obvious whether or not one views chapters one and two as a reference to the promised land. But the concept of a homeland for God's people is at the center of both the Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18) and the Covenant made at Sinai (Deut 5:32-33). So the concept of a "homeland" is a central concern of the three major events of the Pentateuch: Creation, the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Exodus and Sinai Covenant. Since the same homeland is in view in these later two events-the Abrahamic Covenant and Sinai Covenant-it would naturally follow that the same homeland is also in view in the creation account.

In other words, it would naturally follow that the creation account is setting the context in which to understand the other two major events that concern a "homeland"-especially since had man not lost his homeland to begin with he would not need to be provided with a homeland through the covenant with Abraham and the covenant at Sinai. Thus, Sailhamer draws out the relationship between the events of creation and the theme of the Sinai covenant as the giving of a land for God's people upon the condition that they obey:

Each of these central themes of the Sinai Covenant finds its initial statement in the opening chapters of Genesis. The Covenant is grounded in the events of creation. The author for Genesis 1 wants to show that the stretch of land which God promised to give Israel in the Sinai Covenant-the land where Abraham and his family sojourned, the land of Canaan-was the same land God had prepared for them at the time of creation. It was in that land that God first blessed mankind and called upon men and women to obey him. It was in that land that the Tree of Life once grew and God provided for man's good and kept him from evil. In the narrative of Genesis 1, we are thus given and account of God's original purposes with humanity" (83).

Second, a reader familiar with the theme of the Pentateuch would understand "the land" in verse two as the promised land because the same process that leads to this understanding of "the land" in verse two is intended to lead to the proper understanding of "God" in verse one.

Like "the land" in verse two, "God" in verse one is left largely undefined. We understand what the author means by God in verse one largely from our understanding of what we are told about God in the rest of the Bible. So just as the reader is to fill the word "God" in 1:1 with the meaning that is given this word throughout the Pentateuch, so also it seems that the author intends that we understand the "land" in verse in light of the central theme of the Pentateuch. The mention of God in verse one would prompt the question, "Who is that?" The answer is clearly, "The One who is the central focus of the rest of the book of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch." This would prompt the realization that God is not only God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also God of all creation. Likewise, the mention of "the land" in verse two would prompt the question "Which land?" And the answer would likewise seem to be, "The one that is the central focus of the rest of the book of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch." This, then, would prompt the realization that when God promised a land to Abraham and his descendants, it was not the first time God had sought to bless mankind in a land. Rather, God was taking action to establish one of His original goals in creation.

The giving of the Promised Land is a central theme of the Pentateuch. From these two reasons it is evident why, if a central theme of the Pentateuch is the giving of the land, a reader familiar with this would, at the author's design, understand the "land" in Genesis 1:2ff as the Promised Land. That the Promised Land is a central theme of the Pentateuch is evident from the fact that the two main covenants with which the storyline of the Pentateuch focuses on-the Abrahamic and Sinai Covenants-have the giving of the Promised Land at their center. Thus, it seems that the author intends that a reader familiar with the theme of the Pentateuch see the "land" in Genesis 1:2 as the Promised Land.

The Glorious Unifying Function of the Land

For all of these reasons, it seems solid to conclude that historical creationism is correct. Genesis 1:1 declares that God created the entire universe in a period of time that is left unspecified. Genesis 1:2 shifts the focus from the universe as a whole to the Promised Land at some point after God had finished creating the universe. The six days of Genesis one, therefore, are the account of God preparing the Promised Land for mankind.

This reveals that one of the main aims of the author in Genesis one and two is to establish that the God of the covenant is the God of creation . The God who prepared the land promised in the covenant (1:2ff) is the same God who created the universe (1:1). Therefore, the members of the covenant have a mighty God who is above all other gods.

By making the connection--by means of the land--between creation and the covenants, Genesis one through two not only call attention to the greatness of God, but also set the stage for what the rest of the Bible has to say about the greatness ofGod. Because the land is not only a unifying theme among the covenants, but also what unifies the covenants with creation (because they all concern the same land), there is a deeper unity among God's purposes in creation and redemption. When we see this, a glorious tapestry of God's mighty works in the Bible unfolds before our eyes.

In an attempt to behold this glory, I will rehearse the main events God used to bring Israel to the Promised Land. Doing so will not only highlight the glorious implications the centrality of the land in both creation and redemption has, but will also serve to confirm our conclusion that the giving of the land is a central theme of the Pentateuch.

The Covenant with Abraham and the Land Promised in it is Central to the Story of the Pentateuch

This is evident from a general knowledge of salvation history. God calls Abraham out of his land of idolatry (Genesis 12:1) to bless him so that he will be a blessing (v. 2) and as a means to this promises to make him a great nation (Genesis 12:2). This promise is initially fulfilled in the creation of the earthly nation of Israel from Abraham's descendants, who serve as the main characters in the Pentateuch from Genesis 12 on. In addition to this, the promise of a land was a key element of the covenant (Genesis 12:1, 7)-which is evident from the fact that from Genesis 12 to Deuteronomy 32 the main story concerns how God brought Israel to this land.

The means God used to bring Israel into the land promised to them is an intricate story which reveals God's wisdom and what His ultimate goal in the Abrahamic covenant is. When God originally made the covenant with Abraham, he informed him that before his earthly descendants would be blessed of God in the promised land, they would first "be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years" (Genesis 15:13).

This prophecy was not merely a prediction of what would happen, but a declaration of what God would do. This is evident from the events that followed. When Abraham's grandson Jacob, through which the nation of Israel was to come, had descendants numbering about seventy, God brought about a severe famine in the land as the means of positioning Israel in Egypt. Having already sent Joseph to Egypt far ahead of time as the means of maintaining a great reserve of food so that many would be preserved alive (Genesis 50:20), God used the famine to bring the other descendants of Jacob to join Joseph in Egypt because Egypt is where the food was that God had provided to keep them alive. It is striking to realize that God did this, and even told them to go (Genesis 46:3), even though He had already said that they would eventually become slaves in the land (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 1:11). The implication is that Israel's slavery in Egypt was orchestrated by God to put Israel in a place to behold the mighty works of God on their behalf.

The Sinai Covenant Sought to Bring Israel into the Land Promised in the Abrahamic Covenant

Thus, God did not forget His promise to bring the nation of Israel to the Promised Land. He still remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob after four hundred years (Exodus 2:24) and raised up Moses to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt and bring them into the promised land (Exodus 3:8). After bringing Israel out of Egypt, he made a covenant with them which centered on the book of the law (Exodus 22:7-8) and in which, as Sailhamer writes, He "vowed to give them the 'land' He had promised to their forefathers. He promised to bless them in that land, to give them rest and peace, and ultimately to dwell with them in that land."

Thus, the giving of the land was a central promise of the Sinai (or Old) Covenant (Deuteronomy 1:5-8). That the land is central to the Sinai Covenant is also shown by the fact that Israel's obedience to the law given in that covenant was "the only condition God placed on their enjoyment of the land. If they disobeyed, Israel would be cast out of the land and go into exile (Deuteronomy 4:25-26)." But if they obeyed, they would live long in the land (Deuteronomy 30:16-20). The problem with the Old Covenant was that Israel did not have renewed hearts that wanted to obey God (Deuteronomy 29:4). Thus, eventually Israel was persistently disobedient and thus cast out of the land. This is the same reason that Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden (Genesis 3).

The New Covenant Established the Aim of the Abrahamic Covenant and Secures Us in the Land

So the Old Covenant was not enough to keep Israel in the land because it was not able to be fulfilled due to the hardness of the human heart. This did not, however, abort God's purpose to give the descendants of Abraham the land. Instead, it revealed what God's true purpose was all along in the Sinai Covenant-to show our sinfulness so that we would see the need for the New Covenant.

That the Sinai covenant was not the Covenant that God intended to use to bring the promise of blessing and a land for Abraham's descendants to ultimate fulfillment is evident from Galatians 3, which teaches that the blessing of Abraham is salvation through Christ, and that it is through the Abrahamic Covenant, not the Sinai Covenant, that this blessing comes to us (Galatians 3:8, 17-18). The Sinai covenant was a servant to the Abrahamic covenant because it was our "tutor" to show us our sinfulness and thus lead us to justification by faith in Christ, who was the seed of Abraham (3:24). As such, it was only ever intended to be temporary and a means to demonstrating the supremacy of the Abrahamic Covenant which had been made before it (3:15-19).

The Abrahamic Covenant, then, is not fulfilled by the Old Covenant. Rather, the Old Covenant was intended to point to another Covenant-a Covenant in which the Abrahamic Covenant would be fulfilled.

This New Covenant is not explicitly mentioned in the Pentateuch, but is foreshadowed in the fact that the Sinai covenant is predicted to fail at keeping Israel in the land (Deuteronomy 31:14-22). After this failure came to pass, the New Covenant was promised in the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah.

Looking back on the failure of the Old Covenant, which was made with ethnic Israel, and the success of the New Covenant, which was made not with ethnic Israel but those who believe in Christ and aims at fulfilling the promise made to Abraham, much light is shed on exactly what God was promising in the Abrahamic Covenant. First, we see that the true descendantsof Abraham are not those who are physically descended from him, but those who believe in Christ (Galatians 3:7). Thus, God's promise in the Abrahamic Covenant was not to give all physical descenants of Abraham the land, but to give the land to all of those who, like Abraham, believe in Christ. This is one reason why the failure of the Old Covenant to keep ethnic Israel in the land did not abort God's purpose in the Abrahamic Covenant.

Second, we see that the land which God aims to give to the spiritual descendents of Abraham is not merely an earthly dwelling, but a heavenly dwelling. The land promised to Abraham is not merely a section of land that is of this creation, it is a section of land that we will possess in the new creation-that is, once the heavens and the earth are renewed! The promised land is the land that God originally prepared for Adam and Eve. But it is that land as it will be once God renews this creation from the effects of the fall and joins heaven and earth together as one (Revelation 21-22).

To see this, notice the parallels between the elements of God's covenant to Abraham in Genesis 17, and the elements of the New Covenant stated in Jeremiah 32. The New Covenant contains the same promises as those of the Abrahamic covenant because it is the true fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. But by seeing how the promise to Abraham concerning the land is interpreted in the promises of the New Covenant, a flood of light is shed on the land God had actually promised in the Abrahamic Covenant.

The covenant with Abraham. "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants afer you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession ; and I will be their God " (Genesis 17:7-8). The New Covenant. "And they shall be My people, and I will be their God ; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul" (Jeremiah 32:40-41).

The first passage above concerns God's covenant with Abraham: "I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants." The second passage concerns the New Covenant: "And I will make an everlasting covenant withthem." This is the covenant spoken about in Jeremiah 31:31-32 of which God says, "Behold, days are coming...when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand out of Egypt, My covenant which they broke." The New Covenant, then, replaces the Old Covenant (cf. Hebrews 8), but does not replace the Abrahamic Covenant because, like the New Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant is said to be eternal. What this means is that the New Covenant is the fulfillment, or perhaps reaffirmation, of the Abrahamic Covenant. Therefore, we should expect that they include the same promises. This is exactly what we see in these texts.

In both Covenants, God promises that the descendants of Abraham (which we know from Galatians 3 to be Christians, not ethnic Jews) will be His people and that He will be their God . That the New Covenant is made with the descendants of Abraham is evident from Jeremiah 31, which says the New Covenant is made "with the house of Israel and the house of Judah." Notice also that these two covenants are not only both made with the descendants of Abraham, but both contain the promise of the land.

The New Covenant as it is expressed in Jeremiah 32 explains how it is that God will keep us faithful to His covenant so that we will never be expelled from the land, as happened to Israel under the Old Covenant. God will keep us faithful because He will put the fear of Himself in our hearts so that we will not turn away from Him. And He promises to never turn away from us. This is what the Old Covenant lacked-the power to follow God. But the power that the Old Covenant did not give is given by the New Covenant. Therefore, the Old Covenant did not keep ethnic Israel in the land, but the New Covenant will keep spiritual Israel in the land forever.

Finally, the expression of the New Covenant in Jeremiah sheds fuller light on the identity of the land God had promised to Abraham. Notice that it is the same land promised to Abraham that God promises once again to plant His spiritual descendants in. But from the revelation of the New Testament, we know that God is not merely going to give Christians the land of Israel. Rather, we know that He is going to renew the entire universe, the "heavens and the earth, " cleansing it from all wickedness and making all things new. Thus, the "land" that God promises to give us forever in Jeremiah 32 is the promised land as it will be in the New Heavens and New Earth . This is the dwelling God promises to give Christians. And since the New Covenant brings to fulfillment the Abrahamic Covenant, they both have the same land in view. Thus, the land promised to Abraham is the land from the Euphrates to River of Egypt as it will be in the Renewed Heavens and Earth! God's plan to restore His people in the renewed heavens and earth to the land they had lost at creation was already revealed way back in His promise to Abraham!

The Deep Unity of God's Plans

What does all this show? It shows that God's purposes remain the same from creation through redemption and into the new creation. God's purposes have never changed and will be established. And the foundation of this truth is laid in Genesis one. "By establishing a connection between the promised land and the garden of Eden, the Genesis narratives reveal something quite important about God and His purposes in creation. They tell us that God's purposes remain the same. What He has accomplished in creation He will do again in His covenant promises" (p. 73). The author of Genesis accomplishes this in showing "that the Sinai Covenant and God's call of Abraham have as their ultimate goal the establishment of God's original purposes in creation. God intended from the beginning that His people find blessing and peace in 'the land' He provided for them" (p. 84).

This ties together in greater unity the covenants of redemption with the original state of man and his consequent fall from that state. When mankind fell from fellowship with God, God took action to redeem man and restore Him to the land through His covenants. The covenants seek to redeem man from His fall by bringing God's redeemed people back into the land which he had lost in his fall in a renewed creation !

The first thing we read of in the Bible is God's creation of the entire universe. The next thing we read is that, after the universe was finished, the land God had destined for Adam and Eve was a deserted wilderness (Genesis 1:2). God then prepared this special land for mankind to dwell in, but they soon fell from a right relationship with God through disobedience and were exiled from the land.

Thousands of years later, in the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to restore Abraham's spiritual descendants to this land. After letting Israel be enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years, God began to fulfill this promise and led them to the land. And just as the land was a deserted wilderness before it had been prepared for Adam and Eve, so also Israel wandered through the wilderness before entering to conquer (prepare?) the land (Deuteronomy 32:10).

The Old Covenant thus brought God's people back to the land for a time, but soon resulted in a repetition of what happened to mankind the first time he had been given the land. Israel sinned persistently against God and was thus exiled from the land, to the east, in judgment-just as had happened to Adam and Eve. The fall of man in Genesis 3, thus, foreshadowed what would happen in the Old Covenant. Hence, we see that God's plan for the Old Covenant was to point the way to the New Covenant by showing that a mighty work of God on our hearts is necessary for our salvation.

In this New Covenant, then, which was purchased by Christ's death, God is bringing to infallible fulfillment the promise to Abraham that had not been successfully fulfilled by the Old Covenant. And that promise to Abraham was God's promise to restore Abraham's descendants to the land they had lost in the fall.

The unity God has established between creation and redemption, by means of the Promised Land, truly magnifies the riches of his wisdom and the inscrutability of his ways. And by understanding the rich history of the Promised Land not only in redemption, but creation as well, the land where we are heading as Christians and where we will worship Christ in the renewed heavens and earth (Isaiah 2:1-4; 66:18-24) takes on a much more profound and fascinating significance.


Notas

1 See his excellent defense of this affirmation in Appendix 1, pp. 227-245.

2 See my article "The Days of Creation" for a summary of the evidence for an old earth.

3 I recognize that these categories may be too rigid. But I think that they do, in general, demonstrate the structure of the passage.

4 Sailhamer writes that "It is likely that the author intended a connection to be drawn between God's furnishing the land with fruit trees in chapter 1 [verses 9-11] and His furnishing the garden with trees 'good for food' in chapter 2. This is yet another clue that the two accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 are indeed about the same work of creation and that the 'land' of chapter 1 should be understood as the 'garden' of chapter 2" (127).

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, by the Lockman Foundation.

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