From Nature to Culture

God established a pattern and rhythm for His creation from the very beginning. The earth began formless, empty, and dark but the heavens* served as a pattern after which man was to continue to shape and fill and light the earth. God established the rhythm of the day, of evening and morning, darkness and light as a bass line on which He built the great central theme of death and resurrection. He immediately plunged His creation down into darkness so He could bring it back up into greater light and glory. On the very day He created man, He plunged him down into darkness to raise him back up with the glory of his bride. He gave man the week as the rhythm for work, building His creation in six days and taking His rest on the seventh. The week, month, and year marked time for man as the festival seasons of the old creation.

Adam was to begin in the garden sanctuary, serving as priest for his week and then moving out to the surrounding lands to fill the earth and take dominion as king, glorifying and cultivating the whole earth according to the pattern of heaven. We see God bringing this to pass in stages. With the construction of the tabernacle, Moses was expressly told to make it according to the pattern that was shown to him on the mountain. It is not a replica of the garden sanctuary, it is a progression, a cultivation and glorification of the creation after the pattern of heaven. At the time the tabernacle was established, Aaron was also ordained. His ordination was seven days, to cover or sanctify the week of man, the week that Adam failed to fulfill. When he completed his week, he became a new Adam, the Head priest of a nation of priests.

A similar pattern is seen with Solomon’s temple, the restoration temple, and the church – the living temple of the Spirit. The arc of scripture is from garden to city, from nature to culture. When man brings the creation to its fulness according to the pattern of heaven, he will have completed his week and he will enter his rest. The rhythm of the week shows that man doesn’t do this on his own. The rhythm of work and rest is a rhythm of cultivation and thanksgiving. Man is enabled to work by eating of the Tree of Life, which is Christ, and of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is His Word.

The writer of Hebrews points out that man has not yet reached that rest. Individually, our work is complete and we enter into God’s rest when we die, if we are joined to him in faith. There is a great sense of the already and the not yet. Christ the Man has completed His “week” as High Priest. His work is finished in that sense. But now He sits at the right hand of the Father, ruling as king until He makes all His enemies His footstool and gives the kingdom and all things to the Father. We who are in Him rule with Him as His body and Bride. The kingdom of heaven pervades the earth in small fits and starts, pushing slowly toward the completion, the consummation, the Sabbath rest, and then beyond the Sabbath to the eighth day, the dawn of the new week, the resurrection.

*that is, the heavens of verse 1; the firmament heavens of v 6 and following, which house the sun, moon, and stars, were originally part of and were separated from the earth on day 2



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