The Language of Creation from Genesis to Revelation
By Tami Jelinek
There is much disagreement within fulfilled eschatology regarding the Genesis creation story. What is it about?
Those who are futurist in their eschatology, and take a literal,
cosmological view of “the end,” understandably view Genesis as the
beginning of the same. In other words, if Revelation and other “last
days” prophecies describe the end of the physical universe, then
Genesis describes the beginning of that same universe. This is logical,
and a consistent approach to the Bible as a whole. But what about
preterists, who hold to a fulfilled view of eschatology? We see
Revelation and other “last days” prophecies as pointing to the end of
the Old Covenant age, and not the end of the physical universe. We
recognize the language of the prophets, appreciate its metaphorical and
symbolic elements and understand the covenant context of this
language as it is employed consistently throughout the Bible.
Furthermore, we submit our interpretation of this language to Jesus and
the apostles, who quote extensively from those prophetic contexts. And
if we are to be consistent, as consistent as those who are futurist in
their eschatology and view the beginning and the end as the beginning
and the end of the same universe; then we will likewise view the beginning and the end as the beginning and the end of the samecovenant world. Or, we might say that they are covenantal counterparts. In other words, we will understand that Genesis’ creation is the same in nature as Revelation’s new creation. We will naturally conclude that it is a covenantal, rather than a cosmological creation.
But some preterists make an exception to their otherwise consistent
approach to Scripture when it comes to Genesis. They contend that while
the Bible tells the story of God’s covenant relationship with His
people, a story which culminates with the ultimate and final redemption
of His covenant creation; Genesis (the first book of the Bible and literally, “beginning”) is not the beginning of the Bible’s story,
but rather the beginning of the physical universe. Even though “the
rest of the story” and specifically the end of that story, in no way
references universal, cosmological history.
These preterists will say that “the first heaven and the first earth”
which passed away in Revelation 21 is not a reference to that which was
created in the beginning, but rather to the law given at Sinai. There
are many problems with this position, which are discussed elsewhere.
But to summarize a primary problem here: the language the prophets use to describe the new creation in contrast with the old does not refer to Sinai; it time and time again refers to Genesis 1-3, as it contrasts the new creation with the first creation, and the redeemed with the fallen. The prophets use creation language
directly from the Genesis creation story to foretell a new heaven and a
new earth. The parallels are as undeniable as the examples are
numerous, as the chart below illustrates.
This chart and accompanying article will lay out a series of contrasts
between “the first heaven and first earth,” which I contend is the
subject of Genesis creation, and “the new heaven and new earth.” It
is my hope to show through the prophets’ use of Genesis creation
language contrasting the old with the new, that Genesis creation is
indeed the first creation John had in mind when he wrote:
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and new earth: for the first
heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
"Then the heavens
and the earth were completed, and all their armies. And by the seventh
day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the
seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the
seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His
work which God had created and made. (Gen. 2:1-2)"