Creation in Seven Acts
In my previous post “A Layman’s Interpretation of Genesis”, I made the point that the Days in Genesis 1 are defined, not by any physical entity, but by divine command. The Days, and time itself, are God’s creation.
To give a further illustration, I’d liken the Creation account in Genesis 1 to a seven-act play, and the recurring phrase “there was evening and there was morning, one day” to the fall and rise of a curtain on stage, or fade-out and fade-in on screen. The “Day” is introduced, not to define the length of each act, but to separate the acts from one another as conceptually distinct units.
According to Augustine, God transcends time and space, and all time is present to Him, just as a screenplay is present to the mind of the playwright. How then can man, who is bound by time and space, witness Creation? It is possible that Creation was revealed to the writer of Genesis through visions. Imagine a movie played before the eye of your mind with a voice-over: “Let there be light” and there was light. In this way, a story that spans billions of years can be told in seven days. This is the difference between narrated time and narration time.
The curtain does not fall, so to speak, on the seventh day. Perhaps for two reasons. First, the seventh day signifies eternity. Second, the drawn curtain allows the audience to participate in the play. It brings about the “impossible union” of eternity and temporality, as T.S.Eliot put it, and enables every individual to participate in the grand finale of the Divine Comedy known as the history of the world.
The Day of the Fall
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
The Bible does not record for how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. It is perhaps because life in the Garden, that is, in the divine presence, is timeless. “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Apart from the days of Creation, no day is mentioned in the Genesis account except one, the day of the Fall. Just as the days of Creation are defined by divine acts, the remorseful day of the Fall is also defined by an act, the unfaithful act of Adam, who was made in the image of the Creator. By a choice of will, Adam created a different history for himself and mankind, and the days of his life became numbered as a consequence.
On the day of Adam’s Fall, God, who transcends time, came into time to seek Man. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?'”
The Day of Regeneration
Today, if you will hear His voice:
Do not harden your hearts
Potentiality and free choice are a constant theme that runs throughout the Scripture. In a sense, God in His humility has presented Himself as a choice to Man, either follow Him or reject Him. The trees in the Garden, such as the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, symbolize potentialities or possibilities that God has made available to Man, who is free to choose and explore as much as he pleases, even to separate himself from God, like the Prodigal Son from his Father.
Adam was at a crossroad. Before he made his choice, both paths were open, but as soon as he embarked on one, the other was closed. After he had disobeyed God, access to the Tree of life, that is, to God Himself, was denied; Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He has come into the world to open for man the way to the Father, which was shut because of Adam, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Just as in the day of Creation, God commanded light to shine out of darkness, so in the day of Regeneration, He has shone in the hearts of men, to give them the light of the knowledge of Him in the face of Christ. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.