It would now be my contention that day two and its parallel day four are the building and filling of the Cosmic Temple. In the religious Tabernacle/Temple of Israel this comes off a bit differently because of the Fallen status of the world. Day 2’s establishment of the expanse parallels the setting up of the tent of the Tabernacle and the walls of the Temple. Notice then that day 5 is the creation/assignment of the birds of the sky (above the tent’s curtain) and the sea creatures (below the tent’s foundation). What fills the temporal Temple will come on days 3 and 6.
For now I would like to add one more decorative indicator of Temple cosmology. If you remember your temple diagrams that you’ve seen and the Levitical procedures you may have read about in various OT courses/studies, you will surely remember the pools and the washings! Priests had to regularly wash themselves and their robes before proper use in the Temple. For the Tabernacle, see Exodus 30:17-21. And for the Temple see 1 kings 7:23-26; 2 Chron 4:2-5. As with the lampstand above, these serve a symbolic purpose as well as a practical one! They are part of the Temple precisely because they are part of the Cosmic Temple in Genesis 1!
Genesis 1:11-13 and 24-25, “And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day… [day 6] And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
As foreshadowed above, on day 3 we have a further establishment of the Cosmic Temple and on day 6 we have the first part of the filling of the Cosmic Temple. First I will deal with day 3. While travelling through the wilderness, the Israelite Tabernacle did not uproot and replant trees in the Tabernacle every where they went. However! You will read and see Acacia wood being used in everything from the Ark of the Covenant to the pillars that hold up the curtain and the walls of the Holy Place (see The Lutheran Study Bible page 141 for a great breakdown of materials used). The tent posts all the way around the outer court too serve as a garden image with all their rich colours. Later in the Solomonic Temple, there is a similar tree-like architectural feature. First we note that cedar and cypress timber from Lebanon was used (1 Kings 5:8-9; 6:14-18). Just as the trees and vegetation of day 3 served to decorate the Cosmic Temple, so also the acacia, cedar and cypress wood are used to decorate Israel’s Tabernacle & Temple.
As for day six, I have isolated the first part from the second part (mankind) simply because man deserves a bit of time on his own. Much like the birds and fish are to fill the Cosmic Temple but are kept out of the temporal Tabernacle/Temple, so too these animals are included in the Cosmic Temple BUT are only brought into the Israelite Tabernacle/Temple to be sacrificed (more on this later!).
Genesis 1:26-31- “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
I’ll cut right to the chase. Man is the priest of the Cosmic Temple. This becomes even more explicitly clear in 2:15, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” These two tasks, “to work it and keep it” (avad and shamar) are only used together in reference to the Levitical priesthood. Upon God’s resting of day seven, the Cosmic Temple is fully ordered and filled, that is, it is fully functional! God is present and he places His man in the Garden of Eden, the Holy of Holies of this Cosmic Temple, to be the High Priest who serves God by working and keeping this Temple. And at the centre of this Cosmic Temple stands the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Man is given one command by which he might serve and love the gracious Creator, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 (Gen 2:16-17).”
Despite avoiding material creation questions throughout his book, Walton appears to lean toward the special creation of mankind. He therefore rejects the evolution of man even though he allows room for evolution of animals. For him, Genesis 2 allows us to have a material understanding of man’s formation/creation (out of the dust). I don’t think it’s the strongest part of his book, but for now I am too fixated on the notion of the man as priest of the Cosmic Temple.
God then makes a suitable helper for the man (gender roles, order of creation, marriage, and the like are topics for further discussion in other forums). We all know what happens next. The perfect, complete, finished, and functional Cosmic Temple, perfectly and wonderfully ordered by God that He might live in communion with His creation, is disturbed. No, that’s too weak a description. The fully ordered creation is hurled into disorder, chaos, and disarray. SIN enters in 3:7.
The next post will discuss Thesis 6.