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Street View

Different perspectives.

Genesis 2:4 (ESV)

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

After describing the days of creation, Moses starts over. What’s that all about?

The Hebrew idioms used here are challenging. The word translated as “generations” (תֹּולֵדֹות, toe-le-dote) is from the root (ילד, ya-laad) which means “bear, bring forth, beget.”

While “generations” is the literal translation of this word, that isn’t what it means here. The NIV translates this as “This is the account of …,” the NKJV as, “This is the history of …” So, toe-le-dote means something like “timeline.” This retelling fits well with the idea that God is outside of time.

Notice also that Moses says, “in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,” not, “in the six days …” The Hebrew word for “day” (יֹום, yohm) is another idiom. It need not mean a calendar day.

We have the same idiom in English. We don’t mean a 24 hour period when we say, “You’ll have your day in court.” The same can be said for, “the great and awesome day of the LORD.” — Malachi 4:5 (ESV)

So, this verse is announcing a change in perspective. Previously, we saw creation from God’s point of view as the creator. Now we’re going to see creation from the perspective of the creation.

Google Maps users might call this “street view.”

Most of the rest of the Bible is written in street view, but the heavenly view bits (e.g., Revelation, parts of Daniel and of Job) are especially interesting. Notably, these tend to be controversial passages. There’s a lesson in that.

We live in street view, and that’s how our brains are wired. Thus, the wide disagreement over the heavenly view passages should humble us. It seems that we aren’t capable of fully understanding them.

This leads to an important, if harsh, conclusion. Any biblical view that leans heavily on one particular interpretation of a heavenly view passage is on thin ice. All our interpretations are simple-minded, at best.

And there’s another great lesson imbedded in the difference between heavenly view and street view—it’s the essence of prophecy.

We tend to think that prophecy means seeing the future. But most prophecies don’t predict; they pronounce. A prophet sees into heaven and speaks from the heavenly view. This is beautifully explained in a video series by Richard Pratt titled “He Gave Us Prophets.”

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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