Ups and downs, order to confusion to order. Over and over again, it happens in life; this is the Bible cycle of highs and lows.
Ups and downs, order to confusion to order. That’s how the Bible starts, and that’s how the Bible continues. You could sum up the Bible story with just these three words.
(Origin of the Universe, chapter 7.8)
This blog post is a transition. Because in Genesis 1, verses 1 and 2, we have gone on a roller-coaster ride. Ups and downs, curves, and sliders like you’ve never seen before. We’ve gone from order to chaos in 2 different but related spheres. Firstly, with the nature of the Cherub changing to the Serpent and secondly, the destruction of Earth and its environs. The rest of the Bible story reveals the restoration of the final up. But only after many ups and downs, that’s the nature of the entire Bible story.
We need to take a step back and get an overview of what’s happening here. This is the big picture of all the actors and props in the Bible story. The inter-relationship between them and their roles in these ups and downs. I have three separate aspects we will broach today.
- Four elements: time-space-God-creation
- Ups and downs – repeating life cycles
- Wayyiktol, a wee bit of Biblical Hebrew grammar, but it’s worth it.
1. Here are the four elements that constitute the Bible Story:
According to our story, He is the Prime character of the Bible story. He’s the Producer, Author, and Director. If I had to draw an analogy, it would be a shipowner who designs and builds one of those magnificent cruise ships we see today. He sets the itinerary from San Francisco via Hawaii to its destination, Melbourne.
He then sells the tickets, and a few hundred people board his ship for the sumptuous cruise. His passengers can do whatever they want on board that ship during the journey. They have access to everything: food, clothing, lodging, entertainment, whatever they need. There are rules on board, but there is also free will. Passengers can follow the rules or do their own thing with subsequent consequences because the shipowner has placed a crew of sailors and staff, including security personnel, aboard his ship.
2. Created Beings: Spiritual and soon to be Physical
In our cruise ship analogy, these created beings are the crew and passengers aboard. This chapter of Origin of the Universe focused on the Cherub turned Serpent. We saw that it was a created spirit being “… in the day you were created” (Ezekiel 28:13-15). The next chapter, after this transition of The Explanation and the rest of the Bible, will deal with the creation of physical beings. The whys, hows, and whats.
Both the spirit and about-to-be-created human beings are aboard the ship. It’s going to be quite a trip.
3. Time (like in tick, tock)
We all are very aware of time; we carry a timepiece, punch the clock, and live out the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years of our lifetime. We talk about the past: Periods of history: Middle Ages, pre-history: and we’ve discussed the beginning of Earth (4.5 billion years ago) and that of our Universe (13.7 billion years ago). We talk about the future: We dream about this and that; we make projects to depart for some exotic vacation, have children, retirement, and we write a testament and prepare our funerals.
We forecast the weather and plan concerts, football matches, and an entire season on a calendar. We even look far, far into the future, and the lifespan of planet Earth, another 10 billion years, some scientists are surmising.
The Bible uses a term we have great difficulty with Eternity—time with no beginning and no end—endless time. Transhumanism is trying to make that a reality for human beings. Cryonics is the science of preserving a human body in freeze conditions, for the necessary time, until we have the technology to heal sickness, maintaining life indefinitely; this is a massive field of medical and life-extension development today.
I’m not discussing the merits or demerits of such a practice; I’m evoking this solely to point out that humankind is well aware of time—future-time—and is in full preparation trying to make the best of that time. When ecology says ‘what heritage will we leave our children and grandchildren’ we’re discussing future time.
The time frame for the shipowner and passengers is exactly the transit time from San Francisco to Melbourne.
I’m going to call this a spaceframe—to parallel the timeframe. In my first book, Inventory of the Universe, I pointed out that one of the puzzle pieces is Earth. Earth, in the sense of everything material, in the form of the elements of the periodic table, from boron to zirconium. Combined atoms and molecules of these elements compose the material world—including humankind—this is the spaceframe we exist in.
I evoked the reality when I said humans can play with this material world; they can shape, sculpture, mold, and cast it into any form they want for their pleasure or displeasure.
The space frame for the passengers aboard the ship is everything and everyone on board, and their interplay during the cruise.
Always dynamic, always ups and downs.
Everything fits into these four elements. All of these elements are dynamic, never static, ever-changing. There’s an interplay that never ceases. Time marches on, space (material items) are used and abused by humans, Physical and spirit beings are in perpetual attitude, emotional, sentimental, mood, activity change. As for God, I’m well aware of Malachi 3.6 “For I am the Lord, I change not.” but I’m also mindful of many verses like Hosea 4:7 “therefore will I [God] change their [children of Israel] glory into shame.” God participates in these ups and downs. He cast the Cherub to Earth (a down), He originates the creation (an up).
Ups and downs are the results of the interplay between all four components.
2. Ups and downs – repeating life cycles
In Audit of the Universe, we discussed time and space and how created beings have a responsibility to manage them. Now we see that how these beings manage them has a direct relation with God. If they’re handled well, then there’s an upswing; if they’re managed poorly, there’s a downslide.Management of our earthly resources and ourselves has a direct relation with God. When managed well then there's an upswing when managed poorly there's a downslide. Click To Tweet
We’ve seen the bara, healthy original creation. We’ve seen the downfall of Lucifer due to poorly using its resources. I’m going to start explaining the Genesis creation next week. The entire Bible is the story of these perpetual ups and downs of humanity. Soaring heights to cavernous depths both of individuals and nations. The graph below only details a few such events. Fill in many other episodes of ups and downs.
You’ll notice that the upswings and high points are in green while the inverse is in red. God is green, but created beings are black, neither green nor red. That’s their plasticity. Some, like the Serpent and its followers, have sealed their fate and are red. Others like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ have also sealed their future and are green. I’m aware that all members of humankind are sinners, and that would merit red, but all will have access to God and grace; that’s green. For now, in our story, humankind is, therefore, neither red nor green.
3. Qatal – Wayyiktol – Biblical Hebrew verb forms
Yes, Hebrew grammar, but I promise I’ll keep it very short.
The verb forms in the first two verses of Genesis 1 are different from the rest of the chapter. These two verb forms are used in different circumstances.
The verb bara elohim – God created is in the quatal form, indicating the type of text: Background, contrast, old information, direct speech.
From verse 3 onwards, we have wayomer elohim – And God said; this is the wayyiqtol form, indicating the main narrative past and sequential verbs. You can read more about this here, where Bill Mounce states, “The wayyiqtol verb is normally used for the past tense narrative sequence. In other words, when an author wanted to write about a series of actions in the past.” The usage of this form is for story-telling of past events. Today we might say, “And then the lion growled at him, and then he dove for cover, and then…”
Please note that the descriptions of these verb forms are not from Sam Kneller. The image on the right comes from my workbook from Classical Hebrew when I followed their courses online, going back to 2010.
The events of Genesis 1:3 and onwards for creation week are singular sequential events that start and end in the past; this is different information and separate from the information in the first two verses. I hope you grasp the implication of this: Creation week is not the beginning referred to in Genesis 1:1.The verb forms alone tell us that there are two distinct periods and activities in the opening verses of Genesis. Creation week is not the beginning referred to in Genesis 1:1 Click To Tweet
In this Biblical Hebrew lesson, Sigal, the teacher, clearly explains the time-setting of these two verb forms. She concentrates on qatal and doesn’t mention the verb form of the first two verbs: watakam (And she arose) and watashav (and returned) but, they are both wayiqtol verbs; this illustrates what exactly happens in Genesis 1.
The original events of creating the heavens (plural) and earth, the earth becoming void, without form covered with water and darkness took place BEFORE the events we shall describe starting with Day 1 of creation week. Those first two verses include the creation of the Universe 13.7 billion years ago as well as the events of the Cherub downgrading to the Serpent and causing the tohu and bohu.
Now you can better understand why the first word of the Bible, bresheet, is in beginning, not in the beginning. There are many beginnings.
I don’t want to go too far with this, but each time the graph above swings from a downward slide to an upward goal, it is a beginning of a new phase of God’s plan; this is not the same as creation, but the principle is still present.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 7.8 of the book Origin of the Universe
In point 2 above, there’s a chart of ups and downs. As you study the Bible make and complete your own chart. The above one only has very few ups and downs. Just thinking about the various periods of Judges and the kings of Israel and Judah, you’ll realize that there are dozens of these periods for nations. If you think about individuals, whether Biblical or otherwise, including yourself, you’ll also see how ups and downs (this plasticity) are so much a part of everyday life.
Qatal – Wayyiqtol
Here is a resource by Bill Mounce that you can check out if you want to deepen your knowledge of Hebrew grammar. It can be helpful for you. I will not be taking that route but be my guest if it’s your cup of tea.
Watch the short video above. It reveals the clear delineation of the two verb forms.
Dig Deeper into The Explanation
Join The Explanation Newsletter to stay informed of updates. and future events. No obligations, total privacy, unsubscribe anytime, if you want.
The Explanation series of seven books. Free to read online or purchase these valuable commentaries on Genesis 1-3 from your favorite book outlet. E-book and paperback formats are available. Use this link to see the details of each book and buy from your favorite store.
Since you read all the way to here… you liked it. Please use the Social Network links just below to share this information from The Explanation, Ups and Downs – Order to Confusion to Order – The Bible Cycle