The Seven Days of the Week: A Picture of Seven Stages of Spiritual Growth
“Thus saith God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein … Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” -Isaiah 42:5 & 9
The above verses suggest that the methods God uses to impart spiritual life to people are patterned after the methods by which He created the heavens and the earth. By looking at how God brought about “the former things” (the physical creation), we can see how God brings about “new things” (the spiritual creation) in the life of a maturing disciple. The first week of creation can be seen as a miniature picture or a skeleton outline of seven stages of spiritual growth that God takes us through as we become the “new creation” of 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Day #1: Separation of Light from Darkness
Repentance Unto Salvation
At the beginning of the creation week, the entire earth was in darkness and “without form, and void.” This describes the spiritual condition of a lost sinner. The sinner is in spiritual darkness and is blind to spiritual truth. His life is without form, and void. From a spiritual standpoint, his life has no order, no direction, no purpose, because he is spiritually dead. He can do nothing to bring himself out of the spiritual darkness in which he dwells, unless the Spirit of God moves to initiate his salvation. This initial preparatory moving of the Spirit in a sinner’s life can be seen in Genesis 1:2: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Even before the earth received any light, God’s Spirit was brooding over the darkened waters; even before the sinner receives any spiritual light, God’s Spirit broods over the darkened waters of the sinner’s soul, bringing the sinner to repentance and preparing him to receive spiritual light.
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” When a sinner repents, God speaks to the sinner’s heart and says, “Let there be light.” The penitent sinner then receives his first glimpse of the true knowledge of God’s glory. The Apostle Paul expressed it this way: “For God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Yeshua the Messiah” (2 Cor. 4:6). In this obvious reference to Genesis 1:3, Paul is telling us that just as God spoke light into the physical creation, so He speaks spiritual light into our hearts through the knowledge of the Messiah. Peter also made reference to this analogy when he wrote that God “hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Genesis 1:4 says that “God saw the light, that it was good.” This is what God sees when He looks at a sinner who has repented. It is not written that “God saw the darkness.” God does not look at the darkness of the penitent sinner’s past. He sees only “the light”; He sees only the goodness of His Son who now dwells in the heart of the penitent sinner. Job 38:7 tells us that the angels shouted for joy when God laid the foundations of the earth. When God lays the foundation of the spiritual creation in a penitent sinner’s heart, the same thing happens: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Lk. 15:7).
God divided the light from the darkness and called the light “Day,” and the darkness “Night.” He does the same thing with people. He separates all of humanity into two categories, which the New Testament calls “children of the light, and of the day” and “children of darkness, and of the night” (1 Thes. 5:5). The apocryphal Book of Enoch also notes this distinction in a reference to God as “the Lord of spirits, who created a division between light and darkness, and separated the spirits of men” (En. 41:6).
It is the sovereign moving of God’s Spirit that leads us to repentance, and it is God who speaks light into our sin-darkened soul. We cannot congratulate ourselves for becoming children of the light and of the day, because we did not spiritually beget ourselves of our own will. “Of His own will He begat us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). The first stage of our spiritual growth, “the first day,” begins when we are born from above, born anew as children of light and of the day.
Day #2: Separation of Waters Above & Below
Baptism and Sanctification
On the second day of creation, God made a firmament to separate the waters below from the waters above. Separation speaks of holiness, of being set apart. Waters speak of baptism, cleansing, and sanctification. This is the second stage of our spiritual journey. It is not enough to just receive the light that was given to us on the first day; we must now “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7). The light was freely given to us: “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:14. This spiritual awakening and reception of light takes place on the first day,” but Paul does not stop there. He immediately tells us to walk in that light in the very next verse: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Eph. 5:15). We are fools if we have the light but do not walk in the light.
To walk in the light means to be obedient to the knowledge we have been given. In the New Testament, the first act of obedience after repentance and faith was normally baptism. Baptism, like the firmament in Genesis, is meant to separate. It separates the new believer from the world system of this age. Just as the firmament served as a great gulf between the waters below and the waters above, so in the spiritual realm there is “a great gulf fixed” between the righteous and the unrighteous. (Lk. 16:26) When the newborn child of light undergoes baptism and begins to walk in holiness, he knows by experience what the Scripture means when it says that God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua” (Eph. 2:6). The new disciple becomes more and more aware of the fact that he is no longer a part of the body of the unrighteous, the “waters below.” He is now a part of the body of the righteous, the “waters above.” He has come to “an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:22f).
Although he still lives in the world, he is no longer of the world. He has been lifted up, like the waters above the firmament, to see his true nature and his true dwelling place in the Messiah. He has begun to put into practice the instructions of Colossians 3:1-3: “If ye then be risen with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth, for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Messiah in God.”
Day #3: Dry Land & Seas; Plant Life
Thirsting for God and Bearing Fruit
On the third day, God gathered the waters under the heaven unto one place and called these waters the Seas. This caused the appearance of the dry land, which God called Earth. It was out of this Earth that God brought forth “grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.”
The seas and the dry land give us a picture of two bodies of people who dwell together on this planet. The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isa. 57:20). The dry land is a picture of the righteous who thirst after God: “My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Ps. 63:1).
These two bodies of people produce two contrasting manifestations. The wicked who are like the troubled sea cast up mire and dirt; the righteous who thirst for God as a dry and thirsty land produce fruit. The details of these two contrasting manifestations can be read in Galatians 5:19-23: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, [etc., etc.]… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”
In the previous stage of spiritual growth, “the second day,” the disciple started to become aware of his true dwelling place in the heavenly realm. Although he has set his affection on things above, his body is still confined to the earth and is vulnerable to the influence of the raging waters of the wicked who surround him. This causes him to thirst for God. As God pours out His spiritual waters upon the thirsty disciple, this produces the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, etc.
The reason the disciple can bear the fruit of the Spirit is because he has the Spirit as the Seed in himself. The fruit tree in Genesis is described as “the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.” God places the apple seed inside the apple, the peach seed inside the peach, etc., to enable each kind of tree to yield fruit after its kind. God places the Spirit of Messiah, “the Seed of the Woman,” inside the disciple’s heart, enabling him to bear the fruit of the Spirit. The New Testament tells us we are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible” (1 Pet. 1:23). John makes reference to this incorruptible indwelling Seed as the power that enables us to overcome temptation: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9). The indwelling Messianic Seed causes the disciple to bear the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.
Day #4: Sun, Moon & Stars
Being a Light to Those in Darkness
On the fourth day, God caused the sun, moon, and stars to shine in the firmament. After a person has been awakened from spiritual death, enlightened and baptized, and has begun walking in holiness and bearing the fruit of the Spirit, he begins to shine as a light to those in darkness. People who are in darkness begin to notice us, because the fruit of the Spirit is so different from the works of the flesh that are manifested in the lives of the unrighteous. Paul encourages us to be faithful “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Yeshua said, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4f). Now He tells us, “Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 5:14, 16). The sun is the source of light in the physical realm; Yeshua is “the Sun of righteousness” in the spiritual realm (Mal. 4:2). At night the moon receives and reflects the light of the unseen sun. Now that Yeshua, the Sun of righteousness, is no longer in the world, night has come to the spiritual realm. The Body of Messiah now functions as the light of the world by receiving and reflecting His light, just as the moon receives and reflects the light of the unseen sun at night. It does not matter that the moon is smaller, dimmer, and colder than the sun. It does not matter that it has no light of its own apart from the sun. Its job is to “rule the night” by receiving and reflecting the light that comes from the unseen sun.
The stars are another picture of disciples who shine and give light to those in darkness. While the moon is a picture of the entire Body of Messiah shining together corporately, the stars are a picture of the innumerable disciples who shine as individual lights: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3). Some stars are much brighter than others, and so it will be with individual disciples. The New Testament says that “one star differeth from another star in glory: so also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:41f). Some stars are exceedingly brilliant, while other stars are very dull and dim. Some disciples are exceedingly brilliant, while other disciples are very dull and dim. That’s okay, though. Even a dull, dim star provides a measure of light in a dark place, and even a dull, dim-witted disciple provides a measure of light in a dark place. Regardless of the measure of light we have, we let it shine. “Let your light so shine before men,” Yeshua said. We don’t need to be so concerned with how brightly we shine compared to others. We simply let our light shine.
Day #5: New Life Emerges from the Waters
Bringing the Lost to Repentance & Newness of Life
On the fifth day, God said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.” The light that we give on the fourth day will eventually result in the impartation of life to others on the fifth day. This is because of the connection between light and life: “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:4). This connection between light and life is also seen in Philippians 2:15f: “…ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life…” Spiritual light begets spiritual life.
The description of “the moving creature that hath life” emerging from the waters gives us a picture of a person coming out of the baptismal waters as “a new creature in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). This new creature has life because “he that hath the Son hath life” (1 Jn. 5:12).
Genesis also mentions the creation of “fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” on the fifth day. Here is another picture of the new believer becoming aware of his true dwelling place in the heavenly realm. The “moving creature that hath life” and the “fowl that fly above the earth” on the fifth day can be viewed as a repetition of our experiences of the first day and the second day respectively. Those who receive spiritual life through us go through the same stages of spiritual growth that we went through. And like us, they are expected to bear the fruit of the Spirit and to reproduce: “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.”
Day #6: Man in the Image of God, Subduing the Earth & Exercising Dominion
Bearing the Image of the Last Adam and Subduing Our Passions & Exercising Dominion
On the sixth day, God created man in His own image and likeness, and told man to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. The goal of our spiritual growth and development is to transform us into the likeness and image of the Last Adam, the Lord Yeshua: “For whom He did foreknow, He did also predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). This is a gradual transformation from glory to glory, and it takes place as we continue to focus on the glory of the Lord: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed [Gk., metamorphe, transformed1] into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening [lifegiving] spirit… The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven… And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:45-49). As we grow and mature in the faith, we bear more and more of the image of Yeshua, the Last Adam, the new man, and less and less of the image of the first Adam, the old man. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).
Even though we have “Christ in us” from the moment we accept Him, the Messianic Seed that is planted in our hearts must grow and develop if there is to be a mature manifestation of Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in vou” (Gal. 4:19). As we grow more and more into His image and likeness, we learn to “subdue” and “have dominion” over things in the spiritual realm. We learn to subdue our lusts and passions; we learn to exercise dominion over demonic powers that harass and tempt people.
A babe or an immature son is easily tempted. Even the photos of scantily-clad women on magazine covers at a supermarket can cause an immature son to stumble. A mature son can subdue his lust and take dominion over the temptation by simply turning his eyes away. He can even do it if he works in a factory or garage where co-workers hang pornography on the walls of the work area. A mature son can walk through the filthiest, sleaziest places imaginable if need be, and Satan cannot touch him, because he has learned to intercept temptation and resist it. He sees the snares Satan has laid for him and he knows how to avoid them. Satan’s plans for him are aborted.
“When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin,” James wrote (James 1:15). Lust must be conceived in the mind, and it is very difficult for lust to find fertile soil in the mind and heart of a mature son, because the mature son has overcome “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16). The mature son may still have some blind spots and some flaws, but he has overcome. He still faces temptations, but the on-going, agonizing battle between his flesh and his spirit is, for all practical intents and purposes, over. The mature son has learned to subdue his passions and exercise dominion. He does this not by sheer human will power, but by drawing strength from the Messiah who indwells him. Because he has learned to draw on the life and power of Christ in him, resisting temptation is no longer the struggle it formerly was. The mature son has learned to enter into that spiritual rest which is pictured by the Sabbath, which brings us to the seventh day.
Day #7: The Sabbath
Ceasing From Our Own Works & Entering Into His Rest
When the Bible says God “rested” on the seventh day, it does not mean He rested because of weariness. The Hebrew word used here, shavat, is the verb form of shabbat (Sabbath), and means cessation – God ceased creating not because He was tired, but because “the heavens and the earth were finished.”
The Sabbath is a picture of the inward rest that Yeshua offers:
“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28f).
Hebrews chapter 4 teaches us that the Sabbath serves as a prophetic picture of this inward “rest unto the soul” that Yeshua’s disciples can enter into:
“There remaineth therefore a rest [Gk. sabbatismos, ‘a Sabbath rest’ (NIV, NASB, et. al.)] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest….” (Heb. 4:9-11).
This spiritual “rest” is not a cessation of spiritual activity. It is a ceasing from “our own works” – i.e., trying to serve God by our own human will power – and learning to let His power do the work in us and through us. We are still involved in activities of a spiritual nature, but it is now the Messiah in us who empowers us to walk in the Spirit and serve God. This is something we grow into as a result of spiritual exercise, which is why we are urged to “labour therefore to enter into that rest.” Yeshua said, “I will give you rest,” but He also said that “ye shall find rest unto your souls.” The rest is freely given, but we will find it only by bearing His yoke and laboring to enter into that rest. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, but He did not say that the yoke and the burden are nonexistent. There is a yoke to bear and a burden to carry if we want to find the rest that He gives.
God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, and He blesses and sanctifies mature sons who labor to enter that place of spiritual rest that the Sabbath points us to. Many Christians want to throw away the keeping of the weekly seventh-day Sabbath because it is a prophetic picture of the inward “rest unto the soul” that Jesus gives. “Jesus is our Sabbath-rest now,” they say. “The Sabbath was just a symbol or type of the spiritual rest we have in Christ. We don’t need the symbol anymore, now that we know the deeper meaning of the Sabbath. We don’t need to keep the Fourth Commandment in a literal way anymore.”
That makes as much sense as saying, “Jesus is our Bridegroom now. The husband-wife relationship was just a symbol or type of Christ and the Church. We don’t need the symbol anymore, now that we know the deeper meaning of the marriage relationship. We don’t need to keep the Seventh Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ in a literal way anymore.”
Ridiculous, of course, but if “the deeper meaning of the Sabbath” gives us the right to throw away the literal keeping of the Fourth Commandment, then “the deeper meaning of the marriage relationship” gives us the right to throw away the literal keeping of the Seventh Commandment. The fact of the matter is that the deeper meaning of marriage gives us all the more reason to obey the Seventh Commandment. Just as the deeper meaning of marriage gives us all the more reason to keep our marriages holy, so the deeper meaning of the Sabbath should give us all the more reason to keep the Sabbath holy. In the Peshitta text (ancient Aramaic version), Hebrews 4:9 says: “It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath.” Why? Because of what the Sabbath represents.
Although the seven days of the week in Genesis provide an outline of seven stages of spiritual growth, the reader should not assume that going through these seven stages is a one-time experience in the life of a disciple. Rather, the progression of the seven stages functions in a repetitive cyclical fashion, similar to the four seasons. We grow and mature in different areas at different times. When the Lord deals with us in each particular area of our lives, He seems to follow this pattern. He starts by the moving of His Spirit, then He enlightens us (day #1), separates us (day #2), makes us fruitful (day #3), makes us shining examples (day #4), uses us to impart life to others (day #5), brings us to maturity in that area (day #6), and then we find rest unto our souls when we finally have victory in that area of our life (day #7).
If any readers are familiar with the writings of St. Augustine, they might be asking themselves, “Did Daniel read The Confessions of St. Augustine, and did he plagiarize this study from Augustine’s work?”
The answer to the first part of that question is yes; the answer to the second part of the question is no. I originally put most of this study together sometime in the mid-1970s, when I had been saved for around two or three years. It came about as a result of my meditation and prayerful study of Genesis chapter 1. It was some years later when I happened to read Augustine’s Confessions. I was pleasantly surprised (yea, sore amazed) to see that Augustine related the seven days in Genesis to stages of spiritual growth and experience in a way that was remarkably similar to the study I had put together. (I must admit that a couple of Augustine’s comments did throw a little more light on a couple minor points in my study.)
“Thou hast formed us for Thyself,
And our hearts are restless
Til they find rest in Thee.”