When having read the whole of Ge 1-2, obviously, we still don’t know the whole biblical narrative. As we move through scripture the kingdom of God hope gets gradually put together, further clarified and, as such, progressively revealed to the reader. Along the way some things will be revealed early on while other things will be revealed later. It’s also the case that there will be some things that are revealed in general and some things that are revealed more specifically.
There is a narrative progression that takes place regarding biblical concepts. It’s like any good story; it doesn’t tell you everything at the start. Certain things must come first. Other things must come later. Concepts implicit early on get made more explicit as the story proceeds. Various of these hopes are progressive and cumulative in how they arise. For instance, some aspect is revealed about the kingdom of God and then later that aspect is further revealed.
That God’s whole story gets put into place gradually causes theologians to call this theological process “progressive revelation”. So we have this cumulative thing which theologically we call progressive revelation. This is further proof that God is continually at work, progressively revealing his truth, progressively revealing his self, but God is doing so in God’s own time. None of this will really be fully clear until the fulfillment at the consummation of the present evil age reveals it. And even then it will happen in ways totally unexpected!
A great example of this is that early on in the Bible you don’t have big concepts like the resurrection of the body, the new Exodus, etc. and early on we know nothing about the Exile that will one day happen. That is, if you accepted just the Torah – the first five books of our OT – that would explain why you didn’t accept the resurrection of the dead and the renewal and restoration of all Creation because those topics are not discussed in the Torah. This was the approach, for instance, of the Sadducees. Only later do these concepts appear in the OT literature.
While there are literally dozens of examples of progressive revelation in the Bible, one good example of this is found in the promise of the Abrahamic covenant which came first, and then, only later, we got God’s act of redemption from Egypt in the (old) Exodus as an outworking of the Abrahamic covenant. Then later, the Abrahamic covenant was further augmented by the Mosaic covenant and later still we get a another augmentation of the Abrahamic covenant with the Davidic covenant beginning in 2 Sam 7. It’s there in 2 Sam 7 that we first learn of this everlasting Davidic throne and its promise of a succession of (human) kings from David. So 2 Sam 7 was telling us that from now on there would be many, many kings, one right after the other. Then, later still in time, in Is 9 1-7 the prophet Isaiah told us something new about this everlasting Davidic throne. Isaiah told us that this promise of an everlasting Davidic throne would involve the promise of “one” everlasting Davidic king.
A son shall be given to us; a child will be born to us; a kingdom will be on his shoulders (v 6).
There in Is 9 we had for the first time this promise of ‘one’ everlasting Davidic king. However, there had been no promise of just ‘one’ everlasting Davidic king back in 2 Sam 7 – only the promise of an everlasting Davidic throne and its succession of kings from David. So Isaiah had this idea of a succession from David. This was probably a song composed at the birth of Hezekiah. But Isaiah was saying that this Davidic line was going to culminate in the ‘one’, ultimate Davidic king, the Messiah. Then, just two chapters later in Is 11 1-10 we see another affirmation of and further development of this concept of the ultimate Davidic king.
So by the time we get to the later prophets in this progressive revelation, we have this Messiah figure, this one ultimate Davidic king. Then, still later, texts will further address this Messiah figure. In fact, the Messiah was used very sparingly in the OT up to the time of Isaiah’s prophecies but ever after that it becomes obvious that it was a central, crucial concept within our understanding of the kingdom and reign of God because it was used by the Jewish people all the time thereafter to refer to this human, ultimate Davidic king. [Remember not to confuse this (human) Messiah figure of the OT with the separate OT stream of expectation of the coming of YHWH to Zion – of the (divine) YHWH himself who would come as the ultimate expression of all the hopes and promises of the kingdom and reign of God as found on every page of our OT. True, they do become one in Jesus in the ‘time of fulfillment’ in our NT, but that is not the case while we’re still in our OT in the ‘time of promise’.]
Therefore, we see in this promise and hope of the Davidic covenant many mutations of God’s original promise through the course of the OT leading up to its ultimate expression and fulfillment in the Incarnation, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus.
So that’s how God chose to reveal to humanity what and when he wanted humanity to know. That’s what theologians call progressive revelation or cumulative revelation.