God said, “Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.
Genesis 1:20-23 (NET)
It is the fifth day of creation: Now that the world was ready for living creatures, He made them.
The first thing that stands out to me in this passage is: God said, God created, God saw and God blessed. If there is any objection about the centrality of God over creation, let it be squashed here. God is the cause for creation; it all begins with God – the uncaused cause.
- Again we see the use of cognate objects here to signify abundance (the same word play used with the vegetation in day three). “creatures” is the object and “swarm” is the verb. And again, “birds” is the object and “fly” is the verb. God didn’t make just one bird or one fish, He made a whole bunch!
- This bunch wasn’t just all of the same kind, it tells us that sea creatures were “according to their kinds” and birds “according to its kind”. God was obviously interested in variety.
- Now here is one strange mention of giant sea creatures. This is the first time in creation where a specific type of animal is mentioned. So what is so special about this giant sea creatures? A short search shows that this term is used on snakes (Exodus 7:9), crocodiles (Ezekiel 29:3), monster (or strong animal; Jeremiah 51:34) and a leviathan/dragon that symbolises God’s enemies (or mythological sea creature; Isaiah 27:1).
- We need to contend with why the great sea creature had special mention. It could be that God was emphasising His creative power over both great and small, perhaps because of how people of that time thought of great sea creatures. Maybe it could have been a symbolism that God’s enemies (the serpent in Exodus and dragon in Isaiah) were created by God Himself. This squashes the notion of an eternal struggle between forces of good (represented by God) and evil (represented by the serpent/devil), and leaves us with only one ultimate sovereign in the universe – God.
- Either way, God observed and consider it all good. Everything was created according to His plan and nothing was outside of it. Thus, there was a positive quality about what was created.
- Here it didn’t say that God created the ability for sea creatures and birds to multiply, but we know that His speech is enough. So His Words enabled them to reproduce – like for like (just like vegetation).
- Notice that God giving them the capacity to reproduce was considered a blessing. It was something that improved and enriched them in fruitfulness. This blessing has lasting effects and continues after the first act of creation and even after the fall. This was important to the Israelites as farmers and herders. The theme that God’s blessing is the cause of production and fruitfulness runs right through the bible.
Day five touches on God’s sovereignty over all creation, over the perceived bad (great sea creatures) and over reproduction. It tells us that reproduction and fruitfulness is God’s blessing and it is part of His lasting blessing over creation.