The great blessing

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I now give you every seed- bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground- everything that has the breath of life in it- I give every green plant for food generic cymbalta.” It was so.
God saw all that he had made- and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:28-31

Notice a the similarities and difference in the “God said” bit (relating to blessing) between v22:

v22: God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply…
v28: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…

  • The blessing here is similar to v22, where God’s blessing is directly related to fruitfulness and multiplication. In fact, the blessing here is in the context of reproduction – a blessing to reproduce. And this blessing is in the context of “Fill the earth and subdue it!” The ability to reproduce is needed for filling the earth and ruling over time/generations.
  • God has enabled (given the ability to do) what He has commanded man to do (in this instance)
  • The blessing here is different to v22 in that it was addressed to individuals “to them”. This appears in every translation. When God said to the fish and birds, it reads like a proclamation over the species but here it reads like a command to a few individuals – where the individuals have the capacity to understand the command. Man is distinct over all of creation.

The rulership of man:

  • So far, God created every living thing without mentioning it’s relationship to each other with regards to it’s purpose. Here God purposes created things in relation to one another and begins at the top: man’s purpose is to rule.
  • Although the word “subdue” has a negative connotation of conquered or put in bondage against one’s will. It is used here not to show an opposing or strained relationship but one of dominion. This is clear from the context.
  • When it comes to the rulership of man, God makes no mistake to include everything that man has authority over:
    • The “it” that comes after subdue is obviously the earth – every rock, creek, mountain, land, water, mineral/harvestable resource , etc
    • The three classes of created beings are also placed under man – every fish, bird and land creature. The animals were purposed to be subject to man. Man could harness animals for their benefit. 

The food of man and the rest of created beings:

  • The addition of the word הִנֵה (hinneh), which is often translated as “Behold”, is meant to bring to attention what God is doing in the present time. There could be several reasons why this was pointed out:
    • Because it was a gift: Notice how this part reads like a gift and not a command. God gives mankind the vegetation for food.
    • Because it establishes order in a hierarchy: Notice that there is now a hierarchical in authority – mankind, animals, vegetation with man on top and plants below. God makes clear where vegetation sits in the mix of creation and it’s purpose. This is an extension of man’s rulership.
    • Because it is a divine diet: vegetation is purposed as food for anything that had the “breath of life”. This is the diet that God commanded for all living creatures at this point: man & animals on top, vegetation below. A divine food chain. This is later changed in Genesis 9:3.

A note on the type of vegetation: only “seed bearing” plant and trees with seed in it’s fruit is for food for man and any green plant for food for anything that has life. Does that mean we can’t eat plants that propagate without seed and/or are not green? I’m thinking purple lettuce, seaweed, bamboo, etc (please excuse my ignorance if I’m wrong about some of these plants)

I don’t think this passage was prescriptive that way. The effect one gets from reading the passage is that God has given all creatures (“everything that has the breath of life”) all vegetation (“every green plant”) for food. That is the heart of the message. If we depart from this thought process, then God didn’t create the other planets, birds that swim (i.e. penguins), birds without wings (i.e. Moa) or land creatures that swim (i.e. platypus, seals and otters) because they weren’t specifically mentioned.

Another thing to note is the use of “breath of life”. God has included all animals into those with the breath of life! Here we make a distinction between creatures with an eternal spirit (God’s breath, Genesis 2:7) and creatures who simply are alive and have breath. The word breath in Genesis 2:7 is different from the word breath here.

I love how the passage ends with “And it was so.” This gives the effect that God’s blessing and commandment effected the minute it was said. The blessing on man to multiply, the rulership and hierarchy of man, the food chain of the whole world, all set in place in a split-second!

Lastly, God considered “all that he had made” and proclaimed (using the word hinneh again) “it was very good”. When it says God considered all, it truly means all. All meaning everything. Imagine what it means to perceive, understand, analyse, approve, discern the whole universe (and meta-universe) all at once. Every large thing thing like the sun, to every minute detail like nano thingamajigs. It takes mankind years of collective observation, analysing and discerning before we can understand a little something of creation yet God does so without effort. Truly, only God can. Mind blown.

The proclamation “very good” is not to be missed here. Very good is God’s ultimate stamp of approval. If there some something God was pleased with, it was all of creation. And this was the sixth day.

Day Three

God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: plants yielding seeds according to their kinds,and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” It was so. The land produced vegetation – plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
Genesis 1:11-13

Continuing on from His work in creating land, God now creates vegetation for the land. There are a few things to note here:

  • Vegetation was produced in abundance. There is a Hebrew word play here that gives us this idea, Genesis 1:11 reads “Let the earth sprout vegetation” (ESV). The word “sprout” (dasha – דשא) is the verb form of the word “vegetation” (deshe’ – דשא) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognate_object).
  • Vegetation didn’t evolve from one kind to have different species and kinds. Vegetation was created in abundance of variety. The emphesis on “according to their kinds” tells us that there were multiple kinds. Perhaps evolution could have happened from this point, who knows?
  • There was order, not chaos. God created a system of reproduction – plants yielding seeds that become plants. He also distinguished and defined different “kinds” of plants. We clearly see a defined variety of forms and beings of plants, each kind distinguishable from another and a system of reproduction.
  • Vegetation came out all over the earth. Although the text seems to read land as if it were only dry land (as opposed to the seabed), the word “land” here refers to the whole earth. It is the same word used in Genesis 1:1. That pretty much explains all the seaweeds and water plants as well.
  • Creation happened exactly as God desired and spoke. God spoke plants, plants came out. He spoke that they yielded seeds, and they did. He spoke that it was according to their kinds and it was so. Creation exists exactly according to God’s desires. Once again, stressing on God’s sovereignty.

In day three, we see something interesting about God (again). His creative powers are not limited to one a day, nor are they limited to one thing at a time. Our God is a limitless God. And at the end of the day, God again pronounced that creation was good. This is the second time in the day that He has pronounced His creation good. Good is the is an indication of the positive quality of what God created. Plants weren’t just plants, they were beneficial and fertile plants (Genesis 2:9).

Stone’s Praise

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Luke 19:40

Jesus said this to the Pharisees who were trying to silence the crowd giving praise to Jesus. Now even if the whole Israel was silenced from praise, why would the stones cry out to God and sing praises to Him? Simple, because they were created for that purpose (Psalm 19:1, 96:11-13, 145:10, 148:3-4,7-10; Numbers 14:21). All of creation reveals God’s glory and praise. The beautiful scenery and landscape we admire, the flowers that perfume our gardens, the delicious meat that is on our plate, the majestic whales that sing in the ocean, the constant sunset and sunrise that brings us into a new day all speaks of God’s wonder! Even the rocks, void of breath and voice, would shout praises to Him given the slightest chance to!

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Psalm 24:1

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
Colossians 1:16

Our self-centered hearts would like to think that the rest of creation was made for our enjoyment or betterment, but the truth is that we are no more than stewards or managers of creation (Genesis 1:28, 2:15); The whole of creation was made by God and for God. He gave us the right to manage it, but God still maintains ownership over creation. God owns all of the real estate in the universe (and sub-universes and parallel-universes, depending on what you believe), including all the assets of that real estate. He deemed that all of it is to bring Him praise. He then put us, His prized creation, in charge of His assets and real estate to care for it. Not that He doesn’t care for it Himself, but He gave us the right to use His assets and real estate to our benefit with the responsibility of caring for it. The rights come with a responsibility, but the purpose remains the same – praise.

We need to get it out of our head that the world is ours. It isn’t. The world is not our oyster. The resources of this world is not for us to abuse. It is our duty to enable praise to happen. It is our duty to care for the things that praise God – including ourselves and each other. It is our duty to love the environment we live in and care for it. Since our God is in the job of reconciling everything to Himself. Our job then is to enable this reconciliation to happen, to bring all of this broken creation (Isaiah 51:6) into the fulfillment of it’s primary purpose – praise. Yes, it is an uphill battle because the earth just wasn’t meant to last (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1), but until the time when God calls for a new heaven and new earth, this is all we have. We have our work set out for us, let us love on creation – the animals, the plants, the rocks, all that is in it.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:19-20