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 Six

God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” It was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the cattle according to their kinds, and all the creatures that creep along the ground according to their kinds. God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:24-25

What was interesting in this passage was that the structure of this passage is similar but slightly different:

  • God spoke and creation came to be exactly as He spoke
  • The land produced the animals as they did the vegetation (Genesis 1:11)
  • Each classification of animal came to being “according to their kinds”, implying a multitude of variety (Genesis 1:11, 21). We seldom dwell on the magnitude of the multitude of creation. In one sentence, God conceived and created every creature on the land – earthworms to mammoths and the millions of species in between!
  • But God didn’t bless the cattle (domestic animals), creeping things (reptiles) and wild animals (animals of the field/undomestic) to multiply as He had done previously (Genesis 1:22)
  • God observed and pronounced on them “good”

I suspect that multiplication might be somewhat implied from previous verses. At least that is the feeling one gets when reading it. The flow is so similar that it is almost assumed when reading through it casually.

Now we get to the truly interesting part of day six.

Then God said,” Let us make a humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.”

God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26-27

So many juicy bits in this passage, so little time! Lets go.

  • God speaks of himself in plural form. This verse almost stands in direct opposition to the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4). But taken together, this forms the basis of our triune God (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity).
  • Mankind was made in God’s image. This is repeated in a slightly different but mostly identical way (“Image” and “likeness” are almost the same word, for emphasis perhaps?). It is not stated in this passage what the form of this image is – physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, moral (Ecclesiastes 7:29) or a combination.
  • However, we know that the reason for being made in God’s image is that they may rule – over the rest of creation. This image grants us the unique authority and ability in all creation to rule. In this authority, it is obvious that God is not relinquishing His sovereign authority to us (Ephesians 1:22).

The passage breaks out into a little bit of poetry.

God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them,
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

This bit of poetry is not just an inspired expression of the writer. It is truth. The word “created” is used three times here, giving us 3 great truths:

  • God is the creator, mankind is creation. This truth should never be turned on it’s head. We should never assume the position of creator. 
  • God’s image is the template for mankind. Again, this truth should never be turned around. We should never conjure up gods or assume God in our image.
  • God created both male and female. Mankind wasn’t created gender-less (androgynous). This gender distinction is vitally important and God created and ordained.

Just a word on the last point. There are a number of implications that the distinction between “male and female” is where it is:

  • It is important. Important enough to be mentioned right at the beginning.
  • It is defining. Man has so far been defined as not the creator (1), having God’s image (2), having the responsibility to rule over creation (3) and now as male or female (4).
  • Both bear God’s image. This verse gives light to the rest of the passage because the word for mankind is “adam” and the name of the first man is Adam. This verse provides clarity to the fact that both man and women bear God’s image.

Perhaps it could also mean that both male and female exist in our God, even though God at this point is genderless. The bible uses expressions that depict God as both a man (Isaiah 54:5; 61:10; 62:5) and a woman (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13). Note however that the depiction of God as a woman is often descriptive (“I am like…”) or used as an expression of feelings or actions (“I will cry like a woman in labour”), whereas the depiction of Him as a man is direct (“I am…”). Again, this reinforces the fact that gender types are distinct. Manhood and womanhood are different. This has implication when we deal with sexual and gender issues (or preferences as they now call it).

There is more! But so little time. I’ll be back.

As I think more about the creation story, two things dawn on me:

  1. Mankind is unique in that we bear God’s image. No other of His creation is given such an honour. Not the light or darkness, not the sun, land or sea, nor any plant, fish, bird, land creature or anything else is created to have His image.
  2. I was reading this feed http://wtfevolution.tumblr.com and came across this snippet:

    From an evolutionary standpoint, reproducing is the single most important thing you can do in your time on this planet. In fact, it’s the only thing that really matters at all.

    It crossed my mind that reproduction is the most important function for anything. The ability to reproduce, each “according  to their kind” enables the continued existence of God’s creation. God gave creation the ability to persist in existing.

Mind. Blown.

Now and then

Now

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Romans 5:17 (See also Revelation 5:10)

Then

If we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
2 Timothy 2:12 (See also Revelation 3:21)