For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.
— Exodus 20:11a
Six Days is the third teaching in The Beginning subsection of the Essentials series. In Creation in Christ I examined how God created the light of life in Christ and foundational aspects of physics on day one of Creation. In this teaching we look at the rest of the Creation week which culminates in the creation of man.
As He did on all six days of Creation, God continued on Day 2 by speaking into existence what He wanted to create. The writer of Hebrews confirmed this: "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" (11:3). Water was an essential component of God creating the earth through His word. The apostle Peter noted that "the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God" (2 Peter 3:5). We see the framework for this starting in the second verse of the Bible which says: "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). Then, on Day 2 of Creation, God created the atmospheric heaven (or sky) by separating "the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse." (Genesis 1:6b). In The Genesis Record, Dr. Henry M. Morris described what God did here as follows:
On the first day the earth was still of dominantly watery aspect. Other materials were in solution or suspension, presumably with the water mainly in the liquid state. Some of these waters were to be separated from the greater mass of waters, however, and placed high above the rotating globe, with a great space separating them from the waters below. The lower waters would provide the water base for living flesh and for earth processes, the upper waters would provide a sort of protective canopy ("a tent to dwell in") for earth's inhabitants, and the space between would provide an atmospheric reservoir to maintain the breath of life.
Dr. Morris goes on to describe how this transparent "vapor canopy" would have created a "global greenhouse" with uniform humidity and temperatures. It seems that what God did on Day 2 was instrumental for creating a perfect living environment on the earth.
Interestingly, Day 2 of Creation was the only day that God did not see was good. Of the other 5 days of His creative works, the Bible tells us that "God saw that it was good." What was it about Day 2 that caused God to not specify that He saw that is was good? To take a stab at this, let us go back to what Peter wrote about Creation:
For the [scoffers] deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (2 Peter 3:5-6)
Peter told us that "by means of these," that is the "earth ... formed out of water and through water," God flooded the ancient world because of its great wickedness. My conjectural answer to this question is that God knew what this atmospheric water canopy would ultimately have to be used for. Thus, He did not see that this was good.
On Day 3 of Creation God gathered the waters below the atmospheric heaven together into one place and caused the dry land to appear. He called the dry land "Earth," and the waters, "Seas." Then God did the following:
And God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. (Genesis 1:11-13)
The text implies that God created three classifications: vegetation (grasses), plants, and trees which is what we observe today. The Old Testament usage of the Hebrew words deshe', translated here in English as "vegetation," and `eseb, translated here in English as "plants," also points to all edible herbs being included in the "plants" category.
God designed the plants and trees after specific "kinds". Kinds are groups of similar species that scientists generally equate to the "family" or "order" category today in the taxonomy: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.1 The plants were created to yield seeds according to their own kinds whereas the trees were created to bear fruit containing seeds according to their own kinds. The seeds contain the information necessary to reproduce their kinds. God's design allows for a great deal of variety within kinds, but not for the evolution of new kinds. For example, there are a variety of apple trees within the apple tree kind, but new "kinds" of fruit trees are not evolving.
Jesus used the seed in His parable of the sower to symbolize the word of God. Both have the creative information of the Designer put in them to produce after their kind. In the same way that an apple seed can lead to many apples under the right conditions (nutrients, water, heat, light) the word of God received into the soul of a man can cause him to bear the fruit of the Spirit after His kind—the person of God, Jesus Christ. Just as there is variety within kinds—there are many different types of apples—there is variety within the life of Jesus Christ as He empowers His church, as the apostle Paul revealed:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
What I am driving at here is this: it is important to recognize that the Spirit-filled life functions similar to trees in the natural environment because they both come from the same Designer. Picturing many different types of apples all within the same tree kind, gives us insight into the design of the real church with many different types of Spirit-filled believers operating in many different ways but all producing fruit through the life of Jesus Christ. For further reading, I covered this concept of the same Designer of the natural and the spiritual in The Template For The Church and The Empowerment of the Holy Spirit—Part 2: All the Fine Details.
If we take a step back at this point of the Creation week, we can observe how God's strategy for Creation—ultimately focused on man—unfolded as He laid critical foundations step by step. He created the light of life in Christ, established the fundamentals of Physics, prepared an ideal global greenhouse, and then filled the earth with food. He was progressively establishing the ideal environment for man to live with Him. Next, on Day 4, it was time to turn the lights on.
Here is the Day 4 account:
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
On Day 1 God created the singular "light," separated light from darkness, and called the light Day and the darkness Night. Dr. Morris called this first light, "intrinsic light." On Day 4 He set the plural "lights"—the sun, moon, and stars—in the expanse of the heavens to produce the natural light necessary "to give light on the earth," "separate the day from the night," and "to separate the light from the darkness."
God said that the lights were positioned in the expanse of the heavens to facilitate signs, seasons, and time (days and years). The sun positioned in the center of the universe determining seasons and time is like the Son of God as the central figure of human history around which everything revolves. These natural lights were put in the heavens to assist with revealing God's purposes. Consider what Jesus said concerning His return:
"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:25-27)
Moreover, the sun giving definition to seasons and time is like Jesus Christ defining our lives by His template. Just as the sun is the center of the universe, Christ is before each of us. We can have fellowship with Him if we walk in His light. If we reject the truth, we remain in darkness. In the light we find that God has different seasons for us to experience with Him.
On Day 5, having just turned the lights on the Earth which was now ready for life, God created all the "living creatures" that either swim or fly:
And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:20-21)
In simple terms, God created the fish and the birds on Day 5.
The Hebrew word nephesh, translated here in English as "creatures," appears for the first time in the Bible here. Nephesh means "soul" or "life." It is also used in Day 6 for the land animals (1:24) and for man (2:7). God essentially defined this further when He later explained:
"And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life [nephesh], I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. (Genesis 1:30)
Through all these verses we can understand that God classified the birds, fish, and land animals, and also man, as "living" because each type has a soul (mind, will, emotions) that is activated by the breath of life. These living creatures also "move" by flying, swimming, or creeping or walking upon the ground. The activity of physical movement reveals that each has a soul. This being said, as we continue through Creation we discover that unlike the birds, fish, and land animals, man has more than just a soul.
Plants are not alive from a Biblical standpoint. This is confirmed by the fact that they do not think, move, have desires, or emotions. Many can be cut in half, pruned, and so on and they just keep on growing! Furthermore, God designed plants to be food for the living creatures.
The Bible also tells us the following concerning Day 5:
And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." (Genesis 1:22)
This is the first time the Hebrew word barak, translated here in English as "blessed," appears in the Bible. The word means "to cause to prosper." The essence of God's blessing was to "be fruitful and multiply." This says something about God's design, that it is engineered with an inherent inertia for expansion and multiplication. There is a subtle lesson here for life: seek God for all major decisions because the outcome will gradually effect the lives of more and more people. Listen to His voice to ensure that you are on the path of His blessing and expansion. If you find any area of your life that is not expanding under the design of God, cut off the branch before the rotten fruits harm someone else.
On Day 6, God first created the animals. The Bible gives us this account:
And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25)
There are three classifications of animals here: "livestock," "creeping things," and "beasts of the earth." Livestock refers to domestic animals such as the camel kind, cow kind, goat kind, horse kind, and sheep kind. Creeping things are amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates which include insects. Beasts of the earth includes animals like the bear kind, cat kind (lions and tigers), dog kind (wolves), and elephant kind. I assume that all dinosaur kinds that did not fly or swim were also included in this category.
God made the underwater creatures, winged birds, and animals to only be able reproduce within their own kind. For example, dogs mate with other dogs, but not with cats. A lion can mate with a tiger ("liger") because both are within the cat kind. The animal world that Genesis describes God made with its specific categories (e.g., livestock, beasts, etc.) and kinds is exactly what we can observe today.
In the Image of God
Now it was time for God to make man:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)
There is a reason why God mentioned His triunity here ("let us make ... in our image") in respect to Him creating man in His own image. But first, let us cover some important background.
On Day 1 of Creation, God said, "Let there be light," and He created the light of life in Jesus Christ, "who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4). Believers have fellowship with God in the light of the life of Jesus Christ through their spiritual union with the Holy Spirit. Jesus once told the Jews, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12b). Paul referred to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as the "firstborn of all creation" which is another way of saying that the Son of God has preeminence over creation because all things were created through him. The writer of Hebrews specified that the Son of God "is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (1:3a). The relationship of the 2nd person of the triunity, Jesus Christ, as the "Son" of the 1st person of the triunity, God the Father, is helpful for understanding that Jesus Christ is God as a man. In other words, in the light of the life of Jesus Christ we can know God the Father—whom no one has ever seen (John 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1John 4:12)—as a person because the Son is "the exact imprint of his nature" or the physical representation ("image") of Him. This is why Paul described the Son as "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).
The Hebrew words translated here in English as "image" and "likeness" are tselem and demuwth, respectively. Tselem means to shadow forth (a representative figure) and demuwth means a model, pattern, resemblance, or similitude. When God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," He was saying let us make man so that he is a representation of our model or pattern. God went on to specify that this applies to both male and female. Before drawing some conclusions from this, it is helpful to also consider the following description from the second chapter of Genesis of how God created man:
... then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (2:7)
Given this background, we can see that God chose to emphasize the fact that He created man as a three-part being, not the same as, but yet still resembling His triunity in one sense. Man has a body made from natural elements ("of dust from the ground"), a spirit ("breath of life"), and a soul ("became a living creature"). The Apostle Paul once wrote:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:23; emphasis mine)
God is spirit and Jesus is God personified. Similarly, man has a spirit—the spirit of a man is his real self—and is personified in his body and soul.
The phrase "of dust from the ground" for the creation of man's body seems fanciful on the surface, however, in light of modern science we can see that this is actually an accurate way of describing how God created Adam's body from the chemical elements. Morris explained:
God used the "dust of the ground" to make man's body, a remarkable phrase conveying the thought that the smallest particles of which the earth was composed (in modern terminology, the basic chemical elements: nitrogen, oxygen, calcium, etc.) were also to be the basic physical elements of the human body. "The first man is of the earth, earthy" (1 Corinthians 15:47). This fact is not at all obvious to superficial examination (rocks seem to all appearances to be composed of totally different substances than human flesh), but is has nevertheless been verified by modern science.
Adam's spirit came directly from God and this made him the son of God (Luke 3:38). His spirit was in union with the Holy Spirit prior to sin. The description of the creation of Adam is helpful for understanding that a man's soul is activated by his spirit. A man's soul is illuminated by the nature of his spirit. Adam's soul was originally illuminated or filled by the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. Thus, when God created Adam & Eve in the image of God this means that He created the son and daughter of God to "shadow forth" the likeness of the Son of God. In other words, God originally created both male and female with a wholly pure spirit in union with His Spirit so that they would resemble the second person of His triunity. The Holy Spirit referenced God's triunity in these scriptures so that this dynamic could be understood.
The Genesis text makes it clear that animals do not have spirits, only bodies and souls. The souls of men are influenced by their spirits, but the souls of animals are influenced by their natural surroundings. The animals were made to live in a pure world without corruption under the dominion of men whose souls are filled with the Holy Spirit. All this is helpful for understanding why God then said concerning man: "And let them have dominion ... (1:26)," and "fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over (1:28)." God was ready to influence this dominion through the Holy Spirit and His relationship with man. This can be seen in the expanded description of Creation in Genesis chapter 2 where God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. Adam and Eve started out with wholly pure human spirits, united with God's spirit, giving them unrestricted fellowship with Him. God's loving desire for a pure relationship with man shines through in these words: "God ... brought them [animals] to the man to see what he would call them" (Genesis 2:19). This insight reveals excitement in the heart of God for His fatherly relationship with man. It also reveals that God desired to give man free will. A loving relationship worth having requires free will.
Jesus taught: "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). God is spirit and the things of God are spiritually discerned. Possessing a spirit gives man the means to discern the truth and determine right from wrong. It makes him a moral creature. Elihu told Job and his three friends: "it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand" (Job 32:8).
The fall of man to sin corrupted the human spirit. The Bible tells us, "When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth" (Genesis 5:3). The Holy Spirit included the phrase, "in his own likeness, after his image," here to teach us that there was a contrast between how Adam & Eve were created versus their children born after the corruption of sin. Their children were and continue to be born with human spirits that have a corrupted sinful nature. Unlike his father who was originally born with a human spirit purified by and in union with the Holy Spirit after the image of God, Seth was born with a corrupted human spirit like that of his father Adam.
The image of God is an important concept for disciples of Jesus Christ to understand. Paul wrote the following two important points concerning this:
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus Christ]. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
These verses reveal that the Holy Spirit transforms disciples of Jesus Christ into his image. That is, through our spiritual union with Him, the Spirit works in our souls to make us more like the person of God. This is an ongoing work, "from one degree of glory to another," that will be completed at the resurrection. When Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom, we will enter it with glorified bodies. We will be fully restored to God's original creative intent.
Don't Forget The Food
Finally, after creating Adam, God explained that man and all the living creatures on the earth and in the air were to eat plants (beans, herbs, vegetables, etc.) and tree fruits (fruits, nuts, etc.) for food:
And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30)
This statement by God is in-part in there to show us what His original creative intention was before sin corrupted the world. The fact that man was living for hundreds of years after sin, suggest that these original foods were exceptionally nutritious compared to the vegetarian options we have today.
One interesting omission here is the fish. Given that death and suffering did not exist before the fall, we must assume that all fish and other living sea creatures also lived on vegetation.
When pondering God's created world before the fall, do not fall into the trap of trying to envision it inside the parameters of our current world. The earth has undergone tumultuous changes since its early days. Rather, take the text as it is to gain insights about God and His ideal world.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the focus of the first few chapters of Genesis is God and man's relationship with Him. This is the primary reason why God ensured that the book was given to us. It lays the groundwork for us to understand God and our relationship with Him. In particular, I devoted extra discussion to being created in the image of God as it is an important concept for disciples of Jesus Christ today to understand.