The Creation of Humankind

During the creation week, God created the heavens and the earth and has been filling them both. Moses’s language has been inexact. We have not received the minutia of creation. We simply know that God speaks to create and command His creation. Moses has presented God as the sole creator and has called out the Ancient Near East mythologies of his day as false. Today, we witness the sixth and seventh days of this account.

Genesis 1:24-2:3

24 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים תּוֹצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ נֶ֤פֶשׁ חַיָּה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ בְּהֵמָ֥ה וָרֶ֛מֶשׂ וְחַֽיְתוֹ־אֶ֖רֶץ לְמִינָ֑הּ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

25 וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֩ אֶת־חַיַּ֨ת הָאָ֜רֶץ לְמִינָ֗הּ וְאֶת־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב׃

26 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

27 וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

28 וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֮ אֱלֹהִים֒ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לָהֶ֜ם אֱלֹהִ֗ים פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁ֑הָ וּרְד֞וּ בִּדְגַ֤ת הַיָּם֙ וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּבְכָל־חַיָּ֖ה הָֽרֹמֶ֥שֶׂת עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

29 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים הִנֵּה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב׀ זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעֵ֛ץ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ פְרִי־עֵ֖ץ זֹרֵ֣עַ זָ֑רַע לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָֽה׃

30 וּֽלְכָל־חַיַּ֣ת הָ֠אָרֶץ וּלְכָל־ע֨וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם וּלְכֹ֣ל׀ רוֹמֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה אֶת־כָּל־יֶ֥רֶק עֵ֖שֶׂב לְאָכְלָ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

31 וַיַּ֤רְא אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי׃ פ

2 1 וַיְכֻלּ֛וּ הַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם׃

2 וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃

3 וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃ פ

Animals (1:24-25)

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Moses continues the poetic parallelism that he has already established. On a third day, God separates the waters and dry land emerged. On the sixth day, God fills the land with living creatures. 

Day 1

Light revealed.
Day 4

Stars, sun, and moon revealed.
Day 2

Sky created.
Day 5

Creation of fish and birds.
Day 3

Revelation of dry land and creation of plant-life.
Day 6

Creation of land animals and people.

He fills the land with living creatures by speaking and commanding the earth to bring them forth. Though we do not know the minutia of creation from this account, we know that God brings forth living creatures from the land. Creatures, in some way, come out of the dirt. Like plant life, God creates cattle, creeping things, and the beasts of the earth after their kind. There is no chaos. The universe is ordered. Biology is ordered. God puts biological systems in place so that creatures bear more creatures that look and act like them. The text, here, doesn’t say anything about the possibility or impossibility of genetic variations over time. I don’t think Moses is contemplating the intricacies of the genome, mutant genes, the possibilities of macro or micro evolution, or any such thing. Moses is satirizing the Ancient Near East Mythologies of his day and showing that there is actually no chaos. By observation, by looking at the evidence, you can see that the universe is ordered. Here is more proof. Animals exist and procreate according to their kinds. Lions do not give birth to snakes. The evidence of biological systems speaks against the Ancient Near East notion of chaos and in favor of natural systems, which are put in place because God is sovereign and providential. He does not desire a mystical world about which nothing an be explained. He creates the things and their sources (cf. v. 14-15).

God takes the time to observe the work of His hands. He recognizes it as good.

Humankind (1:26-31)

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Moses separates the creation of humankind from the creation of cattle, creeping things, and beasts. Humankind is set apart. Instead of saying, “Let there be,” or “Let the land produce,” God speaks to Himself, “Let us make man.” I think this change in language is important because it sets humankind apart. God commanded the land to sprout vegetation. He commanded the waters to teem with fish. He commanded the land to bring forth land-dwelling animals. Then, He commands Himself to make humankind. Humankind still emerges from the dirt (cf. 2:7), but God does not speak to the ground telling it to bring forth humankind. Moses wants people to know that People, unlike the animals, are made from God and not merely animals that have come from the dirt according to God’s command. People are made by God in the image of God. While the plants are created to reproduce according to their own kinds and the animals are created to reproduce according to their kinds, humankind is created according to the likeness of God—after His kind, His likeness. In our modern day, we miss this detail in the text because we are too interested in merely defending a genetic reality we perceive. Moses is doing something revolutionary in His day. People are not created like the animals. People are not created like the Ancient Near East legends claim—to be the servants of the gods because the gods somehow need servants and worshippers to bring order to chaos. No. Instead, people are created after God’s kind, in His likeness and image, in order to rule—not because God needs servants and worshippers but because God is sovereign and providential, He places His image in lordship over the earth.

God speaks of Himself in the plural, “Let us…” From the very first verse onward, God is described using the plural, אלהים. Yet, He is described as only one God—not many like are described in the Ancient Near East literature of Moses’s day. Consistently, from Genesis 1:1 onward through the whole Bible, God is one God existing in plurality. One essence, multiple persons. So far in Genesis, the Father (simply called God) and the Spirit have already been expressly revealed. The Word (later known as the Son and Christ; cf. John 1) is implicitly present as God speaks—everything that is made is made through Him and nothing is made apart from Him.

God creates humankind as male and female—a detail missing from the creation of animal life. We know that animals are gendered from birth. People are set apart, which means their sexuality is more important than that of the animals. God creates order, and sexuality is an important part of His biological order—especially for His image-bearers. Why?

He gives humankind a command. Moses, here calls it a blessing. Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. God desires His image reflect Him in creation by subduing the earth, ruling the fish, birds, and every living thing that moves on the earth. Creation is in the care of humankind because God created us to rule as His representative and image upon the earth. There are many implications of the Imago Dei. Mainly, though, to be the image of God means what the text says. We are rulers upon the earth, and the stewardship and management of the earth is our responsibility under God. Fill the earth, subdue it. Have babies, teach them to subdue the earth. There is much that can be said, here, from the importance of family integrated church to discipleship in the home and family worship, but I’ll leave the command as God gave it. Multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.

So, humankind is set above all creation. Natural sexuality is important. God wants us to multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. It has been this way from the beginning. That is why human sexuality and every human life is sacred and are the first ideologies that are attacked when a society commits treason against the Lord God.

Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

God speaks to humankind, revealing that He has given humankind the vegetation of the earth for food. He has also given it to animal life for food. There are some who believe this means that every creature was once vegetarian, but I think to say that we have to read too much into the text. It could have been the case, but not necessarily. God does explicitly reveal that He has given every plant for food, here—which becomes a very important detail when we get to Genesis 9:3—when God officially gives every animal to humankind for food as He prepares the way to introduce the sacrificial system, which foreshadows Christ and is fulfilled in Christ’s own sacrifice. This statement is past-tense, which means from their creation, God has already given plants for food. He is simply making it obvious, here. “I have given…”

God takes another moment to observe the work of His hands. He recognizes all His work as very good. There is evening and morning the sixth day. Here, Moses inserts a definite article where he omitted it for the previous days. Days one through five are indefinite. Day six, though, is definite. This is the sixth day. Why would Moses insert a definite article here after omitting it for the previous days? I think it is because on the sixth day, God created after His own kind. Humanity is the crown of creation, the apple of God’s eye (so to speak). Out of everything He created, humanity is His prized possession. This is why Scripture speaks about our eternal life and not that of animals or plants. According to a biblical worldview, it was not random mutation or natural selection that lead to humanity’s place as the dominant species on the earth. Our placement as rulers was purposeful from the beginning and manifest on the sixth day. The fact that the sixth day is definite leads to the symbolic nature of the number six throughout Hebrew and Apocalyptic literature. The number six is the number of a man. As we are about to see, the number of incompletion, and a number that represents imperfection and sin.

Sabbath (2:1-3)

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Moses writes that the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts, by the seventh day—placing a definite article with the seventh day like he did the sixth day. By the seventh day, everything natural was created and set in full motion. It was completed. If it was completed, God is finished bringing creatures from the dust and commanding water to teem with new sea creatures. That work is completed, and the natural and biological processes God established are now proceeding in an ordered universe. Ancient Near East mythologies are characterized by the constant creative and manipulative work of the gods. This is mystic and not beneficial, and some have sadly imported that sort of belief system into their version of biblical thought. If God’s creatures and systems are very good, there is no need for Him to continue to manipulate those systems and do unexpected things. He created order. His order is perfect. Therefore, the work of establishing that order can be completed. From the beginning, then, God does not work and does not force His creation to work in unexpected ways. He did not create a universe that would fail. His systems are very good. This is why we do not pray for God to manipulate or change His systems. It is why we honor the systems He has put in place by not trying to change ourselves according to the whims of ungodly society. Such is a mocking of God’s perfection, sovereignty, and providence—as if He did not create you the way that you are naturally and place you within the circumstances you find yourself for His very good purpose according to His very good plan from the beginning.

Since God completed His work, He stops working in this way. The universe has a perfect set of causes and effects and sources. God has no need to continue establishing them—which is the whole reason we can practice science today. Yet, when some scientists notice that things have causes and trace them back and back and back, they claim God does not exist because effects have observable causes. Their claim, though, is in agreement with the Bible and material evidence that God is sovereign and providential. God stops working and rests. It’s right there, written by someone who did not have the scientific method in mind. If external observation leads us to the same conclusion revealed in the Bible, what problem is there really? There is no real problem. In their unrighteousness, people simply have a problem with a sovereign and providential God—not only Atheists and materialists, but many people who identify as religious or Christian and replace God’s providence with any manner of human-works or mystical systems because they are not content with stewarding the earth—they want control over eternity, their own salvation, and so on. They don’t want to be rulers, they want to be gods.

God blesses the seventh day and sanctifies it, meaning He sets it apart. It is the day after He completed all His work of creation and establishing the rules His creation would be sustained by. He rested, and set the seventh day apart for rest.

People are created in God’s image, according to His kind. We are like God. We are given work to do by God, ruling the earth. We also step back to observe the work of our hands and recognize it as good. We also get to enjoy the fruits of our labor as God’s good gift. We also order our weeks so that we can complete our work and rest every seventh day. Such will be the instruction God gives to Moses in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). Such is the way God desires we structure our lives for His glory. Men and women of God. Multiply. Fill the earth. Subdue it. Enjoy your work. Do quality work. Complete your work. Rest. The closer we come to God in relationship, the more we care about both having a Biblical work ethic and balancing it to stay away from workaholism. The closer we come to God in relationship, the more we become proper and passionate lovers for our spouses. The more we care about having more children and discipling them. The more we care about seeing the earth cultivated and progressed toward the kingdom vision through our labors. This is what it means to do all things as if we are serving God directly. I’m still growing. I don’t do this perfectly. My spirit is willing, but my body is imperfect and weak. I know I get better every day because I love the Lord and want to do better at everything I endeavor. Genesis 1 means everything for the way we live our lives today. It is still the most relevant chapter in all of Scripture. All the instruction to come, comes because of and in light of Genesis 1.

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