In the previous lesson, we studied how God created the heavens and the earth and prepared the earth to support living things. This lesson continues to examine the remaining days of the creation week culminating in God’s ultimate creation: mankind. The passage also describes a special distinction between mankind and the rest of the creation as well as the setting aside of the seventh day.
Did You Know...?
- Creatures (1:20): This word in Hebrew has a range of meanings from soul, life, living being, person, to desire, appetite, emotion, and passion. [ref]
- Sea creatures (1:21): This term has been variously translated as “dragon,” “whale,” “sea monster,” or “serpent-like monster.” These great sea creatures might refer to large animals that live in deep of river or ocean, which can only be controlled by great powers (Job 7:12; Ps 74:13, 148:7; Isa 27:1, 51:9 [ESV]; Ezek 29:3, 32:2). [ref]
- Let Us (1:26): The plural here represents a special class in Hebrew syntax called the “plural of self deliberation” (Gen 3:22, 11:7; Isa 6:8;
2 Sam 24:14).
- Man (1:26): The Hebrew word here for “man” is adam. It is the same word used for the proper name “Adam” in 2:19 and subsequent verses. Adam is related to the Hebrew word for ground, adamah, from which humankind was formed. [ref]
- Image and likeness (1:26): In Hebrew, the word “image” means a pattern, model, or example of something (Gen 5:3, 9:6). [ref] The word for likeness may be translated as “similitude,” which means external appearance (Ezek 1:5). [ref]
- Rested (2:2): The Hebrew word for “rest” is Shabath, which is very close to the noun form we are familiar with, “Sabbath.” Therefore, in Genesis 2:2, the English translation would literally be something like, “And [God] sabbath-ed (past-tense) on the seventh day” (“sabbath” here used as a verb). This tells us that the Sabbath day is directly tied to the act of resting.
How many times in Genesis 1 is the phrase “according to its kind” found?Hide Answer
The phrase is recorded nine times (11, 12, 21, 24, 25). The phrase specifically follows God’s creation of each kind of vegetation or living creatures.
What does it mean that God created the vegetation and creatures of the sea and land “according to its kind”?Hide Answer
According to verse 12, 21 and 25, God created the plants and animals according to their kind. In Greek, the word “kind” refers to “descendant” or “offspring,” and the modern scientific term for classification, “genus,” is derived from this Greek word family. Thus, we may understand the phrase “according to its kind” to mean that each kind of plant or creature is distinct from other kinds and it reproduces according to its distinct biological characteristics. For example, dogs reproduce only dogs and apple trees reproduce only apple trees.
The book of Genesis used the phrase “according to its kind” to refer to the biological distinctiveness of a plant or a creature from other kinds. Similarly, the rest of the books in the Scriptures were using the same phrase to refer to the unique characteristics of each kind of plant or creature. For example, the writers of the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy mentioned certain species of birds such as the falcon, the raven or the ostrich after their kind (Lev 11:14-29; Deut 14:13-15). The writers emphasized how the descendants of each of those birds were in the same distinct category as their predecessors. Furthermore, the book of Ezekiel gave an example on how the species of fish around the area of En Gedi to En Eglaim were a similar distinct kind of species as those of the Great Sea (Ezek 47:10).
How is the creation “according to its kind” different from a belief in Darwinian evolution (naturalistic explanation) [ref] ?Hide Answer
A naturalistic explanation views that progression of changes in life-forms demonstrates Darwinian evolution. For example, water-dwelling mammals evolved naturally from land-dwelling mammals. [ref] Nevertheless, Genesis 1 tells us that God created distinct kinds of living creatures from the beginning, including fish, birds, and land animals. [ref]
Look for the occurrences of the phrase “so the evening and the morning” in Genesis 1:1-31.Hide Answer
The passage records six times the phrase “so the evening and the morning” (5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
What might be the reason for emphasizing “the evening and the morning”?Hide Answer
The phrase functions as a marker to show that each stage of creation is done, and God is ready to move on to the next stage of creation.
What is the difference between the seventh day and the first six days?
From the given passages, the great sea creature is comparable to a serpent, dragon, whale, sea monster, or river monster—basically a large, enormous aquatic animal.
What do you feel, knowing that God even created the great sea creatures?Hide Answer
A great sense of awe and admiration towards our Creator.
Share your experience on how God has done great and awesome things in your life and or in another person’s life.
What blessings did God give to the creatures of the sea and heavens?Hide Answer
The blessings to: 1) bear fruit, 2) multiply, 3) and fill the habitat which they live in (22).
To animals or inanimate objects, blessing means causing to prosper and be abundant (as in Gen 27:28). But to persons, blessing can also mean bestowing power for success, prosperity and fertility (Gen 12:2; Ex 23:25; Job 1:10, Ps 65:11; Prov 3:33). In Genesis 2:3, blessing involves the consecration of the seventh day.
How does God bless you abundantly? Recount one of His blessings in your life.
How is God’s creation of mankind different from the rest of His creations?Hide Answer
Unlike God’s other creations, mankind was created according to God’s image and likeness. God also gave mankind the authority to have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (26).
The word “image” as used in
2 Corinthians 3:18 refers to the glory of the Lord, and is therefore to be taken in a spiritual rather than physical sense. Therefore, the image and likeness of God are not to be understood in mere physical terms, since God is Spirit (Jn 4:24). Rather, they represent God’s glory. According to Colossians 3:10, the image of the Creator pertains to the knowledge of God. As Colossians 3:3-10 suggests, having the image of God means living an upright life that conforms to God and reflects the nature of our Creator.
How should the fact that we are created in God’s image and according to His likeness determine the way we view ourselves and direct our thoughts, words, and conduct? See also Eph 4:24-32 and Col 3:5-10.Hide Answer
Because of the standards of physical beauty set by the media, many people suffer from poor self-image and low self-esteem. The tendency to compare ourselves with others in terms of our wealth, education, and looks also often makes us view ourselves negatively. But the Bible teaches us that we are created in the image and likeness of God. We are His children and we share in His glory. We are special in God’s eyes, and that is far more important than how others measure us.
Instead of placing so much value on our physical appearance or material possessions, we ought to pay more attention to the spiritual qualities that reflect God’s glory and nature. As the Bible exhorts us, we are to put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the Creator and created according to God in true righteousness and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24). As bearers of God’s image and likeness, we ought to put off sinful deeds of the flesh, such as fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, lie and filthy language (Col 3:5-9; Eph 4:25-31). Instead, we should be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (Eph 4:32).
We are to respect every fellow human being because God made us all in His image and likeness. This includes not taking the life of another (Gen 9:5, 6), blessing instead of cursing (Jas 3:9), and being merciful to the needy (Prov 14:31, 17:5, 22:2). Honoring other human beings is honoring God our Creator.
Compare and contrast the blessings given to the creatures of the waters and heavens with the ones to mankind (22, 28).Hide Answer
In addition to the blessing “be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth,” mankind is also given the authority to subdue and to have dominion over all creatures of the waters, heavens and earth.
Why such a difference?Hide Answer
Man received greater blessings because he was created in God’s image and likeness (26)—the very distinct nature which other creatures did not have.
What does it mean for us to subdue the earth and have dominion over all the creatures?Hide Answer
The word “subdue” and “dominion” have the sense of exercising control. Subduing the earth means we are given the authority over the earth and to use it according to our own purpose, including gems, gold or other precious minerals that are found inside the earth. Dominating the creatures shows that we are also given the power to control and use them. Nevertheless, the authority to subdue and the power to dominate come with the responsibility to tend and to keep. Just as God commanded the man to tend and keep the garden, we should likewise look after the earth and the creatures and not misuse the authority God has given to us.
What does God’s blessing to mankind in verse 28 teach us about our life’s purpose?Hide Answer
God commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28). Generally speaking, we have a God-given responsibility to reproduce offspring and to care for the earth and all that is in it.
But God’s directive to man also has a deeper meaning, especially for us as spiritual children of God and citizens of His kingdom. We are to bring up godly descendants by passing on the faith and to expand God’s kingdom on earth by spreading the truth of God. We need to also carry out God’s justice and mercy as God’s stewards in the family and in the society so that God’s will prevails in all things. Since we have been created in the image and likeness of God, it is our duty to reflect the spiritual qualities of God’s glory and please the Lord in whatever we do. By doing so, we live up to our identity as God’s children and fulfill our duty as the most noble of God’s creation.
What did God say to mankind about food?
Why did God give instructions to man about the living creatures’ food?Hide Answer
God’s instructions to mankind concerning the food for the creatures of the earth and of the air is related to the God-given blessings to subdue and have dominion over those creatures. Having dominion over those creatures includes the responsibility to care for their survival. His instructions also shows His divine provision for the creatures that He had made as part of His creative acts.
In what ways has mankind taken God’s creation for granted?
What was the condition of the earth at the end of the sixth day of creation?
Why did God set aside the seventh day?
Compare the phrase “seventh day” with that found in Exodus 16:29-30 and 31:12-17. What is so important about this day?Hide Answer
In Genesis 2:2, God rested on the seventh day from all His work. And in Exodus 16:29-30 God emphasized to the Israelites that the seventh day, the Sabbath day, had been given to them. Thus the people could rest on the seventh day—physically rest from the six days of labor and refresh themselves. The seventh day is also a sign—a perpetual covenant that God had sanctified them (Ex 31:13). Since the seventh day is holy to the Lord and also to them, they should not profane the day by doing any work which they usually did during the other six days.
Jesus explained that the seventh day is set aside by God especially for man. We should view the Sabbath day not as a day with burdensome regulations (Mk 2:8), but as a gift and blessing from God because He wants us to rest on that day, physically and spiritually. We toil for six days, and on the seventh day we can have the physical rest from God. Furthermore, spiritually, we can have an intimate communion with God on the seventh day—the day which God already sanctified. Because we honor Him with our heart, mind and conduct and not doing our own ways and pleasures, this day is a day of joy and delight in the Lord (Isa 58:13-14).
Share a few blessings that you have received by keeping the seventh day holy.
What was the condition of the earth before man tilled the ground?
The author of the book of Genesis made a distinction between the plant in Gen 2:5 with the plant in Gen 1:11-12. While Gen 2:5 used the phrase “plant of the field” and “herb of the field” in referring to the plant, Gen 1:11-12 used the phrase “herb that yields seed” and “fruit tree that yields fruit.” Thus, in Gen 2:5, the author explained further that the mentioned plant and herb outside the garden of Eden lacked the ability to actively yield seed or fruit by their own effort.
The author of the book of Genesis mentioned the difference between the plant in Gen 2:5 with the one in Gen 1:11-12. While the book of Genesis 2 served as a summary of the history of the heavens and the earth before man tilled the ground (Gen 2:5), the content of Gen 2 depicted the crucial difference between the condition inside the garden of Eden and the one outside the garden of Eden. The key phrase in Gen 2:5 “man to till the ground” revealed that the summary told by the author referred to the condition after man had sinned and was driven out of the garden of Eden (Gen 3:11, 24). The mentioned key-phrase emphasized how man must toil the cursed-ground for the food all the days of his life outside the garden of Eden (Gen 3:17). Therefore, the plant’s nature in Gen 2:5 was different from the one in Gen 1:11-12. On one hand, the plant and the herb of the field of Gen 2:5 needed to be cultivated by man in order for them to bring forth the produce. On the other hand, the herb that yielded seed and the fruit tree that yielded fruit of Gen 1:11-12 were provided by the Lord and did not require any cultivation from man. Unlike the blessed life of Eden with the fruit tree that yielded fruit, the life of sin had caused man to be driven out of Eden who now must cultivate the herb and the plant of the cursed-ground in order to obtain his food.