Genesis 1:20-31 NIV
20And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Before we get started, I want to take the time to say that my goal is not for this material to spark a discussion around the theories of evolution versus the ideologies of creation within the Bible. First, because I don’t know enough about evolution to be honest, and second because I don’t believe the two should be pitted against each other from the beginning. After all, science is man’s perspective, and the Bible is God’s perspective. And from what I gather, God can see a lot more than we can.
With that in mind, I believe that the Bible should have authority, and we should allow scientific discoveries to inform us of the incredible creations formed by God.
Now, back to the scripture.
The first thing I notice in this passage is the full run-down of and umbrella-covering of all the animals and plants that exist - within twelve verses. He made everything, including every. Single. Thing. We. Eat.
If you look at each section separately, it might not sound crazy detailed – like, you might be wondering, does it actually cover all the things? And I think it does. It seems to be left perfectly ambiguous – leaving room to cover the vast expanse of creation by outlining types of animals (land, water, air) and not specific animals.
Nonetheless, there is a little bit of wiggle room in verbiage used for each of the animals and plants listed between versions of the Bible:
“Living creatures” are also called living things, living souls, living beings
“Sea monsters” are also called sea beasts, sea animals, great creatures, great dragons, living reptiles, and huge whales
“Winged birds” or “birds” are also called winged fowls or fowls
“Birds of the heavens” are also called birds of the air, fowls of the heavens, fowls in the air, and flying creatures of heaven
“Livestock” are also called cattle, domestic animals, beasts, quadrupeds (animal with four feet), or tame animals
“Creatures” are also called creeping things, things moving on the earth, crawling things, crawling animals, creatures that crawl, serpents (amphibians, reptiles, insects, etc)
“Wild animals” are also called beasts of the earth, wildlife, wild beasts, animals of the eretz (Hebrew for the land), animals of the earth (wooly mammoth, tiger, etc)
“Fish in the sea” are also called fish
“Seed-bearing plants” are also called herbs yielding seeds, plants producing seeds, seed-bearing plants, grains, plants with seeds, and grass bearing seed
“Tree that has fruit with seed” is also called tree with seed-bearing fruit, tree which has fruit producing seed, trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it, tree with seed-bearing fruit, and fruit
“Food” is also called meat
“Green plants for food” are also called green herbs for meat, green grasses for food, grass and leafy plants, green grasses, and whatever grows out of the ground
So that covers a ton of ground – all the ground.
Now if you go back through the section again, you can see on several occasions that God mentions he made all creatures “according to their kind”, indicating that animals stayed in their lane for reproduction, and there was no evolution of animals. If you think about this today, we try so hard to force evolution or creation ourselves – we cross-breed dogs, or genetically modify plants. Every time we do this, we end up with things like malformations, or crops like genetically modified wheat that may give rise to things like gluten intolerances.
After this, God gives all living things of the sea and the air the command to be fruitful and multiply. This is likely part of the reason why we have so many species!
Then he gets to an important part – about the creation of humans. Because humans are the last thing created, this is the climax of God’s creation. He saved the best for last! First, God mentions the word “us”, when he talks about who created humans. This indicates that not only was God a part of the creation of humans, but so was the rest of the trinity – the Holy Spirit and the Son. The trinity didn’t give an assist for any other animal on the scene – only humans.
What’s even more, is that humans – and no other animal were the only ones “created”. With animals, God spoke, and they appeared. With humans, God created them from dust. Some versions of text talk about this creation using words that have the same meaning as a clay potter “forming” something with his hands. Yet, even though humans were formed, they weren’t “alive” per se, until God breathed life into them.
What’s even more is that God made mankind in his image – meaning humans were supposed to be like him, not necessarily look like him. As a result, humans received kingship and dominion over all things that were not made in God’s image – like the animals. We were like God’s little proxies on Earth – and because we were made in God’s image, we were called to steward or take care of everything that God made. Never harm, exploit, waste, etc.
After creating humans, God gave them the same benediction as the other animals – to be fruitful and multiply.
What is so interesting to me is that as soon as God was done making humans, he created food for us. Not a job, not a boyfriend, not a house. Food – indicating to me that food is immensely important. I mean, only two verses after creating humans, he was like here. Here’s some food. Eat. But the food was…plants, really?
Before we get into this, though – I want to remind everyone that God’s original intention, prior to sin entering the world, was to create a perfect little paradise. Living things – humans and animals – would last…forever in this paradise. There would be no disease, death, etc. And to add more fuel to God’s little vegetarian fire, Biblically, there really is no evidence of death before sin entered the world. No animals died, and neither did humans. So when we think about food in early Genesis, if there is no death of living things, that means that steak was definitely not on the menu. However, plants could be eaten for food because plants were not “alive” in the Biblical sense – meaning that God did not breath his life into them. For these reasons, humans were perfectly sustained by plants and things growing from the ground. All the nutrients they needed were in there.
Before my carnivorous friends out there have a heart attack, I want to reiterate that this was the case before sin entered the world. When sin happened, er-thang got flipped upside down, and so did God’s script. But we will talk about that in later discussions. So don’t worry – your 24 ounce steak binge is perfectly righteous.
To take an interesting aside, if you think about it, what would the world look like if humans and animals didn’t eat plants? The earth might overgrown with all kinds of greenery. God created everything to be cycled through. There is a constant feeding of the ecosystem – when things are consumed, they go back into the earth. And repeat, repeat, repeat.
So as a recap, God created everything – not because he needed it, he was perfectly content. But so that we may eventually subdue and eat it. He gave us vegetation to eat first because there was not originally supposed to be death on this beautiful earth. We will talk later about the introduction of meat on the scene, so get ready for that!
And in practical application, it might be worth looking into what vegetation you’re actually eating. God gave these humans stuff grown directly from the earth – so it was organic because all they had to do was pick it straight from the crop. It was also seasonal because there’s no evidence at the time that they had the ability, foresight, or knowledge to industrialize growing plants out of season. And it was regionally – specific. Meaning every place isn’t able to support the same crops. As we will see later, this region supported a whole lot of apples, figs, wheat, etc. But not all areas are the same.
So – are you doing what you can to:
Eat more vegetation
Eat more organic
Eat more seasonally
Eat more locally
If not, let's try to make some changes!