Genesis 1:24-2:3

24 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. 25 And 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. 26 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.” 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 And 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.” 29 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; 30 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. 31 And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2 And 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. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.  [NASB ‘77]

On the sixth day God fills the dry land with its inhabitants – animals and man.  On the seventh day He rests.  Because of what happens on them the last two days of the creation week become the most important.  God ends His work by making man – the highest being in the created order –  and then takes His place in the cosmic temple as Lord of all and the object of man’s worship.

24-25 (Day 6 – part 1)
God created the dry land on Day 3.  On Day 6 He creates the inhabitants of the dry land.  He calls forth living creatures (same phraseology as Day 5 – these are different than the plant life created earlier) and cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth.  He creates mammals and reptiles, and animals to be domesticated and animals to be wild.  Anything that lives on the dry land comes forth on this day.

26-28 (Day 6 – part 2)
God now reaches the ultimate achievement of creation.  Everything He has done to this point has been in preparation for this final act.  He has taken the uninhabitable earth and made it perfectly inhabitable.    It has light and atmosphere, time and seasons, land and seas, plant life and animals.  Everything is ready.  It is time to fashion earth’s highest creature.

God speaks and says, “Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness.”  This is difficult to understand.  As New Testament believers it is easy to assume God speaks this way because He references His threefold personhood.  It is Father, Son and Holy Spirit counseling together to make man.  However – as we discussed when understanding verse 2 and its reference to the Spirit of God – it is likely that Moses and his readers would not have understood this to mean the trinity.  That could mean that God refers not to Himself in three Persons but to some kind of heavenly counsel.  Perhaps He talks to the angels who are with Him as He creates.  If so, that means the angels are also in His image and thus can be included in the reference to Our image and Our likeness.  Other references that show a heavenly council are I Kings 22:19-22 and Job 1:6 and 2:1.

While this explanation is plausible – and it accounts for the author’s lack of a trinitarian understanding – it seems like somewhat of a stretch (notice that the narrator says God created man in His own image in verse 27 – not “their” image as might be expected if a heavenly council is in view in verse 26).  As we pointed out in verse 2, even if Moses does not entirely understand the trinity it does not mean he cannot indirectly refer to it (and there is no reason to think that some kind of plurality in the godhead is beyond his comprehension).  We know from Colossians and John that Jesus is the actual agent of creation.  And the Spirit of God hovered over the waters of the uninhabitable earth before the days of creation began.  Thus it seems each Person of the godhead is involved in the creation week and can now discuss creating man in the collective image of themselves.

That God says this about creating man sets man’s creation apart from the other creative acts.  No other thing or creature is preceded by this kind of intra-counsel.  With the sea creatures and the land animals He commanded the earth to bring them forth.  Here He declares that HE will make man and make him in His own image.

Being created in God’s image is what sets man at the pinnacle of creation.  The sea creatures and land animals are alive in the same way man is alive, but they do not bear the image of God.  Only man is in God’s image and thus he sits above every other thing or being.

Moses does not elaborate on what it means that man is in God’s image.  He simply states it as fact and moves on.  However, since it distinguishes man from other creatures it is not difficult to divine some of what it means.  Unlike animals man has the capability for moral judgment, committed relationships, creativity and invention, reason, shared knowledge and learning, self-awareness, worship, and language.

It also means man is God’s representative on earth and is to rule it as such.  God sets man 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.  Man is to subdue the earth and rule over every living thing that moves on the earth.  All of creation is put under the dominion of man.

This carries with it both privilege and responsibility.  Man has the privilege of living in the world and availing himself of all it offers.  The world is for him and exists in all ways for his habitation.  At the same time, however, as God’s representative he is responsible to steward what has been given him.  The earth is his to enjoy and use but not to waste or neglect.  Man is God’s image bearer and thus a steward of creation rather than its Lord.  It is his to dominate and subdue in God’s place, not exploit for his selfish ends.

Man’s place in creation means he is more important than any other part of it.  He is not on par with the animals.  He is not simply another creature; no other creature bears God’s image.  Thus no other life is as important as human life.  No other right is as important as a human right.  A world corrupted by sin equates human life to other life, but the created order sets it above all others.

Genesis 5:1-3 sheds light on what it means to be created in God’s image.  There it says that man – Adam – is created in God’s likeness and then has a son – Seth – in his own likeness, according to his image as well.  If a son is in the likeness and image of his father, then image-bearing carries with it the capacity to become like the one whose image man bears.  Man has the capacity to become godly.  The biblical text, by offering us this explanation, gives us the key that while we are all in the image of God, we likewise have the capacity to become more and more in the image of God; that is, we were created with the potential to mirror divine attributes.  (John H Walton, Genesis; The NIV Application Commentary: 131.)

The image of God in man will become corrupted in the fall but it will not be removed.  Man will continue to bear it even in sin (9:6).  When Jesus – the perfect image-bearer (Col 1:15) – comes, He will restore the image-bearing relationship to its created state in those who are His.  This is what Paul refers to when he says that as believers we have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created us (Col 3:10 – see also Eph 4:24 and Jn 1:12-13).

Another aspect to the image of God in man is sexuality.  God is not sexual but man in His image is.  God very deliberately creates mankind as male and female.  In Chapter 2 the text will expound further on what this means (including marriage and the corresponding nature of the sexes), but it is important to note that God creates man in the trinitarian image of God and makes him male and female.  There seems to be a picture of the threefold nature of God in the two sexes.  Notice also what God does not do here.  He does not create male and female and transgender and gender-neutral and gender-confused.  He creates male and female and both are in His image.  Sexuality is not an accident of nature, not is it simply a biological phenomenon.  Instead it is a gift of God.  While sexual identity and sexual function are foreign to God’s person, they are nevertheless a part of His will for His image bearers.  (Victor P Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17; The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: 138)

God blesses man and tells him to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  Man is to fill the earth with God’s image-bearers.  When he fills the earth with image bearers it will glorify God.  Thus God’s blessing is also a command to fill the earth with His glory.

29-30 (Day 6 – part 3)
God instructs man that all the earth is his and all the plants and fruit trees are his for food.  He also says the animals may have every green plant for food (apparently no fruit?).  This implies that no animal is to be food for man or another animal.  Man and animal alike are to eat only what grows.

God now looks over all that He has created and pronounces it very good.  It is done.  What started as a formless, dark, watery wasteland is now a beautiful creation filled with growth and living creatures and mankind to rule it and care for it.  There is no sin.  There is no corruption.  It is perfectly made by a perfect and omnipotent Being.  It is all VERY GOOD.

Notice that unlike the other five days, Moses ends the evening and morning motif with the sixth day.  The other days were a second day, a third day, etc.  The sixth day, however, is the sixth day.  This is likely another sign of the significance of the day compared to the others.

Something to Think About in Relation to the Creation Being Very Good
Even if the universe contains as many as ten billion trillion planets (1022), we would not expect even one, by natural processes alone, to end up with the surface gravity, surface temperature, atmospheric pressure, crustal iron abundance, tectonics, volcanism, rotation rate, rate of decline in rotation rate, and stable rotation axis tilt necessary for the support of life.  (Hugh Ross, Genesis One A Scientific Perspective, 11.)

2:1-3 (Day 7)
Creation is done (as we mentioned in the study of 1:1, verse 1 of Chapter 2 seems to form an ending to the creation account begun in 1:1 – thus 1:1 is perhaps a summary of what is to follow and 2:1 is a summary of what precedes).  God has created the heavens and the earth and all their hosts.  He now rests from all the work which He had done.  Because He rests on this day He blesses and sanctifies it.  It becomes a special day of the week – different from the others.

That God rests on this day does not mean He is tired from His creative work.  He is omnipotent and so cannot grow tired.  It means rather that He ceases work and takes His place as the Lord of creation.  Creation is not just the dwelling place of man.  It is also God’s cosmic temple where He dwells in fellowship with man.

The repeated comment that God rested does not imply that He was weary from labor.  The effortless ease with which everything is done in Chapter 1 suggests otherwise.  Rather, the motif of God’s resting hints at the purpose of creation.  As reflected in various ancient Near Eastern accounts, divine rest is associated with temple building.  God’s purpose for the earth is that it should become His dwelling place; it is not simply made to house His creatures.  God’s ‘activities’ on this day (He finished, rested, blessed, made it holy) all fit this delightful pattern.  The concept of the earth as a divine sanctuary, which is developed further in 2:4-25, runs throughout the whole Bible, coming to a climax in the future reality that the apostle John sees in his vision of a “new heaven and a new earth” in Rev 21:1-22:5.  (ESV Study Bible, 52)

The seventh day is the only one that does not end with the evening and morning motif.  This leads some to assume that it is ongoing – God remains in His temple as the Lord of earth.  Some of the language in Hebrews 4 could be read in this vein.  It is difficult to know for certain, however, if Moses intends to differentiate the day by leaving it out or if he simply does not include it because it is the last day and there is no reason to note its end in preparation for the next day.

So God has created a perfect universe and put a perfect man and woman on the perfect earth to husband all He has made and fill the earth with His image bearers and His glory.  All is complete and very good.  What can possibly go wrong?…

All things are created by Him and for Him.  He is the Creator and the reason for creation.  The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (Ps 24:1).  The earth is prepared for man, but man is prepared for God.  So while we are the pinnacle of creation we are here to serve the One who was not created.  No other creature is our equal, but we are not equal to the Creator.  We are in His image, created to glorify Him and become like Him.

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