Cattle, Beast, and Creeping Thing – Genesis 1:24-26

giraffe
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Five days have passed. The Earth has been set in motion, primed with the perfect, life-giving conditions. The seas and skies are teeming with large and small creatures, so God focuses on land.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

gorilla
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Three words cover every land animal. Cattle describes livestock and wild animals both. It is used for large animals and is translated in other passages as ‘beast.’ Creeping thing is a different word than the word for moving thing from the fifth day. It can mean sea creatures in other passages, but, here, it is modified by the description “of the earth.” It expresses the idea of animals low to the ground, such as reptiles, rodents, and land insects. Beast is the last category, which means “living thing.” This word is used twice in this verse because it is the same word translated “living creature” at the beginning. It can refer to all animals and is modified by “of the earth.” So, God includes every large and small land animal.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

God makes the land animals and establishes the laws of procreation, just like He established for the water and sky animals: they can only reproduce their kind. The first animals in their pristine form must have had a great amount of genetic diversity that gave them the ability to reproduce so many varieties within their species. Research shows many have died out. I’m glad to know dogs won’t start giving birth to pigs. It would get really tiresome trying to find owners for a litter of pigs when I expected to have pugs.

And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

God is showing me His premeditation, His planning. He is going to create a creature—man—that will be unlike the creatures previously made. The emphasis is on man’s similarity to the Creator. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Man is like God in a way that the sea creatures, winged fowl, and animals of the land are not.

cat1
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

God gives mankind the rule over every other creature He has made, and He gets specific about this by citing the habitats of these creatures—they live in the sea, in the sky, and on the earth. So, man is established as the dominant creation by the Creator’s command, not by his own decision.

This short verse also reveals more information about God. God refers to Himself in the plural. “Let us make…in our image,” He says. He doesn’t explain who “us” is in this verse. Looking back in the previous verses, I can only note that He spoke of Himself in the beginning verses as “the Spirit of God.” So, the Spirit of God is present during creation, and this is the only clue I gather from the chapter about my Creator’s use of “us.” For me, an avid reader, this is the sort of thing I would make a note of. It stands out as a clue that I will want to keep in mind as I continue reading.

God made all the land creatures and established their procreation laws.
He called them good.
God, plural, plans the creation of man and man’s authority over creatures of the planet.

The sixth day isn’t over yet. I’ll read about the creation of man next. Right now, I’m wondering about the dinosaurs. When the animals of the sea and land were made, wouldn’t the largest beasts—those terrible lizards—have been created as well?

Here are two dino-sized descriptions I found from the Bible:

Behemoth – This beast seems to have been a land animal. He could use his tail like the trunk of a cedar tree, he ate grass, and the strength of his frame was compared to bronze and iron.

The sea serpent, Leviathan, is mentioned in 4 places: Job 41, Psalm 74, Psalm 104, and Isaiah 27. God uses sarcasm to discuss the strength of Leviathan. He says (and I’m paraphrasing), “Can you reel in Leviathan with a fishhook? Will he beg you to let him go? Will you take him for a pet?” This sarcasm is made clear when God says later, “Lay your hand on him; Remember the battle; you will not do it again!”

What do you think these animals were?

The feature image is mine. Notice he was smiling for the picture.

 

 

 

 

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Wonders Great and Small – Genesis 1:20-23

A late 1880’s report documented the viewing of “gigantic Calamaries” found beached on the coasts of New Zealand. In January of last year, a Japanese fisherman hauled in a living 13-foot squid. Why are we so in awe of giant sea creatures? What makes that news? Perhaps it’s the notion that there are fearful, powerful creatures sharing this world with us that we don’t see every day.

Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

I’ve been using the King James Version for my flowery quotes, but here it begs the question, “Did the water create the sea creatures?” ‘Bring forth‘ is translated in other versions as ‘teem with’ or ‘swarm with.’ The water is not doing the producing; it is seen as the perfect environment for creating the abundant life God wants, just like the earth ‘brought forth’ grass.

Moving creature‘ covers anything from reptiles to insects to rodents to aquatic life. Fortunately, “let the waters bring forth” tells me these particular creatures all live in water. Some living creatures that make their home in the water, other than fish, are amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, sea mammals, and reptiles—like sea turtles and sea serpents. Knowing there are many, many species of animals that live in the sea, wouldn’t it be efficient to describe them all with one word? That’s what God did. He made all sorts of creatures to live in the water, and He made them on one day. And if I had any doubt, the next verse gives a little more info.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

So, the great sea creatures were made during this time, as well. Interestingly, the word for whales is translated in other Bible passages as ‘dragon,’ ‘sea monster,’ and ‘serpent.’ So, this word covers more than the whales.

bird2
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

What does ‘every winged fowl’ include? The word for fowl can mean any winged creature. Birds are not the only creatures with wings. There are also insects. And what about bats? These all take to the sky, so this would be the day they came into being.

Living in an age when scientists like to categorize and re-categorize creatures based on their traits, I have trouble allowing that all creatures with wings or all creatures that live in the water could be created simultaneously. Perhaps this is because I was taught for years that creatures evolved into new species and developed complex traits spontaneously, like wings, to fit their environments. Since evolutionary theories are constantly being revised, I’ve found it more reliable to accept that the variety of creatures with wings or in the water were made genetically pristine and intact from the beginning, and that God created them with the means to adapt in natural ways consistent with their biological makeup—i.e., they remain subject to the law of reproducing after their own kind.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.20080328m

The word ‘multiply’ is a bit intimidating when I remember that flying insects were part of this command. If you’ve ever been in a swarm of bugs, inhaled, and choked on one, you probably know what I mean.

God made the waters teem with sea creatures, great and small.
God made the winged creatures that fly in the sky.
God called them good.
God established the laws of procreation for His creatures.

And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

I’ve often wondered why God made creatures like bugs. I can know two things about them here: 1) When they were created, God called them good, and 2) God wanted them to multiply on the earth. There was also that time in Egypt when God used the bugs to prove His power over their gods and their much-worshiped pharaoh. He used the smallest, weakest creatures to overcome the pharaoh’s pride and arrogance. Insects are truly a small wonder.

Disclaimer: I do not agree with the conclusions presented in the article, “Fossils revise human evolution theories,” linked above, and it has been discredited by some scientists. See “Human ‘missing link’ fossils may be jumble of species” for more information.

The feature image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Moon of Silver, Sun of Gold – Genesis 1:14-19

Reading the tragedy Medea by Euripides, I noted Medea’s grandfather is Helios, the sun. She begs Helios and the gods to come to her aid and avenge her against her husband’s betrayal. In Greek myth, the powerful rulers and leaders were said to be the children of the sun, the moon, love, fire, dawn, etc. Centuries later, the apostle Paul alludes to this belief when he gives a discourse to the Athenians of the first century at the Areopagus. Paul, taught by the first century Jewish law-interpreter Gamaliel, was skilled in the art of rhetoric, so the Athenians had him speak on the new Christian ‘philosophy.’ During his presentation he quoted one of their philosophers, saying, “…as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘We are also his offspring’” (from Acts 17:28). Paul was pointing to this belief as something he had in common with them, since Christians believe we are all God’s children.

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” Acts 17:29

Paul, speaking in one of the best social networking venues in Athens—a city known for its idol-making industry—gives a logic lesson: It is not sound thinking to create something to worship with one’s own hands because God is far above these physical resources.

How did the Athenians take this lesson? Some believed, and some didn’t. Whether they agreed with the tenets of Christianity or not, they seemed to find Paul’s philosophy interesting. They told Paul they’d have him speak again for them.

If God didn’t make the sun, moon, and stars for us to fashion idols after, what did He make them for?

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years;

Their purpose wasn’t solely for light because light already existed before they were created. God set the sun, moon, and stars to the task of signaling the days and nights. They also denote seasons and help me keep track of years, granting me awareness of time passing.

Time is a creation of a Being who exists outside its rules. God can interrupt it, halt it, step into it, and see all aspects of time at once. So God doesn’t need a way to keep a record of time; He provides this for us.

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

Photo used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

He caused light to stream from vast distances and to reach the earth in a twinkling. There are theories that the creation of the earth in six days was impossible because of the distance of celestial bodies in our universe. Some wonder how light from quasars billions of light years away could possibly travel to our planet if the earth is only as old as 6K to 10K years. Given the limitations of natural law, could the light ever reach us on a young earth? It’s a viable question, but not for a Creator with unlimited power. God is not hemmed in by the law of cause and effect. He created it. So, the light would have been seen on Earth when God created these stars and celestial systems, just as there was light on the Earth before the stars were created. It was supernatural and easily carried out by the One who created time and its markers in the first place.

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

While the sun and moon are the objects used to present this light, they are not said to be the originators of the light. Where that light originates is not even discussed in this verse. Perhaps this is why God chose to create light before He set a fiery sun in the sky, to prompt me to ask the question: “From where does the light originate?” The light came from Him. The sun is now given the task to uphold by natural law what He brought into existence days before.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

Public domain image by Dawn Hudson.

Isn’t it fascinating to think of God setting those beautiful forms in the universe, like someone adorning a gown with diamonds, rubies, and glittering jewels? The Earth is the center of the universe in this sense; it is days older than the stars. The sun, moon, and stars were created for the earth to thrive. The Earth was created for us to thrive. Does this mean humans actually are the center of the universe? (Heh.) God is the center. He’s the beginning and the end, as well.

God placed lights in space to help us keep a record of the passage of time.
These lights began to shine on Earth from the moment of their existence.
The sun was made to signal Day, the moon was made to signal Night, and He made the stars.
God called them all good.

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

In four days He created the world and its universe. The Master Designer set everything in motion in space, a beautifully organized machine. Though I can’t perceive by sight or touch how they remain fixed in their orbits, I can understand cause and effect—the pull of the planets and stars, the effect of the moon on the seas. I am comforted when I see these bodies in space, like the North Star or the constellation Orion. They will go on, marking the times and seasons. God fixed them in the sky to assure us that He will guide us, if we will let Him.

Genesis 8:22:“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Featured image in public domain by Karen Arnold.