One of the books in the "Let's Study God's Word Together" series with: Frank L. Hoffman
We suggest that the student read the following verses several times, and as usual in this study, compare them with other translations.
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.
Let's stop here for a moment and consider the above verses.
This is the day of the creation of the land animals and man.
Here again, in verse 24, we see the use of the phrase "living creatures" or "living soul", "neh-fesh hah-yaw". This further emphasizes the importance of all of God's creatures, and that Man is but one of them. All of us, humans and non-humans, have a soul and a spirit.
Remember also that God did not call forth the earth to create or make the animals, as we discussed before. It is God who made [aw-sawh] the animals as we can see from verse 25. God made [aw-sawh] the animals from what he had previously created [baw-raw].
In verse 25, God again emphasizes that each type of creature is created after its kind. God seems to imply that He wants things to remain as He created them, for He says of His creation when He saw it, "that it was good." And since we are talking about God's created animals, we likewise need to consider the goodness, the love, the compassion that God feels towards these beings, and feel as He does.
Let's continue with our study verses, as they relate to Man.
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.
In verse 26, we see the major distinction between all of God's created animals and that of Man. Man has been created in the image and likeness of God. Whole books have been written on this one point, and this over emphasis on the importance of our image has caused some problems in the church, and in the world. And when we couple this with the command to subdue the earth, in verse 28, we can do much damage, and this was not God's intent as we shall see. God intended it for good, as He said.
Observe the following comments concerning our being created in the image of God.
It has been said by many people through the ages, that unlike other creatures, the human creature is rational, a "thinking animal''.[l] But it is common knowledge today that other creatures do think, and reason. And mostly because of Greek thought, we find in all of the Christian writings up to the time of Thomas Aquinas, that the image of God is conceived of as man's power of reason.
And again for the same reason stated above, we know that other creatures, other created beings, do reason. Furthermore, we should know this because we can observe it in other animals, particularly in our companion animals.
What is unique about the way God created humans, is that they alone have been given the ability to combine all of their qualities of reason, and then through speech, writing, and the manufacture of things, to communicate what they have learned to the next generation, through other than personal contact. But, with the help of humans, some primates have also been taught to communicate their thoughts.
Perhaps our problem of understanding God's true creative intent, is that our ego gets in the way.
The Hebrew word used for image, tsehl-lehm, means a shadow, or a phantom, an illusion. It in no way means a physical form. Thus, God did not intend us to look like His image physically, but spiritually, for God is Spirit.
Now if we couple the word "image" with the word "likeness", which is the Hebrew word, d'moot, and also has the meanings of resemblance or model, we get the further understanding of our being able to better understand God, for we have been modeled after Him, spiritually. Again, not physically.
Before we leave our discussion on the word, "image", it is important for us to understand that we are no longer in the image of God. Since the Fall, we have taken on a sinful nature, something that does not exist with God.
Note specifically what we are told about our present condition, and our restored condition afforded by God's gift of His Son, as recorded in Romans 8:1-4.
1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
3. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4. in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Did you note what it says in verse 3? Jesus was sent in the likeness, or image, of sinful flesh. This is not the condition that God originally created. Nor do I believe that there were two creations: one of the perfect humans, and another of the humans with a sinful nature. There was one creation, which unfortunately became contaminated with disobedience, which in turn led to sinfulness and evil.
And remember that without the saving power of Jesus Christ, there is no restoration. Note what we are told in Romans 8:29-30.
29. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
30. and whom He predestined, those He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified; and whom He justified, those He also glorified.
If we are currently in the image of God, then there would be no need for our transformation back into the image of Jesus Christ, but since we are not currently in His image, we need that transformation. And one day, those who believe in Jesus Christ, and have been conformed into His image once again, will also be glorified. This, however, does not limit God's grace from reaching out to others who truly seek Him, but who have not come to know His Son.
Furthermore, it is important for us to understand that this does not mean that we are to just sit back and wait for this full transformation to occur by the grace of God. We, as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God (Matthew 5:9) are to do everything in our power to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48), and to continually pray and work for His heavenly will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
If we are truly filled with the Spirit of God, we should also be the children of God who are being called forth to help free creation from it's present corruption, suffering, and death, as Paul tells is in Romans 8:18-23:
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Now, with this understanding, let's return to our Genesis 1:24-31 discussion.
And note the following comments concerning the the word, "subdue", from verse 28.
First, let's look at the command word for our responsibility as a created being of God, who was created in His image. We are to have dominion...
God also has repeatedly said that everything He created was good. And if we are created to have the same reference in our minds, then everything God created should be "good" to us as well.
And, we should not want to harm what is good. Thus, the intent of the meaning of dominion, in proper context, could only mean "by responsible and loving rule", not by brute force.
Now, on the other hand, the word, subdue, can mean by force, and even by violent force; but when we put it into context with other Scripture, it means against evil. Note what we are told in Numbers 32:22, but to also understand this passage in context, we will look at verses 20-22.
20. So Moses said to them, "If you will do this, if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for the war,
21. and all of you armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven His enemies out before Him,
22. and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you shall return and be free of obligation toward the Lord and toward Israel, and this land shall be yours for a possession before the Lord.
Note that in this passage the land is being subdued from the enemies of the Lord, and not for the sake of conquest. That which is evil is being subdued, that those who trust in the Lord may have peace, and enjoy the good life with Him. Note also that it is not the Israelites who are doing the actual liberation of the land, it is God Himself (verse 21). The Israelites were to uphold God's righteousness.
Now, note the reason from Leviticus 18:27, why the Lord wished to destroy the Canaanites.
27. (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has been defiled);
Everywhere else the word subdue is used in the Bible, the word means to war against, or speaks of not participating in sins against the Lord. It does not mean to dominate for personal gain or pleasure, which includes the whole of creation (humans, other animals, and the environment in which we all live).
It is also interesting to note Rashi's comment concerning Genesis 1:28, which most modern women will probable not appreciate.
He insists that because of the word structure, that the Lord is not really saying "subdue it", but "subdue her", meaning Eve, that she would not go astray.
There is some merit to Rashi's interpretation, when we consider that it was Eve that first succumb to the enticements of the serpent, but it was Adam that took the ultimate blame. Perhaps it is because he didn't properly protect her, or was not a strong enough person, spiritually, to prevent what took place from taking place. And if this meaning is correct, then it gives us even a better understanding of our responsibility to care for the rest of creation, and not just use and abuse it to satisfy our personal desires.
While Rashi may be correct to a point, I believe he has left out an even greater responsibility given to us by God. Genesis 1:28 goes on to say, "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." This would imply that our rule of protection is to extend to the non-human beings, too. Thus if we look forward to Genesis 3, we see that the serpent was obviously corrupted before Eve. Adam's, and perhaps Eve's ultimate failure, too, was their failure to subdue the evil present in the serpent, and perhaps even earlier, against the spiritual force of disobedience who acted upon the serpent. Instead of standing against this disobedience, they succumb to it.
Note the pronoun "Us" used in verse 26. This is considered by many as being further proof, or strong evidence, of the Trinity. Others state that this is just God showing His humbleness by including the angels in His statement. The angels don't create. Only God creates. But since the Trinity is a fact, it does not really matter to which "Us" this statement refers.
See Genesis 11:7 for similar usage.
7. "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
In a precious chapter, we had a brief discussion of the presence of the Trinity in the creation process. Following are several verses that show the presence of the Trinity in the Hebrew, or Old Testament.
7. "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord;
He said to Me, 'Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee."'
7. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee
With the oil of joy above Thy fellows.
1. The Lord says to my Lord;
"Sit at My right hand,
Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet."
And Isaiah 48:16:
16. "Come near to Me, listen to this;
From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there.
And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit."
There is another very important condition of the uncorrupted creation that bears our consideration, and that is the vegetarian limitation on food for both humans and animals. Note verses 29-30.
It was not until after the flood that God permitted the eating of meat, and even then it seems to be a concession, rather than God's desire.
"Dominion", and "subdue", therefore, could not mean to abuse or kill. The word of God very clearly shows what humans and animals are permitted for food; and that is that which comes from all the green plants.
And to show that this is really God's intent, the prophet Isaiah proclaims what the future, restored, kingdom of God will be like, in Isaiah 11: 6-9.
6. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7. Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
If the knowledge of the Lord is what leads us to the understanding that we are not to hurt or destroy anyone or anything, then our society is not presently living in the knowledge of the Lord, no matter what they profess in their churches. Thus, all we are doing is trying to justify our sinful condition, or our ignorance of the knowledge of the Lord.
The same picture of the future return to the perfect state of creation is expressed in Revelation 21:4:
4. and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain, the first things have passed away.
And did not Jesus Himself teach us to pray for this very thing in The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:10)?
10. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
If we say The Lord's Prayer, and truly mean what we are praying for, then we should be doing our best to accomplish it by bringing a little more heaven to earth each day, by eliminating as much pain and suffering as we can for all of God's living souls.
And if there is still any question that God intended this for both humans and non-humans, we should look at Genesis 1:30 in the Hebrew, for the last part of the verse reads, "and to every creeper on the earth which in it is a living soul, of every green herb is for food; and it was so." The intent was that animals were not to eat each other but only plants. So, if this was true in the beginning and it is to come to pass again in the future, shouldn't we do our best to help it happen now? I believe we should! I believe we must!
We must never cease to open our hearts and minds to all that God has for us, and as He originally intended it to be received and understood, and cared for.
And when God looked upon all that He had created He saw that it was very good (verse 31). Thus, if we truly love God, we should uphold that goodness.
All of creation seems to have been made for our enjoyment, that we would see God's glory in every other living soul and in everything, and praise Him, and seek His presence continually, that we would rest in Him as He rested following His creation work, as we shall see as we look at the seventh day.
1. Hall, Douglas John, Imaging God: Dominion as Stewardship, (Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1986), 92.
2. Imaging God, 92-93.
3. Isaiah, Abraham Ben, and Sharfman, Benjamin, The Pentateuch and Rashi's Commentary (Brooklyn, S. S. & R. Publishing Company, Inc., 1949), Genesis I :28n.