May 28, 2013
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe

PART: I GENERAL HISTORY FROM ADAM TO ABRAHAM—Gen. 1:1-11:9.

Topic #A: An Account of Creation. Gen. 1:1-2:7.

 

Lesson I.A.7: Creation of Land Animals and Man.


Gen. 1:24-28. (KJV)

24 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.

25 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.
26 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.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

 

Commentary

24 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.

And God said,
Verses 24 and 25 form the first part of the sixth day's work. The oceans, lakes and rivers exist, and have been stocked with fish; the air has likewise been created and stocked with birds, and the ground is green with new grass. The first part of this day will see the creation of the “beasts of the earth, cattle, and creeping things.”

The method used to create remains the same—“And God said.” But later we will be given the details of how man was created, and it will clearly be seen to be a different method. Man is a special creation, and he has a position, relationship, and a hope that no other creature has.

Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind,

This branch of the animal world is divided into three parts: “cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth.” “Living breathing thing” is the general heading under which all these can be listed.

“Living creature” is a general term to express all creatures endued with animal life, in any of its infinitely varied kinds, from the half-reasoning elephant down to the stupid worm. All wild animals, such as lions and tigers are included, as well as domesticated animals, such as cattle and sheep. Some are carnivorous, or live on flesh, and others live on grass and other vegetables, and are capable of being tamed, and some of these, such as horses and dogs, are used for domestic purposes.

Here, as before, the Lord gave the word, he said, “Let the earth bring forth,” which does not mean that the earth had any kind of creative facility by which it could produce these animals, and God has certainly not turned over his creating power to the earth.  The gist of what He said is this: "Let these creatures now come into being upon the earth in their respective kinds, and let them conform to the ideas of them as they exist in the divine counsels concerning their creation."

The recurring mention of "after their kind" rules out the notion that various species upon the earth developed into other species. It is still true that if one desires to raise a watermelon, he must plant the seed from a watermelon; he can plant all the corn seeds he wants to, but they will never grow into a watermelon. The conformity of each species to this God-ordained law is constant.

The earth's creatures, including man, are present in countless numbers, and they are all here as a result of the creative and active will of the eternal God Himself. This account does not allow any thought of so-called "spontaneous" or "naturally developed" life. God alone is revealed here as the Source of life, as well as the Source of all material things.

cattle,
“Cattle” represent the tame animals that reside with man; those that carry burdens, and those which are used by man for food and clothing—horses, asses, camels, oxen, sheep.

Some of the Hebrews distinguish between “cattle” and “beasts of the earth,” saying that “the cattle feed on grass, but the beasts of the earth eat flesh.” But the Lord, a little while afterwards, designates grass for the common food of both; and it may be observed, that in several parts of Scripture these two words are used indiscriminately. It is Possible that Moses, after he had named the cattle added the other, for the sake of providing a fuller explanation.

and creeping thing,
“Creeping things” evidently denote the smaller animals, as opposed to the cattle which are distinguished as the large kind. The characteristic of creeping is, however, applied sometimes to convey the motion of the lower animals, where the posture of the body is level to the ground, whereas man has an erect posture—“Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth” (Psalms 104:20; KJV). Creeping thing includes all the different kinds of serpents, worms, ants and such animals which have no feet or go on their bellies, and all the types of reptiles, from the very tiniest to the giant Komodo dragon.

and beast of the earth after his kind:
The “beast of the earth” signifies the wild predatory animal that lives away from man. This division includes animals that prey on other animals.

God has also shown his wondrous skill and power in the creation of beasts; the huge elephant, or the more gigantic mammoth or mastodon, the whole race of which appears to be extinct. He seems to have produced this animal merely to show what he could do, and after allowing a few of them to reproduce, he extinguished the race to keep them from destroying both man and beast. The mammoth appears to have been a carnivorous animal, which is revealed from the structure of its teeth. Scientists have computed that the mammoth must have been nearly twenty-five feet high, and sixty feet in length! Few elephants have ever been found to exceed eleven feet in height. How wondrous are the works of God! But His skill and power which are displayed in smaller creatures is no less wondrous; consider the swift cheetah, the graceful antelope, and the shrew mouse, perhaps the smallest of the many-toed quadrupeds. In the reptile class we also see the same skill and power, not only in the immense snake called boa constrictor, the mortal foe and conqueror of the Bengal tiger, but also in the cobra, a venomous snake that kills many people in India, every year.

and it was so.
“And it was so”: All the creature that existed in the mind of God were immediately produced.

25 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.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind,
Everything in the animal world and vegetable world was designed by God to belong to a distinct species, and each was given the trait of producing its own kind through endless generations. In this way the many varieties of animals and plants have been kept distinct from the foundation of the world to the present day. This is a sufficient proof that all future generations of plants and animals have been included in the substance of those which God formed in the beginning. “And God made” confirms that the earth did not generate the animals by itself, as a result of some kind of inherent creative power; their formation is attributed here to the awesome power of God. The Holy Spirit would have us understand that the Creator, who is the absolute Master of nature, gave both to the earth and to animals all their fruitfulness and vigor: all life exists because of the effectiveness of God's omnipotence.

He also made them all after their kind, not only in a variety of shapes, but with a variety of natures, behaviors, appetites, and appearance. Some were made to be tame and live in or nearby the house, others to be wild and live in the fields—some living upon grass and herbs, others upon flesh—some harmless, and others dangerous—some bold, and others fearful—some for man's service, and not his food, such as the horse—others for his food, and not his service, such as the sheep—others for both, such as the ox--and some for neither, such as the wild beasts; lions, tigers, etc. All of this came through the manifold wisdom of the Creator.

When we look at the infinite variety of the animal kingdom (both living and extinct), we must be impressed with God’s creative power, as well as His sense of humor. Any Being who makes the giraffe, the platypus, and the peacock is a God of joy and humor. To a peahen, the most attractive peacocks are the ones with the biggest fans, but the big fan on the tail makes it difficult to escape a predator. Therefore, the peahen rewards the peacock with the least chance of survival. This is a great problem for the idea of “survival of the fittest.”
“According to its kind” is an important phrase; therefore, it is repeated to emphasize that God allows tremendous variation within a kind, but one “kind” will NEVER become another “kind.”

and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind:
“Cattle” is a term that represents all tame creatures, and “everything that creepeth” takes in all the reptiles of the earth: this clearly shows and proves that these creatures were not produced by the mere force of nature, or that the earth possessed these powers; but, instead, the declaration of Scripture is that they were created by the omnipotent hand of God.

and God saw that it was good.
“God saw” that every creature he had made would in some way or other be for his glory, and for the benefit of man. Here we have the same seal of Divine approval, as we had after the third days work—“And God saw that it was good.” The creation of the higher animals has been completed and the earth has been prepared for the arrival of man; to which, no doubt, the Creator's commendation of his finished work had a special meaning. Everything was in readiness for the work of art which was to bring to a close his creative labor and crown his completed universe.

26 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.


And God said,
Here we have the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, and I think we need to pay special attention to what God has done, since it presents us with the opportunity to know more about ourselves. Man was the last of all the creatures that God made, and the reason may have been so that no one would suggest that he had, in any way, helped God create the world: That idea was put to bed forever when God asked Job this question—“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4; NKJV). That question must have been both humbling and embarrassing for him. But, in spite of that, it has become clear that it was both an honour and a favor for him to be made last: an honour, because that which was made, advanced from the less complex to that which was complicated, and like its maker. And it was a favor for him, because it was not fitting for him to live in the palace designed for him until it was completely finished and ready for him to move in. As soon as man was made he had all creation for his kingdom. Man was made the same day that the beasts were; his body was made of the same earth as theirs and, while he is in the body, he inhabits the earth with them; but he is over them and better than them, because he was made in the image and likeness of his Creator.

The importance assigned in the Biblical record to the creation of man is indicated by the manner in which it is introduced—“And God said, Let us make man.” Here the word used for God is the term Elohim, which suggests the fullness of the Divine personality, and foreshadows the doctrine of the Trinity (first introduced in Genesis 1:1). The term “us” has led to other interpretations by some notable Bible scholars. One opinion is that God counsels with the angels (Philo, Aben Ezra, Delitzsch); another says his council is with the earth (Maimonides, M. Gerumlius), although I cannot see how anyone could hold that opinion; and then there is the idea that He consulted with himself (Kalisch). But all of these opinions must be set aside in favor of that which is supported by the testimony of scripture; that man was created by a sublime consortium, which were the persons of the Godhead (Calvin, Macdonald, Murphy). The thing which this consortium contemplated was the construction of a new creature to be named Adam.

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:
Here we evidently enter upon a higher scale of being. This is indicated by the counsel or common resolve to create, which is now for the first time introduced into the narrative. When the Creator says, “Let us make man,” He calls attention to the work by making it of paramount importance and something undertaken with deliberate purpose. Moreover, in the former commands of creation his words were related to the thing itself that was summoned into being; such as, “Let there be light;” or to some preexistent thing that was physically connected with the new creation; such as, “Let the land bring forth grass.” But now the language of the ultimatum of creation rises to the Creator himself: “Let us make man.” This implies that the new being with its higher nature is related not so much with any part of creation as it is with the Eternal Uncreated Himself.

The plural form of the sentence raises the question, “Who did He take council with on this occasion?” Was it with Him, and does He simply use the plural to express majesty? That was not the usual style of monarchs in the ancient East. Pharaoh says, “I have dreamed a dream” (Genesis 41:15). Nebuchadnezzar, “I have dreamed” (Daniel 2:3). Darius the Mede, “I make a decree” (Daniel 6:26). Cyrus, “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth” (Ezra 1:2.) Darius, “I make a decree” (Ezra 5:8). We have no ground, therefore, for assigning it to the style of the heavenly King. Was it with certain other intelligent beings in existence before man that he took counsel? This supposition cannot be accepted; because the expression “let us make” is an invitation to create, which is an exclusive attribute of the Eternal God, and because the phrases, “our image,” and “our likeness” when transferred into the third person, become “his image” and “the image of God,” and thus limit the pronouns to God himself. Does the plurality, then, point to a plurality of attributes in the divine nature? This cannot be, because a plurality of qualities exists in everything, without leading to the application of the plural number to the individual, and because such a plurality does not warrant the expression, “let us make.” Only a plurality of persons can justify the phrase. Hence, we are forced to conclude that the plural pronoun indicates a plurality of persons in the Divine Being.

“Man” is a new species, essentially different from all other kinds on earth, since he is made “In our image, after our likeness.” He is to be related to heaven as no other creature on earth is. He is related to the Eternal Being himself. This relationship, however, is not in substance, but in design; not in essence, but in resemblance. This rules out all agnostic notions of the origin of man. “Image” is a word taken from rational things, and indicates likeness in outward form, while the material may be different. “Likeness” is a more general term, indicating resemblance in any quality, external or internal. Here it is descriptive of image, and seems to show that this term is to be taken in a figurative sense, to indicate not a material but a spiritual conformity to God. The Eternal Being is essentially self-manifesting. The appearance he presents to an eye suited to contemplate him is his image. The amalgamation of attributes which constitute His spiritual nature is his character or likeness.

We understand from this chapter that God is a spirit (see Genesis 1:2), that he thinks, speaks, wills, and acts (see Genesis 1:3-4, etc.). Here, then, are the great points of conformity of man to God, specifically, reason, speech, will, and power. By reason we understand real things by insight and awareness, and comprehend abstract truth, both philosophical and moral. By speech we make known to others the various objects of our contemplative faculties. By will we choose, determine, and resolve what is to be done. By power we act, either by giving expression to our concepts in words, or in deeds. In reason is found the distinction between good and evil (see Genesis 1:4 and Genesis 1:31).

It is evident that God intends to impress upon the mind a sense of something extraordinary in the formation of man’s body and soul, when He introduces the account of his creation with “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The little word “us,” and the slightly larger word “our,” is so very important to mankind, because it conveys the thought that all three members of the Godhead participated in man’s creation. John 1:1, which affirms that the Word was God, and in the beginning with God, and that without Him there was nothing made that hath been made, supports the thought that both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (revealed in Genesis 1:2 as active in the creation) should be understood as included in "us" and "our" as presented here. Thus, it appears from the very beginning that God is represented as a compound unity.

It is the kinship of humanity to God Himself that makes man unique and extraordinary, a concept that is launched here and is never diminished. The feature of man that makes him unique and extraordinary is that in all of creation, he stands alone as the potential beneficiary of the blood of Christ and an heir of everlasting life.
 
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.

The relationship of man to the creature is expressed as that of sovereignty. Those faculties of right thinking, right motivation, and right acting, or of knowledge, holiness, and righteousness, in which man resembles God, qualify him for dominion, and make him lord of all creatures that are deficient in intellectual and moral capability. That's why; wherever man goes he makes his influence felt. He studies the objects around him, notes their qualities and associations, envisions and decides upon the purpose and outcome to be achieved, and endeavors to make everything within his reach work together to accomplish the purpose and outcome he envisioned. This is dominion and control on a limited scale. The sphere of his dominion is “the fish of the sea, the fowl of the skies, the cattle, the whole land, and everything that creepeth on the land.” The order in which they are listed here is from the lowest to the highest. The fish, and the fowl, are beneath the domestic cattle. Fish, foul, and cattle are of less importance than the land, which man tills and makes fruitful in order to satisfy his appetite or indulge his taste. The last and greatest victory of all is over the wild animals, which are included under the class of creeping things. Man is dominant over all creation, in spite of being weaker than many of the lesser creatures, practically defenseless until reaching adulthood, prone to sickness, and having few natural defenses. But there is nothing within the knowledge of man which he does not aspire to make subservient to his purposes. He has made the sea his highway, the stars his guide on the pathless ocean, the earth the treasury from which he extracts his precious and useful metals and much of his fuel, the rivers his source of power. These are proofs of the ever-growing influence of man. In this sense, it is sin if man does not use this dominion responsibly, in the sense of a proper regard for stewardship on this earth

God created man capable of governing the world, and we see God‘s tender care and parental concern for the comfort and well-being of this masterpiece of his workmanship, in creating the world before the creation of man. He prepared everything for his survival, convenience, and pleasure, before he brought him into being; you might say that He built the house, furnished it, and stocked it with food, by the time the predestined tenant was ready to occupy it. Consequently man was rich before he was born. But if God had such care for us before we existed, he will by no means leave us destitute of food and of other necessaries of life, now that we are placed in the world.

 It should be noted, that the plural number is used—"let them"—which shows that the name "man" is universal in the preceding clause, and includes male and female.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

So God created man in his own image,
That man was created “in the image of God” is repeated in the next clause, but it is not a vain or useless repetition, because it is a remarkable instance of the Divine goodness which can never be proclaimed too often. God created man according to His plan as described in Genesis 1:26. The concept of man being created “in the image of God” is repeated to give emphasis to the idea. We are clearly told God created man fully formed, and created him in one day, not gradually over millions of years of progressive evolution. The idea that a slow, progressive evolution could produce a complex mechanism like the human body just doesn’t hold up. It is said there would be at least 40 different stages of evolution required to form an eye. What possible benefit could there be for the first 39 stages? The mathematician D.S. Ulam argues it was highly improbable for the eye to evolve by the accumulation of small mutations, because the number of mutations must be so large and the time available was not nearly long enough for them to appear. Evolutionist Ernst Mayr commented: “Somehow or other by adjusting these figures we will come out all right. We are comforted by the fact that evolution has occurred.” Johnson observes: “Darwinism to them was not a theory open to refutation but a fact to be accounted for.” (Johnson)

Darwin wrote: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Professor Richard Goldschmidt, a geneticist at the University of California at Berkley, listed a series of complex structures (from the hair of mammals to hemoglobin) he thought could not have been produced by thousands of years of small mutations. “The Darwinists met this fantastic suggestion with savage ridicule. As Goldschmidt put it, ‘This time I was not only crazy but almost a criminal.’ . . . To suppose that such a random event could reconstruct even a single complex organ like a liver or kidney is about as reasonable as to suppose that an improved watch can be designed by throwing an old one against the wall.” (Johnson)

Man was made in God's image and after his likeness. Man was not made in the likeness of any creature that went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator, nevertheless, between God and man there is an infinite distance. Only Christ is the express image of God's person, the Son being the image of his Father, in that they have the same nature. It is only a little of God's honor that is put upon man, who is God's image, like a shadow is an image of the one who casts it. God's image upon man consists in these three things:
1. In his nature and spirit, not those of his body (since God does not have a body), but those of his soul. It is the soul, the great soul, of man, that does particularly bear God's image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent immortal spirit, an influencing active spirit, and in this it resembles God, the Father of Spirits. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The soul of man, when seen in its three faculties, understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest and clearest looking-glass in nature, in which to see God.
2. In his place and authority: Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion. Since he has authority over the inferior creatures, he is, so to speak, God's representative upon earth. They are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has assigned them to fear and serve man. However, his governing of himself by the freedom of his will has in it more of God's image than his governing of the creatures.
3. In his purity and morality. God's image upon man rests in his knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 (KJV): “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Col 3:10 (KJV) “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”
Eccl 7:29 (KJV) “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”

The first man had a habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the will of God. He understood divine things, and there were no errors or mistakes in his knowledge. His will complied eagerly to the will of God, without reluctance or resistance. He had no extravagant appetites or passions. His thoughts were easily applied to the best subjects, and there was no vanity or rebelliousness in them. All his inferior powers were subject to the dictates and directions of the superior powers of God, without any mutiny or rebellion. As a consequence our first parents were holy and happy, because they had the image of God upon them. But little man, how far you have fallen! How greatly has this image of God upon man been defaced! How small it is now, and how much has it been damaged! I pray that the Lord will restore his image upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!

in the image of God created he him;
According to John 1:1, the Word of the Lord created man in His likeness; even that Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God, and in time became incarnate, by whom all things were made. In the preceding paragraphs it was shown that God’s image was placed on man: In his nature and spirit; in his place and authority; in his purity and morality. The “image of God” was also stamped upon both the form of his body, and the erect stature of it, which is different from all other creatures. This notion is in agreement with the idea that the body of man was prepared in anticipation of the incarnation of the Son of God, which the Triune God agreed should happen in the fulness of time. Jesus Christ would enter the world in the image and likeness of man, because man was made in the image and likeness of God; in the immortality of His soul, and in his intellectual powers, and in that purity, holiness, and righteousness in which he was created; as well as in his dominion, power, and authority over the creatures—he was God's representative, and resembled him.

“In the image of God created he him” is repeated to show the certainty of it, and to emphasize man's superior glory and dignity to the rest of the creatures—“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God…” (1 Cor 11:7; KJV). The phrase "the image of God" refers to the fact that man was made in the likeness of his Maker, and proves that, though fallen, there is a sense in which he is still the image of God. It is not because man is holy or pure, and thus resembles his Creator; but it evidently is because he was invested by his Maker with authority and dominion: he was superior to all other creatures. This is still maintained; and this is what the apostle evidently refers to in the passage before us, and this he says should be recognized and respected. He was the direct representative of God on the earth, and had superiority to all other creatures.

male and female created he them.
“Male and female created he them” does not mean that man was created an hermaphrodite, or with two bodies, back to back and joined together, and afterwards cut apart; but first God made man, or the male, out of the dust of the earth, and infused a rational soul into him; and then He made a female, or woman, out of one of his ribs. She was presented to him as his wife, so that their species would be able to produce offspring. Only one male and one female were created, to show that after this a man was to have only one wife at a time—“Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth” (Mal 2:15; NLT). The “one" in this verse refers to the conjugal one body formed by the original pair (see Genesis 2:24). God could have joined many wives as one with the one husband, because He had plenty of spiritual being that could have been imparted to others besides Eve; but the purpose of the restriction was to obtain a pious offspring. One object of the marriage union is to raise a seed for God and for eternity.

Man is only half himself without his female partner. The numerous generations of men that have overspread the earth descend from this original pair. How foolish and vain it is then for a man to take pride in his pedigree, when a poor beggar can claim the most noble ancestry, as a son of Adam, who was the son of God! “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3:38; KJV). We have, in the literal sense, one Father; we are brethren of one family, the same blood runs in our veins, and therefore brotherly affection should be in our hearts for one another.

This passage of Genesis gives us an overview of God’s creation of man, and Genesis 2:1-25 will explain exactly how God created male and female.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

And God blessed them,
This blessing by God may be regarded as the source from which the human race has flowed. And we should consider it applying not only to mankind in general, but also, to individuals; since we are either fruitful or barren with respect to children, because God imparts his power to produce offspring to some and withholds it from others. But here Moses is simply saying that Adam and his wife, Eve, were formed for the production of offspring, in order that men might replenish the earth. God could have, if He had chosen to do so, covered the earth with many millions of men and women; but it was his preference that we should go forth from one fountain (one couple), in order that our desire for mutual harmony and peace might be great, and so that each individual might freely embrace the other as his own flesh and blood. Besides, since men were created to inhabit the earth, we ought to assume that God has made the earth a suitable abode for them. Anything which is contrary to this arrangement is a corruption of nature which proceeds from sin.

This blessing has endured and is still in effect, and the result is that men have made their home in every part of the globe. Now, concerning marriage, we must keep in mind that God intends the human race to be multiplied by age group, but not by promiscuous intercourse, which is the manner of animals. God has joined the man to his wife, so that they might produce a divine, that is, a legitimate seed.

This divine blessing differs from that given the lower animals primarily in the element of supremacy. Power is presumed to belong to man‘s nature, according to the counsel of the Maker‘s will (see Genesis 1:26). But without a special permission he cannot exercise any lawful authority, since the other creatures are as independent of him as he is of them. Man is on equal footing with the other creatures, since he does not have any natural advantages over the other creatures. Therefore, he needs to receive from high heaven a formal proclamation of power over the things that were made for man. He is therefore authorized, by these words of the Creator, to exercise his power in subduing the earth and ruling over the animal kingdom. This is the intended outcome of his being created in the image of God. Man was created for dominion, and the earth and its various products and inhabitants are assigned to him for the display of his powers. The subduing and ruling do not refer merely to supplying his natural needs, which is provided for in the following verse, but to the accomplishment of scientific discoveries and performing acts of kindness, whether towards the inferior animals or his own race. It is the part of intellectual and moral reason to use one’s power for the accomplishment of both general and personal good. The power and influence of man ought to be used to benefit mankind and the other creations of God.

The blessing of God placed mankind under His special protection, and gave them power to propagate and multiply their own kind on the earth. A large book indeed, would be insufficient to contain what we know about the accomplishments of man, even in his present degraded fallen state. Both his body and soul are custom-made with astonishing wisdom. The construction, action, and re-action of the different parts of the body, show the admirable skill of the wondrous Creator; while the various powers and faculties of the mind, acting on and by the different organs of this body, proclaim the soul‘s Divine origin, and demonstrate that he who was made in the image and likeness of God, was a copy of His own excellence, and destined to know, love, and dwell with his Maker throughout eternity.

Without the goodness of God’s blessing, human life would be not only unbearable, but also impossible.

and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth:
If this is not an direct command, which is how the Jews understand it, for marriage and producing children, it seems to be more than simply permission; at the least it is advice about what was proper and appropriate for the increase of mankind, and for the filling of the earth with inhabitants, which was the purpose for which it was made—“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18; KJV). This shows that marriage is an ordinance of God, instituted in paradise, and is honourable; and that procreation is a natural action, and may be performed without sin,

Be fruitful, and multiply,
The procreation and nurture of the continuing generations of mankind upon earth is a God-ordained privilege and commandment. God also gives man a job to do: fulfill God’s intention for man’s exercise of dominion over the earth. Inherent in this command is that man should “be fruitful and multiply.”

God, having made them capable of passing on the nature they had received, said to them, “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” With this pronouncement, he gave them:
1. A large inheritance: Replenish the earth is a directive that is bestowed upon mankind. They were made “to dwell upon the face of all the earth” (Acts 17:26). This is the place where God has placed man to be the servant of his divine will, to govern the inferior creatures, to give praises to his creator—“All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee” (Psalms 145:10; KJV)—and, lastly, to serve a kind of probation, before going on to either a better state, or a worse state.
2. A numerous lasting family, to enjoy this inheritance. God has pronounced a blessing upon them by which their posterity would extend to the furthest corners of the earth and continue for the longest period of time. Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: Obed-edom had eight sons, “for God blessed him” (1 Chronicles 26:5). It is due to this blessing, which God decreed at creation, that the race of mankind is still in existence, and that as one generation passeth away another cometh.

and replenish the earth,
"Replenish the earth" does not depict a re-population of the earth, but the spread of mankind throughout the world. There is no record of previous populations that sometimes are alleged to have existed prior to humanity. The passage should be translated, "Fill the earth and subdue it."

Man cannot fulfill God’s plan for him on the earth unless he populates it.
1. Additionally, God gave mankind a desire for sex, which would make the populating of the earth rapid and probable.
2. However, many have thought that being fruitful and multiplying was God’s only or chief purpose for sex, but this isn’t the case. The primary reason God created sex was to contribute to the bonding of man with woman to form a one-flesh relationship.
3. Animals have sexual relations only for reproduction, but human sexual response is different from animal sexual response in many ways. Human ovulation has no outward sign; humans have sex in private; humans have secondary sexual characteristics (only in humans do females develop breasts before the first birth). Only humans demonstrate a constant availability for an interest in sex, as opposed to a “heat” season in animals. In humans, the duration of the sexual interlude is longer and the intensity of the pleasure of sex is stronger, and only humans continue to have intercourse after the end of fertility. None of these specifically human aspects of sex are required for reproduction, but all of them are useful for sex as a tool of bonding.

and subdue it:
“And subdue it” does not mean that it was in the hands of others, who had no right to it, and who must be conquered and have it taken out of their hands; but rather to make use of it by tilling the land, and making it useful to man.

“Subdue it” corroborates what he had said before with respect to dominion. Man had already been created with this stipulation, that he should bring the earth under his control; but now, he is put in possession of his right, when he hears what has been given to him by the Lord. And Moses reinforces this thought in the next verse, when he says God has given to him the herbs and the fruits. It is important that we understand that everything we have and everything He will give us in the future comes from the hand of God. And therefore Paul teaches us that when we eat and drink we sin, unless we have faith, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23; KJV). If we need something, we should ask Him for it, and when we use His gifts, we should acknowledge His goodness and fatherly care.

Some conclude from this passage that men ate only herbs and fruits and that it was unlawful for them to eat flesh until the flood. This is probably true, because God confines the food of mankind within certain limits. Then after the deluge, he specifically grants them the use of flesh. The reasoning behind this view, however, is not very strong: because those on the opposite side can argue that the first men offered sacrifices from their flocks. Moreover, the law of sacrificing does not allow any sacrifice that has not been given for our use.  Finally, men were clothed in animal skins; therefore it was lawful for them to kill animals. God certainly did not intend that man should be meagerly sustained; but rather, by these words, He promises a liberal abundance of plant and animal life, which He was supposed to subdue and make use of as part of a gratifying and pleasant life.

Man by his superior wisdom has been given methods to make the fiercest animals yield, and the strongest to serve him; and he has dominion over all the animals, which has been granted by God himself. The commission He received was to utilize for his necessities the vast resources of the earth, by agricultural and mining operations, by geographical research, scientific discovery, and mechanical invention. 

and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
With these words, God gave to man, when he made him, a universal and unlimited dominion over the inferior creatures, over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and they are echoed in Psalms 8.6—“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” Although man provides for neither the “fish of the sea” or “the fowl of the air,” he has power over both, and even much more power over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, which are more commonly under his care and within his reach. God intended for this blessing to put an honour upon man, so that he might be more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker. This dominion was greatly diminished by the fall, and yet God's providence continues to give safety and support to mankind, and God's grace has given to the saints a new and better title to the creatures than that which was forfeited by sin for all is ours if we are Christ's—“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (1 Cor 3:22; KJV).
• Or the world. “The world” is used to denote the things which God has made; the universe, the things which pertain to this life. And the meaning of the apostle probably is, that all things pertaining to this world which God has made—all the events which are occurring by His providence were theirs, to be used for their advantage and their enjoyment.
• Or life. Life is theirs to enjoy, and the various events and occurrences of life all tend to promote their welfare, and advance their salvation.
• Death. They do not fear death, although it is usually regarded as a calamity and a curse. But it is theirs:
o Because they shall have peace and support in the hour of their death.
o Because it has no terrors for them. It shall take away nothing which they are not willing to give up.
o Because it is the avenue which leads to their eternal rest.
o Because they shall triumph over it. It was subdued by Christ when He rose from the grave.
o Because death is the means by which they are translated to a world of glory.
• Or things present, or things to come. Events which are now happening and everything that can possibly happen to us.  “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39; KJV).
• All are yours.  All shall tend to promote your comfort and salvation.

Psalms 8:1-9 echoes this original sovereignty bestowed on man.

 

 


 

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