May 10, 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.4: Dry Land, Seas, and Vegetation.

 

Gen. 1:9-13. (KJV)

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.


Commentary

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

After God created light and air and put them in their proper places, the next in density, the water, or rather the lower water, or that under the air, is separated, by divine command; and the earth, or dry land, emerges at once. Therefore, instead of that confusion which existed when earth and water were mixed in one great mass; now there is order. Up till now the power of the Creator had been employed in the upper part of the visible world; now he descends to this lower world, designed for the use of men, both for their habitation, and their preservation.

The work God did on the third day amounted to dual creation, with both parts closely connected. At first the waters beneath the heavens, those upon the surface of the earth, were gathered together, so that the dry (or solid) ground appeared; and then the earth was made fruitful. The Holy Spirit has not chosen to reveal in what way the gathering of the earth’s waters into seas and oceans, and the appearance of the dry land were brought about, though we may speculate how it happened. Perhaps God caused some places on the globe to sink or deepen, into which the waters flowed, or He caused the ground to rise up out of the water. The Biblical record does not describe the process, and God never describes the process by which His desired results are produced. It is probable, however, that the separation was caused both by depression and elevation. Geography seems to support this theory since all the seas of the world are connected, while all the land is not. In order for the dry land to appear it would have to be raised up above the level of the water. Most of the land remains covered by great depths of water, and the dry land on this planet occupies less than one-third of its surface.

One theory offered for this miracle says that land appeared when volcanic convulsions occurred on the surface of this globe causing the up heaving of some parts, the sinking of others, and the formation of vast hollows, into which the waters flowed, which is graphically described by David—“Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.” (Psalms 104:6-9; KJV). This would account for how a large part of the earth was made “dry land,” and how oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers were formed.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

“The dry” ground God called Earth, and “the gathering…of the waters,” or rather, the place into which the waters were collected, He called Sea, which is the great oceans that surround the continents, so that the earth appears to be founded (established, brought into being) upon seas—“For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods” (Psalms 24:2; KJV). Earth and sea are the two components of the globe, and when they were separated its formation was completed. The “seas” include the rivers which flow into the ocean, and the lakes which can the dubbed “detached fragments” of the ocean, although they are not specifically mentioned here. By the divine act of naming the two components of the globe, and the divine approval which follows, this work is made permanent; and the second act of the third day, the clothing of the earth with vegetation, is immediately connected with it

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

“And God said,” indicates that it is the power of God's word that makes the earth fruitful, which before, was naturally barren. By this we know that not only is the earth the Lord's, but the fulness thereof, and he is the rightful owner and sovereign ruler, not only of it, but of all that fills the skies above it, moves or stands upon it, or is in the earth itself. The earth was emptiness (Genesis 1:2), but now, by the power of His word, it has become full of God's riches, and they are still His—“Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax …” (Hosea 2:9; KJV). Although we are allowed to use them, the resources still belong to him. This is a good practice for everyone to follow, because it is good to provide things that are needed before we have occasion to use them: before the beasts and man were made, God created the grass and herbs for them to use. God therefore dealt wisely and graciously with man; man then, should not be foolish and unwise in the use of His provisions. God must have the glory for all the benefits we receive from the products of the earth, either for food or medicine.

The earth was naked and barren, but when God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass,…herbs,…and trees” the earth was immediately prepared for the maintenance of men and beasts; and all this happened before the creation of the Sun (the fourth day of creation, Genesis 1:14-19). This means the plants must have had sufficient nourishment because of the light God had created before the sun and the moon existed. Those who allege these days of creation were not literal days, but successive “ages” of slow, evolutionary development have a real problem here. It is hard to explain how plants and all vegetation could grow and thrive eons before the sun and the moon. No modern evolutionist would argue plant life is older than the sun or the moon, but this is what the Genesis record tells us. Furthermore, we must not think of the work of creation as consisting of the production of the first tender microorganisms which were gradually developed into herbs, shrubs, and trees; on the contrary, we must think of it as one element in the miracle of creation itself, that at the word of God not only tender grasses, but herbs, shrubs, and trees, sprang out of the earth, each ripe for the formation of blossoms and the bearing of seed and fruit, without the necessity of waiting for years before the vegetation created was ready to blossom and bear fruit. Even if the earth was employed as a medium in the creation of the plants, since it was God who caused it to bring them forth, they were not the product of the powers of nature, in the ordinary way we are familiar with, but a work of divine omnipotence, by which the trees came into existence before their seed, and their fruit was produced fully developed, without expanding gradually under the influence of sunshine and rain. This clearly settles any objection that the tree could not be there until the seed was planted. If God had wanted to create the seed first, He could easily have done so. But He commanded the fruit of the earth to come forth before seed was sown. This was just as simple for Him as to do the opposite

The products of this upstart earth were now ready for man and beast, but they would not appear on the scene until the sixth day. The Lord also provided for the needs of man during the countless years ahead by creating and perpetuating numerous kinds of vegetables and every one “having its seed in itself after its kind,” so that, as long as man continues upon the earth, food might be taken out of the earth for his use and benefit.

When he says, “Let the earth bring forth the herb which may produce seed, the tree whose seed is in itself,” he signifies not only that herbs and trees were created, but that, at the same time, both were endued with the power of propagation, in order that their several species might be perpetuated. They were created as mature plants, having the “appearance” of age. The chicken really did come before the egg.

“And God saw that it was good.” God knows what is “good.” He is not some vague, moral, creative, entity. He knows what is good and He organizes His creation to result in something good. Notice, God does not call the earth good until it has become habitable.


12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

This sentence is a repeat of the previous one, to signify that God made all his creatures to work for his glory and for the benefit of man: but because of sin they were cursed, yet the elect of God are restored through faith in Christ.

We must believe that “grass, herbs, and trees” emerged in absolute maturity and perfection, by the immediate effects of the Divine Power: nor can we fail to be in awe of the grand ideas of the Supreme Mind, when we reflect on the infinite variety, beauty, and regularity of this part of the creation; every individual herb and flower that we know of have been planned and formed by His wisdom, before it was brought to being and perfection.


Whose seed is in itself—since no plants can be produced without seed, we are again reminded of God's wisdom, because the origin of all the plants upon the earth; which have existed from the beginning have continued through the ages, by means of this original provision of seed. It should be noted that the production of plants, in the beginning, differed from their production ever since, in these two things: First, that they have sprung ever since, out of their seed, either sown by us, or falling from them: but, in the beginning, they were brought out of the earth, with their seed in them, to propagate them until the end of time. Second, that they need now, as they have ever since the first creation, the influence of the sun to make them germinate. But in the beginning they sprung forth, in perfection, by the immediate power of God, before there was any sun. For this reason, God must have the glory for all the benefit we receive from the products of the earth.

Some have said that thorns and thistles, brambles and briers were around before the fall, though not in the same abundance as now. Others disagree, and they say that until sin came into the world, the rose was without prickles. There is no way for us to know, but since the fall, all creatures are fortified against man. I wonder, if Adam had not sinned and sin never entered our world, would those grasses, herbs, and trees first created continue to flourish today?

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
We would not recognize our planet at the end of the third day; there is no sun or moon in the sky, and the sky does not have any life in it, there are no fish in the oceans, no animals or insects, no man to enjoy God’s beautiful creation. The third day has come to an end, and for the second time today God “saw that it was good.”

 

 

 

 

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