We find ourselves, once again, in the creation week of Genesis 1. I mentioned two things last week that are worth repeating again today.

First, just as there will be varying views on eschatology within the same congregation so too there will be varying views on the creation week within the same congregation. These things matter, certainly, and each view is not created equal bringing good/bad implications with it. But our view on the creation week is not and ought not be the litmus test of our orthodoxy.

Second, when we come to this portion of the Bible many Christians too often get bogged down in trying to squeeze Genesis 1 into the latest scientific theory, or seek to twist scientific truth to fit with a specific interpretation of Genesis 1.[1] And yet, if we simply read this passage, see what it says and see how it says it, I’m convinced we’ll see that scientific explanations or the age of the earth is not the primary purpose, and shouldn’t hold a primary place in our view of Genesis 1. Well, what is the primary purpose of the creation week then? The primary purpose of Genesis 1 is to display how God forms creation, how God fills creation, and how God reigns over creation as King.

In our time together last week as we covered the first three days in the creation week where God brought form to the earth by making the skies, the seas, and the dry land. Today as we continue on and cover the next three days in the creation week we’ll see God fill the earth. So see in God’s creating work the remedy to the state of creation in v2. It was then without form and void, and in these six days he forms it and fills it.

One more note. There are a mountain of issues to work through on day 6 regarding the creation of mankind. So, to adequately handle them we’ll zoom through days 4 and 5 so we can spend sufficient time on day 6.

Day 4 (v14-19)

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”

As God formed day and night on day 1, now God fills day and night with the lights of the sun, moon, and stars.

The plural command “Let there be lights” stands out in contrast to the singular command on day 1 “Let there be light.” It is these luminaries, these lights, that makeup the main subject of day 4. v14 and v18 say these lights are for the purpose of separating day from night, or light from darkness. v15 and v17 say these lights are for the purpose of giving light on the earth. And in between these purposes we find another. The end of v14 says it, that these lights are for the purpose of distinguishing signs, seasons, days, and years. That’s the basic thrust of day 4, but did you notice how long the description of day 4 is?[2] Other than day 6, day 4 is given the most words of any other day. Why is that so?

I think Moses is being polemical here. Or in other words, I think Moses is making an argument against the gods of the nations on day 4, and that’s why he gives so many words to it. What do I mean? In the Ancient Near Eastern culture it was common to view the sun, moon, and stars as divine, as gods who direct all things, who must be worshipped and pleased. Yet, here on day 4 what do we see? We see the sun, moon, and stars not as gods, but as creations of God, who are not only brought into being by God, but operate and function according to the desires of God. It was so common to view these luminaries as divine in this culture that some say what Moses has written here would have been nothing short of revolutionary.[3] Of course it should be mentioned this kind of astrology isn’t unique to the ancient world. One only has to scroll through social media to find your horoscope from the stars above, leading you to your destiny.

Church, astrology is alive and well today, just as it was in Moses’ day. Lesson? Day 4 matters. The sun, moon, and stars are not divine gods or horoscope helps, they are created by God, exist because of God, have their being in God, and Psalm 19 would have us understand that these great lights pour forth in praise to the God who made them.

“And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”

Day 5 (v20-23)

“And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”

As God formed the seas and skies on day 2, now God fills seas and skies with all manner of living creatures.

Here we have the origin all swimming and flying creatures. From whale sharks to sea horses, and eagles to mosquitoes (maybe?). Like the plants on day 3 God made these creatures according to their kinds. And did you notice this is the first instance of God blessing something He made and speaking to it directly? See that in v22? “And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” How surprising that the recipient of God’s first blessing in the Bible isn’t man, but these swimming and flying creatures.[4] It does seem the blessing of God centers on and involves the ability to multiply and reproduce. We’ll discuss this more when we get to v28.

“And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”

Day 6 (v24-31)

As God formed the dry land on day 3, now God fills the land with animals and mankind. With day 6 being the longest day in the creation week, we’ll take it in two parts. 

First see v24-25, “And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”

The animals of day 6 are not created out of nothing by God, rather, God commands the earth to bring them forth according to their kinds. Specifically, three categories are mentioned: livestock, creeping things, and beasts of the earth. These three categories represent all the animal life on earth from domesticated animals to wild animals. And as wonderful as Yogi Bear, Bambi, and Bugs Bunny are, they are not the focus of day 6.

So, let’s move on to see the focus in v26-31, “Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Now we come to it, the creation of mankind. The matters to attend to are many, and wonderful.

First, the us in v26. On day 4 God speaks to the expanse saying “Let there be lights…” On day 5 God speaks to the seas and skies saying, “Let the waters swarm” and “Let birds fly…” But here on day 6 notice the change, “Then God said, “Let us make man…” I thought God was the One creating. Who is this us in view here?[5]

Well, some say the us is a heavenly court or the angelic host looking on as God creates the world. Now it is true that angels are sometimes likened to be men in Scripture mistakenly (think Gen. 18-19), and it is true that the heavenly court is mentioned in Scripture (think Job 1), but to say man is made in the image of this court is to say something Scripture never says.

Others say this us is a plural of majesty, like a royal we being used here. This idea of a plural of majesty exists within the Hebrew language but it is rare in Scripture, if it used at all. So it seems this wouldn’t be what’s going on here either.

Still others say this us is describing a plurality within God, or in other words, this is evidence of the Trinity. This is what I think is going on here, let me tell you why. We’ve already seen in Gen. 1:1-3 evidence that a plurality within God exists. We see the Father in v1, the Spirit in v2, the Word in v3. Now here in the “us” of v26 we see more evidence of communication occurring within the three Persons of the Trinity. And if this is indeed God in Trinity here in v26, that would fit well with what follows, as v26 says not only “Let us make man” but also “Let us make man in our image, in ourlikeness.” 

This Trinitarian of v26 view was the common interpretation in the early Church, but it’s widely dismissed today because many scholars believe Moses was too theologically primitive to understand such things.[6] Such a negative posture toward Moses, I think, reveals a lack more in modern interpreters than in Moses.

That brings us to the second matter to attend to, what is this image and likeness man is made in? Throughout the history of the Church there have by and large been two ways to talk about the image/likeness of God in man. On one hand many are eager to define it structurally, while on the other hand many are eager to define it functionally.[7] Those who desire to see image/likeness as structural speak of the special and unique makeup or structure of man over against the other creatures. For example, only man has a soul, only man has personhood, only man has the ability to reason or think logically, only man has the ability to be moral, only man has the ability to be spiritual, that is, in relationship to God, and that it is these things which makeup the image of God in man.[8] Now, I believe we were created with all of this special structure, and I believe this marks us out from all else because no other creature was made with these things. But, I don’t think we find any structure being discussed in Genesis 1, and I don’t think God tells us what the image/likeness of God in man is here. What He does tell us what it looks like for man to live as one made in the image/likeness of God.

Which, this leads us to speak of the image/likeness in a functional manner. Or to put it simply, God made man in His image/likeness to be His representative on earth.[9] It was commonly believed in the Ancient Near Eastern culture that the king or ruler was the representative of the gods. Most well-known in this is the Pharaoh’s of Egypt, who were believed to be incarnations of their gods. Which in effect made them the representative of their god on earth. Now, the ancient world discussed this idea using the Hebrew word selem, or image. How fascinating that Moses uses that same word here to describe us in v26. But see the difference being highlighted? The nations around Israel believed only the king was the image of god on earth, while Moses writes that all mankind is the very image of God on earth. Lesson? When v26 says God made us in His image/likeness He wants us to know He made us to be His representatives on earth. This is our function as mankind. What does this look like from day to day? It looks the rest of v26, “Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” We’ll discuss this more as we get to v28…

The third matter to attend to is that we were made two-gendered. See this in v27. That God created us is mentioned three times, that we were created in God’s image is mentioned twice, and at the end of v27 we see it, “male and female He created them.” Much to the dismay of our modern culture this is clear, God made two genders. Not a hominid or neanderthal who would evolve into a gendered person, and not one being who has two genders in one body, no. God made man male and female. Which means both male and female are image bearers, both serving in this world as representatives of God. Which also means we can learn as much about God from masculinity as we can from femininity. This sexual distinction was not created by men who desired to oppress women, no if that were the case only men would be in the image of God. This sexual distinction was created by God and God calls it good, as we’ll soon see. Only after the fall of man into sin do we find gender confusion, gender dysphoria, or a denial of gender altogether. Church, learn here who we are. If God made you male, maleness is the goal to pursue. If God made you female, femaleness is the goal to pursue. He doesn’t make accidents. This is not up for redefinition or adjustment. Though one might struggle with it, and need help thinking through it, God’s design is good, and should be embraced as good.

When this man and this woman receive names in chapter 2, we’ll further explore the goodness of their one flesh union.

The fourth matter to attend to is what is called the dominion mandate. See this in v28. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Here we see the blessing of God once again, this time on the call of man to have dominion over the earth. As popular as it is today to view mankind as a parasite ruining all of earth’s resources, we see here that man, male and female, is to steward and rule over earth as kings. Notice though what is being ruled. Creatures of the sea, sky, and land are to be subdued. Never is it told to man to rule over other men or women.[10] Why? Because we bear God’s image. Only God is to rule over us.

See here something of gospel glory. v28 has four commands to Adam in it. One, fill the earth with the image of God through procreation. Two, subdue the earth. Three, exercise authority and dominion over the creation. Four, accomplish these tasks with the assistance of his helpmate, Eve. Sadly, Adam failed in these things. Noah receives the same commands in Gen. 9:1-2, and sadly he fails as well. These commands would remain unfulfilled until One came who was the image of God Himself, the Lord Jesus. Only He, as the true image of God fills the earth with the image of God by remaking sinners into His own image through the spreading of His gospel. Only He subdues all things by His great authority over heaven and earth. And only He accomplishes these tasks through His helpmate, the Church.

The fifth matter to attend to is God’s kind provision. See this briefly in v29-30. God, after making man, He kindly provided for all of his needs, food being especially in view here. Every plant yielding seed is given for food in v29, every green plant as well in v30. At no point is man allowed to kill another creature to eat it. I understand this is strange from a scientific viewpoint, but it does seem to me that man and all creatures were vegetarians pre-fall.[11] This explicitly changes post-fall in Gen. 9 as it says every moving thing (except man of course) that lives shall be food for you, just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.

Conclusion:

Lastly, the sixth matter to attend to is God’s response to His work on day 6. See this in v31. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Church, look at in the mirror. Do you know who you are? Do you know what God made you made to be? You were made for Him, not for yourself. To worship Him, to know Him, to be like Him, to bear His image and represent Him. Yes, all of this was marred in the fall but in Christ we regain all we lost in Adam and more.


[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, WBC (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1987), 40.

[2] Ibid., 21.

[3] Victor P. Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, NICOT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1990), 127, footnote 3.

[4] Ibid., 131.

[5] Ibid., 132–134.

[6] Implied in Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 27-28.

[7] Kevin DeYoung, Let Us Make Man In Our Image – part 2, sermon, Christ Covenant Church, 9.13.2020, accessed 8.25.2022.

[8] James Montgomery Boice, Genesis 1-11 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1982), 90–91.

[9] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academic, 2001), 66.

[10] DeYoung, Let Us Make Man In Our Image – part 2.

[11] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 140.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: