May 24, 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.6: Fishes and Fowls Created.
Gen. 1:20-23. (KJV)
20 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. 21 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.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
20 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.
And God said,
Just as Day 4 paralleled Day 1, Day 5 parallels Day 2. Just as the waters and the firmament were in view there, so are they here. This parallelism does not deny the chronological sequence of the six days. But, the creation on Day 1 of the heavens and the earth was followed by a special creation of the earth and its solar system on Day 4. In the same way, the seas and the dry land of Day 2 are endowed with the life for which they had been designed by God, on Day 5.
Nature never makes a forward movement, in the sense of an absolutely new departure from the “status quo,” unless it is reacting to the word of Elohim. These words distinctly claim that the creatures of the sea and of the air, even if created from material elements, were produced in obedience to the Divine command, and not spontaneously generated by some chance chemical reaction of either land, sea, or sky
The great message of this day is that God created life, since there is no other possible source of it. The plain and simple proposition of the passage is that God created all of the species of life mentioned here simultaneously. The balance in creation that is still witnessed by the ecological systems in nature could not have come into being except by a royal decree. Nothing is more unreasonable and ridiculous than the various theories of evolution. If it could be proved, which is impossible, that all life originated from a single one-celled creature in some pre-Azoic sea, the existence of that one-celled creature with the potential to produce all that is alleged to have come out of it, in any such hypothesis, GOD ALMIGHTY is just as necessary in the making of that one-celled beginning; and it would have been in every way a creation just as magnificent and glorious as the simultaneous creation of countless forms of life by one Divine decree. Evolution as a means of getting rid of God is a false crutch indeed!
It is clear in this six-day sequence that, "The progress of God's creative activity was upward toward man." In fact, the special thrust of this entire creation narrative is pointed squarely at the emergence of man upon earth as the crowning act of all creation! Each day, up till then, has produced very excellent beings, which we can never sufficiently admire but we do not read of the creation of any living creature until the fifth day. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually from one thing to another, but rose and advanced gradually from that which was less excellent to that which was even more so, teaching us to pursue perfection and attempt to make our last works our best works. It was on the fifth day that the fish and fowl were created, and both were created from the waters. Although fish have one kind of flesh, and birds have another, they were made at the same time, had the same source, and the same creator.
The waters and the air separated on the second day and now they are filled with their respective inhabitants.
Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life,
On the fifth day the birds and fishes are created, but then God adds an additional blessing, and gives them the ability to produce offspring. Here is a different kind of propagation from that utilized by herbs and trees: for there the power of propagating is in the plants, and that of germinating is in the seed; but here the generation of life takes place.
It seems that some people reject the idea that birds were created from the waters because to them it is unreasonable, and they call it a lie. But although there appears to be no other reason for Him to have done it this way, except that He decided to use that particular method, shouldn’t we go along with His judgment? If He created the world out of nothing, couldn’t He create birds out of water? And, what is more absurd, the creation of birds from water, or the making of light from darkness? It is clear from Moses’ account that although God is the Author of nature, He did not use nature as His guide when He created the world, but has chosen instead to give such awesome demonstrations of His power that we are compelled to be in awe of His glory and majesty.
There is something in these words which is seldom noticed. Countless millions of microscopic creatures are found in water. Eminent naturalists have discovered not less than 30,000 in a single drop! How inconceivably small must each be, and yet each is a perfect animal, equipped with the whole system of bones, muscles, nerves, heart, arteries, veins, lungs, intestines, etc. What a proof this is of the manifold wisdom of God! But the fertility of fishes is another point implied in the text; no other creatures are as prolific as these. A Tench, or doctor fish, can lay 1,000 eggs, a Carp 20,000, and 9,384,000 Leuwenhoek were found in a medium sized Cod! Therefore, by the will of God, the waters bring forth abundantly. And what a merciful provision this is for the necessities of man! Many hundreds of thousands of the earth‘s inhabitants live for a great part of the year on fish only. Fish provide, not only a wholesome and nutritious diet; they are affected by very few diseases, and they generally move about in vast quantities. We can see in this that the kind providence of God goes hand in hand with His creating energy. While He shows his wisdom and his power, he is making a permanent provision for the food of man.
In addition to the fish and birds, the creations on the fifth day included the great sea creatures, such as the whales; small aquatic creatures that have short or no legs, such as snakes and lizards, which live either on land or in the water; the insects which fly over the earth and crawl upon it or dig into it.
“That hath life;” literally, a living breath. The creatures of the sea are distinguished from all previous creations, and in particular from vegetation, since they possess this one vital advantage; the ability to breathe. This does not, of course, contradict the fact that plants are living organisms. Only the life principle of the animal creation is different from that of the vegetable kingdom. It may be impossible by the most acute microscopic analysis to differentiate the protoplasmic cell of vegetable matter from that of animal organisms, and plants may appear to be possessed of functions that resemble those of animals, yet the two are generically different. The thing that sets animal life apart is the possession of respiratory organs, which enables them to breathe. To that I would add the ability to move about, which is unique to man and animals.
and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
It says here that birds were also made from the water; not out of water alone, but out of earth and water mixed together, or out of the earth or clay that lie at the bottom of the waters. It is common knowledge that some birds live on the water, and others live partly on land and partly on water; and as the elements of fowl and fish bear a resemblance, so do the elements of air and water: and the same can be said about these creatures; some fowls both fly and swim; and what wings are to the birds, fins are to the fish; and both steer their course by their tails. There appears to be a contradiction here when compared to Genesis 2:19—“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof”—which clearly states that the fowls were produced from the earth. The apparent contradiction can be explained if you know that the Hebrew is, “and let fowl fly above the earth, in the open firmament of heaven;” that is, in the air; which is not only more agreeable to the original, but more consistent with what is said in Genesis 2:19, that God formed the fowl out of the ground.
All birds have many things in common with fish. Naturalists have observed that the eyes and brain of both are similar: their bodies are prepared for swimming, the one in the air, and the other in the water.
21 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.
And God created great whales,
“Created,” means that something new and distinct was summoned into existence.
“Great whales or Great fishes” are created on day five. Though this is generally understood to denote whales, yet the term must be understood to be a general rather than a particular term, encompassing all the great aquatic animals, such as the various species of whales, the porpoise, the dolphin, the narwhale, crocodiles, and the shark. God takes pleasure in creating little as well as great things: that's why he forms animals so minute that 30,000 can be contained in one drop of water; and others so great that they seem to require almost a whole sea to float in.
“And God created” may cause some to pose a question which can be developed as follows: The world was created out of nothing; but now Moses says that things formed from other matter were created. Which is it? The fact is, the material from which the fish were created was already in existence; which does not fit the definition of “created.” One way to resolve this rather small problem is to NOT restrict the creation spoken of here entirely to the work of the fifth day, but rather consider it to refer to that shapeless and confused mass, which was as the fountain of the whole world. Then it can be said that God created whales and other fishes, but not when they received their form; but their creation must include the universal matter which was made out of nothing. Therefore, with respect to species, form only was added to them on day five, because the material they were created from already existed; but creation is nevertheless a term that can be applied to both the whole and the parts. The way I see it, we should let the word of God stand as the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write it; and stop spending time trying to rewrite God’s Word, especially when such trivial matters arise.
The greatest, as well as the least, owe their breath and being to God; and the whale, which awkwardly moves through the ocean, costs him no more than the worm which twinkles in the drop under the lens of the microscope: each are endued with powers which are exactly suited to his situation, and so exquisitely made, that anyone who looks upon it without feelings of wonder and adoration must be blind indeed.
and every living creature that moveth,
The subject here is the smaller animals that live in the water of the great oceans or in the rivers; and those that are amphibious and can move about on the banks; and their numbers are too great to be counted. This includes creeping animals, either on land—“They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort” (Gen 7:14; KJV)—‘or in water—“Let heaven and earth praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them” (Psalms 69:34; NKJV)—though here it clearly signifies aquatic creatures.
which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind,
We see that the great variety of birds and sea creatures were created at the same time, not evolving slowly over millions of years. Even though plant life was created before animal life, animal life was not created out of plant life. Although animals are diverse in their nature, many share similar structures: birds, reptiles, mammals, and so forth. This makes a persuasive case for a common Designer: All life did not come from the same primordial cell, but it did all come from the same Designer.
The generic terms in this clause represent many distinct orders and species, and each was created after its kind. God commanded them to be produced. He said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly” not as if the waters had any productive power of their own, but, "Let them be brought into being, the fish in the waters and the fowl out of them." God himself executed this command: “God created great whales.” Insects, which perhaps are as varied and as numerous as any species of animal, and their structure just as odd; were part of this day's work, some of them being similar to the fish and others to the fowl. God created a great variety of fish and fowl, each after their kind, and in great numbers. He made great whales, whose bulk and strength, exceed that of any other animal, which is another remarkable proof of the power and greatness of the Creator. The peculiar formation of the bodies of animals, their different sizes, shapes, and natures, along with the admirable powers of instinct with which they are endued, when duly considered, serve, not only to silence and shame the objections of atheists and infidels, but to suggest a generous Creator.
When he says that “the waters brought forth,” we must understand that though the waters itself is lifeless, they suddenly teem with a living offspring and God replenishes them daily, because He not only commanded that they exist, but that they continue for as long as there are oceans and rivers.
and every winged fowl after his kind:
Here the wing is made a characteristic of this class, which includes more than what we call birds; these were all created by God, or produced out of the water and out of the earth by His wonderful power. Every creature was created “According to their kind”: Again, all animal life is created according to its kind. God deliberately structured plenty of variation within each kind, but one “kind” does not become another. For example, structure among dogs is diverse. The teacup poodle is very different from the Great Dane, but they are both dogs. However, they won’t become mice, no matter how much breeding is done. Evolutionists often give convincing examples of microevolution, the variation of a kind within its kind, because it is adapting to the environment. For example, the ratio of black to white peppered moths may increase when pollution makes it easier for dark moths to escape detection; or finches may develop different beaks in response to their distinctive environment. But the moths are still moths, and the finches are still finches. There has been no change outside of the kind. Microevolution does not prove macroevolution.
Why fowls and fish were created on the same day is not to be explained by any supposed similarity between the air and the water. The only answer this side of heaven, is to simply say, “That’s the way He wanted it.”
and God saw that it was good.
“And God saw that it was good;” or foresaw that those creatures he made in the waters and in the air would serve to display the glory of his perfect creation, and be very useful and beneficial to man. (Some of the creatures described by the ancients must refer to animals that are now extinct. Some of these may have been very large dinosaurs.)
When the Maker inspects His work, He “saw that it was good.”
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
And God blessed them,
This is a new act by the Lord, and it brings some good to the object of the blessing. The blessing pronounced here is upon the fish and the fowl; it is that they will abundantly increase. God does not wish like men do, and then pray that we may be blessed; but, by the mere hint of His purpose, He produces what men seek to obtain by intense prayer. Therefore, when He blesses his creatures he commands them to increase and grow; that is, he infuses into them fruitfulness (or fertility) by his word. Furthermore, the force of His word is not temporary, because it is infused into their nature, takes root, and constantly bears fruit—“I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever” (Eccl 3:14; NKJV)—which is evidenced by the vast number of birds and fish existing today; the heavens are stocked with fowl, and the fish replenish the waters; and it is all for the use of man. The power of God's providence preserves all things, just as His creating power produced them. Oh how I wish that all men were wise, and that they knew the bountiful Giver of life! Job was a man who certainly knew God, and spoke of His great works—"But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:7-10; NKJV).
Some may ask, “Doesn’t the fossil record show these creatures slowly evolved into existence, instead of suddenly appearing?” Most people are unaware that Darwin’s strongest opponents were not clergymen, but fossil experts. Darwin admitted the state of the fossil evidence was “the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory,” and because of the fossil evidence, “all the most eminent paleontologists . . . and all our greatest geologists . . . have unanimously, often vehemently, maintained” that the species do not change. The fossil record is marked by two great principles: first, stasis, which means most species are unchanged in all their documented history. The way they look when they first appear in the fossil record is the way they look when last appearing in the fossil record. They have not changed. Second, sudden appearance, which means in any local area, a species does not arise gradually, but appears all at once and “fully formed.” Philip Johnson said, “If evolution means the gradual change of one kind of organism into another kind, the outstanding characteristic of the fossil record is the absence of evidence for evolution.” The Bighorn Basin in Wyoming contains a continuous record of fossil deposits for what geologists say is five million years. Because this record is so complete, paleontologists assumed a positive trail of evolution could be found. Instead, “the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another.” (Johnson) Evolutionist Nile Eldredge writes: “We paleontologists have said that the history of life [in the fossil record] supports [the story of gradual evolution], all the while knowing that it does not.” (Johnson) Either evolution happened slowly, with each tiny change building on the last, over billions of years; or the changes came as quick leaps: something like a mouse coming out of a snake’s egg. The fossil record totally rejects the idea of millions of tiny changes; the quick leaps are a way of attributing miraculous power to “chance” or “nature” instead of God. While admiring the faith of those who believe in such hopeful monsters, it seems far more rational to believe in a wise, creating, designing God.
saying, Be fruitful, and multiply,
“Be fruitful” refers to the propagation of the species; and “Multiply” relates to the abundance of the offspring.
The phrase “Be fruitful and multiply,” became a regular formula of blessing (See Genesis 35:11; Genesis 48:4). The Divine benediction was not simply a wish, according to Calvin, who said; "by the bare intimation of his purpose he effects what men seek by entreaty." This Divine benediction was addressed to creatures, because it was designed to teach that the "force of the Divine word was not meant to be temporary, but, being infused into their natures, to take root and constantly bear fruit" (Calvin). And, as they say, “the proof is in the pudding,” because the fish did multiply greatly, so that there are vast numbers of them in the oceans, lakes, and rivers, in spite of many thousands of them going to human consumption daily.
Our English word "fish" is derived from the Hebrew word פוש, "fush", which signifies to multiply and increase.
and fill the waters in the seas,
“Fill the waters” is a command for them to be fully stocked. In the scriptures, the phrase “In the seas” includes the lakes, and, by association, the rivers too, which feed both the oceans and lakes. A new kind of creation is in view here. While in the case of some plants many individuals of the same species were simultaneously created, in order to produce a worldwide covering of greenness for the land and an abundant supply of food for the animals, about to be created; but when God created the animals He made a single pair only of the larger kinds of each type, and by the power of His will that accompanied this potent blessing of the Creator, the waters and the air was propagated by multitudes of fish and birds, respectively, and in a relatively short period of time.
and let fowl multiply in the earth.
The care, wisdom, and skill with which God has fashioned the different species of birds are truly astonishing, whether they are intended to live chiefly on land or in water. The structure of a single feather provides a world of wonders; and since God intended for the fowls to fly in the firmament of heaven—“… let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens” (Gen 1:20; NKJV)—he has adapted the form of their bodies, the structure and disposition of their plumage, and the design of their bones for that very purpose. The head and neck in flying are drawn principally within the breast-bone, so that the whole under part exhibits the appearance of a ship‘s hull. The wings are made use of as sails, or rather oars, and the tail as a helm or rudder. The bones are hollow to reduce their weight. By means of these innovations the creature is able to travel through the air with considerable speed, either straight forward, in a circular pattern, or in any kind of angle, upwards or downwards. God has also shown his skill and his power by providing birds, both large and small—in the huge ostrich, and in the beautiful humming-bird, which in plumage excels the splendor of the peacock, and in size is almost on a level with the bee
God said, “let fowl multiply in the earth”; and they did, and continue to do so today.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day
This is the fifth day of God’s labors. The sun has been in the firmament for two days now, since it was put there the day before. The earth has rotated 360˚ on its axis twice; each rotation requiring twenty–four hours.