“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters He called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day” (Genesis 1:9-13 NIV)
Now into day three of the account of creation and we find a busy day ahead. Having already established the Earth in its proper position, and possibly even begun its rotation; the skies have been formed and the earth is ready for its first inhabitants…sort of.
Note first: That repeated phrase “And God said…” It is crucial to our understanding of creation that we recognize God’s supernatural qualities. God speaks, creation responds. We noted this before, but it is beneficial for us to review it here again. There is no hesitation as though the creation has a mind of its own. There is no time-lapse in which creation says ‘I think I will give this process a few million years’; indeed creation has no mind of its own, nor was it a process of happenstance and accidents. “God said”; that is enough; that is all that is needed. God speaks, and what He speaks comes to pass. If only we responded as creation at its beginning; instant obedience to the will of our Father and our Creator.
Note second: God distinguishes the “water under the sky” when he commands it to be gathered in one place. Having already discussed the second day of creation, it is enough here to remember that God’s plan of action has purpose. God chose only to separate the waters above and below the earth on the second day; an act we might consider small in comparison to the rest of His creative work. However, even here, God notes that it is the waters He specifically designated to remain under the sky which are to be gathered together.
“Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear”
Here we start to recognize the earth as it is today. Though it still lacks so much of its splendor, God commands the waters to recede and the land to come forth. Nearly all of the dry land of the earth appears here on day three. It should be noted quickly that I specifically say “nearly all” because anyone with any understanding of the science of geography or geology knows that there are islands being “born” even today from volcanoes around the globe. This, as with everything, is perfectly in accordance with God’s plans. It is no theological leap to determine this to be a part of God’s plan any more than it is a scientific leap to recognize the existence of these islands. An example of this wonder of God’s creation can be seen here in the modern age; feel free to have a look for yourself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9v1zsqkjMs
What is important to recognize here is the creation of the land on which most of us live. The great continents of the world are brought forth on this third day. There are those who suggest that at one time all of the earth’s continents were actually one single mass of land as seen in the picture below.
Certainly we can see a distinction in some of our shorelines which provides plausibility to such a theory, though it is admittedly a stretch. The scientific theory suggests that somewhere in our ancestral heritage, mankind began to migrate throughout this single continent (this is only one among several theories) and this is the explanation for both the diversity and similarities in cultures. Many of you may remember a phrase in Scripture which appears to paint a different picture.
“So the Lord dispersed them from there [Babel] over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city” (Genesis 11:8 ESV).
While we will explore this passage in-depth and context when we get to it, it is only appropriate to address a point here which relates to our current discussion. While we know full well that God dispersed mankind throughout the earth at this point in history, what we do not know is specifically how He went about that dispersion. We do know from verse 9 of the same chapter above that God “confused the language of all the earth”. This leads to the conjecture that mankind separated themselves due to an inability to understand each other; a reasonable assumption. However, it is just as likely that God both confused their language, and physically moved them throughout the earth, especially in light of the phrase “So the Lord dispersed them”. What does this have to do with the picture above? While Scripture does not address a single continent, it does not refute it either (at least not anywhere I have seen). This brings us to a fundamental dilemma when trying to harmonize scientific theory with Scripture (you may remember that I noted earlier this is NOT necessary). However, when possible, there is nothing wrong with finding harmony between the two, for it was God who gave us the mind that lead to science. That being said, we cannot force such harmonization upon the Scriptures. Here we have an example of something science has posited that is plausible while not being refuted by Scripture. Being that Scripture does not clarify the matter for us, we can reasonably assume one of two possibilities. Either God, on the third day of creation, separated the land masses from one another, resulting in the continents we know today; or God, upon dispersing mankind throughout the earth separated the land masses into the continents we know today. Whether you choose to believe in the former, or the latter is of little consequence. What is of great importance in such a debate is the recognition of who separated the land masses. It was God. Any attempts to force Scripture to fall in line with scientific theory is wrought with danger. Here, while there is no need to hold fast to one conclusion or the other regarding Scripture’s lack of evidence, there is a grave necessity to remember that regardless of the answer, it was God who carried out the act; not millions upon millions of years of development and evolution.
“And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters He called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.”
Now the waters are separated and the land has come forth at God’s command, and “God saw that it was good”. As we have already noted, when God determines that something is good, this is an indication that it is perfect, and we see here that God declares the formation of the seas, and the appearance of the dry ground to be perfect in accordance with His plans.
“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.”
With the dry land present before us, God now sets to the task of creating the plants of the earth. All of the trees and bushes, every type of vegetation that we know of is brought forth here on the third day. There are some important aspects of God’s commands as He brings forth the plants of the earth and we would do well to take account of them.
First: Note that God specifically instructs that the “seed-bearing plants” will bear fruit with seed “according to their various kinds”. This is a distinction in that each seed which is produced by a plant, whether fruit or otherwise (note that vegetation and fruit plants are mentioned separately in the passage), the seeds which are produced by a plant are capable of producing only a plant according to its kind. In other words, the seeds from a tomato plant cannot produce an apple; nor can the seeds for a squash produce a coconut tree. We must recognize from the outset of creation, from the first things brought forth with life of any sort, for the seas and the land have not a life of their own, each ‘life’ is capable of producing life that is in accordance with its own kind. This in itself is contrary to any evolutionary theory. The idea that any species, given enough time, will change into another species is simply contrary to God’s design. There are adaptations within a given species, these are well-known and documented in most instances, but they are not representative of evolution, for evolution requires that one species must “evolve” into another, or that a species must “evolve” into a better version of itself; requiring a complete change from the original model. Nor is the idea that we as humans can make alterations to certain types of plants, (corn for example has been extensively altered by science), in any way contrary to the assertions of Scripture here. Has science ever brought forth a pumpkin from the seeds of a radish? Of course not! The idea is preposterous
Here God commands that vegetation and fruit bearing trees come forth upon the land and carry seeds within them capable of re-producing like vegetation and fruit bearing trees.
Second: While all of these plants are capable of reproducing after themselves, it is imperative to recognize the hand of our Creator in their initial design. Without the hand of creation, the mind of design, and the consideration of the future from God, none of these plants would exist. They do not exist on their own, they were created just as everything to this point has been created. That they are capable of re-producing is testament to God’s desire to give His creation a level of self-sustainability that it would otherwise lack. The same sustainability that could not exist in a world that came about by mere chance. The nature of the Big Bang, and evolutionary theory ultimately insists that the cycle must come to a conclusion. However, it is important as a final note to clarify that a level of self-sustainability does not equate to a disinterested, disconnected Creator. God did not create and then abandon His creation! He is ever present…a point we will be discussing in-depth later on, but also one that will recur in many of our studies. It is enough to note here that God ensured His creation was able to move forward free of His hands, but equally keeps His hands gently upon creation to guide and nurture it with the love of a Father.
Note third: “And it was so”. God calls forth the dry land, separating the waters into the seas “and it was so”. God commands, creation obeys. A point reiterated time and again in the account of creation. One that we should never grow weary of giving recognition to. It is the duty of creation to obey the creator.
“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “why did you make me like this?”’”(Romans 9:20 NIV).
No, indeed that which is formed is formed with and for a purpose. Here, at creation, God forms all things and calls them to a purpose, it is only man who deems himself high enough to disobey that purpose.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will…according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 1:11; 3:11 NIV).
If you take but one thing away from this week’s study, please let it be that it is our purpose to live according to God’s will. For it was God who created each of us individually (a point I will address in adequate depth soon enough). All of creation obeys God without hesitation, without fail; all of creation but mankind. We are the crown of creation and we are the most rebellious.
“And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day”
Two quick notes here as we have covered them extensively already.
First: “And God saw that it was good”. Need I say more? It is perfect; it is as planned and ready to go forth in accordance with the whole of creation. If it were anything less than good, it would be bad and therefore unfit for God’s creation. It was good. We would do well to express ourselves with such simplicity and honesty. God does not distract us with extensive adjectives to describe His feelings of creation; He merely announces the sufficiency of what He has created. “It was good”.
Second: Noted here again, and something we should pay attention to. There are so many who want to equate scientific theory to biblical truth. Time and again, whether in school or on television, we are inundated with false “facts”. The entire account of creation explicitly announces its start and completion within a six-day time frame. Six literal days were spent by God in creating everything! Yet it is constantly pushed upon us that the earth is hundreds of billions of years old. How can this be? Is it possible that creation was not six literal days? No. The truth is so much simpler than the questions. “There was evening, and there was morning—the third day”. We have discussed days one, two, and three; including all that God created in each of these literal 24 hour days. Next, we will dive into day four and see the wonder of God continue in the creation of the beautiful universe around us.