Genesis 1:14-25 From the Hubble Telescope to Sea Monsters and Opossums”

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Genesis: Finding Answers to Life’s Crucial QuestionsSemester One: Genesis 1-5 “Beginnings”

March 30, 2008Genesis 1:14-25 “From the Hubble Telescope to Sea Monsters and Opossums”


Introduction: Tell me about a time that you saw a particularly beautiful sunrise or sunset.___________ A month ago or so we had a lovely total lunar eclipse; did anyone take your kids outside to watch it with a telescope or binoculars? How about a favorite moonrise?___________ Any stargazers here this morning? One morning, back when I was in the Army, I was in the desert at Yakima, WA and I watched the sunrise while a herd of mule deer slowly ambled through my platoon’s position. In the mornings the sun seemed to cast orange and yellow hues across the landscape while in the evening, at sunset, there was a lot of violets and reds across the ridgelines. My favorite moonrise was at Fort Lewis, on a cold clear night watching the full moon rise above Mt. Ranier 40 miles away; the silver moonlight illuminating the snowy peak of the volcano. God certainly was right when he said, at the end of day 4, It was Good! How does an atheist explain the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets? How can the atheist explain beauty? How can an atheist play with a pet puppy or kitten and not see that God created all the animals?

 I. vss.14-19 The Greater and Lesser Lights

Let’s begin looking at the events of day 4 by asking some of the same tough questions about the text that we have been asking. Sailhamer (EBC, p33) asks, “Does the text state that the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day? If so, how could ‘the heavens and the earth’ which would have included the sun, moon, and stars, have been created ‘in the beginning’ (v.1)? Could there have been a ‘day and night’ during the first three days of creation if the sun had not yet been created? Were there plants and vegetation on the land (created on the third day) before the creation of the sun?”


These are indeed some excellent questions, what could some answers be? Some would say that, Yes indeed, the sun, moon and stars were created on day one but they were still chaotic and not fully formed until day 4. I have to ask, What does that mean? The Gap Theory as promoted in the old Scofield Reference Bible states that the sun, moon and stars were indeed created  in verse 1, but the cloud cover on the earth obscured them until day 4. But Sailhamer critiques both of these views as seeming to go around the apparent obvious point that the sun, etc. were created on day 4.

 Sailhamer continues by stating that the phrase in verse 1 “the heavens and the earth” does indeed mean the whole universe, thus in verse 14 the sun, moon and stars are already existing. Next, he studies the syntax of vs.14 and compares it with vs.6 and finds that instead of creating the sun, moon and stars, he is commanding them to do something, to separate the light from the darkness and to give times and seasons, etc. In vs. 6 he is creating a firmament, in vs.14 he is commanding the sun, etc. to fill a function. In the footnotes he gives all the Hebrew grammar for this interpretation, which material I will leave in the footnotes. He further states that vs.15 concludes the report of what God did and vs.16 is more like Moses’ comment on what God did, saying, “So God, and not any other gods, made the lights and put them in the sky.”  Again, let me quote Sailhamer, (p.34) “Behind this narrative, in other words, is a concern on the part of the author to emphasize that God alone created the lights of the heavens, and thus no one else is to be given the glory and honor due only to him. The passage also states that God created the light in the heavens for a purpose, namely, to divide day and night, and to mark the seasons and days and years…Both of these concerns form the heart of the whole of chapter 1, namely, the lesson that God alone is the Creator of all things and worthy of the worship of his people.” (Read Sailhamer Unbound pp132-134). 

Now structurally, keeping in mind the literary framework view, this 4th day of creation begins the second set of three days in the creation narrative. Day 1 we saw the creation of Light, Day and Night, and now on day 4 we see the completion or filling of day 1 with the creation of the sun, moon and stars. There is a correspondence between days 1and 4, days 2 and 5, days 3 and 6. Thus it could be that the emphasis here is not on a strictly literal day by day account of creation, but a simple and artistic telling of the story to teach us that God created it all and not the gods of the Mesopotamians, Egyptians or Canaanites.

 The importance of the day 4 account is emphasized by the length of this narrative when compared to the other days of creation. It is exceeded only by the account of the 6th day which includes the creation of man, and it has some built in redundancy for emphasis as well as being placed in the center position with 3 days before it and 3 days (including the 7th) coming after. So Moses was emphasizing day 4 for some reason. QQ: Why would Moses emphasize day 4 and the creation of the sun, moon and stars?_____________ As I have mentioned before, there is an element of the polemic or apologetic here in Genesis 1. Moses is contrasting the Truth about God and Creation with the lies promoted by the other worldviews around Israel. Moses was educated in the religion and philosophy of Egypt and the people very obviously (see Exodus) were drawn in to the Egyptian religions. In the patriarchal narratives (which we will get to in the year 2017) we find that Abraham’s relatives worshiped false gods and that the lovely Rachel stole the idols from Laban’s household. So Moses is writing against those gods as well. Israel will be encountering the Canaanites, Midianites, Hittites and all the other ites as well as the Philistines later, all of whom have their pantheons and creation stories.  

Folks, for too long the Christian church, Baptists in particular, have sat comfortably in our churches and failed to confront our culture with the truth. We have failed to study our culture to find the lies and falsehoods and to understand the times. We have tried to witness by sharing little pamphlets like the 4 Spiritual Laws in an age that has false gods and false philosophies everywhere. We have avoided polemical sermons because we want to be “positive” and encouraging. I have had people walk out of my church because I said the god of Islam, Allah, is really a demon and that Mormonism is not Christian but is a cult. We have allowed society to abuse language. Today in America and Western Civ in general, to disagree with someone in their religion, or “lifestyle choice” and to present reasoned, cogent arguments for your position and against theirs is called being “Intolerant”. You know who the intolerant ones are? The liberals who run this country and our schools and our entertainment industry and the media. They will not tolerate the truth! Sinful man always suppresses the truth Paul says in Romans 1.


Well here in our passage, Moses is poking a stick in the eye of the Egyptians who raised him and educated him, and he is challenging the Babylonians/Chaldeans who raised Abraham. But Moses is doing it in a very positive, educated and artistic, beautiful way. He is not trash talking, he is eloquently proclaiming the truth.


In this passage, Moses does not use the Hebrew for sun and moon (semes and yareah or lebana); instead, he says “greater light and lesser light. Why? The linguistic similarity between the Heb. names and the names for the false gods is astounding. Shamash is the sun god and Yarih the moon god in the common semitic languages of the day in Babylon. Moses did not want any confusion at all, so he was very precise with his words. (see Gordon J. Wenham, WBC vol.1 p.21).


Mathews writes (NAC, p.154) “What appears to be at stake in the narrative is the answer to the ancient question about who ‘rules’ the skies and the earth. Mesopotamian and Egyptian religions speak of their great cosmic gods of Heaven, Air and Earth. The Sumerians have their Anu, Enlil, and Enki; the Babylonians have their trinity of stars, Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar; and Egypt has Nut, Shu, and Geb with the preeminent astral deity, the sun god, Re. Genesis declares otherwise: Israels God rules the heavens and the earth. The ancients misinterpreted the prominence of the celestial bodies, which owed their existence and authority to the Unseen One.”


The ancient Arabs worshipped Allah the moon god and when Mohammed came around he preached that Allah was the only true god. The crescent moon is on the flags of many muslim countries because the crescent moon is an ancient religious symbol in that part of the world, even used by Christians in Constantinople.

 Notice in our text that the stars are mentioned as an afterthought. The ancient astrologers did use wonderful math and astronomy techniques without the aid of telescopes to keep track of the stars, eclipses and the wandering stars or planets. But they also used them as astrological signs ascribing powers to them. Moses barely mentions them. Later in Scripture however, we find (Job 9:9; 38:31) Read Job 9:1-12; 38-31-33; Psalm 19:1-7. 

II. Day Five: Fish and Birds, vss.20-23

One of the most obvious and interesting things about the creation account is that when you compare it to the theory of evolution as taught in school these days, is that the pattern of life development is quite similar. Plant life comes first, then life in the oceans, then the birds, mammals next, and man last. So even in man’s attempt to do away with God, Creation and the Bible, man’s own atheistic, materialistic theories still point to the truths of God’s Word in some fashion.


Let’s look briefly now at vss.20-23 and the life God created in the seas and in the air. Again, from the literary framework view of Genesis we see that day 5 of creation fulfills day 2 of creation by placing sea creatures in the waters below the firmament and birds which will fly in the firmament, or sky, above.


Vs20- “Let the waters swarm (teem)…” this passive command is another indirect creative act, it is as if the waters were at one moment empty and at the next, teeming with all kinds of aquatic life. It would appear like the waters suddenly begat fish. This shows that God spoke and the waters obeyed, therefore the waters are subject to God and are not divine themselves. This is yet another contrast with the pagan systems of mythology that surround Israel.

 What is a “living creature”? nepes hayya is the Hebrew. The traditional interpretation of nepes is “soul” but in the context of the fish, birds and, later, animals, we can understand it to mean a living creature. The word seres is teem, or swarm, and indicates great abundance. My understanding of the fossil record is that the earliest fossils of sea beds show an abundance of aquatic life all over. I would tend to think that if evolution were the way things happened you would have life originating at a point and gradually spreading out and diversifying. So even the fossil record seems to point us back towards the Scriptural account.  Another thing we see is that God creates again by merely speaking it: And God said. But also notice that Moses uses the word “created” (bara) in reference to the sea creatures. Now I have to ask you, QQ: Why did Moses use this weighty word, bara-created, here in vs. 21 when in all the other places after vs.1 he uses “Let there be…” or “God made”? John Sailhamer sees in the use of the term bara a wordplay between blessing and created. Blessing is beraka. Thus there is a theological as well as a linguistic link between the two words. Look at Psalm 74:13-14; Isaiah 27:1; 51:9. Bara is used at the beginning of Genesis 1 and again at the end of the creation story in 2:3. But in between it is used only here of the sea creatures and birds and then in vs27 about man. I think he uses this word here to show that Leviathan is merely one of God’s creatures. Again, Moses strips away the pagan divinities from the story in terms that would be quite clear to the Israelites. This apologetic style is very graceful, not heavy handed, but it is direct and to the point as well.  

In Psalm 74 Leviathan is borrowed from Canaanite mythology of Ugarit in Syria where Lothan is a 7 headed sea monster of chaos defeated by Baal at creation. In Isaiah 27 Leviathan represents evil itself. Isa. 51 ties together the harlot Rahab with that dragon.


QQ: These references to “great sea creatures” or to Leviathan- are they more than references to pagan mythological gods and goddesses? Or, have there been dragons and sea monsters? There are legends and myths to this very day of things like the Loch Ness Monster, the great serpent in Lake Chelan in Washington State, the Yeti of the Himalaya, etc. You will see these stories and some occasional photos on the internet. When I was stationed at Ft. Lewis up in Washington, the legend of Sasquatch was quite strong. I believe that this text is speaking directly to the false gods of the ancient near east, but I do not automatically dismiss the myths as having no basis in history. Even today sea faring men, scientists as well as the average sailor, see things out there that they thought were extinct long ago that could fit the criteria of a “great sea creature”. This world is a big place and there is plenty of mystery left, so whether the great sea creatures are merely the whales, or something else, the bottom line is that God created them, God is sovereign over them, and they are not any kind of divine entity in competition with God.


Sailhamer discounts the interpretation of Great Sea Creatures as pointing to the pagan deities, and says it is a reference to either a snake or serpent (it is the same word used in Ex.7:9-12) or even to a crocodile which the Nile had in abundance. And if ever there were a creature alive today that resembles a monster it would be the crocodile!

 Sailhamer’s interpretation of verse 20 is that this again is the Lord preparing the promised land in 7 days of creation and that he is populating the seas and lakes of the promised land with abundant aquatic life. Sailhamer points back to verse1 as including the creation of all the birds, fish and animals in the original creation. Read p.141 of Sailhamer. 

“According to their kinds..” here is another sign of an orderly creation that, in our day, seems to take a stand against evolution from one species into another.


In vs.22 we find the first “blessing”  of God in Scripture. This blessing is tied to procreation by the individual creatures. Mathews writes (p.157-8) “This is the first occasion of a “blessing” and it is the theological keyword linking the history of the cosmos and of humanity (chaps.1-11) with the promises to the patriarchs (12-50)… Genesis shows that God has a blessing for all living creatures as a creation ordinance…, but the “blessing: for the nations will be realized only by those who bless Abraham and his seed.”


It seems that through the patriarchal stories, blessings almost always include land and numerous descendents, and that is a theme here in Gen. 1 too.


III. Day 6- The animals vv.24-25

Again we see the correspondence of day 6 with day 3; the dry land and vegetation were made in day 3 and now the life that fills the land is created. Notice that in vs.11-12 the earth brought forth the vegetation, still at the command of God in vs.11 And God said, but in verses 21 and 24, Moses’ comments on God’s creation, he specifically writes So God created or And God made the beasts of the earth. QQ: why is there a distinction between plant life and fish, fowl and mammal life? Life comes from God alone and there is a qualitative difference between plant life and animal life, and as we shall see later, a difference between animal life and human life.   Implications and Applications:

Now what are the implications and applications of these two days of creation? Where is Christ in all of this? Shouldn’t we focus on Jesus a little bit in all our Bible Studies?


In Col.1:15-17 we see that Christ was the agent of creation; he was present and active in all that God did in Gen.1. Jesus is not a created being, he is co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, and even though the Son is not mentioned in Gen.1, he is there creating what the Father wills. When Col.1:15 says that he is the “firstborn of all creation” that does not mean that Jesus was created first (sadly I had a SS teacher in a church here in town teach that in a class, and he, being much older than I, and having Dr. as his first name, did not want to be corrected by me, a lowly seminary student at the time). Firstborn meant also a place of privilege and responsibility, honor and dignity. The firstborn is the heir, one who takes possession of the inheritance and rules for his Father.


In what way do we see Christ ruling over nature? In Mark 1:13 we have an under reported miracle I believe, in that mark alone of all the Gospel authors includes the fact that Jesus was alone with the wild animals in the wilderness. I believe this implies that Jesus was in some danger, and that his Father protected him by controlling the wild animals. In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus has Simon lower his fishing nets on the other side of the boat and they catch an abundance of fish- Jesus controls the fish of the sea which he created.  In Mark 4:35-41 Jesus calms the storm and the sea. In Mark 6:48-51 he walks on water and seems to also calm the wind again. In Mark 11:1-7 is one of the miracles that is frequently overlooked, Jesus rode on a donkey colt upon which no man had ever ridden.


In the OT Law we find that there are some laws dealing with the use of nature. Now in Gen. 1:26 which we will study next time, we see that man was given dominion over the earth and the animals, so I don’t want to cover all that yet. But I do want to say that the whole earth belongs to the Lord who created it and he has blessed it, and given a special blessing to the fish and animals. Therefore, we do need to develop a Christian Theology of Ecology. We do need to take care of our environment.


Sadly, much of the Environmental Movement has been taken over by pantheists or atheists, fruits and nuts, who have an unbiblical view of nature and man. But we as Christians ought to take back the environmental movement and set it straight on a biblical foundation. Let me give you one example of what I am talking about. President Theodore Roosevelt was a hunter, a naturalist, and our first conservationist president. He was aghast at the depopulation of the deer from New York and took measures to institute hunting regulations. To this day, when I purchase my hunting and fishing license every year, when I buy ammunition, I pay fees and taxes that go specifically to game and wildlife management programs. The fees that sportsmen pay have greatly aided the cause of animals, more than anything PETA has ever done. There are more deer in America today because of modern hunting and game management practices.


I believe we need to do more to regulate the fishing industry in international waters because the great fisheries are being used up rapidly. I believe that more needs to be done to prevent pollution in the sea. In America in the last 50 years we have made a lot of progress in cleaning up our air, streams and rivers and lakes. It is in the non-Christian third world places like China, Russia and India where you see the huge pollution problems today. Yes there is a hard to reach balance between industry, jobs, economic development and taking care of the environment. But if you look at the parts of the world that have the best balance, it is no accident that it is Western Europe and North America, the lands most influenced by Christianity.


What about global warming? Does this text say anything about that issue? I believe that it speaks to global warming in 2 ways. 1)Again, we need to protect the environment, the plants and fish, birds and animals which God created. Christians ought to be leaders in the environment movement. But, we need to use our heads and not just our hearts. When you listen carefully to the things that the global warming nuts are saying and when you carefully look at what science actually says, you will see that man’s impact on the environment, though significant, pales in comparison to what the sun does. 2)Science has much more evidence that global warming is a result of the natural cycles of the sun than that it comes from anything man does. It is a fact that one good volcano eruption puts out more carbon dioxide and more dust and pollution than anything man has done. It is a fact that the oceans have currents that do change and those currents have more to d with the weather patterns than anything man does. Does all this mean we should just ignore pollution? No, I don’t like the high ozone days here in the metroplex any more than you do. But it does mean that we should not be sucked into the false teachings and craziness of those around us.


From v.14 we see that the study of the sun, moon and stars is important, for time and seasons. This was not just for the farmers but also for the sailors and for the religious festivals of Israel as well. But for us, this is more than just a means of doing a calendar. I believe that the study of astronomy will give glory to God. I strongly encourage you to read some of Dr. Hugh Ross’ books, even though you may disagree with some of his conclusions. I firmly believe that what NASA is doing and all the astronomical research labs and amateur astronomers, is giving glory to God as man discovers more about the universe God created. Again, Christians ought to go into the science fields.


QQ: Will there be animals in heaven? I have been asked this question a few times and I was even asked to do sort of a funeral service for a cat that died. While I do not see anywhere in scripture that says specific animals that die will go to heaven, and I do see a fundamental difference between animal life and human life as we shall see in vv.26-29 and again in ch.2, man alone is created in the image of God and man alone has the breath of God breathed into him.


But will there be animals in heaven? First of all we need to understand that those who die today will go to be with the Lord in paradise, but our physical bodies await the resurrection. But even then remember that the 3 apostles saw Moses and Elijah on the Mount with Jesus, so we will be in some kind of a recognizable form while awaiting our resurrection.


But the Scriptures also talk about a new heaven and a new earth. It talks about the city of God descending to earth as the new Jerusalem. I believe that our eternity may very well include dwelling on an earth that more closely resembles the Garden of Eden. We began in Eden and we will someday return to Eden. In this newly recreated earth we see in Isa.65:25 that the wolf and lamb will graze together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. Now this is highly figurative language that may not be taken strictly literally. But nonetheless, it seems to point to a return to an Edenic like condition pre-fall, where even the wildlife may have a totally different nature. I cannot think of any biblical reason for there not to be animals in our eternal home. I rather like CS Lewis’ portrayal of such in his Chronicles of Narnia series.


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3 Responses to “Genesis 1:14-25 From the Hubble Telescope to Sea Monsters and Opossums””

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It is mentioned in Revelation, I believe, that in the New Jerusalem that there will be no need for the sun, because the Lord’s radiance will light the world and there will be no days and no nights. If the sun, moon and stars where not created until the fourth day then may I suggest that it was by the radiance of God’s light that the earth was illuminated during the first 3 days of creation.

Mormons, in contrast to Catholics and Protestants are not Creedal Christians. However, they do believe in the Jesus Christ of the New Testament:

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Mark 12 and Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion. This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity’s comprehension of baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) adheres more closely to First Century Christianity and the New Testament than any other denomination. For example, Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

One Baptist blogger stated “99 percent of the members of his Baptist church believe in the Mormon (and Early Christian) view of the Trinity. It is the preachers who insist on the Nicene Creed definition.” It seems to me the reason Mark 12 and the pastors denigrate the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

Further reading;

To the Mormon who contributed the above comment,
1)Thank you for reading and responding to my blog
2)Thank you for your comments, they help make my case. The name of your website or blog is “mormonsarechristian” and this reveals a lot. If you are saying that Mormons are Christians TOO, as in ALSO, as in Mormons and Baptists are just different varieties of Christian, THEN you are sadly confused or deliberately deceptive. You say that you believe in the Jesus of the New Testament. What I say is that, using LDS literature, your church proclaims a very different Jesus and God than what Protestants/Catholics and Orthodox claim. In fact, in Joseph Smith’s original encounter with the angel Moroni and in his visions from God, he asked which church was right, which church he should go to. Smith was told in no uncertain terms that he should not go to any of them because they were all apostate, all wrong. The founding of the Mormon religion was based upon the alleged fact that none of the Christian Churches were actually Christian. LDS claims, as you do state in your comment, that they are the ones who are returning to biblical, apostolic, christianity. Therefore,the LDS and Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox Christianity CANNOT both be Christian. The LDS definition of who Jesus and God are, the definition of the Trinity, is different, they are opposed to one another and are mutually exclusive. So, please, do not ever say that Mormons are Christians TOO, be clear and state that the LDS is the True Christian Church and all others are apostate. THEN, we can have useful dialog. Thanks,

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