In the last study on creation, we looked at the creation of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars and their significance. We looked at how their task to rule the heavens is a task given from God and how He is giving authority to His creation. Today we will look at day 5 and the significance of creation. Let’s begin.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning-the fifth day.
Here we have the beginning of animals and living creatures being created and put on the earth. This is, again, God filling His created world with inhabitants. God created the sea and now He is filling it with creatures that will live and move about in the waters. God is also creating inhabitants for the sky He created. Those wonderful little birds that chirp and sing were created to fill the sky and fly in it. We start to see life on the earth and it is just the beginning. There are many questions surrounding animals and how and why they were made. Evolution becomes a big question when dealing with this passage as well. We are going to explore these questions and more as we study the fifth day of creation. Let us begin.
One thing we must be sure to take notice of is the fact that God specifically created these creatures. God says it and He does it. This again points to the fact that God is supreme and it shows His authority over His creation. There is also a pattern starting to form here. If we recall the ancient Hebrew view of the world we have the sky above, the land, and the sea below. What is interesting is that in these passages, God is filling both the sky above and the sea below, leaving the land inhabitants to fill the land for last. We also see again this evening and morning pattern, the same cycle that has been present since the beginning. We also see that God created fish and birds separately (more on this later). Let’s get into the details of this passage and find some clarity.
Sea-Monsters or Whales?
There is a bit of question surrounding the “great creatures of the sea” or “great sea creatures” in some translations.What exactly are or were these creatures? It seems to be that whatever these creatures are they are different from the other living things in the water which God creates. As we can see from the passage it says, “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it”. These great sea creatures seem to be different than the other living things that live in the water because they are called out specifically by name. So what are they? Well let’s look at the original Hebrew to find out. The Hebrew word used here is “tanninim” and it is used to describe a sea-monster, serpent, or a whale. So does this mean that there are real sea-monsters that God created? It is highly unlikely and it is more likely that this is referring to large aquatic fish like whales or even the great Leviathan or a Mosasaurus. What makes it less likely to a mythological sea-monster that terrorizes sailors and the sea is that God is creating order here, not chaos. In God’s good and perfect world He is creating, He is creating peace and it is highly unlikely that these are enormous beasts of the sea that everyone is petrified of. The “great sea creatures” most likely refers to large aquatic fish and even prehistoric aquatic dinosaurs that we know God created as well.
Species or Kind?
Now that we have a clarity on what is meant by the “great sea creatures” we can now move on to another big debate in creation. The big debate among many people is what this word “kind” means and what it meant when it was written. Context is always the key when looking at words and their meaning. Just like in English, words can have many different meanings depending on when and how they are used. Ancient Hebrew is the same way. Let’s look at how the Hebrew word for “kind” (min) is used in this passage.
Here’s our passage again, “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind”. Notice how the word is used here. God uses the word after each type of animal is described. He creates the living things in the water according to their “kinds” and winged birds according to their “kinds”. It would be different if God had said that He made fish and birds according to their “kinds” and combined them. That might give the indication that fish and birds are related somehow. However, God doesn’t do that and He is very clear and distinguishes them from one another. From an evolutionary standpoint, the statement made about all species originated from one ancestor is simply not biblical.
A question that often arises from this passage surrounds flightless birds. Were flightless birds like penguins and ostriches created on this day? Was it only birds that fly created on this day? There is a theory out there that some birds have lost their ability to fly over time. They say that genetic mutations and other environmental factors can lead to this kind of change in birds. That is one theory. However, there is another theory that can come out of looking at the word “bird” in Hebrew. The word for “bird” used here is “owph” in Hebrew. It can mean “covered with feathers” or “covering with wings” and is used to describe birds or fowl. A dominant characteristic in birds is their ability to fly but that does not mean all birds were created to fly and therefore all should. This could just be a case where God made His wonderful creation the way He wanted, and that includes flightless birds that are wonderful in many ways.
The last segment in our passage is a command God gives to the water creatures and birds. It says, “God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” This again is God giving some of His supreme power to His creation. God could create and reproduce the living things He wants to when He wants to. Instead He gives a command to the living things He has created to do that for themselves. He tells them to increase in number and fill the water and the earth. Their purpose is to live and increase and continue the beautiful creation God started. This cycle and purpose can be seen even in birds and sea creatures.