Genesis 1:1, 2 . THE CREATION OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.
11. let the earth bring forth--The bare soil was clothed with verdure, and it is noticeable that the trees, plants, and grasses--the three great divisions of the vegetable kingdom here mentioned--were not called into existence in the same way as the light and the air; they were made to grow, and they grew as they do still out of the ground--not, however, by the slow process of vegetation, but through the divine power, without rain, dew, or any process of labor--sprouting up and flourishing in a single day.
Genesis 1:14-19 . FOURTH DAY.
14. let there be lights in the firmament--The atmosphere being completely purified, the sun, moon, and stars were for the first time unveiled in all their glory in the cloudless sky; and they are described as "in the firmament" which to the eye they appear to be, though we know they are really at vast distances from it.
16. two great lights--In consequence of the day being reckoned as commencing at sunset--the moon, which would be seen first in the horizon, would appear "a great light," compared with the little twinkling stars; while its pale benign radiance would be eclipsed by the dazzling splendor of the sun; when his resplendent orb rose in the morning and gradually attained its meridian blaze of glory, it would appear "the greater light" that ruled the day. Both these lights may be said to be "made" on the fourth day--not created, indeed, for it is a different word that is here used, but constituted, appointed to the important and necessary office of serving as luminaries to the world, and regulating by their motions and their influence the progress and divisions of time.
Genesis 1:20-23 . FIFTH DAY. The signs of animal life appeared in the waters and in the air.
20. moving creature--all oviparous animals, both among the finny and the feathery tribes--remarkable for their rapid and prodigious increase.
fowl--means every flying thing: The word rendered "whales," includes also sharks, crocodiles, &c.; so that from the countless shoals of small fish to the great sea monsters, from the tiny insect to the king of birds, the waters and the air were suddenly made to swarm with creatures formed to live and sport in their respective elements.
Genesis 1:24-31 . SIXTH DAY. A farther advance was made by the creation of terrestrial animals, all the various species of which are included in three classes: (1) cattle, the herbivorous kind capable of labor or domestication.
24. beasts of the earth--(2) wild animals, whose ravenous natures were then kept in check, and (3) all the various forms of
creeping things--from the huge reptiles to the insignificant caterpillars.
26. The last stage in the progress of creation being now reached--God said, Let us make man--words which show the peculiar importance of the work to be done, the formation of a creature, who was to be God's representative, clothed with authority and rule as visible head and monarch of the world.
In our image, after our likeness--This was a peculiar distinction, the value attached to which appears in the words being twice mentioned. And in what did this image of God consist? Not in the erect form or features of man, not in his intellect, for the devil and his angels are, in this respect, far superior; not in his immortality, for he has not, like God, a past as well as a future eternity of being; but in the moral dispositions of his soul, commonly called original righteousness ( Ecclesiastes 7:29 ). As the new creation is only a restoration of this image, the history of the one throws light on the other; and we are informed that it is renewed after the image of God in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness ( Colossians 3:10 , Ephesians 4:24 ).
28. Be fruitful, &c.--The human race in every country and age has been the offspring of the first pair. Amid all the varieties found among men, some black, some copper-colored, others white, the researches of modern science lead to a conclusion, fully accordant with the sacred history, that they are all of one species and of one family ( Acts 17:26 ). What power in the word of God! "He spake and it was done. He commanded and all things stood fast" [ Psalms 33:9 ]. "Great and manifold are thy works, Lord God Almighty! in wisdom hast thou made them all" [ Psalms 104:24 ]. We admire that wisdom, not only in the regular progress of creation, but in its perfect adaptation to the end. God is represented as pausing at every stage to look at His work. No wonder He contemplated it with complacency. Every object was in its right place, every vegetable process going on in season, every animal in its structure and instincts suited to its mode of life and its use in the economy of the world. He saw everything that He had made answering the plan which His eternal wisdom had conceived; and, "Behold it was very good" [ Genesis 1:31 ].