Genesis 1:28-31 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Good morning. Welcome back to Genesis. And welcome back to day six. Last week we looked at the beginning of day six—the creation of land animals and mankind. In regard to mankind we saw (from vs.25-26) that man was the crown of God’s creation; that everything in creation was moving toward the creation of human beings. We also saw, for the eighth and final creative time, that God created man by his word. More impressively still, we saw the first allusions to the triune nature of God, as well as the divine-image-bearing, dominion-wielding, and male/female nature of mankind.
This morning, then, we’re on the final sermon of the final day of the final act of creation week. In our passage (vs.28-31) we’ll learn even more about God’s design for his people. In particular we’ll see three aspects of God’s blessing on mankind, a bit more of God’s commission (the dominion mandate) to mankind, a bit more about God’s provision for mankind, and God’s final verdict on all that he had made. Please pray with me that God would help us to understand and love and live in light of all that is in this passage. And please pray with me that we’d see how this passage fits within this chapter, how this chapter fits within Genesis, and how Genesis fits within the whole of God’s story of salvation.
DAY SIX: BLESSING
As we consider the end of chapter one and the end of God’s initial creative work, I want you to see three specific (even if familiar) things. First, I want you to see that our God is a God of blessings (he loves to bless his people). Second, I want to help you see the three specific blessings of God mentioned in this passage. And third, I want you to see God’s final verdict as he looks upon his creation. And all of this is meant to help us grow in our understanding of God, ourselves, the world we live in, and how to live in a manner pleasing to God and truly satisfying to our souls in light of all of that. Let’s begin with the God of blessings.
The God of Blessing
28 And God blessed them…
This is the second time Moses has spoken of God as one who blesses. The first time was in v.22, on the fifth day of creation. In that passage God blessed the fish of the sea and the birds of the air with the ability to reproduce. The first stated blessing of God upon his creation was the ability to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters [and the sky]”.
In a few moments we’ll get to the specific blessings that God gave to man, but before we get there, would you consider again with me the simple fact that God loves to give blessings. Our God is a God of limitless and unceasing blessing. In the day 5 sermon I reminded you that God’s “disposition to those who are in Jesus is exclusively one of blessing.” And then I asked you, “Do you believe that? Do you think like that? Does you feel that day in and day out? Is that conviction the basis of your prayers? Is that conviction the basis of your disposition throughout the day? Is that conviction the first thing that comes to your mind when both comfort and hardship come your way?” You’ve had a few weeks to think about it, so what’s your answer? Have you moved in that direction? Are you growing in your appreciation of the fact that God is for you in every way? Let the following verses spur you on in your understanding of, appreciation for, and worship in this aspect of our God.
Proverbs 3:33 [The LORD] blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
Proverbs 28:20 A faithful man will abound with blessings
Deuteronomy 28:1-6 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
Where God’s people are righteous, faithful, and obedient, they will know only God’s blessing. If you were to keep reading Deuteronomy 28, you’d find many, many more blessings offered by God for those who would obey. If you were to read the rest of the bible, you would find hundreds more still. For the righteous, faithful, and obedient, God’s blessings are immeasurable and eternal. He is truly a God of blessing.
But hopefully some of you are thinking. Hopefully some of your minds are turning right now. Hopefully two things have occurred to you already. First, I hope you’ve recognized the simple fact that God’s initial blessing of Adam and Eve seems to have been the follow-through to his creation of them. That is, there is no record of Adam and Eve having done anything at all yet. They don’t seem to have done anything faithful, righteous, or obedient and so why would God have blessed them?
The second thing I hope you’ve recognized is the fact that you have done things. Hopefully you’re thinking, “It’s great that God blesses the godly, but I’m not always righteous and never fully righteous. My faithfulness waivers at times. And I’m not nearly careful enough to do all of God’s commandments.” And, therefore, hopefully all of you are wondering, “Where does that leave me? How does that effect my ability to know the God of blessing and the blessings of God?”
I’m glad you thought of these things because it gets us right to the heart of the matter. God is a God of blessing, but only for the faithful, righteous, and obedient. And yet, the great news of the love and goodness and blessing of God is that he has always provided all that he requires for those who simply trust in him. That’s the good news of Christmas—that Jesus came to be all that God requires. That’s the good news of Christmas—that Jesus came to be what we could not. That’s the good news of Christmas—that Jesus came to be a curse so we could know the Blessing. Therefore we read in Ephesians 1…
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…
God blesses us in Christ with every spiritual blessing, and so we bless God. Though we couldn’t do what God requires, God provided One who could and did—even to the point of dying on the cross in our place. In Jesus, we really can know the God of blessing and the blessings of God.
Truly, then, as the psalmist says, Psalm 144:15 Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!
Again, the first thing to see here is that God blessed Adam and Eve because he is a God of blessing. Likewise, God blesses all who hope in Jesus because he is a God of blessing. But how, specifically, did God bless these first people? That question leads us to the next point in the text.
The Blessing of God
As we just saw, the blessings of God for his people are limitless. And yet, once again, as with the animals, God’s blessing takes a particular form in this passage. Three things in particular make up the specific blessings of God.
First, and most significant, God blessed Adam and Eve by making them fruitful.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…
In this blessing, God gave Adam and Eve the ability to conceive, bear, and raise children into adulthood. God granted his image-bearers the gift of being able to make new life, and to make it abundantly. In this, God allows mankind to join him in being life-givers.
Beyond the obvious implication of this blessing (the perpetuation of human beings), I’d like to name three more very significant implications. The first happens to be very much out of favor today: the blessing of every individual conception. Every baby in every womb is the result of the continuation of these simple words. Truly, “for believers, [conception and] childbirth are acts of worship, a sharing in the work of God, the one who created life” (Ross, CB, 113). Being pro-life, at its core, is believing Genesis 1:28 is true. It is believing that fruitfulness is a gift of God. It is believing that God is life and rejoicing in the fact that he allows us to join him in having and making it.
A second implication of this blessing is that the Israelites were to view their fruitfulness very differently than their pagan neighbors. While the civilizations around them were engaged in all manner of sacrifice, ritual, sinful acts, and offering to their gods and to other various aspects of creation (“Never boil a baby goat in his mother’s milk”) in order to ensure fertility, the Israelites were simply to receive God’s blessing. The God of the bible is not like any other god; for he alone is the One True God.
The third additional implication of this blessing (the blessing of fruitfulness) is the fact that because of it all mankind are descendents of the same first couple. This has massive implications for our understanding of family, neighbor, race, and sin. Because God chose to cause all humanity to flow from Adam and Eve (rather than simply filling the earth with people from the start—as he did with every other living thing), we truly are all one family, we truly are all neighbors, we truly are all one race (human), and the corrupted nature of Adam and Eve really does flow in our veins. Rightly understood then, this blessing comes with great responsibility as well. Because of it we are responsible to love everyone as our brother or sister, to serve everyone as our neighbor, to honor everyone in light of our common ancestry, and we are responsible to pray for and share the gospel with everyone as our fellow debtors.
The first of God’s explicitly stated blessings in this passage is the blessing of fruitfulness for his people.
The second aspect of God’s blessing for mankind, the second thing God spoke over Adam and Eve, was a restatement of his v.26 commission,
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “… have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
One critical component of mankind’s divine-image bearing is his dominion over God’s creation. As those created in God’s likeness, Adam and Eve, according to God’s plan, would share in God’s authority. As I mentioned last week, this was not a “blank check” for them to do with creation whatever they might. Rather, just as God makes all of his creation flourish, so too were Adam and Eve to work to this end: the flourishing of all that God had put in their charge. Man was never to confuse his rule (subordinate) with God’s (ultimate) or his desires with God’s. Rather, under God and for the glory and purposes of God, mankind was to conquer wilderness and make civilization, to hold back chaos and maintain order. And he was to do these things by bringing everything else God had made into submission.
Grace, the implications of this too are massive. Let me briefly name just one (one that I’ll unpack in a significant way as we move into Genesis 2). This is what gives your work meaning and significance. This blessing is what gives you the chance to truly honor God—as much as any missionary, pastor, or vocational minster—whatever your job. Whether you are a copy machine repairman, an accountant, at stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, a garbage collector, or a plumber, an IT specialist, or whatever else, insofar as you are working as unto the LORD to bring order, live and share the gospel, with integrity and excellence, this blessing of God means that you are able to bless God.
This was a second blessing of God—the authority to join him in ruling over creation for its flourishing.
And the third part of God’s blessing spoken to the first humans was a description of his provision for mankind.
29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”
At this point man would tend to both the plants and animals, flourishing in them and causing them to flourish, but eat the plants alone. In a few chapters we’ll see that after the Great Flood God would also give mankind certain animals for food (Genesis 9:3). And then, many years later, as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus, God would give mankind every animal for food (Acts 11:7-9).
This too stands in stark contrast with the way the Israelite’s pagan neighbors viewed the world. Where the pagans believed that they had to give food to the gods, the Israelites are here reminded that their God provides food for them. Everything man needed, God provided. The blessing of God stated here is that by God’s design, Adam and Eve were never to be without abundant provision. The earth, under mankind’s tending, would continually burst forth with goodness.
Collectively, these three blessings are wonderful indeed. They are the beginning and foundation of all that God would offer mankind for his satisfaction. These were such powerful words of God that they continue even today. Each of them, expanded, and more are still for God’s people now. How can we not praise God?!
What’s more, each of these three blessings serve as further evidence of the uniqueness of the God’s glory in man. The first (be fruitful) because of the manner in which the blessing was delivered. God spoke directly to Adam and Eve, “thus drawing attention to the [uniquely] personal relationship between God and man” (Wenham, WBC, 33). The second (the dominion mandate) in that it placed mankind above all the rest of creation as its master. And the third (everything for food), like the second, in that it shows that the rest of creation was given to man. Again, collectively, these are great blessings and collectively they help us to see that mankind is truly the crown of God’s creation and uniquely able to share in and further God’s blessing and glory.
And It Was So
All of this—the creation of mankind, male and female, and their three-fold blessing—was the will of God. This was his desire. This was his plan. This was his expressed intention for the world he’d made…
30 And it was so.
For the final time, God spoke and it was so. There was no delay. There was no disobedience. There was no corruption. It was so. Just as God intended, without exception. Praise God, Grace, for our sovereign God who can make his grace irresistible. Praise God who alone is able to accomplish all his purposes. Praise God for none can stay his hand.
And that leads to the final section: the verdict.
DAY SIX: VERDICT
Having made all that he intended to make, God looked down upon his creation. He looked and he saw and he judged it. To this point God had judged all that he had made as good. Here, though, the verdict changed.
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Collectively, God’s creation was no longer merely good. It was now “very good”. This too speaks to the unique glory of mankind. With the entire heavens and earth complete, save man, God judged his creation to be “good”. With the addition of man alone, God’s verdict became “very good”.
God had made a garden-temple in which he would dwell with man, provide for man, and bless man in staggering ways, even as man surrendered to God’s blessing and authority. And all of this together was for God’s great glory and mankind’s great good.
And yet, as we will find out in chapter 3, Adam and Eve would forsake God’s blessing and rule and fall short of his glory. The very good garden which was meant to know only fruitfulness and blessing would be cursed by God such that thorns and thistles would spring up. Mankind would be cursed by God such that his work would be made more difficult, childbearing would be painful, and man and women would know strife, even unto death. The great promise of Jesus, however, is that one day there will be a new, incorruptible garden-temple in which all who are in Christ will dwell forever with God; in which every aspect of the curse will be done away with; and in which only the limitless blessing of God will remain. All of this helps us to see the greatness of God. It also helps us to see that by nature of being human—made in God’s image and with his blessings and commission—there is “great capacity and responsibility” (Ross, CB, 113). It helps us to see who we are and what we are for.
This first chapter of the bible is the foundation of the world we live in, the basis of our understanding of reality, and an introduction to the God who made it and rules over it for his glory. That’s even bigger than it sounds. Apart from a real grasp of creation week, we cannot live in this world as we were designed to do. We cannot fully grasp the nature and purpose God gave us. We cannot understand our relationship to one another or the rest of the things God made. And apart from a genuine grasp of Genesis 1 we cannot really understand the essence of sin and judgment, heaven and hell, or God’s offer to rescue and restore. There’s a lot more to be said that what is covered in Genesis 1, but there cannot be less; for everything else builds on this foundation. As we contemplate and celebrate the coming of God in the flesh, then, let us remember that it is because of Genesis 1 that the cross was just, necessary, and sufficient. And insodoing, let us give glory to God in the highest.