The Last Five Days’ Creation
Ver. 6–8. We here enter upon the second day, which was employed in making a firmament or expanse. It includes the atmosphere, and all that is visible, from the position of the sun, moon, and stars, down to the surface of the globe, ver. 14, 15, 20.
The use of it was to “divide the waters from the waters;” that is, the waters on the earth from the waters in the clouds, which are well known to be supported by the buoyant atmosphere. The division here spoken of is that of distribution. God, having made the substance of all things, goes on to distribute them. By means of this the earth is watered by the rain of heaven, without which it would be unfruitful, and all its inhabitants perish. God makes nothing in vain. There is a grandeur in the firmament to the eye; but this is not all; usefulness is combined with beauty. Nor is it useful only with respect to animal subsistence, it is a mirror, conspicuous to all, displaying the glory of its Creator, and showing his handiworks. The clouds also, by emptying themselves upon the earth, set us an example of generosity, and reprove those who, full of this world’s good, yet keep it principally to themselves, Eccles. 11:1–3.
Ver. 9–13. God having divided the heavens and the earth, he now, on the third day, proceeds to subdivide the earth, or chaos, into land and water. The globe became terraqueous; partly earth, and partly sea.
It is easy to perceive the goodness of God in this distribution. Important as earth and water both are, yet, while mixed together, they afford no abode for creatures; but, separated, each is a beautiful habitation, and each subserves the other. By means of this distribution the waters are ever in motion, which preserves them, and almost every thing else, from stagnancy and putrefaction. That which the circulation of the blood is to the animal frame, the waters are to the world: were they to stop, all would stagnate and die, Eccles. 1:7. See how careful our heavenly Father was to build us a habitation before he gave us a being. Nor is this the only instance of the kind: our Redeemer has acted on the same principle, in going before to prepare a place for us.
Having fitted the earth for fruitfulness, God proceeds to clothe it with grass, and herbs, and trees of every kind. There seems to be an emphasis laid on every herb and tree having its seed in itself. We here see the prudent foresight, if I may so speak, of the great Creator in providing for futurity. It is a character that runs through all his works, that, having communicated the first principles of things, they should go on to multiply and increase, not independently of him, but as blessed by his conservative goodness. It is thus that true religion is begun and carried on in the mind, and in care and the world.
Ver. 14–19. After dividing this lower world, and furnishing it with the principles of vegetation, the Creator proceeded, on the fourth day, to the producing of the heavenly bodies. First they are described in general, as the lights of heaven (ver. 14, 15), and then more particularly, as the sun, moon, and stars, ver. 16–19.
The use of these bodies is said to be not only for dividing the day from the night, but “for signs and seasons, and days and years.” They ordinarily afford signs of weather to the husbandman (Matt. 16:3); and, prior to the discovery of the use of the loadstone, were of great importance to the mariner, Acts 27:20. They appear also, on some extraordinary occasions, to have been premonitory to the world. Previously to the destruction of Jerusalem, our Lord foretold that there should be great earthquakes in divers places, and famines, and pestilences, and fearful sights, and great signs from heaven, Luke 21:11. And it is said by Josephus that a comet, like a flaming sword, was seen for a long time over that devoted city, a little before its destruction by the Romans. Heathen astrologers made gods of these creatures, and filled the minds of men with chimerical fears concerning them. Against these God warns his people, saying, “Be ye not dismayed at the signs of heaven.” This, however, does not prove but that he may sometimes make use of them. Modern astronomers, by accounting for various phenomena, would deny their being signs of any thing; but, to avoid the superstitions of heathenism, there is no necessity for our running into atheism.
The heavenly bodies are also said to be for seasons, as winter and summer, day and night. We have no other standard for the measuring of time. The great vicissitudes also which attend them are expressive of the goodness of God. If it were always day or night, summer or winter, our enjoyments would be unspeakably diminished. Well is it said at every pause, And God saw that it was good!
David improved this subject to a religious purpose: “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” Every night we retire we are reminded of death; and every morning we arise, of the resurrection. In beholding the sun also, “which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run his race,” we see every day a glorious example of the steady and progressive “path of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Ver. 20–25. We are next led to review the animal creation; a species of being less resplendent, but not less useful, than some of greater note. In one view, the smallest animal has a property belonging to it which renders it superior to the sun. It has life, and some degree of knowledge. It is worthy of notice, too, that the creation begins with things without life, and proceeds to things possessing vegetative life, then to those which have animal life, and after that to man, who is the subject of rational life. This shows that life is of great account in the Creator’s estimation, who thus causes the subject to rise upon us as we proceed.
Ver. 26–31. We are now come to the sixth and last day’s work of creation, which is of greater account to us than any which have gone before, as the subject of it is man.—We may observe,
1. That the creation of man is introduced differently from that of all other beings. It is described as though it were the result of a special counsel, and as though there were a peculiar importance attached to it, “God said, Let us make man.” Under the Great Supreme, man was to be the lord of the lower world. On him would depend its future well-being. Man was to be a distinguished link in the chain of being; uniting the animal with the spiritual world, the frailty of the dust of the ground with the breath of the Almighty; and possessing that consciousness of right and wrong which should render him a proper subject of moral government.
2. Man was honoured in being made after his Creator’s image. This is repeated with emphasis: “God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.” The image of God is partly natural, and partly moral; and man was made after both. The former consisted in reason, by which he was fitted for dominion over the creatures, James 3:7; the latter, in righteousness and true holiness, by which he was fitted for communion with his Creator. The figure of his body, by which he was distinguished from all other creatures, was an emblem of his mind: God made man upright. I remember once, on seeing certain animals which approached near to the human form, feeling a kind of jealousy (shall I call it?) for the honour of my species. What a condescension then, thought I, must it be for the eternal God to stamp his image upon man!
“God made man upright.” He knew and loved his Creator, living in fellowship with him and the holy angels. Oh how fallen! “How is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed!”
Excerpt from: “Discourse II, The Last Five Days of Creation,” in Expoistory Discourses on the Book of Genesis.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 3, pp. 4–6). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.