“And God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind; and God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:21, NASB)
Countless years ago, God, by his sovereign power and will, created the universe. At first the earth was featureless and in darkness because of the mass of surrounding water, but as the thick clouds of water vapor began to lose their density, a hazy light came by day from invisible sun. As they lost further density, the surrounding clouds of vapor gradually rose from the earth, producing a clear distinction between the ocean’s surface below and the ceiling of heavy cloud overhead. Meanwhile the earth was drying and land became visible. Simpler forms of life began to appear. Various kinds of soil and climatic conditions produced various kinds of plants, which were so created as to continue producing further plants of their own kind (1:1-13).
The heavy cloud overhead, which had been becoming thinner and thinner, finally broke. The sun, moon, stars, previously hidden, now became clearly visible. Their effect upon the earth helped to produce a variety of weather and a pattern of annual seasons (1:14-19).
As God’s creative activity moved on, animal life began to appear, with creatures in the sea and creatures in the air, all of them suited to their environment (1:20-23). The Hebrew word underlying this phrase was used in Canaanite mythology to name a dreaded sea monster. He is often referred to figuratively in Old Testament poetry as one of God’s most powerful opponents. He is pictured as national (Babylon), or cosmic, and some take it as a reference to Egypt. Generally, it is understood as signifying whales, yet the original must be understood rather as a general than a particular term, comprising all the great aquatic animals, such as the various species of wales, the porpoise, the dolphin, the monoceros or norwal, and the shark.
In Genesis, however, the creatures of the sea are portrayed not as enemies to be feared but as part of God’s good creation to be appreciated. The “winged bird” refer to anything that flies, including insects.
God delights to show himself in little as well as in great things: hence he forms animals so minute that 30,000 can be contained in one drop of water; and others so great that they seem to require almost a whole sea to float in.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
Zondervan NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.