One of the main objections to the Covenantal view of Genesis creation is the animals. What's up with the darn animals!?
I mean, nobody can argue that there are TONS of scriptural proofs and biblical parallels which show that something isn't quite adding up in Genesis. For instance consider these few quick points...
-The earth was said to be "tohuw bohuw" BEFORE the creation days began. That phrase means "confused and chaotic, without purpose." This phrase is used in Jeremiah 4 to speak of the state of the people of Jerusalem in Jeremiah's day when they were wicked. If the earth was "confused and chaotic" before anything was even created, how then does that work? What was confused and chaotic if nothing was there yet?
-The first words of Genesis 1 are a title statement. An opening title statement. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". This title statement is made and then we begin hearing about how that "heaven and earth" was created. The author says next "The earth was without form and void (tohuw bohuw) and darkness was on the face of the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters." So right away one needs to ask, how did the earth and the waters get there if this is BEFORE any of the creation days began? We have the very start of the creation account before ANYTHING was "created" and we see that the EARTH was chaotic and God's Spirit was hovering over the face of the WATERS. If God created the earth and the waters during the 6 days of creation, then how come they are already here before Day 1 creation even begins? Doesn't add up!
-We see "light" created in Day 1. Yet the sun isn't created until Day 4.
Those are just a few of the early problems with a literal Genesis creation account.
Genesis creation to me is a vivid picture imagery of the creation of Israel. Not Israel in the sense of the literal people who were called Israel. But rather, where they came from. It was an account and a history of their history. Where the Covenant and the walking with God began. The author uses pictures and imagery to describe this incredible moment when God gave a distinct man "light" out from a world full of darkness, paganism, and confusion.
This study will share some thoughts on the "birds of the air" that we see in Genesis. This is a tough one for anyone to understand. Let's not forget we are going back thousands of years, to the ancient near eastern cultures, and we are then incorporating their style of metaphor and imagery. This is not an easy task and does require some work.
If you read my study last week on "Satan" that will help greatly in understanding this as I will tie some passages from that study in with this one to hopefully demonstrate what I am trying to demonstrate.
The Satan study, in my opinion and also in the opinions of a couple hundred others in the preterist community based on the support of the study, proved that "Satan" most often refers to a person in Scripture. We know that Jesus referred to Peter as "Satan" when Peter was trying to thwart the plan of God. We also know that whoever tempted Jesus with an offer to obtain an authoritative role on the peak overlooking the land, was also told to "get behind me Satan". The same words that were said to Peter, were said to this man who tempted Jesus as well.
We know that the "Synagogue of Satan" in Revelation was the synagogue where the Jews worshiped. They were the "Satan" as they were direct opposition to the cause of Christ and the mission. They were the "enemies" who would be put under His feet at the end of the age and who pierced Him.
When Peter warned that the believers to be on guard because the devil roams around looking to devour them, Peter was speaking of the Pharisees, scribes, the higher ups within Judaism who were persecuting them fiercely.
The "Satan" simply means anyone or anything that is in opposition. In opposition to Christ and to the gospel.
Now that I have briefly recapped the Satan study for you, we are going to look at Mark chapter 4 to see if we can tie this all together and shed some light on who these "fowls of the air" could be.
In Mark chapter 4 Jesus is teaching the multitudes in a parable. He is about to use pictures and symbols to explain something much deeper. He is going to use imagery to explain a deep truth. He says this...
“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it." Mark 4:3-4
So we see Jesus using imagery here. He says that the birds came and "DEVOURED" that seed that was spread. The result of this was that the seed wouldn't sprout and grow. Of course Jesus is speaking in parables here but what's interesting is that shortly after in the same chapter, we see Jesus actually reveal exactly what this passage means. He says...
"And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts." Mark 4:13-15
So the meaning of the parable is that the seed is "the word that is sown in their heart". That word is sown, and then someone comes and takes that seed or that word away. Who is that someone who comes and takes that seed away?
Satan. Jesus says that Satan comes to take that away.
Well, who was "Satan" in that day? It was those who were the "opposition" to Christ and His gospel. It was those who were of the Old Covenant system of Law.
It was PEOPLE.
The gospel was sown and then PEOPLE came, adversarial PEOPLE came, and took that seed away. They "devoured that seed" said Jesus.
So now if we know that the "Satan" is clearly "people"...
And if we know that Jesus equates the "Satan" to the "birds of the air" in the same chapter....
Then what does the "birds of the air" symbolically and metaphorically represent?
The "birds of the air" is imagery for people.
If we are having a hard time seeing that, just look at what Jesus says in the same chapter shortly after about these birds. He speaks the parable of the mustard seed and look at the imagery that He uses here...
"Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR may nest under its shade.” Mark 4:30-32
So one must ask the question...
Was Jesus speaking of literal birds coming under a literal tree here to nest under that tree's shade? Or was Jesus using "birds of the air" as imagery to speak of people coming into the Kingdom of God and finding rest?
It's not even a question. Jesus was speaking of people. Jesus was equating the "birds" to people in His imagery. In His allegory.
Now one must ask, if the "birds of the air" was used by Jesus to speak of people in the gospels, is it at least possible that the "birds of the air" in Genesis in some allegorical way, represents people as well?
After all, we are still speaking of the same ancient culture here. Whoever you believe wrote Genesis, was clearly from the exact same ancient cultural mindset as Jesus. Not to mention both places are inspired by God. If the very mind of God spoke about people as "birds of the air" in the parables, then why wouldn't the same mind of God speak of people as "birds of the air" in Genesis? Did God not inspire both?
Before we go any further, as a disclaimer, I will state that of course there are many places in scripture where we see literal birds being referred to. There is literal references and there are metaphorical references. This is no different than anything else we see in the bible. Often times we see the "sea" or "water" referred to and we know it is literal. Yet many times we see the "sea" and "water" referred to and we know it represents people or Gentiles. We also see land and earth referenced often as literal land. Yet we often also see "earth" and "land" as speaking about people. So the argument that birds are used literally elsewhere, in no way holds any weight here. It's irrelevant.
But to add to my conclusions above, I'd like to look at what those birds were said to do to the seed that was sown...
Jesus said the birds of the air would come and "DEVOUR" the seed so it wouldn't sprout.
We must look at that word "DEVOUR" and take a look at a couple other places we see this concept.
Peter in his first letter writes this...
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to DEVOUR."
So here we have Peter warning the believers that their "adversary" in that day, "the devil", was roaming around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to DEVOUR.
Was there a literal lion roaming around? Of course not.
But Peter is again building upon the same consistent theme of the rulers of THAT AGE (Old Covenant Age) being called the "Satan" or the "Devil". They were the opposition to Christ and His mission.
As Jesus said in the parable, the Satan would come and devour the seed which was the word of God so it wouldn't sprout. That's exactly what the Jews and Pharisees were doing. They were trying to pull the believers back into the bondage of the Old Covenant and law. Which is Paul's entire focus in his letter to the Galatians. He was instructing them to NOT fall back into that bondage.
So the "devil" who was roaming around looking for someone to "devour" links this right back to the "birds of the air" that would come and "devour" the seed that was sown. Again, the birds of the air is just imagery for people.
Another "devour" example comes from Revelation 12...
"And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to DEVOUR her Child as soon as it was born."
Again, building upon the same theme, this shows the same "devour" language which pertained to those who were in opposition to Christ and His people in that day.
So we can see clearly how this is all coming together very nicely.
"Birds of the air" represent people. It's imagery, allegory, for people. It is picture language representing something much greater.
If that seems hard to believe, let's take a look at another text...
Remember the passage above about the Kingdom and how the birds of the air would come and find shade under it's branches? Well check out this passage from Ezekial 17 which speaks of the same concept. Take note of the Kingdom imagery and what is used to clearly, no doubt, represent people......
"Thus says the Lord God: “I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. UNDER IT WILL DWELL BIRDS OF EVERY SORT; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. And all the TREES OF THE FIELD shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the HIGH TREE and exalted the LOW TREE, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.” Ezekial 17
Now, isn't this incredible?
We have Ezekial the prophet writing the exact same way. Imagery. Allegory. Ezekial was a lot closer to Genesis as far as when it was written. We can still see that they were using allegory to represent greater truths.
Unless of course you believe that the birds dwelling under the Tree was literal here? Unless you believe that literally THE TREES would know that the Lord did this? Let's be real here. These things are representations of PEOPLE. God said He would bring down the "HIGH TREE" and exalt "THE LOW TREE". Sounds a lot like what we know about how God brings down the prideful and exalts the humble. Ezekial also says that the God would "DRY UP THE GREEN TREE" and He would "MAKE THE DRY TREE FLOURISH".
A perfect picture image of Gentiles, who were once "dry", now flourishing. A perfect picture image of how the Kingdom was taken from them and given to a new nation producing fruit. Flourish-Fruit.
I trust that this study has linked some things together for us and it hopefully will serve to demonstrate that the bible very often uses picture, allegorical, imagery to speak about greater things. It uses animals and trees to represent people groups.
This study so far has been focused only on the fowls of the air in Genesis. Of course there are "beasts of the field" and other groups of people that need to be explained as well.
One thing I found interesting about the "beasts of THE FIELD" is that they are referred to as being outside of the garden. It seems as though we have "the garden" where Adam and the people of God dwelled. Then "outside" of that garden were the "beasts of THE FIELD".
We see that when the curse was placed on Adam, God is banishing them from the garden and God says this...
"Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb OF THE FIELD."
So now Adam would no longer be in that wonderful garden full of fruit and everything they needed and full of blessing and instead they would be banished from the garden and would have to eat of the herbs of THE FIELD where the BEASTS OF THE FIELD were. Seems likely that these "beasts" were people outside of Covenant. If that isn't convincing enough, the following passage surely will be...
Look here how Hosea describes the day when God would make a new covenant for the remnant of Israel with those who were once alienated from His promises, the Gentiles....
"And it shall be, in that day,” Says the Lord, “That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, And they shall be remembered by their name no more. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the BEASTS OF THE FIELD , With the BIRDS OF THE AIR, And with the CREEPING THINGS OF THE GROUND. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, To make them lie down safely. “I will betroth you to Me forever" Hosea 2:16-19
Now is God talking about making a Covenant that included the Israelites and LITERAL beasts and birds and creeping things in the New Covenant? Of course not!!
God is saying He would make a Covenant for them WITH those who were once outside of the Covenant! The beasts, birds, and creeping things! PEOPLE!!
There should be no doubt after that one but look what Hosea says shortly after in the same chapter...
"Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’" Hosea 2:23
The entire focus is on PEOPLE. Bringing foreign people (birds, beasts, and creeping things) into the Covenant with them. Doesn't this all just line up wonderfully with Peter's vision of the unclean beasts coming into Covenant? It sure does.
We see the "beast" theme everywhere in scripture. Beast Kingdoms. Surely this referred to Kingdoms of people. Paul also "fought with beasts" at Ephesus. Surely he wasn't wrestling with Lions. He was contending with "men" (people) over the gospel.
In Isaiah 30:6-7 we read the following...
"The burden against the BEASTS of the South. Through a land of trouble and anguish, From which came the LIONESS AND THE LION, The VIPER AND THE FLYING SERPENT, They will carry their riches on the backs of young donkeys, And their treasures on the humps of camels, To a people who shall not profit; For the Egyptians shall help in vain and to no purpose."
Now just how on earth are a lioness and lion, a viper, and a flying serpent carrying their riches on the backs of young donkeys?? And their treasures on the humps of camels??
Clearly the lioness, the lion, the viper, the flying serpent, and the "beasts" in general are people here.
Check out this one from Job 12:7-8...
“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you." Job 12:7-8
Woah Woah Woah! Beasts who teach!? Birds who tell!? FISH WHO EXPLAIN?!!!
Clearly these are people. Pictures and imagery and symbolism for people. Gives a whole new meaning to Jonah being in the "belly of the fish" eh? Perhaps a literal man didn't really live in the belly of a fish for that long after all. Perhaps Jonah was just in prison or captured by a foreigner. ;)
I believe I have given PLENTY of scripture to back my claims here. How does one have the right to interpret the "beasts, birds, and creeping things" of Genesis any differently than what I have just shown above?
The countless examples of these terms referring to PEOPLE, are being interpreted literally in Genesis as if God was literally forming literal beasts, literal birds, and literal creeping things.
That snake who was more cunning than the beasts of the field...
Yea, that was a person too.
Genesis is the same as all the other books in the bible. It uses metaphor, symbolism, and allegory to portray other things. Greater things.
While not everything is clear as far as the imagery used in Genesis, there is much that is clear. There are incredible inconsistencies and things just do not add up taking the traditional Genesis literal creation view.
This article has demonstrated how "birds of the air" is often used as imagery for people groups. The "trees" are also used as imagery for people. The "beasts" are also used as imagery for people. The "creeping things" are also used as imagery for people. The "fish of the sea" are used for people.
If you refuse to acknowledge this that is ok. I don't expect all to agree. But what a blessing it has been to understand Genesis in it's proper light and to be able to match the bookends.
Genesis- The Beginning of the Covenant people
Revelation- The end of those Covenant people
Thank you so much for reading guys. If you've enjoyed the article, please give it a like and please share it. People need to hear this stuff. Atheism thrives off of mainstream Christianities erroneous Genesis beliefs.