Today I want to take a look at the third day of Creation when God created herbs, grass, seed and so on.
The fruit! The vegetation! Everyone wants to know what these things represent if not intended on being taken physically literal!
If the claim is made that the things mentioned in Genesis 1 are not to be taken literally as in their physical descriptions, then of course we need to have answers for all of the things and not just half of them. It's a challenging task especially since we are dealing with the fact that words can be used allegorically or spiritually and they can also be used literally and physically in the very same sentence in the bible.
For instance "let the DEAD bury their DEAD."
Clearly we know the word "dead" truly only has one meaning. Yet in the bible we are dealing with spiritual realities and physical realities so we use the context to decide which definition works best in each instance.
Same thing with allegory or imagery. We know that sometimes words can be used both ways. For instance we know that the word "sea" is used to portray the Gentiles many times in scripture. Yet at the same time we can't just assume it must remain the same every time we see it because we know that isn't the case. Like when they were at the "SEA" of Galilee.
The point is we need to sharpen our hermeneutic in order to understand what the authors are speaking of. There is no "one size fits all" method of word interpretation in the Holy Writ.
This study today is challenging. Do I claim to be spot on? No.
In fact, the Day 3 creation of herbs and seed etc is one of the hardest topics in Covenant Creationism.
With all that said, I think I am prepared to at least take a worthy stab at it.
I am going to present two options that I see could fit.
We have made extremely strong cases for the "light & darkness" being spiritual light and darkness. We have also made extremely strong cases for the "dry land & water" being covenant people and non-covenant people. The "earth" and the "sea" as speaking of covenant and non-covenant people.
We have also made an extremely strong case for the "beasts of the field, birds of the air, creeping things, fish of the sea, and cattle" as being imagery for people. Whether it be groups of people, social classes of people, different age group, etc. But the case is strong. The examples are EVERYWHERE in the bible both Old Testament and New.
So based on everything that we've been able to connect using nothing but the scriptures, one must at least admit that there is indeed "something there". But of course, that takes us to the herbs and seed. What on earth (pardon the pun) could that be speaking of?
Let's begin with option #1...
We will start by reviewing what we know about Genesis 1 leading up to the Day 3 creation account.
What do we know so far?
1) We know that right at the start of the story BEFORE we even get into any Day 1 creation, we have "chaos and confusion" on the earth. The text says the earth was "without form and void" which is "tohuw bohuw" in the Hebrew. Meaning confused and chaotic. So we know that.
2) We also know that BEFORE we even begin Day 1 creation, we have the "earth" there as mentioned in point 1. We also have the "waters" there already before Day 1 creation begins. The text says that "darkness was on the face of the DEEP. And the Spirit of God hovered over the WATERS." So clearly we know that there was an earth already there and waters were already there BEFORE day 1 creation even begins.
3) We also know that on Day 1 creation, God breaks up and penetrates that "darkness" by the phrase "let there be LIGHT".
4) We also know that once Day 3 comes, God separates the "waters" into their own place and He brings the "dry land" to it's own place. Once He does this He then gives these places names. He calls the waters "SEA". And He calls the dry land "EARTH".
Ok so now let's just recap quickly and look at these facts from the Covenantal viewpoint...
The "earth" (people) were confused and chaotic (without form and void) and "darkness" was over the face of the "deep". The Spirit of God was hovering over the "waters" (people) looking for a people to illuminate and call His own. He finds them and says LET THERE BE LIGHT. He breaks up the mass darkness by calling these people and giving them "light".
Then, as another way to describe what He did there, we read that God separated the "waters" from the "dry land". Waters being the nations outside of Covenant. Dry land representing His Covenant people. Waters representing being unstable and rocky. No foundation. While the dry land represents being planted firmly, grounded, stable with good foundation.
But then we read that God names these two things. He names the water as "SEA" and He names the dry land as "EARTH".
As a side note, take that thought back to Genesis 1:1 and now does the statement "The "EARTH" was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the "DEEP" have a different meaning?
It should! That fits lovely with the "EARTH" (God's Covenant people) being confused and chaotic before He called them into Covenant. The "DEEP" being covered in darkness representing the darkness of the nations.
But back to the fact that God calls His people "EARTH" here. I will quote the line again here and then I want you to notice something....
"And God called the dry land EARTH, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas." Genesis 1:10
So let's just assume that we agree that the "EARTH" there refers to the Covenant people...
The "EARTH" is what God shined light upon and what He made "dry" and "stable". Now guess what the very next verse says about this "earth" (people)...
Remember this assumption before looking at the verse below...
"EARTH" = "COVENANT PEOPLE"....
"Then God said, “LET THE EARTH BRING FORTH grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, ON THE EARTH”; and it was so. And the EARTH BROUGHT FORTH grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind." Genesis 1:11-12
Now, are we starting to see something come together?
Most preterists understand the "SEA" of Revelation 21:1 to be referring to the Gentiles or the nations outside of Covenant. There would be "no more sea" in the new heaven and earth because there was no Jew or Gentile in Christ.
If we know that the "SEA" refers to the Gentiles and if we know that God said the opposite of that "SEA" is the "EARTH" in Genesis, then don't we have a very strong argument that the "EARTH" of Genesis 1 is the Covenant people? We most certainly do.
Now, if Genesis Day 3 creation immediately follows that up and says...
"The EARTH brought forth grass, herb, seed, and FRUIT..."
What can we assume therefore?
We can assume that the "EARTH" is PEOPLE.
We can also assume that these PEOPLE were going to bring forth FRUIT!
Didn't God say this exact thing to them...
"BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY" Genesis 1:28
Perhaps the being "fruitful" there isn't just speaking of children. Perhaps it has a deeper more Spiritual meaning. Perhaps it goes with the whole "good tree bearing fruit" theme we see. Or the "sow seed" theme. The garden imagery is used everywhere.
Remember the parable of the mustard seed?...
"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
How awesome is that imagery for ya?
Jesus uses tons of "seed, sown on the ground, sown on the earth, grow, herbs, large branches" language to depict what?
PEOPLE BEARING FRUIT. THE KINGDOM BEARING FRUIT.
The Kingdom of God is PEOPLE.
The seeds that are sown, the great herbs that bust forth, the seeds that "sprout" could all be imagery for the bearing fruit and being "fruitful". Living in that "lush garden" again. God's presence where there is the Tree of Life.
Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you. It's in us. He is in us and we are in Him.
After all, what happened to the Covenant people when they fell?
THORNS AND THISTLES!
I don't know of ONE preterist that believes that literal thorns and literal thistles began popping up on the earth.
Most likely this has a spiritual aspect to it whereby it represents no longer being sons but rather servants. Slaves. In bondage instead of free. Producing bad fruit. Most, if not all Preterists would agree with the symbolic nature of "THORNS AND THISTLES".
So if the "thorns and thistles" had a much deeper meaning. If it was picture imagery for what they would deal with and what they would "bring forth" after they fell...
Then why is the "herbs and fruit" from BEFORE they fell, any different? Why is this literal?
To me the fact that the "earth" (PEOPLE) is what is bringing forth the herbs, seeds, and fruits, is strong enough to make a case that this is speaking of the fruit that the people of God should have produced. Good fruit. After all, they were supposed to be a light to those around them. (See how the light to darkness thing is always there?)
I think a very strong case can be made for the fruit and herbs and seeds representing the fruit that comes from being in God's presence. That garden fruit. The good fruit that is produced when we are walking with God.
I also believe that there is a VERY strong BIBLICAL case made for the herbs, seeds, and fruit referring to children or people themselves.
The "EARTH" (people) bringing forth "SEED" (children).
How many times in scripture is the word "seed" used to speak of offspring? A lot.
This angle would also work with the "be fruitful and multiply" passage as well.
After all, the passage in Genesis does say that "the seed was in itself according to its kind".
There is literally TONS of passages both in the Old and New Testament which depict people as grass, trees, etc. Garden imagery is carried throughout the whole narrative.
Ezekial 31 is a classic example of people being portrayed as trees. The passage is long but please give it a read the whole way through to catch the overwhelming usage of trees and plants to speak of people. Check it out...
"Now it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude:
‘Whom are you like in your greatness?
Indeed Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon,
With fine branches that shaded the forest,
And of high stature;
And its top was among the thick boughs.
The waters made it grow;
Underground waters gave it height,
With their rivers running around the place where it was planted,
And sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field.
‘Therefore its height was exalted above all the trees of the field;
Its boughs were multiplied,
And its branches became long because of the abundance of water,
As it sent them out.
All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs;
Under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young;
And in its shadow all great nations made their home.
‘Thus it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches,
Because its roots reached to abundant waters.
The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it;
The fir trees were not like its boughs,
And the chestnut trees were not like its branches;
No tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty.
9 I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches,
So that all the trees of Eden envied it,
That were in the Garden of God."
Now I know what you are thinking. Probably sounds like "WHAT THE....???"
Don't worry, it's a tricky one.
But let's see what conclusions we at least CAN draw from what is said.
- We know for a fact that the entire focus is on ASSYRIA being portrayed as a "GREAT, TALL, CEDAR WITH FINE BRANCHES".
-We know that its height was higher than all the "OTHER TREES IN THE FIELD" and it's "BRANCHES LONGER TOO". Also the beasts of the field raised their young under its branches. In its shadow, all great nations MADE THEIR HOMES.
-We also know that "The Cedars IN THE GARDEN OF GOD could not hide this great big cedar called Assyria.
-No other tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty. And all "THE TREES IN THE GARDEN OF GOD ENVIED THIS CEDAR. The text even calls it "ALL THE TREES OF EDEN ENVIED IT".
So just what the heck is going on?
Well, the one thing is for sure here...
If the Cedar is a Kingdom or if that Cedar represents an empire of people, or just people in general, then the only natural and logical conclusion to make is that "ALL THE TREES OF EDEN WERE ALSO REPRESENTATIVE OF PEOPLE TOO"
Think about it, Ezekial says...
"ALL THE TREES OF EDEN ENVIED IT (THE CEDAR)"
How can a literal tree ENVY another literal tree?
Ezekial 17 is another classic example of this. When the prophet portrays the New Covenant Gentiles as "dry trees" etc. Check it out...
"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 17:22-24
Now of course nobody in their right mind would interpret that as literal trees knowing that God has brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree. That's silly.
This is again just picture imagery. Garden imagery speaking of people.
Just to prove that this theme is legit everywhere in the bible, here are some other texts using these things to speak of people...
"For, all flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away," 1 Peter 1:24
"As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes." Psalm 103:15
"You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; " Psalm 90:5-6
"As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes" Psalm 103:15
"Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength, They were dismayed and put to shame; They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb, As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up." Isaiah 37:27
Now those are just some. But clearly there is enough there to make a solid case that when it comes to imagery, there is plenty to prove that grass, flowers, herbs, seed, tree etc were all repeatedly used to speak of people.
Now the question should be asked therefore...
Where do these prophets get their imagery from?
Is this one story? Is it one story from cover to cover? Is God consistent in the usage of His imagery?
It is my sincere belief that we CAN conclude that all of this PROPHETIC IMAGERY BEGAN IN GENESIS 1. Or at least is related to and speaking the same way as Genesis creation.
I believe that the bible is one story from cover to cover and what was established for us in the Genesis account, can be held in the other prophetic texts as well.
Now, I will be honest and admit that the end of Genesis 1:29-31 is challenging me. Obviously those verses seem to be implying herbs and fruit that is literally physically able to be eaten. Although I can think of some ways that portion could be applied spiritually as well.
I am content with knowing that the bible very often speaks of things literally and metaphorically in the same chapter. Sometimes even in the same sentence. So is it impossible that we would have imagery of grass and herbs early in Genesis 1 and literal grass and herbs mentioned later on in the same chapter? Absolutely not. In fact it's very much possible.
Whatever your opinion is at the current time, this is a tough one. We know it refers to something, but what is the question. Considering all of the allegory/imagery we've been discovering in the Genesis 1 account, it is my sincere belief that Day 3 is no different.
If I had to pick option 1 or 2, at this time I would lean towards option #2 as I see so many passages portraying people as grass, seed, herbs, plants, trees etc.
Remember, the context is usually on Israel when these things are being said. So if the creation of all these seeds, herbs, grass, and trees in Genesis 1 is speaking of the Covenant people, then this works just fine.
This was the creation of a Covenant people who was designed to plant seed and til "the ground" and sprout up good fruit and multiply.
Either way, we will continue to dig and I am sure the answer will surface.
Thanks for reading guys. If you've enjoyed the study please give it a like and feel free to share as well.