On the sixth day God sets about filling the earth and commanded:
Let the earth produce all kinds of animal life: domestic and wild, large and small (verse 24)
God saw that what He created was good and he blessed it enabling it to flourish and fill the earth.
He then moves on to Us;
And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small. (v26)
One of the first things to notice here is that the command style changes. In all the previous commands, He simply states “Let the” or “Let there”.
In this one it changes to “We”, “Our”, Us” – someone else was with Him here, who? Most people interpret this as God announcing His plan to the court of heaven, His crowning work, but as we saw at the start of the chapter, the Holy Spirit was hovering over the earth, and Christ was involved too so I think this is a reference to “We” as in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
He created human beings to be like himself, male and female. This translation throw up a couple of questions for debate:
Did God make more than one human being?
Did He create male and female at the same time? (see verse 27)
This would certainly be a verse which people use to answer questions such as “where did Adam’s sons wives come from?” How literal is the statement that he made man (singular or plural) male and female.
The Hebrew word “adam” meaning “man” is a generic word which can be singular or plural and can include women, depending on it’s context, even meaning humankind as a whole, there is no plural form as we have in English “Men”
I think we have to take this as a summary or introduction of a more detailed account which we will read in Chapter 2.
He made them “like us”, to “resemble us”. Again this is a fairly generic term in that it does not necessarily mean that we completely look like him (after all, we all look different) so this is thought to mean more that we are like God in that we have knowledge of Him, we are to honour and respect each other as we would God (not worship each other though). We see elsewhere that we should not kill each other (see chapter 9 v 6) as that shows contempt and disrespect for God’s treasured creation. As believers we are to conform to his likeness to be righteous and holy (Ephesians 4 v 24) and to have knowledge of our creator (Colossians 3 v 10) being conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8 v 29)
He blessed them to have children and populate the whole earth and bring it under their control.
Being in His image we are to represent Him on earth as custodians of his creation. He put us in charge of the animals and birds and fish. We saw earlier in the chapter that God named the lights, the sea, the earth and sky indicating His rule over them and he names us “Man” but then in chapter 2 verse 19 & 20 He brings all the animals and living creatures to Adam for him to name, indicating Adam’s intended authority and responsibility for the living creatures.
Here would be a good time to read Psalm 8
He provided grains and fruit for us to eat and leafy plants and grass for the animals. (see v 29)
Did God intend for us to just eat grains and fruit? Should we be eating meat? Should the animals be just eating grass and vegetation? It certainly seems this way initially but we see later on in Genesis that there does appear to be a change. In Genesis 3 verse 17 we see that Adam is told that he will have to work much harder to grow food, it won’t come easily and there will be thorns and weeds.
In Genesis 9 Noah is told to be fruitful and increase in number to populate the earth. The animals and birds will fear man. God then gives everything that lives and moves as food. Because God’s initial perfect creation had been destroyed by the flood, it would be some time before Noah was able to grow food again and so was allowed to supplement his diet with meat. Daniel and his friends in Daniel one requested to eat only vegetables and thrived on it, but this was also because of the gluttony of the others. So the choice to be vegetarian or not appears to be ours to make. We now know that many of the dietary restrictions that the early Jews observed had more to do with food safety and hygiene.
All quotes from the Good News Bible