Some time ago we started a series of blogs on key verses of the Bible. We have been going verse-by-verse through the first chapter of Genesis. If we want to discover who God is and what God does and His plan for mankind, we must come to the only true place to find that information—the Word of God. And if we are not familiar with Genesis One, we will find ourselves caught up in the false teaching that is the theory of evolution. The truth of creation is still being taught and believed by many, but the false teaching of evolution is more prevalent in our society than ever before.
As we approach the twentieth verse of Genesis One, God has previously spoken into existence Light; the Sea and Sky; Land and Vegetation; and the Sun, Moon and Stars. Let’s look now at Day Five, the day God spoke fish and fowl into existence. Re-read verses 20-23 above. How many times did you find the word fish mentioned?
Notice what the Bible says in the first portion of verse 20, “And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures…” The phrase, “swarms of living creatures” as used in the ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION(ESV) means a very large quantity, an abundance of living creatures! The same meaning applies in the KING JAMES VERSION (KJV) where the phrase “bring forth abundantly the moving creature” is used. The AMPLIFIED BIBLE (AMB) says “a swarm of living creatures.” The NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV) says, “teeming with living creatures.” The GOOD NEWS BIBLE (GNB) says “filled with many kinds of living beings.” The NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (NASB) says, “swarms of living creatures.” These versions all carry the same meaning: it was a very large quantity, or abundance, of living creatures. Now fish are obviously included in verse 20, but not one of these popular versions uses the word fish! So, the answer to the question above is zero.
On the fifth day, according to the first portion of verse 20, God created the swimmers in the sea. These underwater creatures included all varieties of fish and marine animals, including some water-dwelling mammals. On this day, God created every living thing in the sea. As we all know, not every sea creature can be classified as a fish. There are literally thousands and thousands of marine species living in the sea, possibly even some that haven’t yet been discovered. The seas are absolutely teeming with life—all created by Jehovah God. God did not list each species in the Scriptures. To do so would have been impractical. Instead, God used words like “swarms” and “teeming” and “abundantly.” Can you think of some of the sea creatures that were created in Genesis 1:20? We’ll mention a few. Whale. Lobster. Octopus. Shark. Dolphin. Starfish. Squid. Manta Ray. Crab. Shrimp. Oyster. Clam. Jellyfish. Seahorse. The list could go on and on. Interestingly, God created the whale and the seahorse on the same day. One huge, one tiny. And a myriad of other sea creatures in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Way back in verse 11 God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation….” Plant Life! Now in verse 20 God says, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures….” Marine Life! The words marine life cover the wide spectrum of living creatures in the sea. Try to picture how it might have been the instant marine life was created. One moment the oceans and seas are empty and lifeless and the next moment they are “teeming”with marine life. God created it! How awesome is His power! How magnificent is the work of His hand!
We have discussed the swimmers in the sea. Now let’s talk briefly about the flyers in the firmament. Notice what the Bible says in the latter portion of verse 20, “…and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” We have already talked about the word expanse in a previous blog. It’s another word for firmament which is another word for sky. There is a definite change of topic from the early part of the verse to the latter part—from the creation of marine life to the creation of birds. Avian Life! Verse 21 reads “…and every winged bird according to its kind….” The word “winged” means extremity. A bird’s wings are extremities of the bird much like arms and legs are extremities of our human bodies. Once again, what had not existed before (birds) now suddenly exist! The same day God created marine life to swim in the sea, He also created birds to fly in the air! All of this speaks to the sovereignty and power of our Creator God.
The entirety of verse 21 reads, “So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” This verse records the same creative event as in verse 20, but God supplies us with more detail about the event. In verses 20-21 we have the creation of fish (marine life) and fowl (avian life). Notice again how verse 21 begins: “So God created the great sea creatures…” A sea creature and a sea monster can be the same thing in my mind. A sea creature does not have to be huge to be a monster. Let me illustrate.
My wife Kathy loves to watch 1950s TV movies. Once in a while I’ll see her in the family room watching one of those old black and white monster movies. Of course, movies made in the 1950s have none of today’s technology, but she enjoys them anyway. I remember walking into the room one time and she was watching a movie that showed this giant octopus with one of its huge tentacles coming up out of the water and wrapping itself around a traffic-congested concrete bridge. The TV screen showed people screaming and running for their lives while cars were being crushed by an octopus appendage! Kathy was thoroughly enjoying it! Another movie she has seen many times, “Twenty Million Miles to Earth,” at one point depicts an elephant wrestling a large lizard-like creature from outer space. [Only in the movies, folks!] Oh, and “The Blob” starring Steve McQueen? —one of Kathy’s favorites! …But I digress.
I have always enjoyed watching nature documentaries. If you ignore the “billions of years” lingo and other evolutionary aspects of the programs, they can be quite informational, not to mention entertaining. I remember once when I was much younger watching a short segment of a marine-life episode. Scuba divers filmed this large worm-like creature coming up from between two large rocks. It was a huge eel! The creature quickly swam straight toward the camera. It was a little scary. If I would have been where the camera guy was, I would have categorized an eel that big as a sea monster! It was a good-sized eel! God created some creatures that are just plain weird-looking to us. But they are definitely entertaining when seen in the movies or on television. “So God created the great sea creatures…”
We mentioned lobsters earlier. Admittedly, I am somewhat fearful of lobsters. I have eaten lobster meat on occasion and love the taste (who doesn’t?). But if I was in their natural habitat, I think I would be somewhat fearful (okay, deathly afraid) of them. Truthfully, the thought of experiencing what I just typed gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not long ago, Kathy and I were at Meijer shopping for groceries. We went by the meat counter and I peered into the lobster tank there. The lobsters had rubber bands around their claws (Yea!), patiently waiting for someone to buy them and take them home for dinner, or so it seemed to me. I stooped down in front of the clear plastic tank to observe them. Kathy just walked away shaking her head, embarrassed by my public fascination with them. While I was looking at them, I suddenly noticed that the lobsters appeared to be looking at me, too! Those antenna things were moving around, and their eyes moved with me as I shifted back and forth in front of the tank. It was a little disconcerting…. Sea creatures! Sea monsters! Remember, creatures don’t have to be huge to be monsters. A lobster doesn’t have to be the size of a bus to scare me. But God created lobsters and they are fascinating to watch…and such a delicacy! Thanks to their Creator, they are one of the thousands of species who swim in the sea.
Verse 21 concludes, “…and God saw that it was good." God was pleased with what He had created. Then God did another amazing thing. He blessed them. Verse 22: “And God blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” God instructed the newly-formed creatures to continue to multiply; a command they instinctively still follow to this day. In verse 23, God brings to a close the fifth day of creation; a day that saw the appearance of marine life and avian life. “And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.” Next time, we begin Day Six of the creation account in Genesis One.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_nichols_dimes