© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 29 August 2021
1A6. God’s nature expressed as love:
God “blessed” the people, sea creatures, birds and the seventh day, and abundantly provided for all life on Earth
1A6(title) God’s nature expressed as love
Although the word “love” is not used in Gen 1 – 3, it appropriately summarises God’s generous attitude to His whole creation [1A1(b)(v, vi)]. This was expressed especially by His blessing of the creatures and people and His ongoing commitment to them and their wellbeing. These acts of God highlighted His love for them and for the whole of His creation. All were wonderful expressions of His own nature of love.
1A6(sub-title) God “blessed” the people, sea creatures, birds and the seventh day, and abundantly provided for all life on Earth
God demonstrated His love for the people and all of His creation in several comprehensive ways, as follows.
1A6(a) God’s declarations of His blessing
God made three statements of blessing. These were to the sea creatures and birds Gen 1:22, to the people Gen 1:28 and upon the seventh day when He ceased creating Gen 2:3.
Most of the Hebrew verbs used in these statements are imperatives. But they could not have been commands intended to be voluntarily obeyed, because some of them were applied to the sea creatures and birds. Also God’s statement to provide food for the people and creatures Gen 1:29 begins with another imperative Hebrew verb (“See!” or “Behold!”) which is not translated in the NIV. This too was clearly not a command.
It is concluded that these imperatives were all declarations by God. He was not giving commands but making exultant proclamations about what He was going to do in order to accomplish His primary purpose. They were in fact declarations of His own nature, being expressions of His unconditional intentions to love all His creation!
1A6(b) The meaning of God’s “blessing”
The meaning of God’s “blessing” (Hebrew barak) was indicated by its favorable effects. It could be seen simply as God generously intending the creatures and people to participate fully in the “very good”-ness of His whole creation [1A3(c)]. Indeed He was going to enable them to express His own nature as they shared and flourished in all that He had created.1
God’s blessed the seventh day and made it holy because He rested on that day after having completed all of His creating Gen 2:3. This again implies a favoring of that day [see 1A6(h)].
So “blessing” referred to various ways that God was making it possible to accomplish His primary purpose THROUGH people and creatures on Earth. He would abundantly favour them all!
1A6(c) God’s priorities in His blessing of the sea creatures, birds, land creatures and people
God blessed the sea creatures to multiply and “fill” the seas, and the birds to “increase upon (but not fill) the earth” Gen 1:22. Surprisingly, God did not “bless” the land creatures in the same way Gen 1:24-25. Why was this?
God’s declared blessing for the people was that they would multiply and “fill” the Earth and also “subdue” and “rule over” the Earth and all of its sea and land creatures and birds Gen 1:28. But people would only be able to inhabit the land areas and not the air or seas. So if the other land creatures also “filled” the land, that would put survival pressures upon them as well as the people and perhaps the birds. But the sea creatures “filling” the seas would not cause such conflicts. So God’s limited blessing of the birds and omission of blessing for the land creatures were probably related to His intended dominant roles for the people.
This priority given to the people implies that the whole of creation was meant primarily to be people-serving.2
1A6(d) God abundantly provided for all life on Earth
God provided vegetation as food for all people and land creatures Gen 1:29-30. This implied that the land creatures would at least continue to survive and reproduce “according to their kinds” Gen 1:24. So God would express His nature TO the people as they appreciated all the other living creatures, as well as THROUGH their beautiful environment and its provision for their needs.
1A6(e) God’s blessing indicated His ongoing commitment to all of His creation
Taken together, God’s declarations of blessing showed that He had made a generous commitment to the people and creatures He had created. This included sustaining them as well as their environment, as supportive to their continuing existence and wellbeing.
1A6(f) Love meant that all people must have freedom of choice
In God’s initial relationship with Adam, He gave him authority and freedom to make his own choices and decisions Gen 2:16,19. But there was obviously a huge risk involved in giving these powers to people Gen 2:17. It meant that even their choices to obey God were decisions to be freely made by Adam and Eve! So WHY did God allow such freedom?
Freedom to choose is an essential aspect of love [see NTA1,2]. Love is voluntary. It cannot be forced or “automatic”. It must be a free choice. So God allowed all people to have this freedom. In fact it would have been impossible for a truly loving relationship to ever exist between God and people without it. Only by having this freedom could people choose to love God and thus express authentically His own loving nature.
By having this freedom, people could choose to participate with God in His intentions for His creation! God had established this as an essential principle in accomplishing His primary purpose.
Gen 2:19 gives a beautiful little picture of Adam freely exercising his God-given authority. God had delegated him to give the names to His newly created birds and land creatures – and Adam did so! This could even be seen as God so delighting in them all that He just enjoying playing with them! So Adam’s obedience led to a lovely demonstration of God’s intended ways that people were to exercise their authority over animals and birds Gen 1:26,28. His love would be characterised by these interactions – as enjoyable, safe and mutually beneficial, with due recognition of the unique identities of each creature.
1A6(g) God’s love also gave direction and set boundaries for people
Although God’s love required freedom of choice, He did not leave the people without clear directions about how to use this freedom. He set one requirement for them [see 1A10] and gave a warning of the dire consequences of not obeying it [see 1A12]. These were further clear expressions of His love for the people.
1A6(h) The seventh day was blessed to be an appreciation of the Creator and a celebration of love for Him
Finally, God blessed the seventh day because it was when He rested or ceased from all His work of creation Gen 2:2-3. This memorialised not only the completion of God’s creation but also His intentions of blessing its ongoing existence.
So the seventh day was a sublime expression of His love as well as of His power and perfection. Indeed it represented an accomplishing of God’s primary purpose – as seen in all that He had created. So that day was made holy or sacred, as an appropriate recognition of God Himself.
This final day of total appreciation of God is presented as the ultimate climax of His vast acts of creation. On this blessed, holy seventh day Adam and Eve could delight in all of His good creation. They would see that God was committed to their wellbeing and to bless their ongoing existence. They would also realise that His blessing upon them involved an enormously privileged status and centrally significant roles in accomplishing His primary purpose Gen 1:28. So they had abundant reasons to love and worship Him.
Arrows 1A3 -> 1A4,
1A3 -> 1A5 and
1A3 -> 1A6
These arrows indicate that God’s creation of the universe and especially His relationship with the people on Earth, were expressions of His own nature. Put another way, these arrows represent God’s ongoing self-expression by means of the created universe. He was especially making His power, perfection and love known TO and THROUGH Adam and Eve. By these means He was initially accomplishing His primary purpose.
Because God’s accomplishing of His primary purpose was going to play out especially through His relationship with people, 1A6 has been placed centrally in Chart 1A as the most vital link between 1A3 and 1A8-12.
1. W.J.Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), page 68.(Return to reading)
2. The technical term for this is “anthropic”.(Return to reading).