And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23)
The fifth day of creation is unique. By the power of His Word, God filled and covered the earth and the seas with conscious animal life. In fact this is the first mention of life, the Hebrew word ‘Nephesh‘ meaning both ‘life’ and ‘soul‘. Plants are a form of life, but they don’t have ‘nephesh’, ie soul, or consciousness, as animals and men do.
God called forth every kind of animal life, on earth, in the seas and rivers and in the upper and lower atmosphere of the sky. He saw the ‘living creatures’ he had made, and pronounced them as ‘good’. God then pronounced a blessing/decree to all animal life, to be fruitful and fill the earth.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.(Genesis 1:24-25)
In what seems to be a threefold division of animal life, , the earthbound animals are described as ‘cattle’,'creeping things’, and beasts. ‘Cattle’ would seem to correspond to domestic animals, ‘creeping things’, to insects, small rodents and reptiles, and finally ‘beasts’ would refer to wild animals of all kinds. All of these were made instantaneously and simultaneously.
God saw this all as good. Furthermore, they were each made after their own kind. There would be no evolving from one species to the other.
Psalm 104, which is a celebration of Creation, portrays the animals as being dependent upon God from day-to-day , looking to the Creator for each meal, for drink also, and for their homes and even for their bedtime,
He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;…
The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies. He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.(Psalm 104)
As another Psalm portrays, “The eyes of all look to you, Oh Lord” (Psalm 145).
How beautiful and harmonious the original plan for man and beast must have been. Even in its fallen state, the living creatures of the earth are stunning in their beauty and variety! We marvel as we watch the modern nature documentaries, and see the handiwork of the Creator on full display.
To behold the majesty of the Lion,the grace and speed of a horse, the resourcefulness of squirrels and raccoons, the usefulness of the OX, the stunning beauty in sight and sound of birds, just to mention a few of God’s creatures, all testify to the beauty of God himself.
We wait for the day when final, the primal curse of vanity is lifted from the earth, and all of creation bursts out with joy at the liberation wrought by the Saviour/Creator, and when the fear and enmity which marks the animal world will be removed forever, for Creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God,(Romans 8:21),
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)