29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:29-31 ESV
After God made the first two humans, He blessed them by providing them with the capacity to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28 ESV). This blessing was not unique to mankind because God had done the same thing with the animal kingdom.
And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” – Genesis 1:22 ESV
The Hebrew word for “blessed” is בָּרַךְ (bârak) and it can mean “to cause to prosper, to enrich, to endow.” God blessed all His living creatures, including humanity, with the capacity to reproduce and make more of their kind. And each time they did, they would extend God’s blessing by continuing the creative process He had begun.
Adam and Eve were blessed to be able to share in God’s creative capabilities by reproducing more of their kind. God could have made all the fish, birds, and animals at one time, but He chose to endow all “living creatures” with the ability to reproduce. This unique relationship between procreation and blessing is seen again when God pronounces His blessing on Abram and his wife Sarai.
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. – Genesis 17:5-6 ESV
And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” – Genesis 17:15-16 ESV
Abram was a 99-year-old man with a barren wife when God pronounced this blessing. But despite those seeming disadvantages, God assured Abram that He would multiply him greatly (Genesis 17:2) – and God kept that promise. God graciously allowed an elderly man and his barren wife to participate in the creation of a mighty nation whose number would exceed that of the stars in heaven.
And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” – Genesis 15:5 ESV
In chronicling the story of creation, Moses was providing his fellow Israelites with a much-needed lesson in God’s gracious provision of procreative capabilities. Like Adam and Eve, and Abraham and Sarai, the people of Israel had been given the opportunity to work alongside God and assist Him in fulfilling His divine mandate to “fill the earth.” But unlike the rest of the animal kingdom, humanity was given the unique responsibility to subdue the earth and have dominion over all that God had made. God had given mankind the job of stewarding or managing His creation. Everything God had made was ultimately for mankind’s use, including the plants. It seems that the original humans were herbivores, who subsisted on a completely vegetarian diet. The same was true of the rest of the animal kingdom.
“Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” – Genesis 1:29-30 ESV
While this opening chapter contains no clear prohibition against eating meat, it would appear that the original state of creation was carnivore-free. None of the animals consumed one another, which meant there was no shedding of blood. And that would remain the case until “Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8 ESV). As a direct result of the fall, Cain, consumed by jealousy and anger, would spill the blood of his own brother and bring down a divine curse on his head.
And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.” – Genesis 4:10-11 ESV
Up until that fateful moment when Cain slew Abel, there appears to have been no blood spilled. And it’s interesting to note that the whole reason Cain spilled the blood of his brother was that “the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard” (Genesis 4:4-5 ESV). The Genesis 4 account reveals that “Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought some of the firstborn of his flock—even the fattest of them” (Genesis 4:3-4 NET). While some scholars believe that Abel’s offering was accepted by God because it was a blood sacrifice, the text does not seem to support that conclusion. There is no mention of Abel taking the life of the animals he offered. It simply states that he offered the “fattest of them” – in other words, Abel gave God the best of what he had. And when he dedicated those animals to God, they were no longer his to breed. All of this took place long before God gave the Mosaic law with its painstaking instructions regarding animal sacrifice. Abel was simply offering to God the best of what he had. But Cain offered God “some of the fruit of the ground.” There was no real sacrifice involved. Cain didn’t give up the tree that bore the fruit. He didn’t dedicate to God the land that had produced the grain. It seems that Cain was guilty of giving God a small and somewhat stingy token of his appreciation. And God was not pleased. But it was not the offering that was the problem. It was Cain’s heart or motivation behind his offering.
But back to the beginning. God had provided for all of Adam and Eve’s nutritional needs. Before He had even created Adam, God had caused the earth to bring “forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind” (Genesis 1:12 ESV). He had prepared the environment to fully meet the needs of His future image-bearers. They would have air to breathe, plenty of food to eat, and an abundance of pure water to drink. He had created a veritable garden of delights for His first son and daughter.
And at the close of the sixth day of creation, after God had made man and woman, He looked over His handiwork and pronounced His divine delight.
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. – Genesis 1:31 ESV
For the last six days, God had declared His pleasure with His creation.
God saw that the light was good. – Genesis 1:4 ESV
God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:10 ESV
The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:12 ESV
And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:17-18 ESV
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. – Genesis 1:21 ESV
And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:25 ESV
But with His creation of man, God’s work was complete and He deemed all that He had made as very good. This statement of satisfaction or approval does not portray God as egotistical or boastful. It is simply a reminder that all of God’s actions regarding the creation of the universe were righteous, holy, and flawless in every regard. The closing verse of chapter one sets up all that is to come in the rest of the book of Genesis. When God’s work was complete, all was well – all was very good. And chapter two will pick up on that theme, providing a more detailed account of man’s creation and setting the stage for the surprising events of chapter three and beyond. All was very good, but it would not stay that way for long.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.