- V. The Third Day
9. קוה qāvâh “turn, bind, gather, expect.”
יבשׁה yabāshâh “the dry, the ground.” יבשׁ yabēsh “be dry.” בושׁ bôsh “be abashed.”
11. דשׁא deshe' “green thing, grass.”
עשׂב ‛ēśāb “herb.”
זרע zēra‛ “seed.” זרע zāra‛ “sow,” sero.
פרי perı̂y “fruit.” ברה pārâh “bear”; φέρω pherō work of creation on this day is evidently twofold, - the distribution of land and water, and the creation of plants. The former part of it is completed, named, reviewed, and approved before the latter is commenced. All that has been done before this, indeed, is preparatory to the introduction of the vegetable kingdom. This may be regarded as the first stage of the present creative process.
Let the water be gathered to one place; let the ground appear. - This refers to the yet overflowing deep of waters Genesis 1:2 under “the expanse.” They must be confined within certain limits. For this purpose the order is issued, that they be gathered into one place; that is, evidently, into a place apart from that designed for the land.
Then called God to the ground, land. - We use the word “ground” to denote the dry surface left after the retreat of the waters. To this the Creator applies the term ארץ 'erets “land, earth.” Hence, we find that the primitive meaning of this term was land, the dry solid surface of matter on which we stand. This meaning it still retains in all its various applications (see note on Genesis 1:2). As it was soon learned by experience that the solid ground was continuous at the bottom of the water-masses, and that these were a mere superficial deposit gathering into the hollows, the term was, by an easy extension of its meaning, applied to the whole surface, as it was diversified by land and water. Our word “earth” is the term to express it in this more extended sense. In this sense it was the meet counterpart of the heavens in that complex phrase by which the universe of things is expressed.
And to the gathering of the waters called he seas. - In contradistinction to the land, the gathered waters are called seas; a term applied in Scripture to any large collection of water, even though seen to be surrounded by land; as, the salt sea, the sea of Kinnereth, the sea of the plain or valley, the fore sea, the hinder sea Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:11; Deuteronomy 4:49; Joel 2:20; Deuteronomy 11:24. The plural form “seas” shows that the “one place” consists of several basins, all of which taken together are called the place of the waters.
The Scripture, according to its manner, notices only the palpable result; namely, a diversified scene of “land” and “seas.” The sacred singer possibly hints at the process in Psalm 104:6-8: “The deep as a garment thou didst spread over it; above the mountains stood the waters. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up the mountains; they go down the valleys; unto the place that thou hast founded for them.” This description is highly poetical, and therefore true to nature. The hills are to rise out of the waters above them. The agitated waters dash up the stirring mountains, but, as these ascend, at length sink into the valleys, and take the place allotted for them. Plainly the result was accomplished by lowering some and elevating other parts of the solid ground. Over this inequality of surface, the waters, which before overspread the whole ground, flowed into the hollows, and the elevated regions became dry land. This is a kind of geological change which has been long known to the students of nature. Such changes have often been sudden and violent. Alterations of level, of a gradual character, are known to be going on at all times.
This disposition of land and water prepares for the second step, which is the main work of this day; namely, the creation of plants. We are now come to the removal of another defect in the state of the earth, mentioned in the second verse, - its deformity, or rude and uncouth appearance.
Let the land grow. - The plants are said to be products of the land, because they spring from the dry ground, and a margin round it where the water is so shallow as to permit the light and heat to reach the bottom. The land is said to grow or bring forth plants; not because it is endowed with any inherent power to generate plants, but because it is the element in which they are to take root, and from which they are to spring forth.
Grass, herb yielding seed, fruit tree bearing fruit. - The plants now created are divided into three classes - grass, herb, and tree. In the first, the seed is not noticed, as not obvious to the eye; in the second, the seed is the striking characteristic; in the third, the fruit, “in which is its seed,” in which the seed is enclosed, forms the distinguishing mark. This division is simple and natural. It proceeds upon two concurrent marks - the structure and the seed. In the first, the green leaf or blade is prominent; in the second, the stalk; in the third, the woody texture. In the first, the seed is not conspicuous; in the second, it is conspicuous; in the third, it is enclosed in a fruit which is conspicuous. This division corresponds with certain classes in our present systems of botany. But it is much less complex than any of them, and is founded upon obvious characteristics. The plants that are on the margin of these great divisions may be arranged conveniently enough under one or another of them, according to their several orders or species.
After its kind. - This phrase intimates that like produces like, and therefore that the “kinds” or species are fixed, and do not run into one another. In this little phrase the theory of one species being developed from another is denied.
Here the fulfillment of the divine command is detailed, after being summed up in the words “it was so,” at the close of the previous verse. This seems to arise from the nature of growth, which has a commencement, indeed, but goes on without ceasing in a progressive development. It appears from the text that the full plants, and not the seeds, germs, or roots, were created. The land sent forth grass, herb, tree, each in its fully developed form. This was absolutely necessary, if man and the land animals were to be sustained by grasses, seeds, and fruits.
Thus, the land begins to assume the form of beauty and fertility. Its bare and rough soil is set with the germs of an incipient verdure. It has already ceased to be “a waste.” And now, at the end of this third day, let us pause to review the natural order in which everything has been thus far done. It was necessary to produce light in the first place, because without this potent element water could not pass into vapor, and rise on the wings of the buoyant air into the region above the expanse. The atmosphere must in the next place be reduced to order, and charged with its treasures of vapor, before the plants could commence the process of growth, even though stimulated by the influence of light and heat. Again, the waters must be withdrawn from a portion of the solid surface before the plants could be placed in the ground, so as to have the full benefit of the light, air, and vapor in enabling them to draw from the soil the sap by which they are to be nourished. When all these conditions are fulfilled, then the plants themselves are called into existence, and the first cycle of the new creation is completed.
Could not the Eternal One have accomplished all this in one day? Doubtless, He might. He might have effected it all in an instant of time. And He might have compressed the growth and development of centuries into a moment. He might even by possibility have constructed the stratifications of the earth‘s crust with all their slips, elevations, depressions, unconformities, and organic formations in a day. And, lastly, He might have carried on to completion all the evolutions of universal nature that have since taken place or will hereafter take place until the last hour has struck on the clock of time. But what then? What purpose would have been served by all this speed? It is obvious that the above and such like questions are not wisely put. The very nature of the eternal shows the futility of such speculations. Is the commodity of time so scarce with him that he must or should for any good reason sum up the course of a universe of things in an infinitesimal portion of its duration? May we not, rather, must we not, soberly conclude that there is a due proportion between the action and the time of the action, the creation to be developed and the time of development. Both the beginning and the process of this latest creation are to a nicety adjusted to the preexistent and concurrent state of things. And the development of what is created not only displays a mutual harmony and exact coincidence in the progress of all its other parts, but is at the same time finely adapted to the constitution of man, and the natural, safe, and healthy ratio of his physical and metaphysical movements.
Whose seed was in itself - Which has the power of multiplying itself by seeds, slips, roots, etc., ad infinitum; which contains in itself all the rudiments of the future plant through its endless generations. This doctrine has been abundantly confirmed by the most accurate observations of the best modern philosophers. The astonishing power with which God has endued the vegetable creation to multiply its different species, may be instanced in the seed of the elm. This tree produces one thousand five hundred and eighty-four millions of seeds; and each of these seeds has the power of producing the same number. How astonishing is this produce! At first one seed is deposited in the earth; from this one a tree springs, which in the course of its vegetative life produces one thousand five hundred and eighty-four millions of seeds. This is the first generation. The second generation will amount to two trillions, five hundred and nine thousand and fifty-six billions. The third generation will amount to three thousand nine hundred and seventy-four quadrillions, three hundred and forty-four thousand seven hundred and four trillions! And the fourth generation from these would amount to six sextillions two hundred and ninety-five thousand three hundred and sixty-two quintillions, eleven thousand one hundred and thirty-six quadrillions! Sums too immense for the human mind to conceive; and, when we allow the most confined space in which a tree can grow, it appears that the seeds of the third generation from one elm would be many myriads of times more than sufficient to stock the whole superfices of all the planets in the solar system! But plants multiply themselves by slips as well as by seeds. Sir Kenelm Digby saw in 1660 a plant of barley, in the possession of the fathers of the Christian doctrine at Paris, which contained 249 stalks springing from one root or grain, and in which he counted upwards of 18,000 grains. See my experiments on Tilling in the Methodist Magazine.
From the work of seed sowing and the growth of the plant from the seed, precious lessons may be taught in the family and the school. Let the children and youth learn to recognize in natural things the working of divine agencies, and they will be enabled to grasp by faith unseen benefits. As they come to understand the wonderful work of God in supplying the wants of His great family, and how we are to co-operate with Him, they will have more faith in God, and will realize more of His power in their own daily life. COL 80.1
God created the seed, as He created the earth, by His word. By His word He gave it power to grow and multiply. He said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth; and it was so ... and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:11, 12. It is that word which still causes the seed to grow. Every seed that sends up its green blade to the sunlight declares the wonder-working power of that word uttered by Him who “spake, and it was”; who “commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:9. COL 80.2Read in context »
The harvest is a reproduction of the seed sown. Every seed yields fruit after its kind. So it is with the traits of character we cherish. Selfishness, self-love, self-esteem, self-indulgence, reproduce themselves, and the end is wretchedness and ruin. “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:8. Love, sympathy, and kindness yield fruitage of blessing, a harvest that is imperishable. Ed 109.1
In the harvest the seed is multiplied. A single grain of wheat, increased by repeated sowings, would cover a whole land with golden sheaves. So widespread may be the influence of a single life, of even a single act. Ed 109.2
What deeds of love the memory of that alabaster box broken for Christ's anointing has through the long centuries prompted! What countless gifts that contribution, by a poor unnamed widow, of “two mites, which make a farthing” (Mark 12:42), has brought to the Saviour's cause! Ed 109.3Read in context »
We are not to be put about and discouraged about temporal things because of apparent failures, nor should we be disheartened by delay. We should work the soil cheerfully, hopefully, gratefully, believing that the earth holds in her bosom rich stores for the faithful worker to garner, richer than gold or silver. The niggardliness laid to her charge is false witness. With proper, intelligent cultivation the earth will yield its treasures for the benefit of man. TM 243.1
The spiritual lessons to be learned are of no mean order. The seeds of truth sown in the soil of the heart will not all be lost, but will spring up, first the blade, then the ear, and then the corn in the ear. God said in the beginning, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit.” God created the seed as He did the earth, by the divine word. We are to exercise our reasoning powers in the cultivation of the earth, and to have faith in the word of God that has created the fruit of the earth for the service of man. TM 243.2
The cultivation of our lands requires the exercise of all the brainpower and tact we possess. The lands around us testify to the indolence of men. We hope to arouse to action the dormant senses. We hope to see intelligent farmers, who will be rewarded for their earnest labor. The hand and heart must cooperate, bringing new and sensible plans into operation in the cultivation of the soil. We have here seen the giant trees felled and uprooted, we have seen the plowshare pressed into the earth, turning deep furrows for the planting of young trees and the sowing of the seed. The students are learning what plowing means, and that the hoe and the shovel, the rake and the harrow, are all implements of honorable and profitable industry. Mistakes will often be made, but error lies close beside truth. Wisdom will be learned by failures, and the energy that will make a beginning gives hope of success in the end. Hesitation will keep things back, precipitancy will alike retard, but all will serve as lessons if the human agents will have it so. TM 243.3Read in context »
(Matthew 12:31, 32). God Gave Pharaoh Into Hands of Self—Every additional evidence of the power of God that the Egyptian monarch resisted, carried him on to a stronger and more persistent defiance of God. Thus the work went on, finite man warring against the expressed will of an infinite God. This case is a clear illustration of the sin against the Holy Ghost. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Gradually the Lord withdrew His Spirit. Removing His restraining power, He gave the king into the hands of the worst of all tyrants,—self (The Review and Herald, July 27, 1897). 1BC 1100.1
(Galatians 6:7). Pharaoh Sowed Obstinacy, Reaped Obstinacy—“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Pharaoh sowed obstinacy, and he reaped obstinacy. He himself put this seed into the soil. There was no more need for God by some new power to interfere with its growth, than there is for Him to interfere with the growth of a grain of corn. All that is required is that a seed shall be left to germinate and spring up to bring forth fruit after its kind. The harvest reveals the kind of seed that has been sown (Manuscript 126, 1901). 1BC 1100.2
Rebellion Produces Rebellion—After the plague was stayed, the king refused to let Israel go. Rebellion produces rebellion. The king had become so hardened with his continual opposition to the will of God, that his whole being rose in rebellion to the awful exhibitions of His divine power (Spiritual Gifts 3:215). 1BC 1100.3
Israel Would Be Preserved, Even if Pharaoh Had to Die—Pharaoh hardened his heart against the Lord and he ventured, notwithstanding all the signs and mighty wonders he had witnessed, to threaten that if Moses and Aaron appeared before him again they should die. If the king had not become hardened in his rebellion against God, he would have been humbled under a sense of the power of the living God who could save or destroy. He would have known that He who could do such miracles, and multiply His signs and wonders, would preserve the lives of His chosen servants, even if He should have to slay the king of Egypt (Spiritual Gifts 3:220). 1BC 1100.4Read in context »