Disclaimer: If you believe the Bible to be fictional, think of this post as a literary text then, which it is. The Bible is literary so think of it as so, something you can still gather thought from, even if it’s something you don’t particular believe to be true. This disclaimer will be more clear if you read on, I hope.
I have to read Genesis 1-4 for homework and I wasn’t too excited about starting because I’ve heard this story over and over before and I thought it was going to be boring. But, with anything, I try to go into it telling myself to get something out of it, because why not. I started reading and the first thing I realized was the ocean was here before the land. It says in the second day he created an expanse above the oceans called the sky and then on the third day, “let the water under the sky be gathered at one place.” This got me excited.
If you know me, you know I love the ocean. I love that the ocean could have been here all along, just waiting. It’s mysterious depths still unsearchable, from the beginning of time. I think there’s such beauty in not knowing, which is what allows me to believe and love God, really. But that’s besides the point. I just want to talk about the significance of this being first. It’s as if we are being told that we are not as important as we think we are. We didn’t even have a place to stand, and now people today still can’t understand how beautiful the ocean is and how grateful we are to have land. We abuse what we have. Even the fact that we’re not sinking away.
Which brings me to my next point.
I was reading along and I noticed something I hadn’t before. Verses 20 through 26 are filled with all the animals God put into existence. This was the fifth day. He first made the creatures of sky and sea. It even says that “God blessed them and said ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’ ” Then it goes on to talk about for a full paragraph the creatures on the land. “And God saw that it was good.”
Next paragraph, much smaller: “Now let us make man.” Yes, it does say that man will rule over them. This is where many have confused power rather than responsibility. This is an example of why many “believers” have gone astray, by this and many other texts. “I rule over animals, which means I have power and they don’t and I am better and they are not.” This reminded me of something similar to history. Can you think of it? Let me give you a hint. It’s all about the land you’re standing on right now. You know, “the land of the free.”
Englishmen saw that they were more educated and more worthy of the land than the inhabitants before them. This is power.
I never put these two things together and I’m not sure if anyone ever has. I’m not sure why this came into my mind, but both of these points give me both bitterness towards those who reconstruct words for their own good and passion for what is right.
Like I said in my disclaimer, this may be just a story to you, but let’s at least think of it as an example for us, as civilized human beings. (now does it make sense? I wasn’t just rambling about religious stuffs). God spent TWO PARAGRAPHS, or for better explanation, the writer spent that amount of time, explaining how God cared for the creation of these creatures. He gave us a responsibility over them, to care for them and to love them. We rule over them to help us grow and to help them prosper. I believe that we live together to help tend the land and to help each other feel full not only in actual hunger, but for our souls. You can’t tell me that a small puppy, wagging his tail at you isn’t adorable? And you can’t tell me that this puppy isn’t wagging his tail just because he hopes for a treat. He loves you, and we’re supposed to love him back.
The point is, animals came first.
What does this say about us? God saved the best for last? Or maybe he decided at the end that he wanted someone to come in and help the land grow, to see the grass not wither, but produce seeds that only hands can. And maybe we came after animals so we could be born into the world to open our eyes and see the movement around us and stand in awe.
Even as a literary text, this is amazing. I believe this could be true. It may have happened differently, who knows, but it’s pretty cool to imagine anyways.
We aren’t meant to take over or use things like “let man rule over [the animals]” for our good; it’s for the good of us all. And if you think about how animals came before us, innocent and hopeful for someone to care for them, it makes me and hopefully you feel sad for the way things turned out. Killing deer for fun, when all they want to do is frolic. Killing elephants for ivory that simply sits on your neck, in vain absorption. You may not do these things, I realize that, but it has happened. And yes, like my example about Native-Americans, this happens to people, too.
I hope this sheds some light to some things in your life, and even if this is old news and sounds like stuff you hear all the time with Sarah McLaughlin playing in the background, just let it be a reminder.
Even Spiderman said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” (Cheesy, I know). Be humane, not power-hungry.