Genesis 1:11–12: The Birth of Flora

In our (slow) pro­gres­sion through Gen­e­sis, we have seen the cre­ation of the heav­en and the earth, of light, and the atmos­phere. We have seen the for­ma­tion of dry land, of Pan­gaea and the first, pri­mor­dial sea.

We come now to the third cre­ative day, where­in we read:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout veg­e­ta­tion, plants yield­ing seed, and fruit trees bear­ing fruit in which is their seed, each accord­ing to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12The 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. 13And there was evening and there was morn­ing, the third day. The Book of Gen­e­sis 1:11–12

After hav­ing sep­a­rat­ed dry land from the seas on the pre­vi­ous day, God now calls for plant life to sprout, and Earth obeys as all man­ner of veg­e­ta­tion springs forth into life. It was good, and the day ends. 

Pret­ty sim­ple, right? Per­haps, but there are a num­ber of things to take away from this verse.

First, you should note that this verse refutes the idea that the “days” of Gen­e­sis are sym­bol­ic of long peri­ods of time, cor­re­spond­ing in some way to the “mil­lions of years” demand­ed by the fool­ish con­clu­sions of geol­o­gists. In what way does the earth sprout­ing plants show that? It does so in the fact that if the days are in actu­al­i­ty untold eons, all of the plants men­tioned would be long dead by the time the sun is cre­at­ed on day four!.

In oth­er words, if you want to believe that the Scrip­tures are com­pat­i­ble with evo­lu­tion of “old-earth” geol­o­gy, you must not only rede­fine what the word “day” means, but you must also cut and paste vers­es into the prop­er order. Either God cre­at­ed the sun first as the “old-earth” geol­o­gist would tell us or He cre­at­ed plants first as the Scrip­tures tell us. One can­not have it both ways with­out doing great dam­age to the integri­ty of the Scriptures.

Sec­ond, you should note that this verse pre­cludes the idea of evo­lu­tion being respon­si­ble for Earth­’s plant life. The plants which God caused to sprout repro­duce via seed “accord­ing to their own kinds.” Mil­lions and mil­lions of years of a pine tree repro­duc­ing into a pine tree will nev­er yield a fir tree. I don’t doubt that there have been muta­tions along the way. Sin absolute­ly wrecked the integri­ty of every gene pool. That’s why we have sick­ness — and sick­ness­es which are still mutat­ing today, ren­der­ing med­i­cines inef­fec­tive — and defor­mi­ties and so on.

But “accord­ing to its own kind” is straight­for­ward. It’s either true or it isn’t, and it’s an incred­i­ble leap of faith to rede­fine the words in that phrase to mean that the plants repro­duce “in a man­ner which reflects the cumu­la­tive result of sur­vival of the fittest and nat­ur­al selec­tion so that after mil­lions of years, the result­ing tree may not resem­ble the orig­i­nal kind at all.”

Third, you should take away from this verse the suprema­cy of God. Sci­ence and a myr­i­ad of pagan reli­gions point to the sun — or a sun god of some sort — as the sus­tain­er of life on Earth. Yet we see here God bring­ing forth life — plant life, of all things! — with­out the aid of Apol­lo or the sun. The nat­ur­al order would be set in motion lat­er, but on this one day, plants world­wide flour­ished by the sheer will of God. No pho­to­syn­the­sis. No exhaled car­bon diox­ide — there was no human or ani­mal life, yet. There was only God.

In your life, there is only God. He is the only con­stant refuge, hope, and com­forter. Apart from His sus­tain­ing will, those plants would­n’t have done a thing on the third day of cre­ation, and apart from His redeem­ing grace, you will nev­er tru­ly live.

Apart from Him, you are spir­i­tu­al­ly dead, your spir­it bound by the guilt of sin. But through faith in Jesus Christ, there is sal­va­tion freely giv­en by a gra­cious God. The plants obeyed God when He called them forth to life; will you?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that who­ev­er believes in him should not per­ish but have eter­nal life. The Gospel accord­ing to John 3:16






4 responses to “Genesis 1:11–12: The Birth of Flora”

  1. kristarella Avatar

    First, you should note that this verse refutes the idea that the “days” of Gen­e­sis are sym­bol­ic of long peri­ods of time…

    While this is a very inter­est­ing point about the order of cre­ation and the pos­si­ble whens and hows of it, I’m not con­vinced. I cur­rent­ly think the days are peri­ods of time and that the account of cre­ation is poet­ic, not lit­er­al. I don’t feel strong­ly about it and am always ready to hear dis­cus­sion about it… Thank­ful­ly my view still holds the excel­lent things you said about God being the life-giv­er to be true.

    If it were the case that the days are lit­er­al and that the earth sprout­ed and brought forth veg­e­ta­tion on the third day. What does it mean in Gen­e­sis 2 when it says

    These are the gen­er­a­tions of the heav­ens and the earth when they were cre­at­ed… When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up… then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nos­trils the breath of life

    In Gen­e­sis 1 the earth has sprout­ed veg­e­ta­tion long before man is made, but in Gen­e­sis 2 it has­n’t sprout­ed yet because it has­n’t rained yet and then God makes man.

    Regard­less of sci­ence, the whole account does not track for me as a lit­er­al account.

  2. Rick Beckman Avatar

    The account of Gen­e­sis 2 is focused not on the world but on Eden — or rather the gar­den in Eden. I’ve writ­ten on that in the past, if you’re inter­est­ed (though I note that just about every link is point­ing to a past project of mine which no longer exists). Also, I real­ly hope I’ve grown a bit in the past two years — my com­ments in reply to peo­ple on that arti­cle are com­ing off as rather snip­py, even to me.

  3. kristarella Avatar

    Hey Rick,

    That’s an inter­est­ing post and dis­cus­sion (although I did­n’t read the last third of the com­ments, it seemed like the con­vo was start­ing to repeat itself).

    Actu­al­ly, when you read only the KJV ver­sion the rea­son­ing in the post is right on; I would­n’t think there is any con­tra­dic­tion either. I think the ESV presents chap­ter 2 quite differently.

    4These are the gen­er­a­tions of the heav­ens and of the earth when they were cre­at­ed, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heav­ens, 5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nos­trils the breath of life; and man became a liv­ing soul.


    4These are the gen­er­a­tions of the heav­ens and the earth when they were cre­at­ed, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.5When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6and a mist was going up from the land and was water­ing the whole face of the ground— 7then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nos­trils the breath of life, and the man became a liv­ing creature.

    The ESV sounds more like the whole sec­tion about the rea­son plants had­n’t sprout­ed yet is an inter­jec­tion and there­fore the tim­ing of the mist is quite unclear. Use of em-dash­es in that way would mean that the sen­tence has pret­ty much the same mean­ing if you exclude the con­tents of the dash­es alto­geth­er (I know the orig­i­nal did­n’t have punc­tu­a­tion like that).

    So, I’m led to a bunch of ques­tions such as:

    Are the ver­sions cul­tur­al­ly coloured?

    Was it tak­en for grant­ed at the writ­ing of the KJV that Gen­e­sis was 100% lit­er­al, or did they have a dif­fer­ent way of writ­ing that did­n’t include inter­jec­to­ry state­ments and so Gen­e­sis 2 was trans­lat­ed the way it was?
    Or is the ESV trans­lat­ed in light of our cur­rent age and beliefs (e.g., what sci­ence has to say)?
    Or is there a dif­fer­ence between the tex­tus recep­tus and the com­piled Hebrew sources that the ESV is trans­lat­ed from that could cause a difference?

    How much are we coloured by our pre­vi­ous teach­ing and culture?

    I know you want to find out what the bible says and not be influ­enced by human stuff, but I won­der if it’s even pos­si­ble… I get the impres­sion that 7 day cre­ation­ism is more wide­ly accept­ed in the US (a gross gen­er­al­i­sa­tion I know, but it is just an impres­sion, and I don’t have much else to go on). Where as I’ve only met two peo­ple here that have said they believe in a lit­er­al ‘day’ cre­ation. There are prob­a­bly more peo­ple around me that do believe that, but I’ve nev­er heard them talk about it.
    Also, I stud­ied sci­ence and live in a cul­ture where that kind of knowl­edge is high­ly regard­ed, so I can’t call sci­en­tists fools for seek­ing expla­na­tions to the evi­dence they find.
    Of course, I want to seek God’s truth through his Word and the Holy Spir­it with­out pre­sup­po­si­tion. That is what I tried to do when read­ing Gen­e­sis recent­ly and I came out think­ing that Gen 1 is not lit­er­al. How­ev­er, maybe we can’t sep­a­rate exter­nal teach­ing from our read­ing of the bible and it’s one of things we have to agree to dis­agree (when it does­n’t affect how we are jus­ti­fied before God). I don’t know.

    Well, that was a long ram­ble that I was­n’t expect­ing to have. ;)

  4. kristarella Avatar

    Oops, for­mat­ting fail in the block­quotes… can see com­par­i­son on Bible­Gate­way.

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Rick Beckman