O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Genesis 1:21, in the KJV, says that God created "whales". Until recently, I had never given this a second thought. But then I came across this site:
It's very interesting that the word that KJV translates as whale is 'taninim' (plural of tanin), which is differently translated in the account of Aaron's staff turning into a snake (tanin)
Now, this is curious, since the KJV translators should have obviously known that they did this. They weren't illiterate. Why then is it "whale" in one place, and "snake" in another? Could there have been bias from the translators? Perhaps, or maybe it was just ignorance. Perhaps they assumed that it wasn't important, because obviously (in their minds) snakes don't live in the oceans, so it must have been some creature really large, like a whale.
Anyway, that isn't the point of my post. If you will read the entire article, you will see that there was a purposeful symbolism being presented by God, through Moses and Aaron, to the Egyptians, that God is sovereign over everything, beginning with the very first creatures He made, the "serpents"!
Why is this important? Well, for lots of reasons which could be spun off of this discussion. But I want to specifically focus on the differences between the two accounts in Gen. 1 and Gen. 2. For a long time I have been baffled about why the two accounts are in there in the first place. But the article I reference makes it clear, and I concur, that God is concerned with COSMIC issues of creation in Gen. 1 and MANKIND issues in Gen. 2, and specifically, the issue of COVENANT.
Since this site is all about covenant, with overtones of covenant creationism, I think it is vital that we examine this in more detail. Nothing in scripture is accidental. The whole of the bible is for "reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness" 2 Tim. 3:16. So, let's look at this with a more critical (microscopic) eye towards learning what God wants us to know re: His covenant with Man.
My personal belief is that Genesis, specifically Gen. 2, is all about creating not the first PHYSICAL man, but instead about telling us how God entered into covenant with mankind, with Adam and Eve intended to be mankind's representatives (priests) between man and God. As such, the story shows how they failed that mission, and from then on it became necessary to offer the perfect "covenant man", Jesus Christ, in their place. See Rev. 13:8 to understand that the "foundation of "the world" is about the founding of the original covenant with man in the garden. "The world" in Rev. 13:8 is NOT the physical world, it is instead the "covenant world". It was the time (within the great eons of time), when God entered into man's domain and began revealing Himself to man.
As such, there are clearly two "domains" presented in Genesis. Those who follow their own ways, and are outside the covenant (those of Cain's offspring) and those who at least try to follow God's commands and are "covenant people" (those from Seth's line).
As we read Genesis, we ought to understand this basic truth, because it unlocks most of the mysteries of the bible.
One question: If Adam was not actually the first physical man created, then what do you do with Genesis 2:4-5 that seems to say otherwise? "These 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, and 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." Two verses later in Genesis 2:7 God is forming Adam of the dust of the ground. This sounds as if there was not a single human on earth to till the ground until Adam was formed.
Remember that God planted a garden "East of Eden". Why was there even an Eden, if no man yet existed? That's an academic question, but is the same kind of question you asked.
The simple answer is that the scenario that unfolds in Genesis is concerned with "The Garden of Eden", not the whole planet earth. Therefore, there was no man to till the ground because we are talking about Eden, not the whole earth! It was a garden. So, just like now, no plants spring up in your garden until rain comes.
There is an opportunity here for an entire discussion topic to discuss what is meant by "heavens and earth", and I am of the opinion that heavens and earth are NOT the same thing as firmaments and waters. One is spiritual, the other is physical. One is covenantal, the other is earthy and fleshly.
Understanding this COMPLETELY changes ones paradigm about events in Genesis and beyond. It also causes a divide between preterists and futurists that can't be reconciled until there is common ground. Additionally, it causes problems within preterism because if you don't see eschatology as a consummation of covenants, rather than (as some preterists do) simply an explanation of a series of physical events in the physical realm, you will go off on physical branches where none exist.
Genesis is intended to explain where we came from, but it is NOT an explanation for how the physical world came to be. It is intended to explain how God made a SPECIAL relationship with mankind, in a SPECIAL place (the garden). All other men prior to that did not have a relationship with God. They were just men, doing what men do, naturally and in the flesh.
Adam was intended to show those men who God was. He was intended to become an intermediary between God and men. He became disqualified and that necessitated the appearance of the God-man, Jesus Christ.