And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 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. 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. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.Genesis 1:9-13 ESV
The third day of creation is the final day of preparation as God grooms the planet to receive life. A few interesting terms leap out from the Hebrew that are worth noting in this section of the creation account.
First, there is the word yabashah, which translates to dry ground or land. The word is singular, indicating there was only one mass of land. This would lend literary support to the geologically theorized single continent commonly known as Pangaea, and would perhaps be the earliest documentary evidence of this reality. The attached video below shows how Pangaea not only could have appeared, but also how modern plate tectonic theory could bring the continents back together in the distant future.
Next, there is the word ‘erets, from which we get the English word “Earth”. This is to distinguish from the Hebrew word `adammah, which is translated as dirt or ground. This is the word from which we get the name of the first man, Adam. The word ‘erets refers to the planetary totality of land mass, as opposed to specific plots of clay or soil.
Next we see the phrase miqvay mayim, which speaks to the “gathering together of the waters.” Miqvay carries with it the connotation of a collection, indicating a grouping, while mayim (“waters”) is plural. Verse 9 demonstrates that the waters were gathered together into one place or region. Maqom, which we translate as “place” is indicative of a place of stillness, implying that the water was not moving water. A careful examination of a map of what Pangaea would have looked like in relation to where the continents are today would show that all of the seas were indeed relatively close to one another in what is now known as the Middle East. One theory suggests that the Mediterranean Sea did not yet exist until after the Great Flood, while another theory suggests that this is the only Sea that existed at the time. Yet another theory suggests that the Mediterranean Sea did exist, but not as large as it is today. In any case, the point is that there was one land mass that eventually underwent massive chaotic separation to form the continents as we know them today.
On the same day that God brings forth the land, He causes vegetation to sprout. The word dasa is used to picture there, as opposed to the word bara, which is translated as “created”. Bara carries with it the connotation of being created from nothingness, while dasa is a reproductive process requiring a seed to sprout forth and yield (The Hebrew word for “yield” in this case is assa) fruit. The suggestion here is that the seed was present in the `adammah when God created it, in which case God set in motion the process of self-replication first with plant life in order to prepare the ground for the arrival of animal life that would need food in order to survive.
In the first three days of creation, we see God at work preparing and protecting the Earth as a special place for life to exist. We see Him separating out the waters from the seas and the sky and preparing them for habitation and to support the life that He would bring forth. He provides a foundation upon which to continue creating in a systematic, methodical way so that by the time we reach His crowning creative achievement, everything is in place to give His creation the life He desires for it to enjoy for His own good pleasure.
In the same way, in the early days of our faith, as we go through a systematic and methodical process of discipleship, God begins by laying a foundation of illumination, inspiration, and separation. He makes it possible for us to begin to have a vision for what our new life will look like in Him as we begin to see life in brilliant new shades that we have never fully comprehended before. All the while He is preparing a place for us where we will thrive under His watchful hand while providing us the resources we need to grow in our faith. The seed of faith that is planted in our hearts is intended to produce self-replicating fruit that will transform the landscape of our lives and ultimately the lives of others around us as we illuminate the darkness in the lives of others and inspire them to live lives separate from the ways of the world.