At the end of each of the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days of creation, God looked upon the work which He had made and our author tells us with rhythmic regularity:
and God saw that it was good; and there was evening and there was morning, the second day…
God saw that it was good. So evening and morning were the third day…
God saw that it was good. So evening and morning were the fourth day…
God blesssed them, saying, “Be fruitful and mulitply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on earth.” So evening and morning were the fifth day…
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good. So evening and morning were the sixth day.
I love that fifth day on which God blessed the crops. On the sixth day He blessed the animals and placed man above them to “fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…” This was paradise, the state of nature, in which all things were ordered to their own blessedness.
And God saw that it was good.
What does that mean? Does it mean that He was pleased with His work? I cannot imagine that He was not. But then why does the author not simply say, “God saw that His work was pleasing?”
I think the answer might be rather simple. It was indeed pleasing to Him, but why? Because it was good! And why was it good? Because it embodied His intentions.
To take an anthropomorphic stance for a moment (and after all, that is what Genesis one does), we could easily say, first God planned out His work. He gave it time and space within which He would do it. He developed ideas for what He wanted done. He even delegated His tasks, certainly to His Son, probably also to angels.
Then, for a week, He worked. At the end of each day He assessed His work . At the end of the week, He assessed His week’s work. He said it was good. It came out the way He wanted it to. He had an idea, a plan, and a process. It worked!
He wove the matter of His task out of His words. Then He modified the matter to move His ideas from His infinite mind into the finite matter before Him. The earth, which was formless and empty at the end of the first day (it had no shape and took up no space!), was now a gathering of forms filling the emptiness.
Both the process of creation and the product of creation were structured and rhythmic and beautiful.
They were utterly flawless. He had executed His task perfectly. He had even created, miracle of miracles, a physical being that bore the image of God – clay breathing the breath of God, living the mysteries of reason and will.
Clay able to imitate its maker.
He saw that it was very good. Delighting in it, He willed it to flourish, so He blessed it. Part of that blessing was the appointment of a wise and just lord who shared His desire for it to flourish.
It was good, therefore, because each part was a successful embodiment of the idea He had intended. It was very good, because all the parts were ordered to a formal harmony, an order of soul-wrenching beauty. It had a lord, and every subject knew its place and delighted in it.
He had made the lord of the creation in His Own image, fit to rule with love and blessing. The lord was fit to rule, beginning with the act of naming. He was fit to exercise a just and wise dominion because he was given all the faculties of a just and wise ruler. He could see and know and act on the creation for its own good and flourishing. Made by a creator, he was creative himself.
And it was very good.
But if he failed in his duties, everything would change.