On the sixth day of creation, God created the land animals and the pinnacle of His creative work, humans (Genesis 1:24–31). God’s handiwork was complete at the end of the sixth day. Moses, the author of Genesis, summed up the week of creation with these words: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array” (Genesis 2:1).
Land animals. God commanded land animals into being: “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind” (Genesis 1:24). Every animal not created on the previous days was now in existence. The land animals were created according to their “kinds.” Moses records that the animals were grouped into three broad categories: livestock, such as sheep, goats, and cattle; creeping things, such as insects, worms, and reptiles; and the wild animals, such as lions, foxes, and kangaroos. All creatures that live on the earth, including elephants, giraffes, dogs, cats, tortoises, and other land animals were created on the sixth day. “God made them all, and he was pleased with what he saw” (verse 25, GNT).
Mankind. When creating man, God took counsel with Himself: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). This is not an explicit revelation of the Trinity, but it provides a foundation for it, as God reveals an “us” within the Godhead. God made man in the image of God (men and women both bear this image) and special above all other creatures. God formed the first man “from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). With the rest of creation, God had simply spoken things into existence (e.g., Genesis 1:3, 14, 20), but God does things differently when He creates mankind. Man is a unique combination of earthly, natural material (dust) and life-giving power from God Himself (the breath of life).
God then placed the first man in a garden to care for it (Genesis 2:15), and then He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (verse 18). So God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and He took a rib from the man’s side from which He made a woman (verses 21–22). God places mankind in authority over the earth and over all the other creatures (Genesis 1:26). God blesses man and woman and commands them to reproduce, fill the earth, and “subdue” it—that is, bring the earth under the rightful stewardship of man as authorized by God (verse 28). God announced that man and all other creatures were to eat plants alone (verses 29–30). God did not rescind this dietary restriction until after the flood (Genesis 9:3–4.)
Scripture indicates that humans are set apart from all other creatures:
• Humans are made in the image of God. Unlike the plants, trees, aquatic animals, birds, and land animals, God set mankind apart as unique by creating humans “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Being made in God’s likeness does not mean that humans physically look like God, since He is spirit (John 4:24). Rather, men and women reflect God in their ability to love (1 John 4:19), reason (Isaiah 1:18), and make intelligent decisions (Deuteronomy 30:19).
• Mankind was uniquely and intimately formed by God (Genesis 2:7; Isaiah 45:12). After forming man, the Lord personally breathed life into Adam to give him life. Significantly, God also personally formed Eve, using a part of Adam (Genesis 2:21–22).
• Man was given dominion over the earth. After creating the first man and woman, God blessed them, gave them dominion over all the animals, and instructed them to multiply (Genesis 1:28). Everything in creation was originally perfect and “good” as God intended (verse 31).
• The first humans were commanded by the Lord not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17). This command demonstrated Adam and Eve’s moral responsibility. They had a free will and the capacity to make moral decisions, in contrast to the other creatures.
According to His perfect design, God created land animals and humans on the sixth day of creation. As the apex of creation, humans were made to reflect the Lord’s character and attributes in this world. Although everything in creation reflects God’s glory to some extent, mankind is unique in being distinctly made in the image of God.