And God said, “Let the earth cause the sprouting on the earth of the tender plant, of the plant bearing its seed, of the fruit tree making the fruit that holds its seed, each in the way of its kind”; and so it was done. And the earth produced the tender plant, the plant bearing its seed in the way of its kind, and the tree making the fruit that held its seed in the way of its kind. And God saw that it was good.
When the earth (a person) is so well prepared as to be able to accept heavenly seed from the Lord and to produce good and truth in some degree, that is the time when the Lord first causes the sprouting of something tender, called the tender plant or grass. Next he stimulates something more useful that reseeds itself—the plant bearing its seed. Finally he germinates something good, which reproduces fruitfully—the tree making the fruit that holds its seed, each of these in the way of its kind.
During regeneration we naturally suppose at first that the good we do and the truth we speak come from ourselves, when the reality is that all good and truth come from the Lord. If we imagine they come from ourselves, then, we are not yet in possession of the life force belonging to true faith (although we can receive it later). We cannot believe yet that they come from the Lord, because we are being prepared to receive the living power of faith. This stage is represented in the story by things that have no living soul; animate creatures represent the stage of living faith to come.
The Lord is the sower of seeds, the seed is his Word, and the earth is the human being, as he saw fit to say in Matthew 13:19–23, 37, 38, 39; Mark 4:14–20; and Luke 8:11–15. A similar description:
So God’s kingdom is like one who tosses seed into the earth and sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; how it happens, the person does not know. For the earth bears fruit readily—first a shoot, then an ear, then the full grain in the ear. (Mark 4:26, 27, 28)
“God’s kingdom” in its broadest sense means the whole of heaven. Less broadly it means the Lord’s true church. In its narrow sense it refers to everyone with true faith, which is to say, all who become reborn by living out their faith. Each of these people is also called a heaven (since they have heaven in them) and God’s kingdom (since they have God’s kingdom in them). The Lord himself teaches this in Luke:
Jesus was asked by the Pharisees, “When is God’s kingdom coming?” He answered them and said, “God’s kingdom does not come in an observable way, nor will they say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ because—look!—God’s kingdom is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21)
This is the third step in our regeneration and the stage at which we repent. The process continues to advance from shadow to light, from evening to morning, and so it says:
Genesis 1:13. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
from Regeneration, pages 132, 133