Creation - The Sixth Day part 2
Genesis Chapter 1 shows us that when God created the heavens and the earth, He did so by Divine fiat. God would repeatedly say, “Let there be….” and then we would read, “And it was so.” When we come to the sixth day, we read in Genesis 1:24, “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.” But when we come to the creation of mankind on the sixth day, the picture changed from the use of impersonal verbs, “Let there be”, “Let the earth bring forth”, etc., to an expression of personal determination, “Let Us make man”. The expression tells the reader that something momentous is about to take place.
This change is made clear for the following reasons. Firstly, we have obviously come to the crowning point in God’s creative activities. Secondly, there is a notable shift in the language and in the lengthy description given for the creation of mankind. Thirdly, this is the only creative act of God that is preceded by divine deliberation. Fourthly, human life alone is created in the image of God. Fifthly, the Hebrew verb bara is used three times in vs.27 to emphasize God’s creation of the man. Sixthly, this is the first time God used the expression, “male and female”. “Male and female” would not be used of the animals and birds until Genesis 6:19, that is, just prior to the flood.
In Genesis 1:26-27 we have a summary statement:
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
The special creation of man by God is a truth that is clearly taught in the word of God as the following sampling of references make very clear : Genesis 5:1-2; Genesis.9:6; Deuteronomy 4:32; Psalm 8:5; Psalm 100:3; Isaiah 45:12; Jeremiah 27:5; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6; Acts 17:26. Those who deny the special creation of man by God are denying that which God has revealed in His word. And as Jesus said, “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17).
In Genesis 1:1 we noted that the name for God, Elohim, is plural and the verb “created” is singular. The name says God is plural (more than one); the verb says God is singular, that is, one. We noted that the very first verse in the Bible indicates to us that there is plurality within God. The second indicator that God is more than one is found in vs.2. In this verse we are introduced to the Spirit of God.
Now, in vs.26 we have the third indicator that God is more than one. We read, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, and according to Our likeness.” Note the plural pronouns: Us; Our; Our. The plural becomes a singular pronoun in vs.27, “in His own image.” One writer noted that the plural “Let Us” suggests that there is within the Divine Being a distinction of personalities. We see this truth more clearly in the New Testament.
I want to make it clear that this divine dialogue did not involve the angels as some believe. As already noted, the plurality indicates a plurality in the God-Head and an intra-divine conversation. If you include the angels in this conversation, you would have to include the angels in the expression “in our image”. Then two questions would arise : (1) In what sense are angels in the image of God? (2) In what sense are humans created in the image of angels? If we insert the angels in this divine dialogue then we will have to say that God created man in His image and in the image of angels. That would clearly contradict the emphatic teaching of Genesis 1:27.
Many theories have been presented to prove that Moses was not writing about a plurality in God. The argument is put forward that Moses could not have had such a developed theology of God. But then, one of the old arguments against Mosaic authorship used to be that writing was not developed enough for Moses to be such a sophisticated writer. We sell Moses short when we say his theology was not developed enough to know about a plurality in God, the Moses who spent 40 days in the mountain with God, the Moses to whom God spoke to face to face as a man speaks with his friend. (Exodus 33:11).
Victor Hamilton said the best suggestion for understanding vs.26 is the Trinitarian understanding. He added that it is one thing to say that the author of Genesis was not schooled in the intricacies of Christian theology. “It is another thing to say he was theologically too primitive or naïve to handle such ideas as plurality within unity. What we often so blithely dismiss as “foreign to the thought of the OT” may be nothing of the sort. True, the concept [of the Trinity] may not be etched on every page of Scripture, but hints and clues are dropped enticingly here and there, and such hints await their full understanding “at the correct time” (Gal.4:4).” (Genesis NICOT, p.134).
God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Most commentators are agreed that there is no real distinction between “image” and “likeness”. There has been much debate about what is the image and likeness of God in man. It is clear that vs.26 is not interested in defining what is the image of God in man. The emphasis is on how those who are made in the image of God should function within God’s creation.
Douglas Kelly wrote, “The astonishing teaching of this verse is that for man to be in the image of God is to be like Him in certain definite respects. That is, mankind is made on a heavenly, indeed, divine pattern, which is not true of any of the other creatures…. He was created in such an exalted fashion that he and she would fit into fellowship with God.” Kelly added that man is not a highly evolved animal without spiritual or transcendent significance, as Darwin suggested. “Genesis teaches otherwise. Mankind has the highest possible spiritual, transcendent reference: likeness to God Himself. That is the clear meaning of the word “image”. (Creation & Change; pp.279-280). The important point made here must be kept in mind : it was mankind alone that was created in the image of God to have fellowship with God. The animals do not have the irrational status being given to them by modern animal rights groups.
Several suggestions have been made about what is the image of God in man. For example, in ancient societies, (as ancient texts from Egypt and Mesopotamia show), a king or a high-ranking official was called “the image of God.” Such a designation was not applied to a poor man or an ordinary labourer. By contrast Genesis 1:26-27 is using royal language to describe all men and women. In the eyes of God, all of mankind is royal. All of humanity is related to God, not just the king. The Biblical account of creation makes it clear that all men and women were created equal. The Babylonian account of creation says humans were created to be the slaves of the gods.
The Hebrew word for “image” is selem. John Currid wrote, “In the Bible selem also denotes a statue of himself that a king would erect to serve as a symbol of his sovereignty (e.g. Dan.3). The fact that selem is applied to humans at creation indicates that they are God’s representatives on earth and have a character and being in keeping with that of the Deity.” (Genesis EP; p.83).
Genesis 1:27 says mankind was also created “according to Our likeness.” “According to” is an explanatory Hebrew preposition that helps to explain what it means to be in the image of God. D. Clines wrote, “… the term “likeness” is an assurance that man is an adequate and faithful representative of God on earth. The whole man is the image of God, without distinction of spirit and body. All mankind, without distinction, are the image of God.” (Quoted by Currid, Genesis p.83.) Currid added, “By virtue of having been created ‘in the image of God’, mankind receives the status of ruler of the earth under the sovereignty of God. They are given a privileged status over creation…. God’s honouring of mankind in this way is distinct from other ancient Near-Eastern accounts of the purpose of the creation of human beings. In Mesopotamia, for example, the gods created humans simply to carry out labour for them.” (p.84). As noted above, humans were created to be the slaves of the gods.
Darwin says man is an animal who evolved from lower animals. Evolution gives man no dignity, no significance, and no honour. He has no soul. He is an animal. The negative implications of this are far-reaching. The ancients of the pagan world tell us that man was created to be the slaves of the gods. Once again, no dignity, no significance, and no honour. Only a life of slave labor on behalf of the gods and goddesses!! On the other hand, as we have seen, the Bible tells us that man was specially created in the image of God and according to His likeness. Man was created to be God’s ruling representative over God’s creation. Man was created with royalty, dignity, significance, honour, purpose, and a soul. He was created with eternity in his heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Yet, with complete irrationality, mankind has chosen to be an evolved animal and a pagan idolater and has rejected the only true and living God. Go figure!!