The image of God, part 1
Aug 16, 2019
Genesis 1:26, 27 says,
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man [awdawm] in our image [tselem, “shadow, profile, image”], according to Our likeness [demuth] … 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Let us define our terms briefly. The word awdawm refers to mankind in general. When the writers were talking about Adam specifically, it is ha awdawm, “the Adam,” denoting a specific man. In Genesis 1, the purpose is not to describe Adam as an individual but the whole of mankind in general. Hence, the image of God applies to all men.
The “image” is tselem, because mankind was to resemble the Creator. In mathematics, we might use the word “fractal.” This is essentially the characteristic of a “son” who is a smaller version of his father yet resembles him in every way. I believe this is where the Hebrew concept of sonship was derived originally. A son could mean a physical offspring, but the word was also applied to those who followed someone’s example, such as the children of light or children of Abraham.
The word demuth, “likeness,” is from damah, which is closely related to awdawm or Adam. The key word in it is dam, “blood.” If I say, “He is my blood,” I mean to say that he is my son, of my bloodline, and I imply that he resembles me or acts like me.
So we see that Adam was an unbegotten son of God, whose purpose was to manifest the nature of his heavenly Father in the physical world on earth. He was called to bring heaven to earth. He had a job to do because the creation was either unfinished or it had fallen into chaos in a previous age. (Genesis 1:2 says literally, “the earth became formless,” but the reason is unstated.)
As a son of God, Adam was also the potential heir of all things and the king of the earth, a steward, trustee, and manager of all that God had created. But sin of any kind is a violation of the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Deuteronomy 5:7). When Adam and Eve were tempted by fruit, their own desire for wisdom and pleasure broke this commandment. The fruit became more important to them than their Father, and they violated the Fifth Commandment as well: “Honor your father and your mother” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
If you worship anything in nature, it will rule you. Thus, Adam gave away his position of authority over the earth and put himself in subservience to nature and its creatures. The sentence of the law was in kind, and Adam would have to continue serving that which he once ruled, until he and countless of his descendants learned the futility and bondage of such idolatry.
Adam failed and thereby became part of the problem, so another Son of God was sent to do what Adam failed to accomplish. Adam’s sin brought death upon all; Christ’s righteousness brought life to all (Romans 5:18; 1 Corinthians 15:22).
Christ is the Image of God
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4,
4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
This is explained more in Hebrews 1:2, 3,
2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world [aion, “age”]. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation [character, “engraving”] of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power…
Even as Adam, the original son, was given dominion over the earth, so also Christ the Son has been appointed the “heir of all things.”
The implication also is that Adam was the original son who was supposed to radiate His glory and be the exact mirror image (or “engraving”) of God’s nature. But when he sinned, he no longer could radiate that glory, nor was he able to manifest the nature of God in the earth. Hence, Christ came to do what Adam could not do. There are many other examples in Scripture where the first-born son was disqualified as the heir of the birthright, and so it passed on to a younger son. All of these examples follow the original pattern of the two sons of God: Adam and Christ.
Manifesting the Father’s Glory in Earth
The Gospel of John was written specifically to show how Jesus Christ manifested His Father’s glory in the earth. There are eight miracle-signs (semeion) recorded in John’s gospel, and these are arranged in a typical Hebrew literary pattern known as a chiasm, or parallelism. There are seven recorded miracles prior to Christ’s crucifixion, and one afterward.
The purpose of these eight miracle-signs are given at the beginning in John 2:11,
11 This beginning [or “first”] of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
In other words, John was showing us how Jesus fulfilled the calling that Adam was supposed to do at the beginning—manifest the glory of God in the earth. These eight miracle-signs were like a cross-section of His work and ministry, representing everything that He did. His overall purpose was to bring heaven to earth, so that the glory of God would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). Only when His glory fills the whole earth will the vow of God be fulfilled that He made in Numbers 14:21.
The connection between the eight semeion and the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles shows that the prophetic purpose of that feast is for the sons of God to manifest the glory of God as well.
This adds definition to Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:10,
10 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Christ’s purpose—and ours as well—is to bring the glory of heaven into the earth, so that the earth may be transformed by His glorious Kingdom. The far-reaching goal is given in 1 Corinthians 15:28, “that God may be all in all.”
The purpose of creation is not to provide a temporary, physical earth experience for the sons of God or to give them a place to suffer before graduating to a higher glory in heaven. No, the earth is a “good” place that is temporarily out of alignment with the nature of God. Because of sin, the earth has been unable to see the glory of God, except for brief moments at a time. However, Christ’s appearance ensured victory for the divine plan, and by following Christ’s example, the sons of God will bring God’s glory to the whole earth.
This is seen as the new heavens and the new earth in Revelation 21:1. From the formless chaos in Genesis 1:2 to the divine order when the last enemy (death) is destroyed, the divine project has been to create a new heaven and a new earth. When complete, the two will be reconciled and in full agreement, so that they can be united in a New Covenant marriage.
Those who hold the Greek view that matter is inherently evil see an everlasting war between good and evil, between light and darkness, between matter and spirit, and between heaven and earth (or heaven and hell). They consider these to be coequal and coeternal within a great Wheel of Time that continually repeats the same problems with no final solution. The goal is to separate and divorce matter and spirit, but when that goal is finally reached, the problem of the two mixing together always begins anew.
The Bible presents a very different worldview, because God and the devil are not coequal. God wins in the end, because He has the power to predestine all things according to His will. The end of history crowns Christ as King and God being “all in all.” It is the full eradication of sin and the marriage of heaven and earth.
The Divine Marriage
The original marriage law in Genesis 2:23, 24 sets forth the divine plan for heaven and earth as well as for Adam and Eve as individuals.
23 And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Just as Eve was “taken out of Man,” so also was earth taken out of heaven’s rib. God made matter good, even as Eve was good. The entire material universe, in fact, was made out of God Particles, for Paul tells us in Romans 11:36,
35 For from [ek, “out of”] Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
All things came “out of Him,” even as Eve was taken out of Adam. All things originated in God. The universe was not made ex nihilo, “out of nothing,” but out of God’s own substance. Hence, He could pronounce it “very good” at the end of His creative labor in Genesis 1:31. Further, if any particle is lost at the end of time, then God will forever be incomplete, making Him something less than perfect. This is why He must restore all things and put all things under the feet of the Son.
This is accomplished by the Son of God, the designated Heir of all things, coming to earth and bringing heaven with Him, so that the glory of the Father in heaven might be manifested in the earth. That is the key to victory, and His success ends time as we know it. Time is not a wheel that turns perpetually, nor does the war between good and evil end in a draw.
The Double Witness
In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Few ask WHY it was not good for the man to be alone. Was it only because of his lack of female companionship or fellowship? Or was there a deeper reason? I believe God created marriage so that every family would have a built-in double witness by which we may establish truth and know the will of God. This is based on Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”
All truth is verified (by law) on the testimony of at least two witnesses. In the case of marriage, husband and wife are two witnesses, each hearing the voice of God. When they compare what they have each heard, they may know the will of God in any matter. This law applies to virtually every matter of revelation, and those who think they hear so well that they need no second witness will eventually get into trouble. More often, such people will jump too soon, not realizing that God often uses the second witness to establish timing. So when Joseph interpreted the two dreams that Pharaoh had been given, he said in Genesis 41:32,
32 Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined [kun, “established”] by God, and God will quickly bring it about.
Two witnesses establish all things. A revelation (or dream) is not ready to be fulfilled until the second witness has appeared. When it is given, “God will quickly bring it about.” When Jesus’ teachings were challenged, He said in John 5:31, 32, and 37,
31 If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true... 37 And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me…
A single witness always receives genuine revelation before it has been “established” as truth by the law of the double witness. The problem is that while the double witness is absent, he cannot act upon it or treat it as truth in a practical manner. So John 8:14 reads,
14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from, or where I am going.
When we study the nature of the Son in relation to the Father, we find that the Father and the Son are two witnesses needed to establish truth. This in itself is not a problem to a trinitarian, who would readily affirm that the Father and Son are in agreement as to the truth. But it could present a problem to those who believe in “Oneness,” that the Father and Son are the same Being.
This is a popular view today that establishes a true monotheism but differs from the Jewish view of the Messiah. They do not see the Messiah as being “the one true God” but only as a begotten Son. The question is, would the law of the double witness be satisfied if the Father and the Son were just one Person?
This is part 1 of a series titled "The Image of God" To view all parts, click the link below.