Back to the Indiana Jones-like cryptic cavern. Remember? Dust hanging heavy in the air? Ancient document pages like dried leaves to the touch? The story of the beginning of everything. Of the whole account, our eyes are riveted on these words . . .
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26,27).
. . . the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature . . . the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man . . . (Genesis 2:21,22).
God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. What do those words mean about us?
That God created us to have a relationship with him. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (1:26). Who is God talking to? Himself. As Scripture progressively reveals God, we will discover the absolutely-unique God who is three Persons in One–God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Already in 1:1,2 we’ve seen “God” and “the Spirit of God.” God has a relationship with the three Persons of himself! (I know–incomprehensible! But if he’s God, he’s more incomprehensible than we can comprehend!) Furthermore, God personally created us. Sun, sea, land, trees he spoke into existence. Man he formed from the ground and breathed into him life (2:21). All that implies (as succeeding Scripture shows) God created us to have a relationship with himself. What else does “image” mean?
That God created us to rule the earth under him. “And let them have dominion over . . . all the earth (1:26b). God is Sovereign Ruler over all his creation. He sends sun and rain, causes storms and calm. He rules it as the caring Creator, delighting in it for himself and giving it to us for our joy and needs. So he created us to rule his creation (under his rule) as caretakers, delighting in it and wisely using it to provide for our needs. (Here, by the way, lies the true mission of “science”–to rule the earth by exploring and discovering what God has given us.) Finally, what else does “image” mean?
That God created us to represent him. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth . . . ” (1:28a). The first man and woman weren’t merely to populate the earth. They were to give birth to other image-bearers of God like themselves. The whole creation was to be filled with God-like humans whose very beings would point to the glory of the Creator. The heavens declare the glory of God , and the sky above proclaims his handiwork (Psalm 19:1). But humans (male and female) uniquely “image” God.
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking what we talked about before: this doesn’t sound 21st century scientific; it reads like a children’s story. But let me ask you. Would you prefer your origin be an invisible-to-the-eye cell that bubbled out of some slime bog and over billions of years evolved into a human? Do you want to identify the person you see in the mirror by a string of DNA molecules and chemicals reacting to each other like pin balls? Or would you rather find your beginning with a personal God who formed you out of earth’s dust and breathed the breath of life into you and made you in his image?
Of course, we don’t get to choose our origin; God already has. Thank God! Honor him as God! And rejoice in the inherent worth and dignity and sanctity and purpose that is yours as “the spitting image” of your great Creator!