2019.02.10 | Genesis | Pt. 2, The Image of God

Genesis | Pt. II, The Image of God

26 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.”

27       So God created man in his own image,

      in the image of God he created him;

      male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:26-31

A few years ago, my best friend Jason Chu invited me to his house because he wanted to cook a fancy meal. And everything he made was good. It was like all American food stuff. And it was fantastic. And one thing he made, which I didn’t eat, was Lobster Mac and Cheese I think. And everyone loved it. And so we are all eating, having a great time, and it was so good.

And as we start getting full, he brings out steak. Prime rib with au jus. And it was fantastic. So good. And everything before was so good. We didn’t even know it could get better. But it did. All of it was good, but all that goodness was leading up to this climax of goodness called steak. And it was glorious.

Last week, we talked about the goodness of God in Creation 

God created everything so good. Everything is already so good! And can you imagine, halfway through day six, and the angels are like, “God, that’s awesome! Yesterday God You made creatures that live in the water. Some are dope. Others are squishy. And you made bunch of cool flying stuff! Today, whoa God, you made such incredible land creatures. Look at that four legged yellow creature with a super long neck! What are those!” And it’s amazing! Everything is so cool and so good.

But all of a sudden, God says, “We are just getting started. You haven’t seen anything yet.” And the angels are like, “Well, what else can you make? Everything is already so good.”

And God says the most stunning thing. “I am going to make something that is like Me. Something, that was not only made by me, but actually like Me.”

26 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.”

27       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

בָּרָ֣א

This word, Bara means “to create”. But this is a special word. Because the only time this word is ever used in the Bible, it is always used with God as the Subject. Only God “Bara”. This is a special word for creation that can only be applied to God as the Subject. It implies the effortlessness of God’s sovereign creative power. It emphasizes God’s absolute sovereignty and power in Creation.

Now in Genesis 1 and 2 last week, we saw that God created everything good. Whatever God creates, He makes it good. Beautiful. Perfect. In its proper order, purpose, and place. When God makes something He makes it wonderfully, beautifully, perfectly, effortlessly. And our story beings with Creation, with God Bara the heavens and the Earth. That’s the beginning of our story.

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

And God Bara, creates, everything that follows. The light, the stars, the fish, the mountains, the birds, the flowers, etc. But there is only one thing in all of creation that is emphasized. You can tell because instead of just saying God created it, we suddenly get this beautiful poetic description of God creating mankind in His own image.

And the language is very powerful. Mankind is the only thing that is emphasized, 3 times with Bara. This is special, this is unique, this is the climax of Bara, the climax of Creation. God intimately and lovingly creates something that is like Him. God celebrates and loves humanity. God gives humanity authority, dominion, and identity. After that in Genesis 1:31, Humanity is the only part of creation that is not just called good, but very good.

This is our story. This is who we are! We are in the image of God Himself. So how should this affect us today? 

1. For the Mind: My Identity is in God

When I was growing up, everyone around me was better than me. I tried doing sports but I wasn’t good enough to be athletic. I tried doing soccer but I wasn’t good enough at kicking the ball. I tried doing American football, and I got much better at throwing the football last year, but when I was young, I had no physical coordination. So everytime I tried to throw the ball, I would put all this power into it, but I would release it too late. So everytime I would throw the ball it would just go straight into the ground. I told you all already how I tried basketball and I, for some weird reason, I could not figure out how to do a layup. I still don’t know how to do a layup.

So instead, I tried to do music. But I was not naturally good enough to do music. I couldn’t sing so I tried to pick up guitar. And everyone was better than me at guitar. During that time everyone was playing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and I couldn’t do it. So everyone was just so much better than me at music it sucked.

I tried studying. But I hated studying. And then some of my friends started joining gangs but then some would go to prison and I’m like, “Man, how am I going to survive in prison? This life isn’t for me.” So I thought maybe I should join those emo kids instead so I tried listening to emo music. But then they would all cut themselves and I was like, “Man, life is painful enough. Why should I hurt myself even more?” So I quickly left my emo phase.

Then I tried art. And I loved art! But I wasn’t that good at it. So I worked really hard at it. But I still wasn’t as good as naturally talented people. So that sucked. 

On top of all that, what made matters worse is that there was another guy named Daniel in my friend group. And he was so handsome. Now Colleen has seen my old photos, and she said I looked quite different back then than I do now. I really looked like a potato. And this Daniel guy in the group, he was tall, athletic, and he was really handsome.

So I was always the other Daniel, the inferior one, the lesser one.

So I didn’t really know where I fit in. I didn’t really have an identity that I could be proud of. Who am I? What is my identity?

How do you define yourself? Is it based on your looks? Is it based on what you think you are good at? Or like many young professionals, is it by your job? Your personality? Your personality tests? Your interests? Your hobbies? How do you define yourself?

The world is always defining us, categorizing us right?

“Oh you are a conservative. Oh you are one of those Christians. Oh you are awkward. Oh you are too loud. Oh you aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t handsome enough. You aren’t talented enough.” I am sure we all had so much anxiety growing up right? Trying to figure out what group we belong too. Trying to figure out an identity we can be proud of.

And, unfortunately, it’s a journey and insecurity that doesn’t go away as you get older. A lot of us are working adults now. But if we are honest, don’t we still struggle with this insecurity? What’s my group? What is my identity that I can be proud of?

But look at what the Bible says is our story.

26 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.”

27       So God created man in his own image,

      in the image of God he created him;

      male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:26-31

We have a powerful identity. We have a powerful authority. We have a powerful mission in life.  

Our identity is not ultimately found by being accepted into a group. You see, in this world, groups make you earn a temporary identity. But God alone gives you a permanent identity. Your identity is permanently preserved in God’s love, not temporarily earned by people’s opinions.

Our identity is found in God. Our identity is being His image in this world. So what’s that phrase mean? What does it mean that we are in the image of God?

Well let’s start by admitting that Biblically, this phrase is harder to define than you think.

Some people think that it just means that we look like God. Some people go further and say we are spiritual beings like God. Or we resemble God through our characteristics and our nature. Now these make sense. We undeniably have some characteristics like God and some attributes like God so that we can relate to Him and understand Him. There are certain characteristics that we have that make us, in a limited sense, relatable to God. We have thoughts, we have a will, we have relationships, love, morality, a spiritual nature, etc. Another example, God is the Creator, and we are mini creators. Human beings create functionally and artistically, because God creates things functionally and artistically as well. So yes, being in the image of God means that we have some undeniable similarities with God that helps us understand Him and communicate with Him to a limited degree.

And I say limited because there are many attributes of God that we actually do not share. For example, we are not infinite, eternal, or self-sufficient. We exist as tiny finite beings in this linear experience we call time while God is the infinite eternal timeless existing One that we cannot define.  

That is why though we can speak casually and agree that being in the image of God means that we resemble God, we have to keep the answer a bit open ended. Because we do not fully know what this actually means. Furthermore, being an image of God is not just based on who we are, but what we do. Because immediately before and after the creation of mankind, God says that humanity, because we are His image, should have dominion over the Earth. So in a sense, we are called to be His representatives here on Earth in a special way, a way authorized by God Himself. And that’s a whole nother topic, but it is important to at least point out!

So the best summary I can probably summarize all this is to say that As God’s image, we are God’s representatives on Earth in a way that displays God, resembles God, and is in relationship with God. I know that it’s long, but that’s probably the best way I can summarize it. Because it’s not a simple answer.

And this is an incredible honor. This is our identity. We are in God’s image. We are God’s representatives on Earth. That is our permanent identity. My identity is permanently in God alone. Take this to heart. Because it makes all the difference in the world. Your identity is in your Creator.  

In 2015, at an auction house in New Jersey, an old and run down painting was about to be sold for $800. It was an old run down flaking painting that was left in a basement for years. However, soon art historians noticed that it looked like one of the missing paintings done a young Rembrandt in the 1600s. Upon further studies, they found it to be authentic. During the auction, nobody noticed it or cared about it. But once got out that it was an authentic early lost Rembrandt, all of a sudden the price skyrocketed to 3 to 4 million.

Isn’t that funny? The painting didn’t change! Nothing about it physically changed. It was the exact same painting it was 24 hours ago. But it went from barely $800 to 3 to 4 millions dollars! Why? Because the creator. The painting’s identity changed once you knew its creator. Creation’s identity is determined by its Creator.

Brothers and sisters, God is your creator. Know your value. Know your identity. Who is Rembrandt compared to God? You have an unimaginably worthy identity because God is your creator.

2. For the Heart: My Worth is from God 

In ancient times, people believed kings and rulers to be gods. Like Pharaoh in Egypt or in Early Mesopotamian society, the rulers and kings were seen as gods, having the divine spirit. So the image of god was localized on the highest, noblest, most powerful authority figures.

And that is the culture and context that Genesis was written in. Because this is counter culture for its day. People were thinking that their king or leader was a god, the image of one of the gods. And the Bible comes along and says every human being has the unlimited worth of being the image of God. That’s unheard of. Every single human being ever has the joy and honor and worth of being the image of God. From the kings to the homeless beggars, every man, every woman, every child, every politician and every prisoner, every professor and every prostitute, every rich man every poor man, every citizen and every illegal immigrant, every liberal and every conservative, every person from top to bottom is endowed with the unlimited value and worth of being in the image of God.

Let’s say somehow I had a doll, like a custom made soft doll of my wife. I would love that doll. I would hold on to it. If I go to a retreat I would carry the doll with me to retreat. I would love that doll. And I would never let you disrespect and hit the doll. Why? It’s just a doll! It’s not really actually my wife. It’s just a doll!

But still, the doll has my wife’s image. So it has deep worth to me. So if anyone messes with the doll, I would get angry. I know the doll is not my wife, it just has the image of my wife. But because it has my wife’s image and because I love my wife, it has worth. And the doll means the world to me, because it has my wife’s image.

And that’s what God does with you and me and everyone. We have God’s image. We have a worth that is unimaginable. Every human being has unimaginable worth because every human being has the image of God. And this should change the way we see humanity. 

5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

            6       “Whoever sheds the blood of man,

      by man shall his blood be shed,

                  for God made man in his own image.

Genesis 9:5-6

שֹׁפֵךְ דַּם הָאָדָם, בָּאָדָם דָּמוֹ יִשָּׁפֵךְ 

בָּאָדָם is the BETH a Beth Instrumentii or Beth Pretii? 

We don’t often do this, but for today we are going to take a quick and technical and grammatical dive into this verse. We are looking at the use of the preposition BETH in Genesis 9:6.

That word here is translated “by man.” That first letter there is called BETH. And that BETH, in this verse, is translated as “By.” To translate that first letter, BETH, as “By” to say “By man”, it would make this Beth a Beth Instrumentii, which would make man simply the instrument to avenge the blood of another man. That means the main focus of this verse is that if one man commits murder, than God has appointed and allowed people to be His instrument of justice, most often interpreted as the death penalty. “You shed the blood of a man, then by man your blood will be shed.” If this BETH is a Beth instrumentii, then the focus is just Mankind appointed as God’s instrument of justice through the death penalty. The reason why this is significant is because this preposition could be a Instrumentii, it could also be a Beth Pretii.

Beth Pretii would not focus on man as the instrument of vengeance, but man’s life as the great payment and price for justice. Now practically speaking, there is no difference in application. both Beth Instrumentii and Beth Pretii can support the death penalty, though the case made by Beth Instrumentii would be much stronger. The difference is not in the execution of justice, but in the motivation for justice. Beth Instrumentii simply appoints man as an executioner of justice. Beth Pretii reinforces the sacredness of human life. Beth Pretii is not highlighting the instrument of vengeance, but the importance of human life. Human life, represented by the blood, is so valuable that when blood is spilt, the murderer’s blood must be spilt as well. The cost of murder is so high because man was made in the image of God Himself. 

And I want you to see that. I am not saying that Beth Instrumentii is wrong or negated, but that this passage is possibly BOTH Beth Instrumentii and Beth Pretii. Which means this passage is teaching us both the instrument of God’s justice, which means we need to punish murderers, but also the reason for God’s justice, murder is so serious in God’s eyes because mankind was made in God’s image.

Now why did we go through all that grammar? Why did we go through all that grammar to show us that God hold’s mankind’s life very highly? Why did we have to grammatically point out that God highly values human life because it is in His image? 

Because look at when this verse is happening. It’s after so much wickedness. It’s after murder and sin. It’s after some of the most wicked times in human history. Think about how far the people have fallen, think about how much they sin, how much they dishonor the Creator. And after all that disgusting wickedness and violent sin, that is when God says this.

5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

            6       “Whoever sheds the blood of man,

      by man shall his blood be shed,

                  for God made man in his own image.

Genesis 9:5-6 

How can it be that after everything we have done against God, that God still sees His image inside of us? Even when He knows we are a murderous, hatefilled, angry, jealous, and sinful people, He still sees His image inside of us. No matter how dirty we become, God still sees His image in us. So no matter what we go through, we still have worth. Worth from God Himself.

Brothers and sisters this world’s system is so wrong. It uses human life for money, for wars, for politics, etc. And we get so caught up in the system that we start to live for it. We needlessly pursue things to give our lives worth. We think money and success gives life worth. But shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t money serve life instead of life serving money? Shouldn’t we be living out the worth we already have in our lives rather than living for this world’s worthless approval? Isn’t this one life that God has given us way more important than the million temporary stupid trinkets or accessories you can have in life?

Let this change the way you see your life again. Your life has so much worth. Worth that you can never lose. Worth from God Himself.

I once had a friend in college who was complaining about her car making weird noises when she drove. Like really weird noises. And that really was odd because her car was new enough, only like maybe a year and a half old. So that was weird. Anyway I asked her to turn on her engine, and everything was terrible. Like legit terrible. And immediately, the first question I had to ask is, “When was your last oil change?” And she said, “Oh I never changed it since I got the car.” So for over a year and a half she never changed her oil and she was driving around everywhere. No wonder her car sounded like it was going to explode.

Now I know all of you guys would take way better care of your cars! So I am going to magically give you all your dream cars.

What if I gave you your dream car right now. All of you guys. I just gave it to you right now, brand new.

But now, here is the catch. This is the only car you can have and ride in for the rest of your life. You can never have a different car. You cannot even get into a different car. You can’t even get on a bus or train or subway. This is your car forever.

You would take such good care of your car. You would do the oil change and make sure the tire pressure is just right. Because you want to prevent it from breaking down. You want to take good care of it so it won’t break down. Because it’s so valuable because you only get one.

Would you take better care of your one car than your one life for God? Isn’t your heart more valuable than a car? Why would you take such good care of your car and so little care of your heart? Your soul? When we forget the worth God has given our hearts, we start giving our hearts away to worthless things.

Your heart and your soul has a worth that no car can come close to. So start to value it and treasure it. Because you only get one. And it is so full of worth. It is so full of value.

3. For the World: My Relationships display God 

27       So God created man in his own image,

      in the image of God he created him;

      male and female he created them.

The last thing we are going to focus on today for the Image of God is how God created mankind in His image, but male and female He created them. We are focusing on how God’s image is displayed in two people, not just one, in male and female not just males. This implies the centrality of relationships and community in the image of God. And we talked about this before when we talked about the Trinitarian nature of God, how God in His essence is relationship and loving. And how that makes us foundational relational and needing love as well. But before we get into that, let’s focus on Male and Female first.

First of all, an important note, Women are just as much the image of God as Men. Women are not some lower category, they are co-equals in the image of God. And we don’t have time to go into this deeply, but you should look at how the Bible is counter culture in its view of women in the ancient world. Women are not lesser. Women are co-equally the image of God. 

Now some people always ask, then why does the Bible have different distinction and roles between men and women? And that’s a great question. And they think they are being pro-women by asking that. But Biblically, it misunderstands God’s intention.

Whenever people want women to be the exact same everything as men, that does not elevate women. Because ultimately, then being a women is ultimately defined by what it means to be a man. I know it’s not their intention, but in that way, women are still defined by men.

And what the Bible is saying is women, don’t be defined by men, be defined by God. Figure out what God says women are supposed to become, apart from men. Women have their own God-given identities apart from man-made ones. So women, stop giving men power to define you. Women, don’t pursue femininity defined by men, pursue femininity defined by God.  

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2:18

Here in Genesis 2, we suddenly encounter the first “not good” after all the goods of Genesis 1 and 2. Man is alone. After God has seen Creation as “good” 7 times, it is even more surprising that God finds something not good. This is not to say that God messed up or missed something in Creation, it is to really emphasize how important companionship is to mankind. Mankind was created for companionship.

This is a weird concept because man is actually not alone, man is with God. This means that even in a perfect sinless state, mankind was made to have community with other human beings, not just with God.

And woman is that “helper.” Woman is man’s “helper.” And people read this and think, “Oh the Bible is putting down women! Women are just helpers!” The term helper used here is עֵזֶר.

The reason why this is interesting is because Ezer is a very unique word for helper. In the Bible, this term is often used for God Himself as Israel’s helper. Ezer is often used to describe the help that a Stronger gives to the Weaker. It’s not a term that describes a helper as inferior, but actually superior. 

And that’s what you see in Genesis 2. Woman, in a sense, is “saving” man from his state of “not good.”

Bringing it back to our main passage, you see that Women have a way of imaging God that men cannot do alone. And that’s what I want you to notice here. God doesn’t just make one person. God makes male and female. God makes relationship. Because remember what we said about the Trinity, God creates relationship because God is relationship. Communities display God in a way that individuals can not. Because God is Triune. God has relationships fundamentally as part of His nature.

Since relationships are fundamentally part of God’s nature, we were fundamentally made for relationships. And as we saw in Genesis 2, we were made for relationship with God AND each other.

And I know sometimes we feel like relationships, communities, friends, etc, are too imperfect. But even then, we show more of God when we are in imperfect Christian communities than when we are imperfect alone. Because if we are not practicing love, forgiveness, reconciliation, serving, reaching out, etc, all we have is the illusion of looking like God but having none of His heart. Since we are made in the image of God, we were made to imitate God’s love with other people, not just receive God’s love alone. Because even in perfect communion with God, it is not good for you to be alone.

Conclusion

Our prayer and celebration today is that our Church would truly understand and enjoy being the image of God. By God’s grace we have come very far. But this is not the finish line, this is the starting line. I don’t know about you, but I am just getting started. I feel like our Church is just starting to hit its stride. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be difficulties. I am sure trials and tribulations are coming as well. But as a Church, let’s remember that we are the image of God. As a church, let’s remember our identity, our worth, and our relationships. And together, let’s write our story for God’s glory in this world.

  

Sermons, GenesisDavid LeeComment