Monday, February 8, 2021

The Image of God

"Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26).

What does it mean to be the image of God? First of all, it means to be a creature of God. Man is not God; man is the image of God. Human beings are copies of God. God is the divine original. This implies that men and women are to be like God in their moral and dominical lives. When people act immorally, or refuse to act as responsible stewards over the creation, they are acting against what it means to be God’s images. They are acting self-destructively. Only as we conform ourselves to God our Creator can we find life and find it more abundantly

Second, being the image of God means that we are uniquely God’s representatives in the creation. We are images of God and of nothing less. The rest of the creation is our responsibility, and it is also our servant. For instance, we are to care for the animals, but they are also to serve us as beasts of burden, pets and food, for example. Modern secular evolutionary theory says that man is made in the image of the animals; man is the animal that thinks, or makes tools, or alters himself. The Bible says that man is the image of God.

When Adam sinned, did humanity lose the image of God? By no means. Centuries later, after the great Flood, God told Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6). This verse shows that the Bible teaches capital punishment for the crime of murder. To murder a man is to assault the image of God, to assault God Himself, and God requires the death of the murderer.

Genesis 9:1–7 shows us several dimensions of what it means to be the image of God. Verse 2 says that man has dominion over all the animals, who will fear humanity as a vassal fears his lord. Verses 3–4 say that the world is given for man to use as food, provided we do not eat blood. God allows us to “exploit” the world but only in keeping with His restrictions. Verses 5–6 show that being the image of God implies the existence of human government, including the threat of the sword against evildoers. God rules, and His image also rules.

The liberal humanism of today is more concerned to protect whales than babies. How does this square with the viewpoint we find in Genesis 1 and 9? How would you present the biblical view of stewardship and proper conservation if you were talking to an environmentalist?