God Creates People - Genesis 1:26 - 31 & Genesis 2:4-7
Introduction/Seeing the Need
Introduction/Seeing the Need
The first 25 verses of narrate concisely God’s forming of the cosmos through his spoken word. In successive days, God created light (1:3-5); the sky (1:6-8); the seas and dry land(1:9-13); the sun, moon, and stars (1:4-14-19); living creatures that inhabit the water and the sky (1:0-23); and land animals (1:24, 25). The text’s focus throughout is on the planet Earth, either directly or indirectly.
The author presents God’s seeing the creation of land animals as “good” even though, like on day three, he has not finished describing the creations of the day. God has created some good things during the sixth day, but there is more and greater yet to come.
Plan for Humans -
Plan for Humans -
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, 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. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The focus of the narrative up to has narrowed from the vast universe God Created to things of the planet Earth specifically. The pace of the narrative now seems to slow down as the author narrates the pinnacle of creation.
While people in general hold diverse and often divisive views about how humankind came to be, Christians affirm that we have been created by God in the divine image. We look to the Scriptures to help us understand more about the God who made us and those divine intentions for us as we live among the rest of creation.
An enduring issue in the creation stories in our text today is determining what it means to be created in God’s image, in his likeness. What odes it mean? Does it mean that we look like God, that we act like God, that we are somehow indistinguishable from God? Does it mean that we are the same as God? Does it mean in any way that we’re as powerful as God, or as wise; or that we are as righteous as the Lord?
First, there is no difference between image and likeness in the original text. Second, the same Hebrew words translated image and likeness appear in to refer to the same thing. Thus the two words should be seen as synonomous combined to add intensity.
It is problematic to identify the image of God with one of God’s specific qualities. God is complex, so his image must also be complex. But we are able to get a better grasp if we approach the topic from two angles: those of form and content. The form of the image of God is personhood. This speaks to the intellectual, volitional, moral, creative, and religious capacities that animals do not have.
As God exercises his creative will, so also human beings alone among earth’s creatures have the ability to think of complex things that don’t exist, then take deliberate steps to make them a reality. A beaver may go through a sequence of steps to make a dam, but stacking a pile of sticks is not the same as building a hospital!
Content, for its part, speaks to relationship with God (in terms of servants-in-fellowship) and relationship to the world (in terms of dominion-in-stewardship). It is the form part of the image that makes the content part of the image possible.
In verse 27 we see that image of God in which humanity is created includes male and female. That we exist in community reflects the communal nature of God. The Father, Son, and Spirit are one, yet they are clearly distinct persons. And though male and female together form one humanity, there is a clear, God-intended distinction between male and female.
How will being created in God’s image affect how you treat people you dislike?
The beauty of the opening scriptures today is that whatever value humans possess comes from the sovereign Creator, to whom we are accountable and responsible. Christians must shape their response to moral issues on the foundations of humanity’s value and special status of being made in the image of God.
In verse 28 God’s blessing-command spoken over humanity reflects what he has already spoken over creatures of sea and sky - be fruitful and multiply. This demonstrates that an integral part of God’s plan for humanity is rearing of children. The notion of ruling expressed points to God granting privilege and resulting accountability for stewardship in ordering and developing the resources available.
We exercise dominion only as the image or representative of God in the world, not as creation’s owners. Because we don’t own creation, we have no right to exploit it in such a way that brings discredit on God.
What steps should you take to determine your responsibilities in the stewardship of God’s creation?
In verse 29 & 30, the repetition of every highlights the fact that God is the faithful and generous provider of sustenance to both man and animals. Humans will eat from seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, and animals will consume every green plant.
How will awareness of God’s generosity result in one specific change in the way you live?
In verse 31, God had previously assessed elements of creation as “good” (, , , , , ). He now evaluates his creation in light of the addition of humanity, and he pronounces it very good. This serves to express God’s excitement and invites the reader also to view creation from God’s perspective.
Life for the First Human -
Life for the First Human -
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
Here we come to what many characterize as second account of the creation of man. This section, however, is better thought of as a more detailed account of what described in the format of panorama. Also here is the name Yahweh, a feature of the Bible, first occurring in the verse before us. Previously, God has been called only by the Hebrew name Elohim, a title conveying his transcendence and power. The name Yahweh, on the other hand, emphasizes his eternal existence and covenantal presence with his people. The combined name - seen three time in and dozens of times elsewhere as “Lord God” - is thus particularly powerful.
How might the doubled name “Lord God” influence how you relate to him?
In verse 6 & 7, we see the sound of the Hebrew word for man, which is Adam (), resembles closely the word for ground. Thus the lofty image of being created in God’s likeness (1:26) is now tempered with the humble origin. “The first man was of the dust of the earth” ().
Some have proposed that for God to breathe the breath of life into the man is to place a tiny portion of God’s very own essence into a human. This is wrong. When says that we “participate in the divine nature,” the meaning is that we share in those attributes of God that he grants us as his image bearers. No part of our essence as humans is uncreated.
Christians should view themselves and others as special creations of God and objects of his love and concern. Because all are made in our Lord’s image, all deserve respect, dignity, honor, and care, regardless of social status, accomplishments, etc. Moreover, as God’s image bearers, our work is a cooperative enterprise with him. Our work is exalted, holy, and spiritual. May we treat it as such!
What will the expression “of Christ, who is the image of God” in motivate you to do differently in the week ahead? Why?
Almighty God, we can only marvel at your creation. We can only shrink into insignificance alongside the glory of all things you have created. Make us ever mindful of our responsibility for your creation and for ourselves. Give us eyes to see the stewardship we have from you in our work. Grant us to see the value you have already bestowed abundantly on us and others. We ask all of this in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.