*Made in God’s Image, for God’s Glory ~~ Genesis 1:26-27*
/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold County Baptist Church on July 22, 2007/
If there’s one thing I hope is clear to you by now in our study of Genesis 1, it would be this: all of creation is about the glory of God. “In the beginning God” is not merely the starting point of this book, it should be the starting point in all of our thinking and life, that God would be at the forefront, the fulcrum, the focus, so that we should be God-centered and God-driven people, having a right view of God and a high view of God.
Mankind is created in the image of God for the purpose of glorifying God and enjoying God forever.
But ever since Genesis 3 and the sin of Adam and Eve, mankind continues to fall into doubting God’s greatness and character and denying the truth about God, and when we sin we downplay God or diminish or distort God in our thoughts.
God made man in His own image, but we must never try and make a God in our own image, in the way we would like Him to be.
Steve Lawson has a book with that title, /Made in Our Image, /which begins this way:
‘Whenever we lose a right view of God, everything else gets out of perspective.
Sad to say, we are suffering from a low view of God – an impoverished version of Him as a god with manlike characteristics.
A “user-friendly” god has become the trend of the day – a god made in /our /image, an inversion of the truth of man made in His image … The result is a god who makes us feel comfortable – one we can control and manage, even use.
This downsized version of God is a diminutive deity dependent upon us; we are not dependent upon Him.
Forged upon the anvil of a sloppy handling of Scripture and shallow thoughts about God, this user-friendly [god] is a strange kind of codependent god, and we see the effects of his influence all around us.
Many churches have become nothing more than entertainment centers, giving slick performances to growing numbers of mesmerized but unproductive churchgoers.
Such devices may bring people into the church, but they do not transform them once they arrive …
Only when our vision of God is restored will our lives and ministries be put right.
A high view of God will lead us …
There can be only one subject on which are most intently focused, and that is the person of God Himself.
He is the one who made us in His image and redeemed our fallen souls; He is the one who indwells and fills our lives with good things.
God – and God /alone /– must be the focus of our hearts.
Ultimately, a right vision of God must be the driving force behind the church.
Only that can bring His glorious presence and all-sufficient power to bear on the lives of His people so that we can be what He desires us to be.
We must unveil the truth about the sovereign God to unmask the fallacy of the user-friendly god … how we view [God] will affect how we see every other truth.
May God bring a revival – a new reformation, if you will – in the knowledge of Him.’ (pages/ /15-18)
God reveals Himself as the sovereign God in Genesis who speaks the universe into existence, and He is revealed as the central and Supreme beginning and end of all things.
The word “God” occurs over 30x in this opening narrative - God is doing all of the speaking, and acting, God is the subject and object of all, and it is only at the end of the chapter that man comes on the scene.
But the creation of man /is greatly significant/, and the significance comes not because of man himself, but because of Whose image man is created in.
The focal point of God’s glorifying Himself and revealing Himself and His plan and His creation finally reaches its climax in these verses, and the language draws attention to this, as Bruce Ware has noted:
Clearly, in Genesis chapter one, the progression of creation builds throughout the six days, culminating in the final creative act, in the second part of the sixth day, to create man as male and female in the image of God.
Some key internal indicators signal the special significance of man’s creation:
1) As just noted, man is the pinnacle of God’s creative work, only after which God /then/ says of all he has made that it is “very good” (1:31).
2) The creation of man is introduced differently than all others, with the personal and deliberative expression, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
3) The one God who creates man as male and female deliberately uses plural references of himself (e.g., “Let /Us/,” “/Our/ image,” “/Our/ likeness”) as the creator of singular “man” who is plural “male and female.”
4) The “image of God” is stated three times in 1:26–27 in relation to man as male and female but never in relation to any other part of creation.
5) The special term for God’s unique creative action, /bara/, is used three times in 1:27 for the creation of man in his image as male and female.
6) Man is given a place of rulership over all other created beings on the earth, thus indicating the higher authority and priority of man in God’s created design.
7) Only the creation of man as male and female is expanded and portrayed in detail as recorded in Gen. 2.
Also up until now, the narrative has used the expression 10x “according to its kind.”
Suddenly, v. 26 catches our attention.
What a difference!
Now a creature was going to be made which was not merely “according to its kind,” but according to the image and likeness of God.
It immediately becomes clear that the reader has been primed by the repetition of the earlier phrase to be shocked by the contrast presented here.
As we read, our minds supply the words we expect, “according to its kind,” but we are stopped short; they are not there.
God inspired this to be written in such a way, perhaps, to force us to reread this paragraph to see if we missed the words we expected.
But why? God was here introducing humanity as fundamentally different from the rest of creation, and he wanted the differences to stand out in the text.
We read that we also were created according to a plan and pattern.
We were not simply designed by God, but we were designed to mirror and imitate God.
The language of Genesis changes to show something very special – the reason is not that man should be glorified, but the attention is now directed /to man/ because it is /through man/ that God will be glorified most fully in redemptive history (ex: Ephesians 1).
It is true that the Bible says the heavens declare God’s glory and all His creatures can bring Him glory, but in a unique way human beings are created to glorify God /and /to enjoy Him forever.
None of the animals have eternal souls, or God’s image; none have the full range of emotions, relationships, and capacities to worship God, which is part of what it means to be in God’s image.
Isaac Watts wrote a hymn which I think summarizes Genesis 1 well and is a good introduction to the creation of mankind:
Hymn #14 - The creation of the world, /The Psalm and Hymns of Isaac Watts \\ \\ /
“Now let a spacious world arise,” Said the Creator Lord:
At once th’ obedient earth and skies Rose at his sovereign word.
Then he adorned the upper skies; Behold the sun appears;
The moon and stars in order rise To make our months and years.
Out of the deep th’ almighty King.
Did vital beings frame,
The painted fowls of every wing, And fish of every name.
He gave the lion and the worm At once their wondrous birth;
And grazing beasts of various form Rose from the teeming earth.
Adam was framed of equal clay, Though sovereign of the rest
Designed for nobler ends than they, With God’s own image blest.
Thus glorious in the Maker’s eye The young creation stood;
He saw the building from on high, His word pronounced it good.
*/Today we are going to see the Divine Persons in verse 26, primarily focusing on the phrase “Let us make man”/*
The personal pronouns “us” and “our” get our attention.
Some have suggested that God is talking to the angels here, but “let us make” could not refer to others outside God because v. 27 says “He … God” created man and the Bible says many places that God alone created everything.
And the phrase “in our image” cannot mean in the image of God and angels, because verse 27 clearly says man is created in God’s image.
We need to let v. 27 interpret v. 26.
Others have suggested that “let us” in verse 26 is the plural of majesty or deliberation.
This might be the way some monarch spoke in medieval or modern times, but it was not the usual way ancient kings spoke.
Biblical grammars tell us there is no royal “we” in Biblical Hebrew like this, and the plural of majesty never occurs with verbs or pronouns.
Also, the scriptures say that God did not consult with anyone else during creation.
All of creation as well as all of God’s revelation in the Bible is about God’s glory and God revealing Himself and magnifying His name.
This week I was struck as I just read through Isaiah 40-48 and took note of how many times it spoke of creation and tied in something that glorified God.
I also noted many occasions where it has some bearing on Genesis 1:26-27.
Isaiah 40:12-14 (NASB95) \\ /12 //Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales?// \\ 13 //Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him?// \\ 14 /*/With whom did He consult/*/ and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?/ \\ \\
These are rhetorical questions – God consulted or counseled with no one.
The questioning is very similar to the end of Job as we saw last week, as the force is “God and God alone.”
Isaiah 40:18-19 (NASB95) \\ /18 //To whom then will you liken God?
Or what *likeness* will you compare with Him?//19 //As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver./
It is interesting that Genesis 1 said man is made in the likeness of God, but we need to be very careful not to think in terms of physical likeness of God.
This passage (along with Ten Commandments and many passages) warns us about any sort of visual image or likeness of God that we make, which would include mental idols as well as metal or stone idols.
Isaiah 41:4 (NASB95) \\ /4 //“Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning?
‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last.
I am He.’ ”/ \\ \\
From the beginning, God has been calling forth things.
In fact, He is revealed as the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
It is interesting that Jesus uses the same title for Himself, which hints that more than one /person/ is involved in “calling forth … from the beginning”
Isaiah 42:5 \\ /5 //Thus says God the Lord, Who *created* the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who *gives breath* to the people on it And *spirit* to those who walk in it,/
Part of how God created man as we’ll see later is that He gave breath to him, or as Genesis 2 says God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and also man has a spirit as this verse says.
The Scriptures reveal that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, another hint of additional person(s) involved in creation (ex: Gen. 1:2)
Isaiah 42:8/ //“I am the Lord, that is *My name*; I will not/ /give *My glory* to another, Nor *My praise* to graven images./
The God who created the heavens as well as man here ties in the idea of glory and that He will not give His glory to anyone else.
The language of God’s image is used of man in Genesis 1, but /graven images /are forbidden, not just because idols are bad for us, but most importantly, because it steals the glory of a jealous God.
Notice the connection between “My Name” and “My glory” and “My praise.”
This is made even clearer in verse 12:
Isaiah 42:12 (NASB95) /12 //Let them give *glory* to the Lord And declare *His praise* in the coastlands./