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Made in His Image (Genesis 1:26-31)
Life:  God's Gift to Man
Made In His Image
Genesis 1:26-31
 
The concept of life is a fascinating subject.  It has very often been by sad responsibility to stand at the bedside of someone when they take their last breath of life on this earth and I will tell you that is a moment of intense tension. 
 
If the person is a believer, then in that moment, what Paul described as being "absent from the body and present with the Lord" becomes a reality for them.  And for those left behind, it is a moment filled with unbelievable relief and release and, depending on the circumstances, very often gratitude.   
 
If the person is not a believer, then it is a moment of indescribable sadness as a lost soul slips off into eternity without Christ.  Sometimes there is hope that somewhere along the line the Spirit found a soft spot and took root in a soul, and other times there is the somber and sad realization that now, for this person, all hope of escaping hell is gone. 
 
And in both situations, whether tempered by the promise of heaven or intensified by an awaiting hell, there is this profound sense of separation and grief as the realization that a body that just a few seconds ago was drawing breath and had a heartbeat now lies lifeless and in a scant few minutes will be cold to the touch because God's precious gift of physical life has ended.
 
 
We are much to prone to take life for granted.  In 399 A. D, Augustine said, "People wonder at the height of the mountains, waves of the sea, the long courses of the rivers, the vastness of the oceans and the motion of the stars, and pass by themselves without wondering."
 
We see it in the reckless of abandon of teenagers on the streets.  We experience it in the arrogant disregard of the doctor's orders to take care of ourselves or suffer the consequences.  We read about it in the news as another deranged mind takes the lives of innocent schoolchildren. 
 
But at some point all of us are forced to come face to face with the preciousness and indeed the brevity of God's gift to man called life. 
 
To find its origins we must travel to the very earliest verses of God's Word.  At the beginning of Genesis, we very quickly move through a whirlwind of creation activity.  God begins by dividing light from darkness, separates the waters with land bodies, seeds those lands with grass and herbs, arranges days and nights with the sun and the moon, then inhabits the earth with animals.
 
He starts with sea life and in verse 20 of Genesis 1 they are identified as "living creatures".  Then in verse 24, he does the same thing as the land brings forth "living creatures".   Then we come to the pinnacle of creation as God creates man.  Everything is ready!  God has created a whole universe with every detail in place so that man can experience God and see the glory of God. 
 
And once everything is ready,
verses 26-27
 
In chapter 2, we are given a close up look at some of the details of the creation of man,  In particular,
 
Genesis 2:7 
 
So here we are introduced to the crown of creation, and, along with that introduction, we are given some details that help us to understand just how magnificent is this amazing gift of God called life. 
 
For instance, in verse 26 we are told that God made man.  Then, four very obvious features in the making of man are outlined.  First, God said,
 
1. Let Us Make Man In Our Image
 
Then it is immediately repeated another way in the very next phrase, "according to Our likeness".  Then, the next verse repeats it just for emphasis sake:
 
verse 27
 
Obviously, God wants us to understand that we are created in His image and likeness, so much so that he repeats it four times in two verses.  Man is made in the image of God. We see it again in Chapter 5.
 
Genesis 5:1
 
So what does it mean to be made in the image of God? Why is this gift of life so highly valued?  To be made in the image and likeness of God means we’re differentiated from every other form of life God created. 
 
We are not just another expression of his ability to create.  We are different and unique.   That reminds me of my old 7th grade math teacher who heard about one of the science teachers who was teaching evolution.  He said to us, "His ancestors may have swung by their tails from a tree, but mine didn't!" 
 
He understood we are different.  We are not just a higher animal.  We didn't evolve from a monkey or a baboon or anything else.  The Bible is declaring to us from the very beginning that man was made according to a divine decree and pattern rather than a random circumstantial event. 
 
Man is separate and distinct.  That means the truest part of man cannot be reduced to any chemical formula. The truest part of man is not seen in his DNA.  It's not found in the chromosomes.  It's not discovered by dissecting his brain.  It cannot be found by cutting open his heart or tinkering with his nervous system.
 
You can perform all the scientific experiments you want on the anatomy of a human being and never will you discover the true part of man, which is that intangible reality that he is made in the image of God.  And in that way and a million others, man is distinct from every other part of creation. 
 
Solomon understood that when he made that wonderful statement in Ecclesiastes 3:11, when speaking of God, He said,
 
Ecclesiastes 3:11
 
What a great statement. He has put eternity in their heart.  That’s true only of man.  Then notice what he says down in
 
Ecclesiastes 3:21
 
The writer is saying of man that, at his death, his spirit goes up, but with any other created life form on the earth, when it dies, its spirit goes down.  What does that mean? 
 
That means when an animal dies, it falls to the ground, rots and decays and that is it.  It no longer exists.  Its life is over and it goes down.  But not so with man because God has put eternity in our hearts.  You can take away our body, but we will live forever.  Kill a person and they just keep living.  End a life and it will still live in eternity somewhere. 
 
So to be made in the image of God isn’t talking about some kind of physical form.  The image of God indicates attributes not shared with anything else God created.  Maybe the best word to use to describe that is personhood. Man is a person. 
 
Unlike anything else, man is conscious of his environment.  He is not just instinctive.  He is aware and involved and reactive because he is thinking and rational and logical and cognitive. 
 
Man has the ability to appreciate beauty, to feel emotion, to be morally conscious.  He has the capacity and the need to personally relate to others, to other people and especially to God as He loves and worships.  He can talk and communicate and share his feelings and opinions and value others as they interrelate in this world.  
Man has the ability to love and fellowship, to converse, to commune, and man is the only creature in existence in the time space world that has language. That’s personhood.  We are made in the image of God.
 
Number two, man is not only made in the image of God, man is
 
2.  The Ruler of the Earth
 
verses 26, 28
 
Notice, verse 26 talks about dominion.  In verse 28 we see that we are to subdue and have dominion.  That tells us man was designed by God to be in charge of the planet, to be the king of the jungle.  And the language used indicates that as God in Sovereignty rules, so is man as a species created in God's image to be sovereign over the whole of creation.
 
Again, we find the details amplified in chapter 2.
 
Genesis 2:19-20a
 
God first of all gives Adam responsibility for naming the animals. If he was going to be the sovereign over creation he had to identify creation. He had to classify creation and he did that.  He had the God-given capability to look at the characteristics of a given creature and give it a fitting name which he did. 
 
A second responsibility that man had is found in
 
Genesis 2:15
Now remember there’s no curse yet, which means there’s no sin or death which means there was not labor or toil.  But there was responsibility and there was some way in which there was a tending to the garden of God. We don’t know all that meant, but it was his responsibility to see that the garden of God was cultivated and flourished.
 
By the way, we still live in the Garden of God and God's expectations of us have not changed. Even though it has been brutally affected by the fall and sin and death, we still live in a world that is designed by God to manifest his glory, and we do have a responsibility to tend to the garden of God.
 
If God has allowed you the privilege to own and tend a little part of His garden, it is altogether right and proper that we do all we can to make sure it brings glory to God!  In fact, everything we do should be to the glory of God.
 
We have a cursed earth to deal with and it’s not easy, but like Adam after he sinned we need to work at it a little to the point where we sweat so that God’s creative beauty and genius might be on display. We’re still stewards of his creation.  I realize this is a temporary planet and it’s all going to burn up, but while I’m here I want God to be on display. 
 
in fact, I just think it is our responsibility to work at putting God on display at least as hard as His enemies working at robbing Him of the glory that is rightfully His!  If Christians would study and dig and work as hard at what we believe as the evolutionists and Darwinists do, we would be much better equipped to defend the teachings of God's Word!
I was at the Dr.'s office this past week and picked up a magazine to read and there was an article about something or other that had to do with Jerusalem and the author told about being in a crowd of people who were being addressed, evangelized by an American pastor.  He said something about the resurrection and Jesus being alive and a lady in the crowd asked, "How do you know He's alive?"
 
The pastor responded by saying, "Oh, I know!  I've been a pastor for over 30 years!"  The author said he couldn't help but chuckle and the lady and he went on to discuss important things about life, I'm sure.  While I have respect for any person who publicly stands to share the faith, I want to say to him, "The world deserves a better answer than that!" 
 
We are reminded in 1 Peter 3:15 that when someone asks about our hope, which by the way is all about the resurrected Christ, we are to be ready to give them an answer! 
 
And if I am going to operate and function as the ruler of this world, I need to make sure that my stewardship and lifestyle and conversation always points to the One Who has given me the responsibility to have dominion and care for the environment into which God placed us.  And just as Adam was given that job, now that responsibility falls to us.  
 
Obviously, this old world is messed up and it's messed up because it is not under the control of Christ.  We don’t see the animal kingdom under control, docile and passive. We don’t see plant life just growing and flourishing without any care and tending. 
We don’t see the world free from war and hatred and slaughter and etc. and disease and illness.  But one of these days it will be brought under His control.  Someday he will reverse the curse!  He will be king of the earth.  See how it works? 
 
God created the world and put man in charge.  Man sinned away his ability to rule and have dominion and the result is the world in which we now live.  But Christ came and died on the cross, not only paying the price for sins, but regaining the right to be the sovereign of the earth. 
 
One day, when He returns, He will assume that right and He’ll rule this world.  It is then we will sing, "Joy to the World, the Lord is come!"  And in that restored earth of the millennial kingdom, the desert will blossom like a rose, the lion will lie down with the lamb, a child will play in a snake pit, and if somebody dies at a 100 years they die a baby.
 
But in the meantime, man, because he is made in the image of God, has the God-given responsibility to rule over the earth. He is not just a biological accident or the product of chance.  He was uniquely created in the image of God to rule this universe, now in its fallen state as a child of God and eventually to reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom. 
 
Thirdly, God's gift of life means man is
 
3. The Propagator Of Human Life
 
Genesis 1:28
 
So how will these humans, created in the image of God be able to be fruitful and multiply?  There is only one possible way that can happen and that is through sexual reproduction.   And notice what we read, prior to the command to be fruitful and multiply. 
 
verse 27
 
That was God’s design for marriage and procreation. Now that reproductive capability was given to all of creation, both plant and animal.  But remember, man is made in the image of God, and that fact is repeated here in 27 just before telling us that God designed both man and woman in His image.  Again, chapter 2 helps with the details. 
 
verse 7
 
Read a little farther and you will find,
 
verse 18
 
You remember the story.  Adam is hard at work being king of the world.  He's studying animals and coming up with names and one day, he gets finished.  If he was working alphabetically, he got to the zebra and there were no more animals to name.  
 
By the way, it is implied in the text that God created all the living creatures of the world, both plants and animals with full maturity and reproductive capabilities since they are all commanded to be fruitful and multiply.  So when the animals came to Adam, both Mr. and Mrs. Whatever showed up. 
 
But somewhere along the line, Adam realized there wasn't a Mrs. that matched up with him.  And if the world was going to be inhabited by people, God either had to keep creating people one at a time or he had to come up with a match for Adam.  And notice, the way it is phrased at the end of
 
verse 20
 
There was not found "a helper comparable to him".  
Contrary to public male opinion, that does not mean
somebody to do the dishes and take out the trash and rub the man's tired feet at night.  That’s not the kind of helper this is talking about.
 
Man needed help with one primary thing and that was procreation.  The command was to be fruitful and multiply and in order for that to happen, man needs a helper that is comparable to himself.  Obviously he can't do it by himself and neither can a woman, contrary to what liberal women of today would have you believe.  And notice, it does not say Adam needed a helper  exactly like himself because that won't work either.
 
And there stands Adam in absolute aloneness as far as kind is concerned.  There wasn't anything else in the created world that was like him.  Remember, man is made in the image of God and out of everything in the world, there was only one who fit that description and that was Adam.  So there is nothing in the created world that is compatible with Adam as far as procreation is concerned. 
 
Man needs a helper, a partner who is a perfect match. So notice how God takes care of the problem.
 
verses 21-25
 
Now that section I just read to you is an expansion of the simple statement made in chapter 1, verse 27b which says he created male and female humans. 
It is not two different creation accounts with controversies and inconsistencies.  It is two different accounts of the same event. 
 
One is given in simple, basic facts; the other is amplified with details.  Now in both places, notice that the male is created first. In chapter 1, he created "male and female".  In chapter 2, verse 7 he created the man, and down in verses 18 and following he created the woman following.
 
Now this is important because the male coming first is necessary in creation.  If you want to appreciate the details and accuracy of Scripture and see the
amazing mind of God at work, consider this:
 
Genetic research tells us the male has both X and Y  chromosomes.  That is important because X chromosomes determine the gender of females and Y chromosomes determine the gender  of males.
 
So males are X and Y, females are not. You say, so what?  Only this:  If the female had been created first and the male taken out of her, then reproduction would have been impossible for there would have been nothing but X chromosomes.
 
Furthermore, if reproduction had been possible, only females could have been reproduced, because females don’t have a Y chromosome.
 
 
Man had to be created first because he has an X and a Y chromosome, and the Y chromosome produces a male and the X female.  God knew exactly what he was doing.  After all, He is the one Who designed the system to begin with.  So he reached in and took a bone and that bone, if we get a little scientific here, had the encoded DNA in the cell structure which could produce a male offspring.
 
He made a woman out of that bone who was a perfect partner for Adam and together they could produce both male and female so that God's command to be fruitful and multiply could be accomplished. 
 
By the way, the technical word for the ability to be fruitful and multiply is fecundity.  Now fecundity is different from fertility in that fertility means the ability to produce offspring.  Fecundity means the ability to produce offspring in great numbers.  Therefore, it is not just being fruitful; it is multiplying. 
 
Now this business of fecundity is a very common term throughout the book of Genesis.  It's first occurrence is here in the opening chapters.  Then, in chapter 9, after the flood, God said to Noah and his sons, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth."  In simple terms, "Go get busy!  Make babies!  Produce children!"
 
Then, in the 17th chapter of the book of Genesis, God says to Abraham concerning Sarah, “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
 
In verse 20, “As for Ishmael, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly.”
 
This command and ability to be fruitful and multiply is the Old Testament directive for the people of God.  But it is all incumbent upon the original design that we see in the creation of male and female.  Obviously the male and female design was to allow man to procreate so that humans would have the responsibility and privilege of producing others in the image of God.
 
By the way, did you ever consider that every time a little baby comes into the world it is an eternal person made in the image of God?  There's is absolutely nothing else like that in the whole world because that little life has the capacity for relationship and procreation as well.
 
Eventually he or she will grow and mature and develop relationships, whether it’s the relationship with parents or siblings or with a spouse and children or grandchildren, this ability to enjoy relationship is unique to the human experience which is dependent upon being created in the image of God and results in the propagation of the race. 
 
No wonder Satan attacks this concept with things like the perversion of homosexuality or the tragedy of abortion.  It is nothing less than a full frontal assault upon what God designed in marriage with one man and one woman where the man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh and become fruitful and multiply. 
 
By the way, the two becoming one flesh is not primarily about the sexual union between them, but rather the life that results from that union.  One flesh could mean you have sexual intimacy or that you think alike and you do things together.  But the truest and purest expression of one flesh is when both of you come together in one flesh and produce a life made in the image of God. 
 
God established this ability to procreate and placed it in the confines of marriage with one man and one woman living as husband and wife in a lifelong relationship.  And anything other than that is a distortion of God's design.   
 
There is one final characteristic of being created in the image of God and that is God's gift of life means man is 
 
4. The Recipient of God's Blessing
 
verse 28
 
If you want to know the character and nature of God, just read that verse.  "Then God blessed them.” He just wanted somebody he could bless.  By the way, did you notice there is nothing between creating and blessing?  They didn't have to earn it.  In fact, they couldn't earn it.  He just blessed them!
 
So how did he bless them? He blessed them with dominion, he blessed them with the divine image of His eternal being. He blessed them with the ability to have relationships.  He blessed them with personhood and the ability to understand Him and enjoy His creation. 
He blessed them with the capability to know Him as well as to know each other. He blessed them with the ability to reproduce themselves and fill the earth with others made in the image of God. 
 
And He blessed them one other way.  Notice  
 
verse 29
 
Now did you ever ask why it is that God filled this world with such a variety of food just from the plant side alone? Just fruits and vegetables; take away man because there’s no death at this point so man is a vegetarian when he was originally created.  But there seems to be absolutely no end to all the vegetation, all that grows and hangs on trees and sprouts underground, all for the joy of man.
 
Just think, God could have just made a brown sky and brown water and a colorless world, and given us nothing but rice to eat.  And every day you could awaken to a colorless world with a bowl of rice for breakfast.  Open your lunch box at noon and have some rice.  Come home after a long day at work and have some rice.  Get up tomorrow and do it all over again. 
 
But instead, God filled His  world with all kinds of colors and varieties and choices just because He wanted to bless us!  Plus, God gave us the ability to taste and smell and see and touch and hear and experience the world surrounding us!  We take that for granted, but it is a blessing from God so that we can just enjoy the amazing creation He has given us within the confines of what He determined to be good and right. 
 
It is true of us and it was true of Adam and Eve.  God gave them an unbelievable world to experience and enjoy and there was only one part of it that was off-limits.  
 
And again, we turn to chapter 2 for the details. 
 
Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17
 
It is interesting, isn't it that God surrounded them with everything that was pleasant to look at and eat and enjoy, including the tree of life, and they could eat all they wanted with only one exception.  I hear people say, "God wants to keep you away from everything that is good and fun!  God has all these rules and regulations to ruin your life." 
 
That's not what the Bible says!  All they had to do was stay away from one tree and enjoy everything else.  To eat what was forbidden would devastate the original design producing death and decay, and yet that's what they chose.  It’s a sad story isn’t it? That’s exactly what they did.  By the way, that's what a lot of people do.  God fills their life with good things and they instead, choose the devil's substitutes.
 
Chapter 3 tells the terrible story.  One day, Satan slithered up to Eve, offered her a lie and she bit.   She disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit then Adam knowingly disobeyed God and ate and everything in the world changed.  All of a sudden, taking care of the garden wasn’t easy.
 
Genesis 3:17-19
 
God said, "Adam, because of your sin, your whole life is going to be one very great challenge. You’re going to have to work hard for your food and it will be salted with your sweat.  There is going to be tension in your home.  And while you'll still be king of the earth, all of your subjects will rebel against you and you will be surrounded with chaos and division. 
 
And sure enough, from that day until this, humans were no longer able to live the way God designed in Genesis 1 and 2. We have to recognize we live in a different world and all that God designed for man is complicated by the presence of sin.
 
God made us in His image, but sin perverts that image.  God created us to rule the earth, but the earth live in rebellion because of sin.  God designed male and female to procreate and fill the earth.  But sin would have us live as homosexuals or kill the image of God created through His gift of sex.
 
So in many ways, the image of God was marred when sin entered the world.  But there is one component of that image that sin couldn't distort and that is God's determination to bless us.
 
Even when Adam rebelled and his feeble attempts to cover himself were inadequate, God provided a covering.  A day would come when God would speak to a man named Abram and promise to produce through him a mighty nation. And God said to Abraham, "I will bless you and you will bless others."
 
 
 
Eventually that nation established through Abraham would bring forth a Son who is described by Paul in Colossians 1:15 as being, "the image of the invisible God."  And it is through a relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself, that  sinners like you and I may be renewed to the image and to the life for which we were created.
 
Every time a sinner calls upon the name of Jesus for salvation, we are confessing to God our failure to be what He created us to be.  We are calling upon Him to make us new, to restore us as God's image.
We are both confessing our sin and seeking redemption and forgiveness; but we are also taking our place with Jesus as God's image and likeness.
 
It is by faith that through Jesus we become sons and daughters, kings and queens once more. As Paul writes in Romans 8:16ff, ''...We are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.''
 
You were made to be a child of God, to know Him, to represent Him, to serve Him, and to rule before Him. It is now only through Jesus, the image of the invisible God, that you may take up this mantle once more. Call upon Jesus, therefore, and be in Christ who you were made to be.
 
Several years ago a fellow named Dr. Fred Craddock, who served as minister of Cherry Log Christian Church in Cherry Log, Georgia published a little collection of anecdotes.  One of the stories he included told of a seminary professor who was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN.
 
One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where are you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice.
 
“Oklahoma,” they answered.
 
“Great to have you here in Tennessee.” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?”
“I teach at a seminary,” he replied.
 
“Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great… Just what I need another preacher story!”
 
The man started, “See that mountain over there pointing out the restaurant window. Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he could see people staring at him, making guesses as to who his father was. At school, the children said ugly things to him so he stayed to himself during recess, and ate lunch alone.
 
When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church.  One Sunday some people queued up in the aisle before he could get out, and he was stopped.
Before he could make his way through the group, he felt a hand on his shoulder, a heavy hand. It was that minister. He cut his eyes around and caught a glimpse of his beard and his chin, and he knew who it was. He trembled in fear. He turned the boy's face around so he could see who he was and jsut seemed to stare for a little while.
 
The boy said he knew what he was doing. He was going to make a guess as to who the boy's father was.  A moment later he said, “Well, boy, you’re a child of…” and he paused. 
 
The boy knew what was coming and he knew he was about to have his feelings hurt.  And he also knew he would not go back to church again!  Then the preacher said, “Boy, you’re a child of God. I see a striking resemblance, boy.” Then he swatted me on the bottom and said, “Now, you go claim your inheritance.”
 
And with that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again.  From then on, whenever anybody asked him, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ‘I’m a Child of God’.”
 
And with that, the distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, “Isn’t that a great story?”
The professor responded that it really was a great story!  As the man turned to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!” And he walked away.
 
 
The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, “Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?”  The waitress grinned and said, “Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s the former governor of Tennessee!”
 
Whether all those details are accurate or not, I don't know, but I know this:  As someone made in the image of God, you've got a great inheritance !  Go claim it!
 
Let's pray.
 
 
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