Friday, September 15, 2023

Vision (9.15.23): The Special Creation of Man


Image: Scene from the London Zoo "Human Exhibit" in 2005.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Genesis 1:26-31.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:27).

Back in 2005 the London Zoo made headlines around the world when for a short time it hired eight persons (three men and five women) to live in an exhibit under the title “Homo Sapiens.” Other signs described their diet and typical activities. Another described them as “the most dangerous animal of all.” Are human beings simply like all the other animals? If not, what exactly is it that makes us different?

The answer to those questions is given to us in Genesis 1:26-28.

Genesis 1:26 begins, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The Hebrew word for “man” here is adam. It is also the name of the first man. He is a special creature made in a special manner and given a special name. He is not listed alongside the other land creatures in v. 24 (cattle, creeping things, and beast of the earth). He is set apart. He is unique.

The primary evidence of his uniqueness is that the triune God purposed to make man “in our image, after our likeness.” Those two statements are essentially saying the same thing in classic Hebrew parallelism.

The first statement is perhaps best known by the Latin phrase, “Imago Dei.” Man has an imprint upon him that makes him different than the rest of the creation. He is not God, but he is made after the likeness of the thrice Holy God.

Perhaps the key to what this image means is given in the remainder of v. 26 which begins, “and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…” (v. 26b). God who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Master of the whole cosmos gives to man as the crown of his creation a measure of limited sovereignty. He gives mankind to be his stewards and to rule over and provide for all the other creatures of firmament, sea, and land, and even “over all the earth.” This is indeed what David stresses in Psalm 8:4-8, when he declares that God made man “a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour … to have dominion” over the works of his hands.

One more fact about man is provided in v. 27b: “male and female created he them.” God declares here that human beings are made in two basic flavors, or in two distinct styles, or in two kinds. God made man to be male and female, men and women. Human beings are, according to the good design of God binary. This is why we as Christian say there are only two genders. What does it say about the state of confusion in our world today when such a basic claim is somehow controversial?

This was and is God’s original, good design made before man’s fall into sin. This statement affirms the spiritual equality of men and women. We are both made in the image of God. We are both image bearers. We are both made in God’s likeness. We are both made to have dominion over all creatures and all the earth. Men are not spiritually superior to women; women are not spiritually superior to men.

This is not to say, however, that we are the same. We are fundamentally different. Made by an all-good and all-wise God for different tasks, roles, and functions in this world. We are not interchangeably the same, and this is good.

Who is man? A special and unique creation by God.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle


Phil Brown said...

The naturalistic mindset infiltrates all of our thinking as people on the earth. We can see it in the approaches of government, media, and so many other human interactions from the largest to the smallest. Most people would rescue their dog over a fellow image bearer. I see memes online often of how people prefer their dog over other humans. In an effort to court the world, I think Christians have made many unnecessary exceptions. We've modified our doctrines on many fronts to appeal to the world. I don't know that it's the intention consciously of many who subscribe to modified doctrines on creation, scripture, and other important thoughts regarding doctrine; However, the practice has had a corrosive effect on the church. Mankind as an animal? Well, it's no wonder that many of us begin to act like animals. Nebuchadnezzar was cursed for his pride. God reduced him to animal state for a time, so that the king would see the majesty of the true King. It could be that God is reducing us to animal state so that we will see the fruit of our ways. It seems to be how things go.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Hi Phil, thanks for your post and good to hear from you. In the original sermon, after the zoo reference I also noted a youtube video taken at a Vegan festival in LA where multiple persons interviewed replied that if their dog and a human stranger were both drowning and they could only save one, they would choose to save their dog. Dehumanizing.

Phil Brown said...

I do remember that. Yeah, It's been a minute, and the year has been a busy one. I listened to the sermon while driving the other day between jobs. Haven't caught them all, but when I can, I give your sermons and other audio content a listen. Yeah, on one level I can understand the sentiment. People can do wicked things to other people. As society seems to grow more hardened towards "love thy neighbor," it's easy to allow the hardness to effect us as well. Domesticated dogs are usually easy to deal with (as long as you feed them!). I am reminded though that Jesus taught us to love our neighbors and enemies as well. This is one way in which children of God's Kingdom are different. So your illustrations and the rest of the sermon are so true and hit a chord. In all truth, when I heard that illustration about the dogs, I thought for a moment: "There are some dogs I might want to save instead of their owners!" That being said, you are 100% correct. We must honor God's image above all others in this created order. I appreciate the message.