Sunday Service: What is Man That You are Mindful of Him?

“Then God said ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Genesis 1:26-28 NIV)

When God began His creative work it was with a purpose. What may come as a surprise is what that purpose was. On the first day God created the Heavens and the earth; He brought light into complete darkness and set the foundation for the rest of creation. On the second day, the sky was formed as an expanse between the waters above and those below. Day three was consumed by the creation of plants; every plant imaginable was set upon the earth and especially created to produce seeds which would in turn bring more of the same. The fourth day brought wonders beyond imagination. The vastness of the universe; countless stars and planets. Our own sun and moon was hung, as it were, in perfect position to facilitate life on earth. What a magnificent day indeed! On the fifth day God created the immense numbers of fish in the sea, and the glorious array of birds in the air. To this day, mankind has yet to discover them all. He commanded the fish of the sea and the birds of the air to increase in number, and they did as they were commanded. Then, on day six, God began His work by creating all the animals that roam the earth, even those that no longer exist, but He wasn’t done. Now we come to the purpose of God’s work; the reason behind each step in creation; now we come to the creation of man.

We would do well to remember all that came before us as a preparation for our own entrance into existence. Tis not pride which leads to this conclusion; it is the text itself. For nowhere else in all of creation do we see these words, “Let us make _____ in our image”. The God of creation, capable of speaking the cosmos into existence, saved His greatest work for the grand finale’ of His creation! Man alone is made in the image of God. Not the earth, nor the seas; the birds, the fish and the bees are all marvelous works, but created in the image of God they are not. The animals which roam the land, many who are of benefit and companionship to us, even they, with all their strengths and their amazing beauty are not created in God’s image. It is man whom God created in His own image. It is man for whom God created the heavens, the earth, the stars, and the wondrous beauty of all that we can ever experience! God stepped into a point in eternity and created you and me. And why did God create all the wonder of the universe for man? Why did God create Man at all? Because He loved us before the beginning of time. This is why the Psalmist says “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 6:4 NIV).

There are several things of note in these passages.

First: “Us” and “Our”. These two words are critical to understanding the nature of God. While we will not delve deep into God’s triune nature here, it is important to address the basics. First we need to understand what is meant by “the Trinity”. In its simplest form, our God is one God comprised of three individual persons. Not three god’s; just one, but with three individual, unique persons. How is this possible? Simple. I have no idea. The truth is, while we cannot comprehend the Trinity, we do not have to. We need only understand that it exists and it is a crucial part of God’s nature. Now, you may be wondering how we know the “us” and the “our” in this passage references the Trinity. You may recall from our study on the first day of creation the phrase “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen 1:2 NIV). The spirit of God is the Holy Spirit spoken of often in the New Testament. You may have noted the lack of distinguishing separation in the phraseology used in Gen 1:2; that is because there is not distinguished difference in God’s purpose, regardless of which of the three persons carries out that purpose. That is why we see the Holy Spirit referenced as “The Spirit of God” without distinguishing that it is all together not God the Father, while it is yet still God the Father. Confused yet? We also have multiple references from Christ of His own divinity and union with God. “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30 NIV), as one example. While the Trinity is, in itself, a mystery, it is not meant to be a confusion. We are only meant to understand that the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit are all one God, and that is enough for now. See, no more confusion. J

Second: “So that they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Vs. 26).  There is an authority which was placed on mankind from before his creation. Man was always meant to rule over the earth. It is our domain; created for us by the God who loves us. Oh but the sorrow is that we have given that authority over to another (More on that in a later study). For now, it is paramount to our understanding of our place in creation that we recognize the authority placed in us even before we were created. For it is in the same breath in which God says “Let us create man in our image”; this was the pronouncement, not the act. It is only after God declares man’s authority over the creation that He then brings man into existence.

Third: “Male and female He created them” (Vs. 27). There has been much confusion regarding this phrase and its relationship to the whole of chapter 2 in the book of Genesis. We will not go into detail here as we have that very study coming shortly. However, what we can note here with confidence is that God created man and woman together, though the text here does not answer the how (that is chapter 2), we can be confident in the what. Man and woman, created by God, in His image with dominion over all of creation…”Male and female He created them”. This is an important distinction when we discuss contemporary ideologies regarding appropriate relationships as much as it is an imperative point in understanding the relationship between man and woman.

Finally: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Vs. 28). It was God’s expressed intent that mankind “fill the earth and subdue it”. This refers back to God’s decree when He first mentions the creation of man; that our place is as the overseer, the ruler if you will, of creation, not of the Creator however. Here God commands man to take dominion over the creation. How often we find ourselves in the position where we think it our place to tell God what He should be doing. Be wary, be vigilant, for it is not our place to command God; we are here as the head of creation, but we are still the created.  This also speaks back to the point made earlier, that mankind is God’s greatest creation; else, why would He command man to rule over all that had been created before? All that came before this was for mankind. Rejoice in what God has created for you!

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day” (Genesis 1:29-31 NIV).

So God has created everything in heaven and on earth. All that we every see; all that we will ever discover is now present on the conclusion of the sixth day of creation. A couple of closing points.

First: Note that God gives man every seed-bearing plant and every tree with fruit for the purpose of his nourishment. He gives the same to all the animals. Specifically, God gave mankind vegetables and fruits for food and the same for animals. At this point in history man does not consume meat; nor are there animals which are carnivores. While we will get to the explanation of why this is different now in a later study, it is enough at present that we note that the beginning moments of creation do not have death present. There is no killing of animals for food, nor do animals consume each other. This is not an argument for not eating meat, I enjoy a good burger or steak as much as the next. Yet it is critical that we recognize here and now the serenity of creation at its beginning moments. Death does not hold any account over the creation and mankind is in charge of all that God has placed on the earth, and there is harmony. Remember that.

Second: “God saw all that He has made, and it was very good” (Vs. 31). We made a big deal out of God’s use of the word “good” noting that what is good in God’s eyes is perfection. So why is the statement here different? It could be that God looked upon His completed creation and noted that all was in perfect harmony according to plan. Perhaps it was because of His foreknowledge of the destruction that was to come. Or it was God’s allowance to the writer to embellish this final point of creation for the sake of human readers. While all are plausible explanations, it seems most likely that the second of the three is closest to accurate. God looked upon the completion of His creation, and knowing what destruction, pain, and suffering was coming at the hands of man, made note that here at this point, it was beyond perfection, if there is such a thing. Regardless of whether or not that is accurate, we can know for certain that God looked upon His completed work and was satisfied.

While creation itself is complete, there is another day in the account and we shall cover it in the next study as it is crucial to our understanding of the transition the writer uses.


Memory Verse for the Week:

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4 ESV).

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