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Image and Likeness of God


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

The Story: Three times the word, bara, is used to describe the creation of the man and woman. Is that sufficiently emphatic? These creatures are really special. Only God can make them. And when He made them, they were male and female. From the beginning (so according to Jesus, Matt. 19:4). The man and woman together bear the image and likeness of God, and each of them separately as well. God is One and Three. Each Person of the Godhead is fully God, and together all Three are God. Each human bears the image and likeness of God, and together we bear it as well. Like God, human beings are social; they fulfill their reason for being in concert and community. Like God, human beings are meant to work. Human beings are creative, aesthetic, rational, spiritual, cultural beings because this is what God is like. If we want to know why we’re here and what we’re supposed to make out of lives, we should study to know God. Naturalistic science says we should study “nature” and its laws, and especially evolution. Once we’ve learned about things like “the survival of the fittest”, a cosmos “red in tooth and claw”, and the wholly impersonal and purposeless – but mathematically determined—nature of all things, then we’ll know who we really are. But then we’ll only be able to represent the image and likeness of a cosmos onto which we have imposed a perspective of our own devising. We should, indeed, study the cosmos and all its creatures and “laws.” But not to find or define ourselves within or by these. We find ourselves by knowing God, for we are made in His image and likeness.

The Structure: Do not miss that thrice-repeated “created.” Human beings were created by God in a manner only He can do—not as the “end product” of natural processes. Human beings are defined by having been created by God in His image and likeness. And only in conscious acceptance of this provenance can they flourish.

Why do you suppose people today prefer to think they’re the product of blind, meaningless physical processes rather than of the creative work of God?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
God's Plan for Humankind


Genesis 1:26
26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

The Story: The culmination of creation is now contemplated. That “Let us” is curious, no? Is God inviting the angels to join Him in the creation of the man and woman? Of course not; God does not share an image or likeness with the angels. God is taking counsel within Himself, within the Persons of the Godhead. God’s plan for humankind has three facets. First, human beings are to represent God and His Being and purposes. This is what it means to be made in His image and likeness. The word, “image,” is the same word God uses in His Law to proscribe man-made images as representations of Him. God already has an “image” – men and women. To make any other “image” as a representation of God is, in effect, to usurp the place of God in determining who or what shall represent Him. To be made in God’s likeness means that human beings will be something like God, but not God. We’ll see more about that later on. Second, God intends human beings to exercise dominion over the earth and its creatures according to God’s terms of “good.” Again, we will explore this more fully later on. And third, and most crucial, human beings must know and serve God, according to His image and likeness and His purposes. This third facet of God’s plan for humankind is implied here, but we will see that without this in place none of the rest of God’s plan can succeed. Only by knowing God can the man and woman—and all men and women—fulfill the divine plan and find the true purpose of their lives.

The Structure: This little aside provides focus and drama for the creation week. Now we’re beginning to see what all this is about. God has created a vast, wondrous, and beautiful cosmos, with earth as its centerpiece. Now He is about to make the final creature, whose being and work will “raise a banner” for God over all He has made. Theologians and even some scientists talk about the “anthropocentric” nature of the cosmos – it’s “just right” for human life. The cosmos is not man-centered, but God-centered, and it’s only “very good” when we keep that continuously in mind.

What does it mean for you to represent God in His image and likeness in your part of the creation?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
What We Learn About God


Genesis 1:25
14And God saw that it was good.

The Story: We must at all times remember that Genesis 1 is not primarily about creation. It’s about God. God is revealing Himself through His words and His works in Genesis 1. So as we read Genesis 1 – and all of Scripture – we need to ask, “What is God telling me about Himself here?” We’ve seen thus far that Genesis 1 reveals a God of awesome, fearful power and might, as well as one Who spreads His steadfast love to every corner of the creation. Now, with living creatures swarming everywhere, we see that God is a God of life and beauty. God loves for things to flourish. He is pleased for many different things to flourish, and to be beautiful and fulfill a role in glorifying Him. He is the God of life and beauty, not of death and ugliness, as so many seem to think. Where God is there is power for love and life and beauty and flourishing. When God comes to dwell in us, His people, you can bet these are among the attributes – first revealed in Genesis 1 – that He wants to bring to light through each of us. And when that happens, it’s good, yeah – real good.

The Structure: There is a break in day six that doesn’t occur in the other days. God reflects aloud before He takes up the next and final stage of His work of creation. Human beings are like the animals, but they are not animals. They share the same space and participate in the same overall purpose—to please and glorify God—but animals are animals, and human beings are not. To speak of humans as animals is to invite them to regard themselves as such. This defeats God’s purpose in making us special among the animals, but not one of them.

Should you include more thanksgiving in your prayers for the variety, bounty, and beauty of the creation?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Blessed?


Genesis 1:25
25And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

The Story: We don’t see the word, “blessed” here, but that doesn’t mean the beasts and creatures of the earth aren’t. They are. We know that by the way they’re described, by God’s stated purpose for them, and by His pronouncement of their being “good.” What God blesses, we should bless as well. But we can’t bless what we do not know, at least to some extent. Next week we shall see that God intends human beings to “have dominion” over all these creatures, to rule and order each according to its place in the divine economy and will. The poet William Cowper expressed outrage over a man who would go out of his way to step on a bug. Should we be outraged over people who won’t go out of their way to learn something about the bugs and other creatures God has blessed around them?

The Structure: Exercise in reflection: From what we’ve seen thus far in Genesis 1, define the meaning of “good.” Then apply that to Ephesians 2:10.

At the end of each day, do you take time before the Lord to reflect on your work for the day? What criteria would you use during such a time to expect the Lord to say “good job” or “well done” over your day?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Living Creatures on Earth


Genesis 1:24, 25
24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds – livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

The Story: Day six begins with a Word from God, followed by the work of God. Here’s a “pattern” for creation that we should not overlook: How best to begin and conduct your days. Beasts and humans are created on the same day. But while they share the same provenance – the will and work of God – and many attributes and features, there are big differences between them, as we’ll see next week. For now God expresses His desire to see the earth filled with all kinds of living creatures. They’re here because God wants them here. They have a place in His economy; they were here before humans were. Again we note that all the various creatures were “made” (switching back from “created” of v. 21) by God according to their kinds. They were made separated into kinds; they did not evolve into kinds over “billions and billions” of years. Not according to the plain reading of the text, anyway.

The Structure:We need to learn to look at the creatures around as works of God. He made them according to their kinds, and He sustains them in the forms we observe. Creation is one of God’s works, and we can learn a great deal about God by studying His works of creation.

The “book of creation” is a great source of insight and understanding about God. What would you suggest as an approach to learning to “read” that book?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Day Five


Genesis 1:23
23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

The Story: The fifth day is another “good” one. The will of God is advancing, precisely as He intends. Life is beginning to teem and swarm on earth. The patterns of creation are nearly all operational, and are upheld by God’s own Word. “Evening” and “morning” now mean something more precise than they did on the first three days, because God has put “measuring sticks” in the sky to mark off each day as it passes. Some readers will object that I’m being too literal in reading “day” here to mean a 24-hour period. I’m not being too literal; I’m just being literal. I’ll explain in a couple of weeks why I’m persuaded about this. For now, let’s just keep following Moses’ account as the events of a week, day five of which has just drawn to a close. The more God makes, the more “good” there is filling the earth. When Andy Crouch calls us to the work of “culture making” he invites us to do something very similar. The only way to change culture, he explains, is to make more of it. And if we make culture the way God made the world, we’ll make it “good” – pleasing and acceptable to Him, according to His will and Word. The more “good” culture we make, the more “good” returns to the world.

The Structure:It’s curious that the beasts of the earth are not created on day five, leaving for the sixth day an exclusive focus on the creation of human beings. That might be the way we would have done it. But it’s not what God did. There is a reason for this and it relates to a certain kind of continuity human beings have with animals—continuity, not identity.

What is culture? How is culture making like God’s work of creation? What do you think is involved in making “good” culture?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Blessed


Genesis 1:22
22And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

The Story: God speaks to His creatures as though they had intelligence with which to process the command He gave them. Of course, they don’t, and our text is once again giving us a glimpse into the mind of God with respect to His creatures. He wants them to flourish, to increase and abound, to fill the waters of the earth and to multiply on it. God’s creatures are blessed of God when they fulfill His purposes for them. Just because God didn’t bless the grass or the lights in the sky – or doesn’t bless the beasts on the sixth day – doesn’t mean they aren’t blessed. They are blessed as they fulfill His plan. That word, “bless”, provides the root for the Hebrew noun, “knees.” Being blessed and being on our knees are related – as long as we’re on our knees before the right Person. Many believers are seeking the blessing God alone can give them – abundant, fruitful, flourishing and multiplying life – at the altars of secular and naturalistic thinking. Bow to the naturalistic reason or utilitarian whim of men, and you will never know the blessing of God. No idol of men can provide the blessing of God. Get on your knees before Him and wait there, trusting in His Word. Even “bird brains” know this is the best advice for them (Jack Miller). What’s our excuse?

The Structure: Moses will want us to read that idea of blessing into the creation of man and woman on the sixth day, so he prepares us for the vision we should entertain there by what we can plainly see among the birds and water creatures – what it means to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

What does the “blessing” of God look like in your life? Are you fruitful and multiplying as God intends? Are you seeking His blessing or that of the spirit of the age?

Genesis 1-12 begins the story of God’s covenant and redemption. For a fuller exposition of this story, order a copy of the book, Far As the Curse is Found, by Michael D. Williams, from our online store.

The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
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