Mankind, the Image of God, and the Gospel

At the beginning of mankind’s existence, God made man different from all of the animals He created. (Gen 1:26-28, 20-25) Have you ever asked yourself why God made man after His own image and likeness? The creation of man has far more significance than many realize. In fact, the way man was created has everything to do with the gospel message preached by Jesus Christ.

Mankind Looks Like God

Let’s look back at Gen. 1:27. It is important to note that Genesis chapter one is a summary of the six days of creation. Chapter two provides more detail of what occurred on day six of the process. So, in summarizing the creation of humans, God inspires Moses to record how male and female were created in the image of God as compared to the creation of animals. There is a very inspiring truth behind this fact that we will explore later. Despite the claims of evolutionary theory, mankind was created in the image of the Almighty Creator God.

The question that naturally arises from reading the first chapter of Genesis is: Are we really created in the image of God. Essentially, there are two possible answers to this question, yes or no. Let’s see what the Bible says about what God looks like.

In the book of Ezekiel, we can find a vague description of what God looks like based on a vision given to Ezekiel. Ezekiel chapter one describes a vision of four creatures and another being that was above the four. In describing the being above the four, Ezekiel writes, “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” (Ezek. 1:26)

Verse 28 of the same chapter tells us, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel was seeing a vision of the Lord. Be sure to read this entire chapter. There is a clear difference between the four creatures and the being that sat on top of them. Compare verses 5-11 and verses 26-28. Though the four creatures are described as having, “the likeness of a man,” they also have four faces and four wings. They are also said to have a wheel with eyes in it (verses 15-18). Based on this description, it becomes obvious that “the likeness of a man” refers to the shape or configuration of a man’s body. The being who sits on top of them is said to have “likeness as the appearance of a man.” These two descriptions are very different if you investigate the Hebrew words. Likeness means resemblance, model, or shape. Appearance means view, appearance, shape (as in comeliness), or looks. So then, likeness is shape or resemblance and appearance is what it actually looks like. Therefore, the being sitting on the throne above the four creatures resembles an actual man. You could also say His shape looked like an actual man as compared to the four creatures who have four faces, four wings, and a calf’s feet.

Remember man was made in the image and likeness of God, so it should not be surprising that Ezekiel would see a vision of God which looked like a man. The same is true about the Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified form (Rev. 1: 13-15). Notice Jesus is not described as having multiple faces, wings, or anything beyond human anatomy. It is important to note that God is not in the image of man, but man is made in the image of God. Ezekiel and John were just trying to use relatable imagery for us to understand what God looks like. If you reread the verses in Ezekiel and Revelation, you can see that the appearance of man cannot compare with the brightness of God’s glory.

The Image of God and the Gospel

Let’s return to Gen. 1:26. Now that we have established the fact that man looks like God based on scripture, we can explore the question why did God create man after His image and His likeness.

Some of the most righteous men of the Bible wrestled with this same question. Read Job 7:17-18. The Hebrew word translated into magnify means to become strong or grow up. Job is asking what is so special about man that God is growing him. Job recognized that God is developing something in man which is referred to as trying him every moment.

King David asked a similar question in Psalms 8. “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Ps. 8:4) Read verse 3 as well. Why should God be mindful of man when He created such a wonderful creation?

Though man should be humble, we must acknowledge the fact that God made men special. The Lord Jesus Christ tells this to His disciples. Read Matt 6:25-32 and Matt. 10:29-31. The parallel verses recorded by Luke read, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God, but even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7). Think about how amazing these statements are!!! God does not forget one sparrow that loses life, but you are so much more special than the sparrows. The very hairs on your head are numbered!!! These are the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

Do you realize how special mankind is? Do you realize that we have a special place in God’s plan?

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” (Heb 2:1-3)

God’s plan for mankind is a very serious situation. To neglect so great of a salvation, is to risk eternal life. Read the verses that follow (verses 4-7). God made man lower than the angels but set the work of His hands under the authority of man. This is confirmed by Gen 1:28 and Ps 8:4-8. Again, why would God do this? It’s clear that God has a special purpose for man. Unfortunately, many do not understand man’s purpose in connection with the gospel. Notice the following:

“Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” (Heb 2:8)

Here, we can clearly see that all things are to be put under the subjection of mankind; however, all things have not been put under the subjection of mankind yet. God is doing a wonderful work in man. He is preparing mankind for rulership of the earth not an eternity in heaven. The bible in many places explains that those who follow Christ will inherit the earth and thrones. Read the following verses: Rev 20:1-4; Matt. 5:3,5; and Rom. 8:12-17. These are just a few verses that describe the intent of God in terms of mankind’s future.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Heb 2:9-10)

Jesus Christ did not sacrifice His life for angels. He sacrificed His life to reconcile man to God so that He could bring many sons into glory. This is far different than what is normally taught. God did not create man to become angels or spirits who sit in heaven praising Him for all eternity. God created man for a much greater purpose. God created man to grow into character like Jesus Christ and to rule alongside Him as joint heirs of the kingdom of God (Rom. 8:17). David understood this that is why he wrote, “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Ps 8: 9). David praised God for His mindfulness toward mankind and the purpose He has set for us.

More on this in the next post…

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