THE CREATION OF MAN
Key verse 1:26
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over all the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
In Genesis 1:1-25 we saw that God is the Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth and all living creatures. This morning’s passage is about us, the creation of man. What makes us so special and unique among all the creatures that God made? And with what purpose did God make us for? I pray that God may help you to know how great it is that he created you in his image and that God may help you to see the blessedness it is to be the rulers of the world that he created.
Part 1. God created man in his own image. (26-27)
Let’s read verses 26-27. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” In verse 26 we see God’s plan for the creation of man. God’s creation of the world and all that was in it was not complete until he first created man. We see the words, “Let us…” These words are the first reference to the trinity in the Bible. God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit all made the decision to create man. God had a purpose to create man .Man is God’s crown of creation. That is, we are special to him and close to his heart, more than any other creature.
When King David read Genesis chapter 1 just as what we are reading now, and when looked up at the stars at night in the clear Jerusalem city skies, he was moved in his heart about God who created us and he said in Psalm 8:3-5, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”
God is mindful of each of us to give us life and not to make us as an ordinary creature, but as one who is created in his own image. This is a privilege for us and it is God the giver of life’s desire to do so.. We can all thank God that he did not make us to be a snake or a mouse that a snake might eat or even a worm that might be a bird’s next breakfast. God created us in his own image so that we could know him and have fellowship with him. What then does it mean that God made man in his own image? As we know, God does not have a physical body like we do. We can not physically see God. Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” God is spirit. So when God created us in his image and his likeness it means that we have a spirit or soul from God. We have a spiritual nature. Since we were made in God’s image, we have many characteristics about us from God. These characteristics are the ones that set us high above the other creatures of the world.
Just as each of us bear the resemblance of our mother and father, and each of us have similar characteristics and habits from our parents, so we also bear the resemblance of God within us. One time the Pharisees tried to test Jesus by asking him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. He told them to bring him a denarius. He asked them whose image was on the coin. They said “Caesar’s.” Jesus answered them by saying, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” On the coin, was Caesar’s image, so they should give the coin to Caesar and pay taxes. The image closely looked like Caesar. But every person has God’s image stamped in them.
This image makes us unique among the creatures that God made. For example, God is the creator of all things. So we also have the desire to create things and to make things. Missionary Rebekah Koh is an artist. She creates beautiful drawings and paintings. She also teaches art and helps young kids develop into good artists who also create beautiful drawings and paintings. Where did Missionary Rebekah get this talent as an artist from? She got it from God, who is the greatest artist of all.God is also full of righteousness and justice. We also want to see righteousness and justice being practiced. That is why we have laws and a sense of right and wrong. God is also full of love. We want to love and be loved. We also, like God, have the ability to reason and to think logically, the other living creatures that God made do not have such an ability.
Because we have many God like attributes within us and because we bear the image and likeness of our Creator, we have the desire to be like him. This is why man is called a religious creature. You never saw a cat or an elephant worship God or even have desire to do so. This is because they do not have a spiritual nature, they do not have the image of God within them. Some pet owners think their pets have a spiritual side to them, they are only in reality flesh. One time I did see a pair of Golden Retrievers pray before they ate their meals. But of course they were trained to do this by their owner. You never saw a dog or a cat struggle over their life problem. But we were made in our Creator’s image. Some people look at man and say that they bear the image of monkey’s and apes. But this degrades man made in God’s image and not apes image. We have God’s image in us and God’s likeness.
But the most important thing about this image or likeness is the fact that we have the need to know God. God gave us this need. Unless we seek God and fellowship with him, then we quickly become thirsty and empty and try to fill our spirit with material things and physical sensations and desires. Saint Augustine said that every person has an empty space in their hearts, a vacuum, until they come to know Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
When we seek God, God begins to satisfy our soul. Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Those who seek God and have the desire to know him begin to experience the real joy and peace and meaning of life. King David wrote in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desires he was talking about was knowing God and having fellowship with God. To be created in the image of God means that we can pray to God. We can have eternal life. This is the life that really satisfies us. We can experience this eternal life through Jesus. Jesus said in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
When we look around it appears that man is not created in the image of God because the world appears very corrupted and violent. Because of sin, man seems to lose God’s image. When we study Genesis we will see God’s reaction to those who sin and ignore their spiritual nature. We will see how God is grieved when man, created in his image seeks only to live like an animal and not in the image of God.
As for us, God may help us to make a personal effort to grow in his image and to become godly men and women who can enjoy having fellowship with God. Now let us see how we can grow in God’s image and be more like our Creator.
Part 2. God said, “Rule over and subdue.” (28-31)
Let us look at these verses to find out how and also to find our purpose. Let’s read verse 28, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” These words are God’s first words to man. Before God spoke to man, God blessed man. God ‘s blessing is that he gave man a mission, a purpose to be the ruler of the world.
This verse especially tells us that God wants us to be fruitful. Being fruitful here has two meanings. The first one is to have many children in order to fill the earth. Man cannot rule over the world and subdue the world unless he first fills the world. When God gave woman the ability to bear children it was for her joy as well for her husband. Mother’s go through the pains of child bearing and after the baby is born they say no more. But when they see their baby’s face, they change their mind. The second interpretation is that God wants man to be able to use his life for the purpose to glorify the creator God. Being fruitful in our life is using what God has given us, our life, our time and materials and our talents for God’s purpose. We are most happiest when we are fruitful. This fruitfulness is not necessarily an outward increase in something like money, materials and influence. It is the changed inner life and inner person. Through Christ, our inner person is transformed to be one that is Christ-like.
When we are bearing fruit, then we are becoming more like Jesus and less and less like our old selves. Sometimes we may complain that we are not being fruitful because we don’t have any sheep and have never raised up a disciple. But this is not true. Being fruitful is something that God does to us when we seek him and hunger for him. If we are fruitful, God will make us a good influence regardless of sheep or no sheep. The prophet Jeremiah was a fruitful man even though he was rejected by his people and suffered and was thrown into a cistern and even prison. He was fruitful because he obeyed God’s command to go and preach to the people and to give them a very unpopular message. But his influence was great because he stood as a light in the dark times.
This command to be fruitful was really the way that God wanted man to be the ones who would sub due and rule over the world. These words to subdue and rule over seem like harsh words to some people. But they are not if we remember that God wants us to practice his mercy, righteousness and justice wherever we go. God does not want man to carelessly bulldoze the earth and build more highways and drain swamps to build more houses. God wants us to manage all things in a careful and responsible way and in a thoughtful way like he does.
Especially, this command allows us to explore the world that God created and find ways to use what God has put here to help others. Since the price of gasoline is becoming so high and because one day we will eventually run out of oil, God has given us the ability to look and explore this world for alternate energy sources. Perhaps one of you might be the one who makes such a great discovery.
God’s command to subdue and to rule over has greater meaning when we think about the message of the gospel and how much God wants to save the whole world. When we read these verses, we see generally our purpose as the ruler of the world. But now, through Jesus, God gives us a great mission to go and tell what the Lord has done for us. This mission makes our lives complete. It is a blessing that we go and be God’s instrument for bringing people to Bible study and praying for their salvation. Especially this is the way we grow in God’s image because we begin to pray for them and to take general concern for them.
Jesus told his disciples to pray like this, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come and your will be done, everyday. We want God’s kingdom to come to this world into the hearts of all people. Our mission may be difficult but it is not impossible because it is God’s will be done on earth. It is a guarantee that God will make us fruitful when we commit ourselves to his mission to be the rulers of this world by praying and acting with God’s desire that his kingdom come and will be done on earth.
Look at verses 29-30, “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 to 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.” In these verses we see that God takes care of his creation man. God takes care of us by giving us all the things we need to live in this world. In this verse we see that God gave man and all creatures food to eat. God certainly knows what we need to sustain our lives. The point of what God is saying here to us is not to worry about our material lives. God knows what we need. God is like our parents who always provided for us when we were children. Every parent knows that their children need food and clothes. Their children never have to ask about these things because they know that their parents will take care of them and provide for them. God is greater than this.
God will never leave us or forsake us when we trust in him. God will never give us over to poverty when we seek him and trust him and desire to do his will. God always provides even in the most difficult times. When God led the Israelites of Egypt, he provided for them for over 40 years. He fed them manna from heaven and gave them water. For forty years their clothes and sandals did not wear out. God did this all so that the Israelites would trust in him and not worry about things like the pagan nations. When we trust in God all our worries evaporate like the morning mist. I remember as a college student not having much money, but somehow God always provided. One time I remember trying to take out money from the ATM machine, but it wouldn’t give me any because it said I only had 19 cents in my account. However, I don’t remember going hungry that day. God provided and he still does.
Look at verse 31, “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning---the sixth day.” After God made all that he had planned to make, he stopped and viewed his creation, including man. God looked and said, “It was very good.” God’s conclusion here shows that all of God’s works are good, including man. They are all very good because God is the perfect God who makes all things according to his wisdom and his plan and his design. What God made is very good, it is not bad. There are many things in the natural world that look ugly. To some people, spiders look ugly. But to God spiders are very important and very good because he made them for a good purpose. God made us too, to be very good. We are all objects of God’s glory that God purposely made. No one can say to us that we are not good.
If they do, then we need to show them the Bible and open it to Genesis 1:31. Once when Jesus’ disciples saw a man who was blind from birth sitting along the road and begging, they asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man or his parents sinned. This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” This man was born blind because God had it in his plan to do so. God wanted to reveal Jesus to the world through this man when he healed this man’s eyes and helped him to see. To the world, this man was not good. But to Jesus, he was very good.
So it never matters what others might think or say about you. The important thing is what God says about you and what God thinks about you. Because God loves us absolutely we can say that we are very good. We can especially experience this when we use our lives for his good purpose.
Part 3. The Day of rest. (2:1-3)
Let’s read verses 1-3, “Thus the heavens and the earth were created in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work that he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” God created the world and everything in it in six days and then he rested the seventh day. This day God rested on was set apart or sanctified and made holy. Later God called this day the Sabbath day or day of rest for his people.
This seventh day God blessed. Why did God do this? On the seventh day, God wants man to stop from his busy work and reserve the day for God. On the seventh day God wants man to renew his faith and remember that real rest for one’s soul and real meaning and purpose of life comes from God. God wants us to renew his image in us. During the Israelites journey out of Egypt into the promised land, God gave them the Ten Commandments and this command to honor the Sabbath and to keep it holy. We want to honor this day and get together with fellow believers to honor God and his word and renew our desire to seek him and to serve his will.
As we read the NT we also find that Jesus is the real Sabbath day of rest for us. As we come to Jesus and lay our sins, burdens and troubles on him we can find real rest for our soul. We can come to him just as we are and know that he is our loving Savior with whom we can renew our life’s purpose and mission.
This morning we learned that we were created in God’s image and to take care of the world in which he created. God wants us and earnestly seeks us so that we may grow in his image and accept his purpose. Now through this word may God help us to grow in Jesus’ image by earnestly desiring him and proclaiming his word.