The Image of God
Read Genesis 5:1-3
Notice in the very beginning that it starts “1This is the book of the generations of Adam.” Technically, ten generations are listed in this chapter, from Adam down on to Noah, but we could keep on listing the generations of Adam through scripture down to David, and Solomon, then eventually to Mary, and Jesus. Or we could take a different line from Noah’s descendants and trace the book of the generations of Adam on down to us. The truth is that all humanity descends from Adam, and can trace our genealogy back to Adam. All of Adam’s descendants have two things in common: we bear the curse of original sin, and we are made in the image of God. We will look at the curse a little bit more tomorrow, but for today, let’s look at three aspects of the image of God found in Genesis 5:1-3:
“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.”
We took an in depth look at what it means to be made in the image of God, when we studied the Imago Dei back in Genesis 1. But let me offer a brief reminder of what that means here.
God created all of creation through the power of His voice. But when it came to making Man, God stooped down and fashioned him from the dust, breathing the breath of life into him. Later, God took a chunk from side of Man, and fashioned it into Woman, eventually presenting her to Adam with pride in the first marriage ceremony. In the creation of both Adam and Eve, God demonstrated His love for our ancestors by using His hands to carefully construct them, when He could have just spoken the word and they would have been made. He then gave Adam and Eve dominion over all the earth and called them to act as His vice-regents in creation.
This is what being made in the likeness of God means for us today: God has created us unique—with certain attributes of His such as wisdom, love, justice, mercy, grace, power, etc., and He has ordained that we use these attributes of His to exercise dominion over the rest of creation. Remember, Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden to care for it and nurture it—this was the proper exercise of the image of God within them.
Not only was mankind made in the image of God, but Adam and Eve were made male and female, which brings me to my second point:
“2Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”
God clearly created two different sexes when He made Adam and Eve and He distinguished them with different physical characteristics, and also generally with different constitutions and mental and emotional characteristics (this is why nearly every child runs to ‘mom’ for comfort after being hurt, and desires for ‘dad’s’ approval when accomplishing a goal). No matter what the world may try to tell us today, as children of Adam and Eve, we are also made male and female—we are not one of a hundred different genders, and we cannot choose whether we are male or female. We are what God created us to be.
But notice, that, after creating them “male and female,” God called both Adam and Eve, “Man.” Both Adam and Eve equally shared God’s image and both Adam and Eve equally exercised dominion over creation. The same is true today: man and woman are equal in God’s eyes, which is why the Scripture tells us that “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We are given different roles, but by calling both male and female, “Man,” God was emphasizing the unity of the race. We are all children of Adam and Eve, and we may have two different compositions, but we are equal in God’s sight. Only by working together can men and women accomplish part of their charge from God: “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28), which brings me to my third point:
“3When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”
Just as Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, so they bore descendants who were then made in their image. Eventually, down through the ages, all of their descendants, including every one of us, still bears this image—the image of Adam and Eve, and, ultimately, the image of God. That is why every life is precious. Every person who is a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve bears this image of God. Whether they are an infant in the womb, or an elderly person suffering of a terminal illness, or a person with special needs, or someone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus: every person is special because they have been made in the image of God; every person has value because they bear the likeness of God.
This means that every person with whom you come in contact is precious in God’s sight. No wonder Jesus can say that “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40). So, during this time of isolation, let’s be intentional to care for the image of God in others. During this time when everyone seems to be hiding from each other, how can we ensure that our neighbors, our loved ones, our co-workers, and even our enemies know that we love them, because they are made in the image of God?
Maybe we could send a card to that co-worker that we no longer see every day. Maybe we could make a phone call to that church member that we missed seeing on Sunday. Maybe we could offer to do some shopping for our elderly neighbor. Maybe we could worry less about whether we are going to get sick, and focus more on trying to show others that we care for them and for their health because they are precious. After all, they are made in the image of God!