Part 4 ~ What is Man?
What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8:4
In the beginning,everything that God createdbesides man was spoken into existence using the third person, which reflected God’s separation and distinctness from the created order. He said, “Let there be… (light, sky, water, stars, plants and animals)” and there was. The creation account is also careful to describe everything that God created as being brought forth “after their (or its) kind.” However, when God created man, the language shifts from third person to first person. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,” (Genesis 1:26). This implies personal attention and intimacy.
God used the words, “in Our image, according to Our likeness” instead of “after their kind” as He did when creating the other living beings. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” God was hands-on when making and fashioning man. He breathed His own breath of life into man. Think of it: All that is on the inside of God the Father was breathed into man. God breathed His Spirit, nature and life into man, and man became a living being! Wow! His very breath became our breath that brought us life! In just these two images alone, the Lord shows us that from the very beginning, man was completely different and more superior to any other created being. Man was created for relationship. He alone was set apart and blessed with an intimacy not experienced by another creature.
Man is not merely different from any other created being; he is also like his Creator. To be made in His own image, as God said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:27), is to be a representation of the Father, a copy or counterpart that reflects His original likeness. The Hebrew word selem, which means “image” in this passage, also means a model or statue, even an idol. “According to Our likeness” suggests a concrete model or resemblance of Him. The word demût, which means likeness in this passage, means a pattern, shape and form taken directly from the original.
Jesus illustrated this point in Matthew 22:19-21 when He was questioned about paying the poll-tax.
“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness (eikon)and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:19-21 (parenthesis added)
An eikon is an image or sign that by its very form suggests its meaning. The image or eikonthat was imprinted on the coin was that of Caesar. God obviously doesn’t have a coin. He has us, humanity, and His image is imprinted on us. The Pharisees knew the creation account of Genesis 1 and how man is made in God’s image. What bears His image belongs to Him. So, man is the only created being to model God in form as well as function. Think about that!
No other creature was made this way except man. We see similar language used of Jesus in Colossians 1:15 where Jesus is said to be in “the image of God” and “the firstborn of all creation.” Interestingly, the same Greek word eikon is used in both the Genesis and the Colossians passages. This Greek word, eikon, is where we get the word icon or image, which we know is an exact replica of the thing it represents. Jesus is the eikon of God and so is man—you and I. Hmm…, when we learn that we are made in God, the Creator of the universe’s image, it adds to our understanding of the high place we have in His eyes compared to the rest of creation.
Excerpt from my latest book; “Now Who Are You?”