Chapter 1, Part 1
The Kingdom is God's Purpose in Creating Man
The Scripture tells us that after God had created everything on earth. God said."Let Us make man in Our image,according to Our likeness; and let them rule..." (Gen. 1:26) This verse tells us two things. First,how God created man.Secondly, why He created man. First of all, this verse tells us that there is a difference between how God created man and how God created everything else. When God created everything else,"He spoke and it was done;He commanded and it stood fast." (Pss. 33:9) "For He commanded and they were created." (Pss. 148:5) But when He created man, it was not so. The Triune God first deliberated among themselves, then the likeness was selected and then the creation of man was declared. These complicated procedures were necessary not only because man is the climax of His creation,but also because man can accomplish His purpose of creation.The procedures are discussed in the following.
A. The Deliberation of the Triune God
In the verse "Let Us make man according ...” the verbs 'Let' and ‘make’ express a 'will'. In the Chinese translation, the verb 'want' is used in place of 'let'. ("We want to make man according...") Therefore, the verse tells us that for a particular reason, the Triune God held a conference to discuss the necessity of creating man. As for the pronoun "Us", it clearly refers to the Triune God. However, many Bible scholars have raised up arguments and they are really fretting over nothing. Some claim that the plural form is a 'plural of majesty' because the Hebrew word Elohim has a plural suffix. (While the Hebrew word form for God is plural, the meaning is singular.) Some claim that God was speaking to the attending angels. While it is true that the Scriptures have records of conversations between God and the angels, the angels were never allowed to partake in the act of creation! Some claim that kings address themselves in the plural number because Middle East rulers often proclaim themselves in this fashion in their royal decrees. However, Martin Luther scoffed at them as nonsense! Some claim that it was an 'editorial we' and consequently there is no need for the actual presence of more than one person. However, the New Testament clearly states that man was made "in the likeness (singular) of God" (James 3:9). Also, man "is the image (singular) and glory of God" (1 Cor. 11:7). Therefore, both the Old and the New Testaments bear witness that man is created in the likeness and image of one person in God. Which One is it?
B. The Decision of the Triune God
"let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" is a decision by the Triune God. The interpretation of "image" and "lik:eness" is as complicated as the interpretation of "Us". Many Bible scholars cite the verse "the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph. 4:24) to explain the meaning of lik:eness.They say that '1ikeness" and '"Image" is the "righteousness and holiness of the truth" of God. However, they do not realize that such an interpretation would create the following theological problems:
(1) The Truth Is Belittled
A careful reading of Ephesians 4:24 reveals that the word "likeness" is inserted by the translator of the Chinese text and is not found in the original text. The correct translation should read: ''The new self is made like God." This is decidedly different from the likeness and image according to which Adam and Eve were made! How can we establish theological conclusions based on a word which is not found in the original Scriptures? Furthermore, "righteousness and holiness of the truth" should be God's nature (2 Pet. 1:4). This nature did not come about by creation but by being a new creation in Christ. When Adam was made, he was perfect as far as the human side is concerned. But internally, he did not have "righteousness and holiness of the truth" because he had not eaten the fruit of the tree of life. So, if he had not received God's life, how can he have "God's'' nature?
(2) Conflict In Salvation
If the proposal of these scholars that "once Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he lost the nature of God" is correct. where is the security of our salvation? If we do one thing that is forbidden, would we lose our salvation too?
What then is the meaning of '"Image" and "likeness"? The former was used in the Old Testament 17 times, all refer to the likeness in appearance. In the Chinese Bible,it has been translated as "shape", "image" and even "idol". The latter was used in the Old Testament 25 times with 75 percent referring to the likeness in external features and less than 25 percent can be grudgingly taken to mean internal likeness. In other words. when God made Adam. Adam's external form was in accordance to the external form of the Son Jesus before the incarnation. Some will disagree with this explanation but the author would rather follow the grammar of the original language of the Scriptures. Of course, some may ask, does the Scriptures not tell us that "God is Spirif'? How can a spirit have a form? It is quite correct that God is spirit but at the same time He is the Triune Godl So.what is "triune"?
While I cannot accept Karl Barth's position on the Scriptures. some of his views are quite unique. The explanation he proposed on the Trinity is without equal! To him, God the Father is the "Revealer". The Lord Jesus Christ is the "Revelation". The Holy Spirit is the "Revealed" One who turns the (objective) revelation in Jesus Christ into our (subjective) knowledge. So, according to Barth's interpretation, Christ is the "revelation", then He must have an image from the days of old unto eternity. This image was manifested to Abraham, Moses, Joshua and the Judges. Adam and Eve were created according to that image. Hallelujah!
Some might ask, "Is the original image of the Son like us, so ugly?" No! The author firmly believes that when Adam and Eve were created, they were quite handsome because the Scriptures say, "God saw all that He had made, and behold,it was very good." The word "good" has the meaning of "beautiful" in the original language. The word "beautiful" used in the description of Rebecca and Moses is the same word "good" in the original language. In fact, the entire earth at that time was very beautiful, so when the morning stars saw it, they sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy! (Job 38:4-7) The reason why mankind and the earth are so ugly today is that they have been damaged by sin. It is no wonder that when the gracious Lord comes again for the consummation of salvation, He will "transform our body of our humble state (note the word 'body') into conformity with the body of His glory" (Phil. 3:21).
C. The Declaration of the Triune God
When God created man, He declared, "Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over birds of the sky..." that is, God desires mankind to rule over everything He created. Since these words were spoken to the people in the Old Testament, God has to describe His desire to them in a way which they can understand, so He used the environment in which they lived. When it came to the New Testament, He even stated more plainly that He desires us to rule over all the earth, as the Scriptures have recorded: He "has put all things under His feet...", indicating that there is nothing left that is not subject to Him. Thank God! Mankind was created because of His need-desires man to rule over all that is His! Unfortunately,the church in the last days fails to see this glorious hope. Instead, she thinks that God created man is just to allow them to go to heaven after they die and sing "Hallelujah"!
Here, some may not be able to believe that God's declaration can become reality. They feel that it is impossible or too mysterious! Such doubt arises because of a lack in understanding the almighty power of God. Please remember that our God is "the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God". What He said will come true. It will happen. No one can negate Him! Although some events have been postponed because of the foolishness and unbelief of the evil hearts. It may take longer period for those events to be realized. But all that He desired will definitely come to pass. He desires that man would rule over all His creation and one day, those whom He has redeemed and chosen will reign with Christ over this universe. We can look forward to that day. Amen. Oh come, Lord Jesus, come!