Genesis 1:26, 27
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…
Take it -
I. As a revelation of God in his relation to man.
II. As a revelation of man to himself.
I. GOD IN RELATION TO MAN.
1. As the Father as well as Creator. As to the rest of creation, it is said, "Let be," and "it was." As to many "Let us make in our image." Closely kin by original nature, man is invited to intercourse with the Divine.
2. The spirituality of God's highest creature is the bond of union and fellowship. The languages "Let us make," suggests the conception of a heavenly council or conference preparatory to the creation of man; and the new description of the being to be created points to the introduction of a new order of life the spiritual life, as above the vegetable and animal.
3. God entrusts dominion and authority to man in the earth. Man holds from the first the position of a vicegerent for God. There is trust, obedience, responsibility, recognition of Divine supremacy, therefore all the essential elements of religion, in the original constitution and appointment of our nature and position among the creatures.
4. The ultimate destiny of man is included in the account of his beginning. He who made him in his image, "one of us," will call him upward to be among the super-earthly beings surrounding the throne of the Highest. The possession of a Divine image is the pledge of eternal approximation to the Divine presence. The Father calls the children about himself.
II. MAN REVEALED TO HIMSELF. "The image and likeness of God." What does that contain? There is the ideal humanity.
1. There is an affinity in the intellectual nature between the human and the Divine. In every rational being, though feeble in amount of mental capacity, there is a sense of eternal necessary truth. On some lines the creature and the Creator think under the same laws of thought, though the distance be immeasurable.
2. Man's by original creation absolutely free from moral taint. He is therefore a fallen being in so far as he is a morally imperfect being. He was made like God in purity, innocence, goodness.
3. The resemblance must be in spirit as well as in intellect and moral nature. Man was made to be the companion of God and angels, therefore there is in his earthly existence a superearthly, spiritual nature which must be ultimately revealed.
4. Place and vocation are assigned to man on earth, and that in immediate connection with his likeness to God. He is ruler here that he may be prepared for higher rule elsewhere. He is put in his rank among God's creatures that he may see himself on the ascent to God. Man belongs to two worlds. He is like God, and yet he is male and female, like the lower animals, lie is blessed as other creatures with productive power to fill the earth, but he is blessed for the sake of his special vocation, to subdue the earth, not for himself, but for God.
5. Here is the end of all our endeavor and desire - to be perfect men by being like God. Let us be thankful that there is a God-man in whom we are able to find our ideal realized. We grow up into him who is our Head. We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. When all things are put under him, man will see the original perfection of his creation restored.
6. Man is taught that he need not leave the earthly sphere to be like God. There has been a grand preparation of his habitation. From a mere chaotic mass the earth has by progressive stages reached a state when it can become the scene of a great moral experiment for man's instruction. The god-like is to rule over all other creatures, that he may learn the superiority of the spiritual. Heavenly life, communion, society, and all that is included in the fellowship of man with God, may be developed in the condition of earth. Grievous error in early Church and Eastern philosophy - confusion of the material and evil. Purity does not require an immaterial mode of existence. Perfection of man is perfection of his dominion over earthly conditions, matter in subjection to spirit. Abnormal methods, asceticism, self-crucifixion, mere violence to original constitution of man. The "second Adam" overcame the world not by forsaking it, but by being in it, and yet not of it.
7. God's commandments to man are commandments of Fatherly love. "Behold, I have given you," &c. He not only appoints the service, but he provides the sustenance. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. Here is the union of creative power and providential goodness. We are blessed in an earthly life just as we take it from the hand of God as a trust to be fulfilled for him. And in that obedience and dependence we shall best be able to reach the ideal humanity. The fallen world has been degrading man, physically, morally, spiritually; he has been less and less what God made him to be. But he who has come to restore the kingdom of God has come to uplift man and fill the earth with blessedness. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
WEB: God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."