Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Made in God's Image?

Well, Mike (another poster at a froum I frequent) and I are at it again. This time on the topic of Gods image. In Genesis 1:26 (NASB) We read this 26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

The topic of disagreement revolves around exactly what image is being spoken of here. Many believe it is not a physical trait (arms and legs etc.) but has to do more with free will, an ability to love and show compassion etc. However the word used there is "Tselem" in the Hebrew and conveys the idea of something physical and something that can be seen. We are forbidden to make any "Image or Tselem" of anything on the earth or in heaven or under the heaven for the purpose of worship. An image of love cannot be made nor can we make an image of the ability to show mercy or compassion. They are intangible traits. So the word the Holy Spirit choose must have a different meaning here.

To make the topic more difficult, the Holy Spirit also chose the word "Demuth" translated here as likeness, which literally means a form or a pattern of something. Both word convey a physical representation of another thing and not its character.

When the Alexandrian scholars and scribes undertook to translate the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint or LXX) when they came to this word "Tselem" used the Greek word "eikon" it refers to a coin stamped from a master die. The coin is an exact representation of the die it is stamped from. Again something that can be seen and examined. When they came to the word translated likeness, they used "charakter" where we obviously get our word character from, and it literally means a tool of engraving, a stamp or to impress a likeness as a coin or seal.
Now please do not read into what I am saying here. I am not saying that God looks just like us with hands and feet, but the word the Holy Spirit chose implies something that could be seen and examined. When Daniel wrote in chapter seven (7) that he says the Ancient of Days, what did he see? A spirit with no form or something he could both see and recognize? It is difficult to imagine God sitting on a throne without the physical parts that make sitting possible. God covered Moses with His hand to protect him as He passed is also something to consider here.

We may find the words of scripture difficult but this does not allow us to change what they actually mean and meant to those who they were delivered to. Rather then strike out, better we try to understand what the Spirit is saying. So what do you think?


  1. Elder John,

    The problem both of you are having is the fact that you are separating the two words and trying to break them down individually. It is a phrase used in Judaism, Tselem Demuth. It means to show a resemblance as in a parable.

    In the simplest of translation, it means that when G-d enters into this time-space, he is represented as body, mind and spirit. In that sense, then we were created in his resemblance, body, mind and spirit.

    If we were created in his exact image, then we would be enjoying a multi-dimensional body as Yeshua did in his resurection body. The kind that we will have in the kingdom.

    No Doubt

  2. I appreciate your remarks and I agree for the most part. But let me bounce this off you. Were we created in this likeness we see in Jesus but have not yet achieved it but will at our glorification. Think of David, anointed as King of Israel but not yet ascended to the throne because Saul was still alive.

    This situation did not make David any less the king, but the time and circumstances had not yet gotten to Gods will and purpose? In other words we were created as such but have yet to ascend to that position


  3. "Were we created in this likeness we see in Jesus but have not yet achieved it but will at our glorification?"

    Yes. However, I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with the "but have not yet achieved it" part. Could you elaborate? I can be dense sometimes.

    I believe the only way to achieved it is through our faith in the fact that the Messiah is the one and only legitimate sacrificial lamb of G-d. Resting comfortably in this fact throughout our lives, no matter how many times we falter, is the only way to "our glorification".

    As a really off to the side note, I have often wondered if Adam and Eve was created in the true image of G-d and they lost it when they fell. I know that's not quite the spirit of your question. Does that sound weird?

    Keith (No Doubt)

  4. I believe your side point may be more to the point then you realize. I do not think we are fully aware of all that may have been lost in the fall beside fellowship and the condemnation of death. We did gain a knowledge of good and evil we did not have previously

    I believe we were made to be more like God then we were prior to coming to Messiah. That fall (our sin) robbed us of more then mere fellowship with God.

    Think of a two story building. The shell is our physical body, the first floor is our soul. that which seeks personal pleasure. The second floor is our Spirit of life, that which seeks out and longs for being in the presence of God. At the fall this building collapsed upon itself and the spirit and soul became rubbled together, so that we cannot always determine what is personal pleasure seeking and what it is God wants us to seek. This was our stae before coming to Messiah. at that point we died to self, that pleasure seeking part and a new and living creature (a restored soul) was resurrected to seek and serve the creator.

    Some seem to think that spiritual means without form whatsoever. I am not sure this is accurate or can be proven from the scriptures. Jesus in His glorified body had a form Peter saw and recognized. John saw mryiads of martyred souls in heaven who had shed their corporal bodies and yet still had recognizable forms. Just a thought


  5. And a good thought at that. :-)

    This will be one of the questions we get to ask G-d and there are so many.

    Shalom Aleichem, my brother.

  6. I am thankful that our future with God will be eternal. it will take that long for all my questions ;)

    and Shalom Aleichem to you as well