Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Relationship Restoration Project – the Creation of Man and Woman

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27, NIV

In Genesis 1, the creation of mankind is of special significance. First, the creation of mankind took place on the last day of the Creation, after which, God rested with a sense of accomplishment and satisfactory. Second, more significantly, mankind is the only creature that is said to be made in God’s own image. What distinguishes mankind from all other creatures is the image of God, which gives mankind the dominion over all other creatures. However, since God is spirit, He is immaterial and invisible. This implies that it is in human spirit that we will find the image of God, rather than in our physical body or appearance.

Further, as I have previously mentioned, the triune God is a relational God, and therefore, to be in God’s likeness must mean that mankind is made to relate, and to relate properly. This is evident by the first job which God assigned the adam. After having given the dominion over plants and animals to the adam, God placed him in Eden, a garden in which abundant natural lives were nurtured. In Genesis 2:15, based on the original use of the Hebrew words, the adam was placed in the Garden of Eden “to serve” and “to guard” her. Dominance was supposed to be practiced in a manner of servitude – for God’s sake. As much as mankind is given the dominion over the rest of the creation, he should know that he is, after all, not God.

Up to this point, the adam was alone. The relational God in eternal triune community judged that it is not good for the adam to be alone, and was about to make him a suitable helper. The original Hebrew word in Genesis 2:18 for helper is ezer, and the word in other Old Testament usages is most often used to refer to God (Exodus 18:4, Deuteronomy 33:7, Psalm 33:20, etc.) or help from God (Psalm 20:2, Psalm 89:19, Psalm 121:1-2). Therefore, it is quite unlikely that the helper here is made to subordinate to the adam. Rather, in this context, it is probably better to understand the helper as help from God, who is to be a partner with the adam, and to share life and duty with him.

Though God has already had in mind what kind of a helper He was going to make the adam, He let the adam find his helper first from the animals through naming them. I believe that God did this so to make the adam realize that he belongs elsewhere. After this, in Genesis 2:20 Adam finally became the proper name for the adam. This is to distinguish him from the helper who was soon to be made, because the helper would also be an adam – a Hebrew word denotes mankind. This is of significance, because for the triune God, mankind belong in community with creatures of their own kind, more specifically, the ones who also bear the image of God.

After the creation of the ishshah, when Adam saw her for the first time, he uttered, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23, NASB). “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,” in ancient Hebrew’s understanding, seems to be an expression of a certain kind of relation, namely, kinship relation. In Genesis 29:14 Laban said to Jacob, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” (ESV). In 2 Samuel 5:1 all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.” In 2 Samuel 19:12 David spoke to the elders of Judah, “You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?”

Bone in its original Hebrew usage could also mean substance or self. Thus “you are my bone” may be rendered as “you are of my substance,” which literally means “we are as one and the same.” In addition, attention must be paid to the way the ishshah was created. She was not made of another pile of dust, but she was made out of Adam – a piece of bone or flesh from the side of Adam. This seems to be an imagery signifying the closeness between Adam and the ishshah. And it is for this closeness that the adam “shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become ONE FLESH” (Genesis 2:24, emphasis added); and thus the beginning of a new kinship.

In summary, what makes the creation of mankind significant, other than the order the event took place, is that mankind was made in the image of God. Being made in the image of God is the basis of mankind’s special relation with God, which is what sets mankind apart from the rest of the creation, and gives mankind the dominion over other creatures. As a nature of the triune Godhead, in which the three Persons of the same substance share the eternal loving community, He created mankind to have fellowship with their Creator, as well as their fellow image bearers of God. Despite their physical differences, the first man and woman were made to share in an intimate community as one, just like that of the triune community. Before the Fall, mankind related perfectly with their Creator, with each other, and with the rest of the creation, because they were made in God’s likeness.

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