Being in the image of God is not physical, leaving the spiritual aspect
Q. What does it mean in Gen 1.27 when it says that man was made in the image of God?
A. Gen 1.27 says “So God made man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Now, there is much to be said about this verse, so let’s rule out a few things first.
He is not talking about the physical because he is Spirit. He doesn’t have flesh and blood or even looks like us.
The Bible uses terminology that says God has hands and feet, a mouth and so on but that is so we can understand him better.
Being in the image of God is not physical so that leaves the spiritual and we are going to concentrate on that aspect. Unity is an important subject in the Scriptures.
When God created the heavens and the earth, including man, everything was in union with God but that is not the state the creation is in right now. This union is what the redemption is all about and it will be brought about as the Kingdom progresses.
Until that time, those who follow God are to work towards what is called the “tikkun olam” or the repairing of the world. This includes bringing peace and healing into the lives of people. This is a very difficult task today because many have their own ideas about God and the truth, but we are to strive to bring the truth, thus unity, where possible.
The mitzvot, or commandments of God as given in the Torah are structured to bring about “tikkun” (repair) in both the physical and spiritual levels.
Things like divorce go against the concept of tikkun therefore it is not the will of God except that he permitted it because of the hardness of people’s hearts (Mt19.8) but from the beginning it was not so, or his intention.
Even God himself divorced himself from Israel and Judah.
But, that brings up the question that if divorce is wrong in the sight of the Lord, why did he allow it? It’s Scripture and a part of his revelation to us. Someone could say, why did God allow for multiple wives? Why did he allow slavery? Why did he allow for war? We are going to be confronted by some very interesting things here.
Although the Scriptures does not speak in favor of divorce, polygamy, slavery or war it does set up “rules” for how to deal with such issues.
When God created the universe and man, it was in a perfect state but sin entered the world and this brought disunity in every area. The Torah was given because of sin. It identifies the problem and the sin situation that has been in effect since that time.
God knows that man is going to sin and if there is a right way or a wrong way to do something, we tend to look at the wrong way a long time. The commandments of God, on a most basic level, help keep man “in the corral” so he doesn’t go too far from God’s ways. God understands that we are weak and knows that an outright “no” can stir up our desires and Paul talks about this in Romans 7.
As a result, the Torah commands regulating certain issues like divorce, polygamy, slavery and war. As one studies deeper into the things of God, the Scriptures will show that although God allows certain things they do not represent his perfect character.
One of the things that Messiah is doing and will do is to reveal the deeper meanings of his Word so that man can better conform themselves to the image of God, his character, and work with him towards “tikkun olam” or the reparing of the world.
There is a biblical term for working towards this “repair” and it is called “halachah” which means to walk in God’s ways. Let me give you a small example of this “repair” in the life of Paul.
In Acts 21 he is coming to Jerusalem to keep a festival and he was going to give alms and sacrifices (Acts 24.17).
A rumor was being circulated that Paul was teaching people to forsake Moses (Acts 21.21) and of course Paul denied this to James, the “nasi” or president of the sect called the “the Way” (to walk=halachah).
So James asked Paul to pay the expenses for the animal sacrifices of four other believers so that “all will know that there is nothing to the things which have been said about you, but that you yourself also walk (halachah) orderly, keeping the Torah” (Acts 21.24). You see, walking orderly in the things of God brought unity to the believers but it stirred up Satan, whose job is to bring disunity, and he stirred up those opposed to walking orderly in the things of God and they arrested Paul.
And that brings up another subject, but we will continue with that next week as we talk about the nature and tactics of Satan in his opposition to God’s unity and the “tikkun olam,” the reparing of the world and being made in the image of God.