In the beginning – the image bearers

Genesis 1

26Then 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 heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

***


The image bearers. Here we have something different – something that can no longer be called ‘something’ but ‘someone’. Let us make man.

Both male and female constitute this image, together reflecting the likeness of God himself. This is a high view of humanity; made with the same raw materials as the other created beings, but given the pattern of God within them. A God of relationship.

And God blessed them. The power of blessing, so strong in the Genesis narratives is here,right at the beginning, performed by God himself. God is the one who blesses, the source of all blessing, where blessing begins.

The image bearers are special and they are blessed.

The image bearers have responsibility.They too are told to be fruitful and multiply, their life begetting life, potential ‘someones’ still to come. They are also told to have ‘dominion’ over every other living thing (with the breath of life – breath so powerfully associated with what it means to be alive).

We can think of dominion very negatively, and misuse the idea, making it about heavy handed unpleasantness, an abuse of authority, an imposition. But these are the image bearers, and it is God whose image they carry, the God who formed the earth and saw that it was good. If the humans are to truly reflect his image, they will care for the earth with the same care and concern as its creator. They are the appointed stewards, caretakers of the earth. They are not just part of the cycle of the living, they carry a special responsibility for it. They are given this responsibility. Their position in creation is a gift.

They are filled with potential.

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4 thoughts on “In the beginning – the image bearers

  1. I've come across a few suggestions for this — a kind of self summons, or summons to the spirit/wind of God who is hovering over the deep in verse 2- plural of majesty i.e. the royal 'we'- language reflecting the cultural idea of the 'celestial court', such as depicted in Job 1-2, the 'great assembly' mentioned in some of the Psalms, and mentions of 'sons of God' and 'heavenly beings' i.e. angels – seen through a New Testament lens, God as community in himself i.e. Trinity (although unlikely to be original author's intent – but that's true of a lot of OT passages later understood to be talking at least in part about Jesus).I'm undecided although I like to know my options! Some might say it is a reflection of a polytheistic culture – with many gods/goddesses, but since this passage is so strongly against that in other ways (e.g. the placing of sun and moon) I don't find that very convincing at all.What it does do is announce something different – 'come let us make' is not spoken of any other parts of creation.(In the tower of Babel story in Genesis 11 we hear the same sort of thing 'come let us go down' – although this mirrors the previous 'come let us build ourselves a city' uttered by the humans – no doubt I'll mention that in the relevant post!See also Isaiah 6 – when Yahweh says 'whom shall I send, and who will go for us?')Sorry for such a wordy response!!

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