For the week of October 21, 2006 / 29 Tishri 5767
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 1:1 - 6:8
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 20:18-42
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Bereshit / Genesis 1:26)
I am so grateful for the Scriptures, for they are God's revelation to us. In the over thirty years in which I have been studying God's written Word, again and again I am confronted by its life-changing insight as it challenges my own way of thinking about life, about God, about others, and about myself.
It is so important to have a right understanding about ourselves. If we don't know who we are and what our God-given place in the universe is, all the correct thinking about other things, including God himself, will never be effectively applied in our lives. It's like a pitcher of water and a glass. We could know everything about the pitcher and the water. We can ensure that the pitcher is sound and the water is pure, but ignorance of the purpose of the glass will prevent it from receiving the water, which would then prevent it from ever providing refreshment to anyone. In the same way, if we only focus on knowing God without also understanding our place and purpose in life, we will never live effective lives.
I am aware of the other extreme of focusing solely on ourselves, but to do so actually demonstrates how little we know about who we truly are. We will not discover who we are apart from also knowing the One who created us. Yet at the same time, to know God requires our having a right understanding of ourselves, which is something the Scriptures do reveal.
In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, we learn that we are made in God's image. This is in contrast to the other creatures who were made in their own likeness. Men and women possess the imprint of God unlike anything else in God's creation. We are not the result of a natural, meaningless process. The animal world is not our family. Apes are not our cousins. We are the special creation of God. We have been fashioned by him to reflect his person and character.
Bearing God's image makes all people sacred. Whether or not we acknowledge God's existence, whether or not we live godly lives, each and every human being is in some way a reflection of our Creator.
It is through people that God is made known on Earth. It is through people that God's will is done on Earth. It is through people that God's power, his wisdom, his truth, and his goodness are revealed and experienced.
As the early chapters of the Bible unfold, we read how the introduction of sin into the human story perverts who we really are. From that point on, we become like royalty living lives of abject poverty. The image of God, though never eradicated is marred. While still reflecting God and his glory, that reflection is warped. Due to our first parents' disobedience, we come into the world groping about as if stricken with spiritual amnesia, having lost any sense of our true identity and place in the universe.
This is why the Messiah came into the world. While our rebellion against God rightfully leads to his rejecting us, his love for his special creatures could not be constrained. His love, greater than his anger, led him to send the Deliverer.
It is in keeping with God's original purpose for the human race that the Deliverer became a human being - One who would truly reflect God in the way we were designed to do. By becoming a man, Yeshua restores God's image in us, so that we can fulfill God's purpose through us.
Our worth, our perspective on life, the way we look at others, how we treat ourselves, the basis for anything we do begin with knowing that none of us came into the world by accident. Every human being is of great value, is essential, and should be treated with the utmost care and respect, because we bear the image of God.
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