Tag Archives: image of God

Heavenly Beings

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5 ESV)

Here is a mystery. Of the innumerable mysteries found in Scripture there are some that scream at us, capturing our attention while others lie hidden among God’s revelation about Himself. Here is a mystery. Who are the heavenly beingsmentioned in this verse? In the Hebrew the phrase is min ĕlôhı̂ym, or out of gods. ĕlôhı̂ym is the word used for God and for gods. The implication is that God is surrounded by gods. These gods are not the Only God but are servants of the only God. Translators have made this word, angels. The ESV uses the term heavenly beings. We are not told who they are but that they are.

God, speaking through David, states two specific truths about Jesus, the Son of God, in this verse. David asserts that Jesus was, in power and authority, set below these heavenly beings and then crowned with glory and honor, or raised above them. Jesus is God, the Son. How can He first be made lower than those beings He created and then raised above them?

Jesus, after opening the eyes of a blind man, declares that He is one with the Father (see John 10:30). The Jews who heard Him, believing that Jesus just blasphemed, making Himself equal with God, picked up stones to stone Him. They were ready to immediately kill Jesus because He saw Himself as an equal to God that, in their thinking, was impossible and unforgiveable.  

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be broken — do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (John 10:34-36 ESV; quoting from Psalm 82:6-7.)

Psalm 82 uses the word ĕlôhı̂ym a number of times to describe both God and the gods. In eternity God surrounds Himself by a council of godsheavenly beings, whom He has created as His servants just as He created Man to serve Him. God is not the greater of the gods, but the eternal God who has no beginning, who has created beings who have beginnings. 

Speaking of people created in His image for intimate relationship with Him, God declares that some of them are separated from Him, the source of life, because of their rebellion. “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince’” (Psalm 82:6-7 ESV; see John 10:34-36). Just because God created a being as His servant, for relationship with Him, does not mean that being cannot be separated from Him for eternity because of rebellion.

Jesus declares that people, those created in God’s image, are like God. God is ĕlôhı̂ym, God. The heavenly beings are ĕlôhı̂ym, gods. People are ĕlôhı̂ym, gods. The word ĕlôhı̂ym, when used of the heavenly beings and of people, is not a name but a title, a position, a description. The implication of Jesus’ words, in John 10 and Psalm 82 and many other places, is that those created in God’s image, carry the privilege and responsibility of service to their Creator. Acting in rebellion with selfish, self-centered intent, instead of in obedience to God according to their very nature and essence, will result in their separation from Him.

God does not want those He has created in His image to exist separated from Him for eternity. This is true for people. We do not know if this is true for any who are created in God’s image who do not physically exist on planet Earth or physically exist in the created universe.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 ESV).

Son of Man

What is man that you are mindful of him, 
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

Who is the son of man? The Hebrew phrase is ben adam. Jesus used this phrase for Himself over 80 times in the Gospels. He shows how small and insignificant is man, and Himself in the form of a man, when some asked about following Him.

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

And Jesus said to him, ”Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:18-20 ESV; see also Luke 9:58)

There are two places in the Psalms where this phrase is used, Psalm 8:4 and Psalm 80:17. Ezekiel uses the phrase “Son of Man” almost 90 times to refer to himself and his prophetic office. Daniel uses the phrase twice, referring to future accomplished events that precede the end of time. Jesus, being the author of Scripture, uses the phrase to establish His place before God and the people He created in His image, as their authority.

Jesus, on numerous occasions, foretold the truth of His coming death and resurrection at the hands of men. God is mindful, which means to recall, remember and think upon and to record, of all humanity in rebellion against Him. The juxtaposition and comparison of those who rebel against God with the one blessed Man of Psalm 1:1, is stark. Only one Man has ever and will ever do righteousness inherent to His image.  All others are in rebellion against He who created them for Himself. Jesus came to redeem and recreate those who are His, fitting them for eternity. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV). He accomplished this by offering Himself as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus told His disciples plainly what was to happen and why He would suffer. 

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. (Matthew 17:22-23 ESV; see also Luke 9:22, Mark 9:31 and 10:33)

God sent the Son of Man, His Son, to reign over His creation.  Those created in the image of God, created for relationship yet rebelling against God, will ultimately acknowledge His authority and the truth of who Jesus is because of the evidence of His life. That evidence is His rule and reign. “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession’” (Psalm 2:7-8 ESV). Those who rebel against God will intimately and intellectually know Jesus is God’s Son once they have “lifted up the Son of Man” (John 8:28 ESV). Jesus redeemed those who are His by taking upon Himself the sin of the world when He shed His blood. He covered them with His blood giving His righteousness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).

Though all people deserve death and eternal separation from God because of sin and rebellion, God chose, because of His love, to remember people. He desires relationship with all people and has made a way for all to intimately know Him. Not all people take advantage of God’s grace and are separated from Him. God offered His grace to all in the most intimate way by sending His Son, who set aside all of the privilege and authority of the Godhead, for a moment in time, in the likeness of sinful man. Jesus was not sinful but took upon Himself the guise of the flesh while retaining that which makes God, God (see Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus is fully God and fully man, the way God intended man, which is as a servant not a rebel. He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man.

Man

What is man that you are mindful of him, 
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

Compared to the vastness of the universe, humanity is puny. Looking up into the night sky forces the writer of the Psalm to see himself as small and God as unimaginably huge. From a purely human point of view, Man does not even register on the scale when compared to the presence of God. But humanity does register on God’s scale, for God created Man in His image, giving people the natural ability to have a personal relationship with Him, the God of the universe. 

There are two words for man used in Psalm 8:4. The first word, man (enosh) means mortal, the individual person as well as the group as a whole. Man is collective and may refer to all of humanity. This word is first used in Genesis 6. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown” (Genesis 6:4 ESV). The second word man is the word adam, the name for the first man in Genesis 1. Adam means ruddy, and implies health and vitality. “What is man (enosh) that you are mindful of him, and the son of man (adam) that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

In Genesis 6:4, the sons of God and the daughters of man are the progeny of Adam and Eve, and all their descendants. The mighty men are the strong, powerful, brave men who were ruling the world. The sons of God are those mighty men, who sired mighty men. These men of renown are described as an individual or as a group. Why would God have any regard for those who are great in their own eyes and the eyes of the world but are puny and insignificant in the scheme of God’s universal design? They are created in the image of God which does give them stature in God’s design but does not make them as significant as their Creator.

There are few cultures that do not revere strong men. Such reverence enhances the strong persons conceit and self-importance. Strong men are proud of their accomplishments and superiority. Societies delight in those who are mighty. Lesser men are looked upon with disdain. Manly characteristics are defined by pride and strength and ability. Strength becomes more important than anything considered weak or meek. God is forgotten in the pride of a person’s strength, as are others created in the image of God who do not exhibit the same forceful character and traits. 

From Adam to Noah, as people wandered away from God, they saw themselves as mighty men and men of renown. Mighty men are warriors leaning toward tyranny, and giants, unafraid of anything. Men of renown are individuals who are remembered for their superhuman deeds, those whose reputations followed them, who became larger than life and were then mythologized. Perhaps they were viewed as bigger than any god. They were certainly viewed as blessed by a god.

Such people are not blessed by God, but are under His judgment. God describes such larger than life people as wicked in everything they do and are. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 ESV). Those who revere strength over the knowledge of God ultimately sink into wickedness. The thinking of their hearts, their whole person, mind, emotions and will, are corrupted by sin, unable to do anything for God. They cannot save themselves from God’s wrath with their own strength. They are evil and God grieved that He made them and allowed them to prosper and populate His world. 

All they need to do is look at the heavens, the work of God’s “fingers” and all of the things God has put in place to understand their puniness and insignificance. 

The Work of Your Fingers

When I look at your heavens, 
the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, 
which you have set in place (psalm 8:3 ESV)

God does not have fingers or toes. It was not until Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in the likeness of sinful man that any could say God had a body. He who eternally owns the essential character of God took upon Himself the outward appearance of a man with all of the inward characteristics which make a human, human. 

“Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV). 

Though the Psalmist, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is speaking about God, the Son, He is also exclaiming about the ultimate work of God in creation. That the Son of God introduced Himself into creation, taking on a corporeal body, does not lessen the fantastic nature of a Spiritual Being creating a physical universe. Assigning to God human characteristics allows us to poetically understand an inconceivable God.

When Moses performed miracles before Pharaoh and his magicians, they declared the miracles were from the finger of God. “The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Exodus 8:18-19 ESV). They understood, but Pharaoh did not. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He gave tablets of stone written by the finger of God. “And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18 ESV). Moses recognized that God had written His words. “And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly”  (Deut. 9:10 ESV).

Jesus cast a demon out of a man before a crowd of people. The man who had the demon was mute. Once the demon was gone, the man who was mute began to speak. People marveled at the miracles of Jesus. But, not everyone who saw what He did stood in awe. Some, mostly the Jewish religious leaders who hated Jesus, questioned Him and His ability to work miracles. In this instance they suggested Jesus was working under the power and at the direction of Satan. Jesus confronts their wrong thinking.

“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:17-20 ESV)

Artists, musicians, craftsmen, surgeons and others work, using their experience and skills, through their hands. When God created the heavens and the earth, His creation was perfect but not complete. God, created people in His image, giving them tools needed to grow in the intimate knowledge of Him and to shape the world into a beautiful garden. Hearts and minds working through the fingers, touching and molding, sculpting and creating, fixing and healing, make that which is good very good (Genesis 1:31). God works in His creation. He especially works in those who are His, preparing them for eternity. The finger of God is on everything and in every minute detail of our lives. Some have said that we are His greatest creation. If so, then everything about us that is fit for eternity is made so by God.

Your Heavens

“When I look at your heavens, 
the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, 
which you have set in place” (Psalm 8:3 ESV)

Who owns what you see when you look up into the night sky? That is an absurd question. Yet, humans are obsessed with ownership. We want to own because ownership gives control and security. Look at a political map of the world. How many countries are there? Some count 193 while others count over 200. Some places that recognize themselves as a nation are not recognized as a true nation by many other nations. There are physical places in the world where countries fight over ownership. But, does anyone fight over ownership of the Sun or Moon or any other star or planet?

God created everything. Does this not mean everything belongs to Him? In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in the universe and on the planet, He made Man in His image. He made Man with the ability to study creation so Man might know God, both intellectually and intimately by examining Creation.

It is arrogant to suggest and believe God does not own all that He created. Yet, sin has corrupted the thinking of everyone. God’s enemies, His foes, speak about Him in ways that reveal their complete misunderstanding of who He is. Their machinations and hatred for God do not affect Him and cannot change anything about Him. “You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16 ESV). 

People have intelligence and reasoning ability superior to animals, birds and fish. There is no other physically created being given the ability to intimately know God and thoroughly examine and understand His creation. Man has built equipment that can examine the heavens in the vast array of galaxies, solar systems, stars and planets. Man has built equipment that examines the smallest particles of matter. Yet, the heavens contain more than any one Man could ever know. Though we have seen the smallest particles there are things even smaller. God knows everything in the vast universe down to the hidden things only He can see and know. Still, even with these vast differences, Man, all people, can know God both intellectually and intimately.

But we do see. God gave man eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind to think. When Isaiah was commissioned as a prophet God told him what to expect from the people. He would speak and teach and rebuke and call to repentance, like every other prophet sent by God, but the people would not respond.

“Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10 ESV)

People refuse to see and hear God. Jesus raised Lazarus from death, witnessed by many people. The evidence was a man walking around who had been in a tomb four days. Yet, though the people, especially the Jewish religious leaders could see the evidence firsthand, God closed their eyes because they refused to know the truth of who Jesus is. 

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. (John 12:39-41 ESV)

God owns all of creation. Those created in His image have the unique ability to intellectually and intimately know Him. Does creation rebel against God? People do. Those who can know Him do not want to know Him. God wants us to know Him, making Himself knowable in all of His creation.

God’s Work

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place … (Psalm 8:3 ESV)

Everything in the universe is evidence of the work of God in creation. In the beginning of space and time, God created something out of nothing. God exists in eternity and surrounds the whole universe with His presence. Every galaxy, star and planet, right down to the atom and sub atomic, is known by God, created by Him and set in motion by Him. Since He created the universe and all it contains, the universe and all it contains belongs to Him and reveals truth about Him.

We, and the universe in which we exist, are the work of God. Work means the complete process of conceiving and accomplishing, by intentional design, the finished product and all it contains. God’s hand is in everything. God began His work on the first day of creation and finishes it on the sixth. God has not yet finished working. He continues to create because it is His nature to create. Jesus declares, after healing a man and being rebuked by the religious leaders for working on the Sabbath, that God continues to work. “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17 ESV). Jesus healing those created in His image is part of the process necessary to complete creation.

Having created people in His image to intimately know Him, God set the visible and invisible universe in place for us to study so we might intellectually know Him even better. Yet, sin and idolatry draw people away from God, the only Creator. We are drawn toward God by His image and repelled from Him by sin. We want God without the relationship. We want to know about the universe in which we live without knowing the God who created the universe to His specifications and requirements.

“And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19 ESV).

Every person created by God is given His image so they might know Him both intellectually and intimately. To look at God’s work in the heavens means to carefully examine, to inspect and consider. It does not mean to see something and then promptly forget until the next time it is seen. God wants us to carefully examine His work to continually be aware of Him. The evidence of His working is prominently displayed in the environment in which we live and exist. He also wants us to thoroughly examine and understand His Word, for in His Word He reveals Himself in ways we could not otherwise know.

Yet, people ignore God and the evidence He has given in creation and in His Word. Aware for a moment of what is there, the grandeur and splendor of God is lost in the self-centered, selfish musings of the individual. Deep in our souls we acknowledge God but only momentary and superficially. We do not acknowledge anything God has done. Even self-proclaimed Christians tend to disallow the impact of creation and His Word on their lives. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24 ESV). 

God continually works until He declares He is finished. God continually reveals Himself in His work. In eternity, all will know Him and what He has done. Those whom God has declared righteous will enter His presence. Those who ignore God and what He has done will be separated from Him. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46 ESV).

Children

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, 
you have established strength because of your foes, 
to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2 ESV)

Children are the greatest of sinners. They are selfish, self-centered and self-absorbed. When the disciples argued amongst themselves, debating which of them was the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus does not place Himself first. Nor does He choose one of the disciples. Instead He gathers a child to Himself and tells them, and all who are integral to His Body, that a child is the greatest. Then Jesus gives a dire warning to anyone who would teach a child to sin.

   At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 
   And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:1-6 ESV)

Jesus tells us that children are naturally, because of the image of God in them, drawn toward God. It is the child who is unencumbered by the sin taught and encouraged by the world.  Children have a sin nature. But children also have the image of God that is stronger than their sin nature. Sin entices and whispers and lies and cajoles, persuading the child as he or she grows to embrace rebellion against God. Jesus demands those who follow Him to humble themselves like the child, which means to not lift up self higher than they are. Those who are humble are those who understand their place before God and that the world wants to elevate self above God.

Until they are taught otherwise, children speak truthfully. There are always exceptions to this rule, because of the hideous strength of sin to move the thinking of the heart away from God and toward self. But children know when something is unfair, according to what they have been taught. Children recognize hypocrisy. Jesus has harsh words for hypocrites. 

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV).

hypocrite is an actor, one who pretends to be something they are not. In the garden the Deceiver, taking the guise of a serpent, pretended to have wisdom. He suggested God was unwilling to share this wisdom with Eve. All of the kings of Israel pretended to be religious leaders yet worshipped idols. The religious rulers and leaders who confronted Jesus pretended to intimately know God. Jesus called them hypocrites. Truth silences hypocrisy. Yet, the one speaking the truth must first recognize truth. Specifically, they must recognize the truth of sin and of righteousness. While children may not recognize sin, they know when something they see and hear is not true and are unafraid to speak the truth, until they are trained to be silent and accept the lie as the truth.

How then, do we live as children while embracing spiritual maturity? God is the One who delivers and strengthens. Moses recognized this after being delivered from Pharaoh. “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:2 ESV)