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In His Image
Part 1 of 8 Articles

From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion's Fire Magazine in March/April, 1995

“And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26-27).

The climactic, crowning act of God in creation was the creation of man. Created last in time, he was first in importance. To man was given the divine right to be king of the earth. He was to have dominion – to give names to the animal creation – to rule and reign.

From among all of creation, only Adam and Eve were fashioned in the image and likeness of God. That is, they possessed mind, heart, and will – intellectual capability, emotional capability, and volitional capability. Adam and Eve could think God’s thoughts after Him, respond to God’s love, and do God’s bidding. The potential for an intimate, satisfying, eternal relationship with God, the Potter, was fashioned into the bosom of man, the clay. He was created to proclaim with his mouth and demonstrate with his life the intrinsic, eternal perfections of God and to enjoy Him forever.

It is in that solitary fact that man is set apart from and infinitely higher than the animal creation. It is that same fact which gives to mankind its dignity, nobility, and worth. Animals can think, feel, and do. Like man, they possess intellectual, emotional, and volitional capability, but that capability can only be exercised with great limitation horizontally toward the finite world. It cannot be exercised vertically toward the infinite God.

Since mankind was created with the potential for a perfect and eternal relationship with God, the worth and dignity of man can only be understood to the degree that the greatness of God is comprehended. The psalmist said: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.“ (Psalm 33:6-9).

Put negatively, if God is relegated to the position of being an opiate for the masses, if belief in a Creator is scoffed at as being the result of blind, unreasonable, and unreasoning faith, if man is simply the product of billions of years of evolution beginning with some unknown gases or primeval slime and mud, then man is not to be significantly distinguished from the animal world from which he supposedly sprang, and life loses purpose and worth.

So why not war? What’s a few hundred million lives, more or less, in this overpopulated world of more than five billion? Let the bombs fall! And why not drugs? How important is it that a mind is blown and a body ruined? And why not a physical crime? What’s the big deal if a man is killed or a woman violated? And why not a permissive society? After all, if there is no eternal God, surely there are no eternal principles of morality. And why not corrupt government and self-seeking politicians, many of whose primary concern is to perpetuate their power and longevity? Never mind that millions of people are “ripped off.“ And why not a terminated pregnancy? Who’s really hurt if an unwanted child is never born? If man is not to be distinguished from animal, why not live like the animal?

And that’s right where twentieth-century man is. He’s lost his way, and life is dirt cheap. He’s like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and unless man realizes that he was created in the image of God, that he is an everlasting being, that he is accountable to his Creator, he will continue to sail his broken craft on a sea of despair and hopelessness, often unwilling to admit that he has no map or compass for the journey. His heart will continue to itch, but he won’t know how to scratch it.

And the enormity of man’s need is only heightened by the reality that a sure remedy is available – available to all – free of charge, his for the reaching out and taking. But, with limited exceptions, most people refuse to break the chains of pride that bind them and acknowledge accountability to a higher Being. In the words of a popular song, they go through life singing “I did it, my way!“ without giving thought to the fact that if God should withhold the ability to breathe for a few minutes, they would fall flat on their faces – dead!

But, make no mistake about it, humanity’s dilemma is of its own making. Mankind is not a super-sophisticated computer that can only print out what was programmed in. Having created man in His own image with the ability to choose, God gave man a choice. Fruit from the one tree in the midst of the garden – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – was not to be eaten. Disobedience would bring death. To the first man and woman God said:

Do you understand with your mind? – Don’t eat.

Can you feel with your heart? – Don’t eat.

Will you obey with your will? – Don’t eat.

Adam and Eve chose to eat, and as the federal head and therefore official representative of humanity, they brought sin into the world. And, with sin came its inseparable companions of decay, weeds, pollution, disease, corruption, and death.

Every crushed heart, every broken body, every disturbed mind – the collective tears of the human race – can trace their roots back to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And, with that sin, a chasm separated a God whose holiness is as a consuming fire and a people who, born with a sinful nature, commit sinful acts. If left to his just desserts, the epitaph over mankind could be written in a few words:

World, here lies the man

Created to reign.

He disobeyed God,

Life was all in vain.

But, God did not leave man to his just desserts. Instead, the all-powerful Creator revealed His eternal plan of redemption, a plan so simple that the most unlearned can comprehend it – so profound that the most educated cannot exhaust it – so loving that eternity itself will not be sufficient to proclaim it – so powerful that no force in heaven or earth can withstand it – and so mysterious that it would take a Lamb that will one day roar like a Lion to unfold it. Man’s extremity became God’s opportunity.

The next article (2 of 8) is entitled “A Word of Hope.”

In His Image
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion's Fire Magazine in March/April, 1995