Opening Question: How are humans like God?
Introduction to Lesson 1
It seems each quarterly that takes a theological topic begins with Genesis. While this is often appropriate, the lessons often feel like nearly an exact repeat of previous quarters. From a covenant perspective, it becomes important to frame human existence by its similarity to the Creator. We are beings who live in interdependence with each other. This was intended by the Creator who also wishes to live in association with us; in fact, He would rather die than live without us!
Created in God’s Image: Genesis 1-2
Genesis 1:27-29 is the center of a chiastic structure in the 6th day of creation. After making the animals, God makes man uniquely in His own image. The text doesn’t explicitly state what that image is, but several things become clear in these verses:
- The image of God includes both male and female; one biological gender alone doesn’t suffice to reveal God’s image fully.
- The image of God results in the loving, human act of creation, that is, the fruit-bearing gift of procreation, just as the love of God results in creation first.
- The image of God involves communicating, hearing, understanding, and relating
- The image of God allows and requires humans to care for and maintain their stewardship over creation as under-shepherds of God’s bigger world.
- The image of God may—though the text doesn’t state it explicitly—involve sentience, self-awareness, growth, and ability to measure experience(s) via memory.
- The image of God may even include some attributes of physical form, though anthropomorphizing God can approach blaspheme.
Which of these are most significant to you? Can you add other aspects of God’s image in humans to this list?
In these ways, and perhaps others, humans are like our Creator. We were unlike Him in many ways at creation (and of course, far more now because of sin), but God imparted to humans enough similarities to Himself that we can be in a relationship with Him. Genesis account says that Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden, shared fellowship with Him. What an amazing picture of His desire to know us, and for us to know Him.
Our close created likeness to God Himself forms the foundation for His covenants in Scripture. We are like Him, and able to communicate and experience each other. What an amazing thought for the creature recognizing from Whose hand he or she came!
How does God’s final statement at the end of the first six days of creation (1:31) reveal His joy and pride in what—and whom!—He had made?
The Nigh-Obliteration of God’s Image: Genesis 3
As narratives go, Genesis 1 and 2 establish a beautiful, and stable, world. The command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil foreshadows chapter 3 and the rest of the Biblical narratives until Revelation 20. The question of authority, of trust/faith in God’s words in spite of not having all the answers, is central to this passage. God, through this narrative, offers us a glimpse of the unequal relationship between God and humanity. No measure of education, technological advancement or sophistication, if a person is anti-authority, can
An important notice of the condition of man is described in the book Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 595:
“The true object of education is to restore the image of God in the soul. In the beginning God created man in His own likeness. He endowed him with noble qualities. His mind was well balanced, and all the powers of his being were harmonious. But the Fall and its effects have perverted these gifts. Sin has marred and well-nigh obliterated the image of God in man. It was to restore this that the plan of salvation was devised, and a life of probation was granted to man. To bring him back to the perfection in which he was first created is the great object of life–the object that underlies every other.”
This disappointing perspective of fallen human nature is at odds with that of popular culture, and even that of many professionals in academic disciplines (such as sociology or psychology) but it undergirds every further act of God in the Bible.
How do God’s actions in Genesis 3 after the “tree incident” reveal His character and desire for relationship?
Why would God desire to make a covenant relationship with creatures who are now so separated from Him?
The covenant theme throughout Biblical history is seen in its greatest beauty and glory when contrasted with human degradation. The greatest acts of God’s intervention and salvation shine most brightly in light of the magnitude of His condescension to our deep need and desperate condition.