And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:24-25
Here God made the animals, smaller rodents, and insects. Everything was planned, not accidental. They were all beautiful, all good. Not a one of them was evil or even predatory. The animals were not originally created as carnivores, but were meant to have a symbiotic relationship, each complementing the other. They were all beautifully made at the right time. They had the three requirements for life: air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. God had prepared a table before them, an endless banquet to supply all their needs forever.
Like all other living things made before, they had seed in them to produce after their kind. None of them would starve. None of them would be extinct since the Creator had made all things in a balanced proportion. Because everything is in balance, all would live and grow. That is until Adam sinned (Genesis 3), corrupting the balance. Suddenly the beasts began to prey on one another and life became the survival of the fittest.
The concept of the survival of the fittest and the modern theory of evolution now drive today’s society. The strong prey on the weak and the rich exploit the poor. We have created the systems of master/slave and ruler/ruled to fill our void and need to be godlike. The balance in “nature” created by God has long been eroded by our sinful acts. Many lands lie in waste, many cities are desolate, and many species long extinct. Modern science revels in the discovery of fossils and we speculate on what was and why the dinosaurs are no more. Whatever the primary reason for their demise, it was not supposed to be. The earth was made beautiful. The earthly residents brought in the ugliness. God saw His creation as good, but our beautiful world became marred and all cry out in pain for redemption ever since (Romans 8:22).
Made in His Image
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 final piece of the puzzle is the introduction of man. Here we are told that he was made a little different from all the other creatures. He had a special blueprint to his life, one necessary to fulfill a particular place in God’s plans.
Various commentaries I have come across all agree on the nature of the image referred to here. Elohim is a plural God as we saw at the very beginning of this chapter of Genesis. Note that the passage above says in our (not my) image, after our (not my) likeness. He therefore made man as a ‘plural’ being and to function accordingly. There is the spirit (Genesis 41:8, Numbers 16:22), soul/mind (Genesis 2:7, Matthew 11:29) and body/flesh (Genesis 2:7, Numbers 16:22).
Though different, these three components are functionally dependent on each other. As the Father would not be the same God if the Son or the Holy Ghost were absent, so is man incomplete without all three components. It is essential for all three to be well and stable. When any of the components malfunction, the entire system breaks down. This is evidenced by what happens to the body when the spirit returns to God. The body is left lifeless. When a man ‘loses’ his mind, he is not the same being anymore. When his body is riddled by disease, the mind and spirit are equally traumatized. This is obvious in debilitating and chronic diseases when persistent symptoms of the body result in mental depression and a broken spirit. We cannot change this image of the Most High because it is fundamental for us to function. Man cannot exist without a spirit, soul, and body.
This passage in Genesis goes a step further. God describes the making of man not just in His image, but also in His likeness. Now this is the part that is so often marred by our actions. The image of God is how we are made up: spirit, soul, and body. The likeness of God is a result of how this image functions. The spirit was made to be one with God, the mind to be filled with His word, and the body to function under the anointing/glory of His Holy Ghost. When all these function appropriately, man is in a state of perfect physical and spiritual health in the likeness of God. This likeness results in a divine coordination in man, a purity and completeness that allows him to meet God face to face every evening and live (Genesis 3:8).
When Adam sinned, this unity and link through the spirit was lost. He still bore the image, but the likeness was no longer there. This resulted in total disruption. His mind was now filled with fear and shame and his body with pain and disease (Genesis 4:17). The glory of God, the anointing of the Holy Ghost that covered man, lifted and Adam knew that he was “naked” (Genesis 3:7). He had always been naked, but unashamed (Genesis 2:25). After his sin, shame and fear crept in for the first time. The likeness of God in him became corrupted and he became unfit to dwell in God’s secret place or to stand face to face with Him. Since then, every man and woman is born after Adam’s image and likeness (Genesis 5:3). We all inherit the image of God in him along with the likeness and nature of a man corrupted in sin (Pss 51:5). God still honors this image in man and consequently establishes the law against any who would bring harm to that image, seeing it is the image of God (Genesis 9:6). Whoever destroys God’s image (man), him will God destroy. This same principle is implied in 1 Corinthians 3:17. The likeness of God lost in Eden is restored at the new birth; hence the Holy Ghost comes in and bears fruit in us.
It is fascinating to note that the Bible often describes God as a person with hands and feet who smiles, laughs, whistles, and shouts. He is described as a person with emotions who feels joy, sadness, rage, capable of love and hate, and who has power to both hurt and heal. All of which we humans feel and identify with. These are not descriptive terms used to make us understand God, but rather we were fashioned so that we might be as He is and understand Him in a way none of the other creatures can. There is a union sealed by mutual experiences that is absent in people who worship animal gods like the bull, elephant, or eagle. The key to that union is being made in His image, after His likeness.