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.’ So He created man in his own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27
In these verses God shifts from third person, “And God said, ‘Let there be . . .” to first person, “Let us make man in our image.” Although it’s difficult to comprehend, we see the triune Godhead at work (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). One member is speaking to the other member(s).
It’s like God is holding a divine meeting on the sixth day of Creation and decides to “place the cherry (mankind) on top” of all He has created. After breathing life into them, He gives them charge over all the earth, fish, and animals.
“Man” is used here as a generic term, which includes female. (Genesis 2 details the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve.)
What It Means
Although we probably can’t grasp the full significance of this truth now, we know that humans are the most complex and highly organized of all God’s earthly creatures. Besides physical bodies, other attributes that we don’t share with the animals include:
- Moral consciousness
- Understanding of emotion and beauty
- Ability to think abstractly
- The capacity to worship, fellowship, and love God. Henry M. Morris in The Genesis Record writes: “This eternal and divine dimension of man’s being must be the essence of what is involved in the likeness of God.”
But if God is spirit (John 4:24) and omnipresent, how can we be made in His image?
Morris writes: “God designed and formed man’s body to enable it to function physically in ways in which He Himself could function, even without a body. God can see (Gen. 16:13), hear (Psalm 94:9), smell (Gen. 8:21), touch (Gen. 32:32), and speak (II Pt. 1:18), whether or not He has actual physical eyes, ears, nose, hands, mouth. Furthermore, whenever He has designed to appear visibly to men, He has done so in the form of a human body (Gen. 18:1-2).”
Christ Himself was the image of God (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15; II Cor. 4:4). Morris continues: “It does not seem too much to infer that God made man in the image of that body which He would Himself one day assume (Heb. 10:5; Luke.1:35; Phil. 2:7).”
Although we are marred by sin—and are not equal to God—His original, unique work of the human body manifests a part of God’s glory. When God redeems an individual, He begins to renew him/her in the original image of God. He creates a “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). His redemption is made possible through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from the sin that separates us from Him (Eph. 2:8-9). We are made new creations—in the likeness of God—through Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
If—or when—you feel insignificant, remember: You are uniquely crafted by the Master Creator of the universe. He has put much thought and pleasure into designing you. Not only does He have a special purpose specifically for you, but He also declares His work “very good!”