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ARE YOU BORN IN THE IMAGE & LIKENESS OF GOD?


We often hear that everyone is born in the image and likeness of God. Is this an accurate assumption?


We all have the same basic human form that Adam and Eve had by God’s design. Is this enough to conclude that everyone is born in the image and likeness of God?


How would you explain the meaning of what it is to be created in the “image and likeness” of God?


Some responses I received for this question included:

“ I have not really given it any thought”

“God is a physical form and we represent God’s physical image”

“To be in God’s likeness is to represent His emotions and characteristics”

“The image is just that, mankind is made in the image of God, whereas the likeness is a spiritual attribute of the moral qualities of God”


Until some years ago, my understanding and thoughts on this question were not very different from the responses above. Over the past 10 years my journey into understanding, interpreting and seeing the scriptures through Hebraic eyes has been life changing. The Hebrew text reveals much more than our English translations do. A lot of the time the translations mask what is really happening in the Hebrew texts. The Bible has come alive igniting within me a whole new perspective on life, and a new revelation of God’s original plan and purpose for me and for humanity. God has also stirred up within me a passion for sharing what I am learning with you.


DISMANTLING WRONG THINKING

God’s original design for man is expressed in Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness………. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”


The original design that Adam and Eve enjoyed in these verses is not the same as that of which we are born with today. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s decision to act independently of God’s instructions marred God’s original design of man being born in His image and likeness. Something was lost in the Garden of Eden that day. The spiritual death of Adam and Eve had a tremendous impact on the spiritual DNA of their children and all future descendants as shown in Genesis 5:3 - “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth”


Although physically identical to Adam, we cannot say today that spiritually we are all in the image of God. We are born in Adam and that is why, to be in God’s image and likeness we have to be born again in Christ. We are born in the flesh and we need to be reborn in the spirit. We are born as children of wrath and we need to be reborn as children of God. What was lost in the Garden of Eden can only be regained in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:47-49 “The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”


The words “image” & “likeness” are clearly different in meaning. So, what does it mean to be in the “image” & “likeness” of God? God is perfect, eternal, all powerful, all knowing and all present. The problem is that we are none of these things. So, what does it mean to be like God? What was God’s original design?


THE ORIGINAL DESIGN

The Hebrew word for “image” is tselem. And the Hebrew word for “likeness” is demut. To put it simply, Hebrew is a unique language which consists of both an Eastern picture language and a Western phonetic language. The Hebraic meaning of image tselem and likeness demut are as follows.


Likness – demut

The Hebrew alphabets associated with demut (likeness) are:

Dalet – Mem – Vav – Tav.

And the word pictures associated with these alphabets are:

Dalet – Door, meaning a pathway, to enter

Mem – Water, meaning Chaos, liquid, massive

Vav – Nail, meaning to secure, to add,

Tav – Cross, meaning to covenant, to seal

If I am going to be in God’s likeness, then how is God a Pathway – Chaos – Secure – Covenant?


What do we know of God?

  • We know that God is a God of order. That He creates order out of chaos.

  • We also know that God is a covenant making God who keeps His promises.

Therefore to be in God’s likeness is:

1. To be the door/pathway that brings order to chaos. To be the means that guarantees life over destruction; and

2. To be covenant keeping humans. keeping promises that cannot be broken.


To be demut, (likeness) is ACTION & RELATIONAL

Action – by bringing order to chaos

Relational - by keeping promises that cannot be broken

To be like God is to be similar to him in action but not in essence. (I am not eternal, all knowing etc). Simply put – to be in God’s likeness demut, is to be covenant keeping order makers.


Now, the thing that enables me to be in God’s “likeness” is the fact that I am in His “image”.

“Image” is the enabler of “likeness”


Image - tselem

The Hebrew alphabets associated with tselem (Image) are:

Tsade – Lamed – Mem.

And the word pictures associated with these alphabets are:

Tsade – Fishhook, meaning to desire, need, catch

Lamed – Cattle goad, meaning Shepherd/authority, control,

Mem – Water, meaning Chaos, liquid, massive


The meaning of tselem is to have “the desire to control or have authority over chaos”.


To be in God’s image is to desire to bring order to chaos according to God’s purposes. Not mine. To bring order to chaos according to the boundaries set by God, and not according to my desires.

I reflect the image of God as an order maker (likeness) when I act as an order taker! (image). And it is only when we act in the image and likeness of God can we be called human beings.

The purpose of man in Genesis 1:26 is to rule over God’s creation. To rule over God’s creation in line with the authority given to him by God and also to rule according to the boundaries set by God for God’s purposes and not man’s. If man follows God’s purposes he lives in the image and likeness of God. If man doesn’t, then he is not living in the image and likeness of God.

CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, to be in God’s image is to be an order taker and to be in God’s likeness is to be an order maker. Image is the enabler of likeness. Being an order taker (image) is what enables being an order maker (likeness). I can fulfill my responsibility to live in His likeness, only because I have chosen to live according to His image. I can fulfill my responsibility to bring order to chaos, only because I have chosen to live according to God’s purposes and plans. Not mine.

In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross and follow me”. To live any other way is to not live in the “image” and “likeness” of God.


References:

Dr Frank T Seekins, Hebrew Word Pictures - how does the Hebrew alphabet reveal prophetic truths? , 1999

Dr Skip Moen - The Guardian Angel, 2010

Ps Andrew Farley, Lead Pastor - Church without religion, Lubbock, Texas. Podcasts

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