SERIES: GENESIS – PART 11
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
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 God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:24-27
In our study of the days of creation I have set the sixth day off from the other five, because man is created on the sixth day and there is something special about his creation. He is the peak of creation. Moreover, from this point on the story of Genesis is the story of man—in rebellion against God but also as the object of his special love and redemption.
To say that man is the most important part of creation might be thought a chauvinistic statement, as though we might as easily say, if we were fish, that fish are most important. But this is not true. Men and women actually are higher than the forms of creation around them. They rule over creation, for one thing—not by mere force of strength, for many animals are stronger, but by the power of their minds and personalities. Men and women also have “God-consciousness,” which the animals do not have. No animal is guilty of moral or spiritual sin. Nor do animals consciously “glorify God, and enjoy him forever.” The Bible stresses man’s high position when it says toward the end of the creation account: “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 God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (vv. 26–27).
In these verses the uniqueness of man and his superiority to the rest of creation are expressed in three ways. First, he is said to have been made “in God’s image.” This is not said of either objects or animals. Second, he is given dominion over the fish, birds, animals, and even the earth itself. Third, there is a repetition of the word “created.” This word is used at only three points in the creation narrative: first, when God created matter from nothing (v. 1); second, when God created conscious life (v. 21); and third, when God created man (v. 27). This is a progression, from the body (matter) to soul (personality) to spirit (life with God-consciousness). Lest we should miss this, the word “create” is repeated three times over in reference to the man and woman. As Francis Schaeffer writes, “It is as though God put exclamation points here to indicate that there is something special about the creation of man” (Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, 33).
How Old is Man?
How old is man? This is a troublesome question, because there seems to be a conflict between the account in Genesis and the apparent evidence of science on this point. The various biblical genealogies (Genesis 5 is the earliest example) suggest that man is on the order of thousands—perhaps ten or twenty thousands—of years old. But anthropologists speak of man or manlike creatures being on the order of 3.5 to 4 million years old. The work of the Leakey family in Kenya and Tanzania provides the best-known examples.
What are we to say of this conflict? It may be impossible to resolve it finally at this stage of our knowledge, but the issues can be put in proportion. First, we must say that this seems to be a real conflict and not merely a case in which we are dealing with two different ways of looking at the same evidence. It has been pointed out by biblical scholars, among them no less a scholar than Princeton’s B. B. Warfield, that the biblical genealogies are not necessarily all-inclusive when they list a series of descendants. That is to say, they may (and in fact do) leave gaps, so that a person identified as a “son” of the person coming before him in the list need not necessarily be a literal son but may be a grandson or great-grandson. Moreover, the gaps may sometimes be quite large, as for example, the summation of the genealogy of Jesus Christ occurring in Matthew 1:1 (“the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham”). Because of this, it is possible, even probable, that the genealogies of Genesis, which suggest a creation of Adam in a time scale of approximately four thousand years before Christ (Bishop Ussher’s date was 4004 b.c.), are actually summations of much longer periods. Still, even if we multiply the figure of four thousand years three, four, or even five times, we are far from what most anthropologists are claiming. An origin of the race on the order of twelve thousand to twenty thousand years ago is very different from an origin of 3.5 to 4 million years ago.
It helps to put the fossil evidence in perspective, however, for not all fossils claimed to be human are necessarily so. Skeletal materials found at sites from historical times are essentially the same as those of modern man, called Homo sapiens (“thinking” or “discerning man”). But as one goes back beyond historical times there are increasing differences. Cro-Magnon man, who is prehistoric and whose remains have been found scattered widely throughout western Europe, was similar to people who exist today. He used bone and stone tools and made cave paintings of animals and other features of his world. Slightly farther back (on the order of one hundred thousand years) is the so-called Neanderthal man. He also used tools and buried his dead. But he was less human in appearance, having a receding forehead and a pronounced jaw. He seems to have been more apelike. Remains of this “man” were found in Europe, Israel, Zambia, and Rhodesia. Still farther back are a number of other essentially “modern” types found in France, Germany, and England, dating from perhaps 250,000 years ago, according to the most accepted calculations.
The so-called Peking man and Java man date from between five hundred thousand to 1 million years ago. Sometimes crude tools have been found with these skeletons, but the chief reason for their being regarded as humans is that they apparently walked upright, hence are designated Homo erectus. Most anthropologists would call Homo erectus the first truly modern man. The discoveries of Richard and Mary Leakey in Africa, while frequently referred to as evidences of ancient men in the secular press, are at best prehuman creatures, even by the Leakeys’ own judgments. They apparently walked upright, but they were quite small—about four feet in height—and had a brain capacity of about one-third that of modern man. The general impression one has of the skulls is that they represent extinct apelike rather than manlike forms.
One other perspective needs to be thrown on this problem: the uncertainty in dating these apparently ancient human ancestors. One case is particularly worth noting. In the Paluxy River basin in central Texas, near the town of Glen Rose, fossilized tracks of men and dinosaurs apparently appear together. This does not mean that either men or dinosaurs are of relatively recent history. Both may be quite ancient. But it does mean that something is wrong with the currently accepted time framework proposed by evolutionists, for according to that framework there should be a 60-million-year gap between the last of the dinosaurs and man. Clearly, there may yet be great revisions in what anthropologists and other scientists are proposing.
In the interim what may Christians, who hold to the truthfulness of Genesis and who still want to be honest where scientific data is concerned, conclude? One scientist, Robert A. Erb of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, concludes that fossil “man” is not necessarily man and that Christians do themselves a disservice when they regard all such as Adam’s descendants. He writes, “I believe in a historical Adam and would tend to date him near the beginning of the Neolithic (new stone) age in the Near East (about 8,000 b.c.). Indeed, this step in the creative work of God may be the cause of what is known as the Neolithic Revolution, with the domestication of plants and animals, the building of cities, the invention of pottery, the beginnings of writing and such things. That Adam does not belong to the Upper Paleolithic age of 30,000 years ago is suggested by: the domestication of plants and animals in the account of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:2) and Cain building a city (Gen. 4:17). In about six generations (neglecting the probable gaps in genealogy), Tubal-cain was working with metals (Gen. 4:22) and Jubal was making music (Gen. 4:21).”
The conclusion is that, while the earth and universe may indeed be quite old (on the order of billions of years), there is no need to insist that man is millions of years old. His creation by God may be as recent as the genealogies of Genesis seem to indicate.
In God’s Image
When Genesis 1 speaks of the creation of man, as it does several times over, it is not concerned with the time at which he was created. What concerns the author of Genesis is man’s being created “in God’s image.” This is repeated several times: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. …’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.” What does this mean? What does it mean to be made in God’s image?
One thing it means is that men and women possess the attributes of personality, as God himself does, but as the animals, plants, and matter do not. To have personality one must possess knowledge, feelings (including religious feelings), and a will. This God has, and so do we. We can say that animals possess a certain kind of personality. But an animal does not reason as men do; it only reacts to certain problems or stimuli. It does not create; it only conforms to certain behavior patterns, even in as elaborate a pattern as constructing a nest, hive, or dam. It does not love; it only reproduces. It does not worship. Personality, in the sense we are speaking of it here, is something that links man to God but does not link either man or God to the rest of creation.
A second element that is involved in man’s being created in the image of God is morality. This includes the two further elements of freedom and responsibility. To be sure, the freedom men and women possess is not absolute. Even in the beginning the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were not autonomous. They were creatures and were responsible for acknowledging this by their obedience in the matter of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since the fall that freedom has been further restricted so that, as Augustine said, the original posse non peccare (“able not to sin”) has become a non posse non peccare (“not able not to sin”). Still there is a limited freedom for men and women even in their fallen state, and with that there is also moral responsibility. In brief, we do not need to sin as we do or as often as we do. And even when we sin under compulsion (as may sometimes be the case), we still know it is wrong and, thus, inadvertently confess our likeness to God in this as in other areas.
It is relevant to the matter of morality that, when the sanctification of the believer is spoken of as being “renewed in knowledge in the image of [his] Creator” (Col. 3:10) or “conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), it is the moral righteousness of the individual that is most in view, though of course this may also refer to the perfection of personality in ways we do not as yet understand fully.
The third element involved in man’s being made in God’s image is spirituality, meaning that man is made for communion with God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), and that this communion is intended to be eternal as God is eternal. Although man shares a body with such forms of life as plants or flowers and a soul with animals, only he possesses a spirit. It is on the level of the spirit that he is aware of God and communes with him.
Here lies our true worth. We are made in God’s image and are therefore valuable to God and others. God loves men and women, as he does not and cannot love the animals, plants, or inanimate matter. Moreover, he feels for them, identifies with them in Christ, grieves for them, and even intervenes in history to make individual men and women into all that he has determined they should be. We get some idea of the special nature of this relationship when we remember that in a similar way the woman, Eve, was made in the image of man. Therefore, though different, Adam saw himself in her and loved her as his companion and corresponding member in the universe. It is not wrong to say that men and women are to God somewhat as the woman is to the man. They are God’s unique and valued companions. In support of this we need only think of the Bible’s teaching concerning Christ as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.
A Shattered Image
In this chapter we have been looking at man as God made him and intends him to be, that is, before the fall or as he will eventually become again in Christ. Although man was made in the image of God, this image has been greatly marred by sin. There are vestiges of the image remaining, but man today is not what God intended. He is a fallen being, and the effects of the fall are seen on each level of his being: in his body, soul, and spirit.
When God gave man the test of the forbidden tree, which was to be a measure of his obedience and responsibility toward the One who had created him, God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17). The woman was beguiled by the serpent and ate. She came to Adam; and Adam, who was not beguiled, nevertheless ate of it too, thereby saying to God, “I do not care for all the trees that you have given me; so long as this tree stands here in the midst of the garden it reminds me of my dependence on you, and therefore I hate it; I will eat of it, regardless of the consequences, and die.”
Man’s spirit, that part of him that had communion with God, died instantly. This is clear from the fact that he ran from God when God came to him in the garden. Men and women have been running and hiding ever since. His soul, the seat of his intellect, feelings, and identity, began to die. So people began to lose a sense of who they are, gave vent to bad feelings, and suffered the decay of their intellect. This is the type of decay described by Paul in Romans 1 where we are told that, having rejected God, men inevitably “became futile [in their thinking] and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (vv. 21–23). Eventually even the body died. So it is said of us, “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19).
Donald Grey Barnhouse has pictured what happened as a three-story house that was bombed in wartime. The bomb had destroyed the top floor entirely, the debris of which had fallen down into the second floor, severely damaging it. The weight of the two ruined floors produced cracks in the walls of the first floor so that it was doomed to collapse eventually. Thus it was with Adam. His body was the dwelling of the soul, and his spirit was above that. When he fell the spirit was entirely destroyed, the soul ruined, and the body destined to a final collapse.
However, the glory of the gospel is seen at precisely this point, for when God saves a person he saves the whole person, beginning with the spirit, continuing with the soul, and finishing with the body. The salvation of the spirit comes first; for God first establishes contact with the one who has rebelled against him. This is regeneration, the new birth. Second, God works with the soul, renewing it after the image of the perfect man, the Lord Jesus Christ. This work is sanctification. Finally, there is the resurrection in which even the body is redeemed from destruction.
Moreover, God makes a new creation, for he does not merely patch up the old spirit, soul, and body, as if the collapsing house were just being buttressed and given a new coat of paint. God creates a new spirit that is his own Spirit within the individual. He creates a new soul, known as the new man. At last, he creates a new body. This body is like the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus Christ through whom alone we have this salvation.
About the Preacher
James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well-known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. James Boice was one of my favorite Bible teachers. Thankfully – many of his books and expositions of Scripture are still in print and more are becoming available. The sermon above was adapted from Chapter 11 in Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentary. vol. 1: Creation and Fall. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.
Under Dr. Boice’s leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model for ministry in America’s northeastern inner cities. When he assumed the pastorate of Tenth Church there were 350 people in regular attendance. At his death the church had grown to a regular Sunday attendance in three services of more than 1,200 persons, a total membership of 1,150 persons. Under his leadership, the church established a pre-school for children ages 3-5 (now defunct), a high school known as City Center Academy, a full range of adult fellowship groups and classes, and specialized outreach ministries to international students, women with crisis pregnancies, homosexual and HIV-positive clients, and the homeless. Many of these ministries are now free-standing from the church.
Dr. Boice gave leadership to groups beyond his own organization. For ten years he served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, from its founding in 1977 until the completion of its work in 1988. ICBI produced three classic, creedal documents: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” and “The Chicago Statement on the Application of the Bible to Contemporary Issues.” The organization published many books, held regional “Authority of Scripture” seminars across the country, and sponsored the large lay “Congress on the Bible I,” which met in Washington, D.C., in September 1987. He also served on the Board of Bible Study Fellowship.
He founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (Alliance) in 1994, initially a group of pastors and theologians who were focused on bringing the 20th and now 21st century church to a new reformation. In 1996 this group met and wrote the Cambridge Declaration. Following the Cambridge meetings, the Alliance assumed leadership of the programs and publications formerly under Evangelical Ministries, Inc. (Dr. Boice) and Christians United for Reformation (Horton) in late 1996.
Dr. Boice was a prodigious world traveler. He journeyed to more than thirty countries in most of the world’s continents, and he taught the Bible in such countries as England, France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Guatemala, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He lived in Switzerland for three years while pursuing his doctoral studies.
Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard University (A.B.), Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D.), the University of Basel, Switzerland (D. Theol.) and the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church (D.D., honorary).
A prolific author, Dr. Boice had contributed nearly forty books on a wide variety of Bible related themes. Most are in the form of expositional commentaries, growing out of his preaching: Psalms (1 volume), Romans (4 volumes), Genesis (3 volumes), Daniel, The Minor Prophets (2 volumes), The Sermon on the Mount, John (5 volumes, reissued in one), Ephesians, Phillippians and The Epistles of John. Many more popular volumes: Hearing God When You Hurt, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Christian Life, Standing on the Rock, The Parables of Jesus, The Christ of Christmas, The Christ of the Open Tomb and Christ’s Call to Discipleship. He also authored Foundations of the Christian Faith a 740-page book of theology for laypersons. Many of these books have been translated into other languages, such as: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
He was married to Linda Ann Boice (born McNamara), who continues to teach at the high school they co-founded.
Source: Taken directly from the Aliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ Website