The Sixth Day: In His Image
26Then 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.”
27So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Here we have the creation of man. Immediately we see that man is set apart from the rest of creation, even in the manner in which he was created. The words “us”, “our”, and “our” in verse 26 emphasize the role of all three persons of the Trinity in the creation of man. Note that there are three occurrences (three suggesting the Trinity) of the plural pronouns in verse 26. Also, in verse 27, we have what sounds like triple-talk, where it says “God created” then “He created” then again “He created”. This again, I believe, is a subtle reference to the three persons of the Trinity and their explicit involvement in the creation of man. So, whereas the other creatures are depicted as being made by the command of God, man is set apart by being depicted as being made through the counsel of the Trinity.
Man is also set apart from the rest of creation because he is made in God’s image and likeness. In what ways are we created in God’s image?:
1. We are a spiritual beings. Paul says, “...we are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:29) and the writer of Hebrews says that God is “the Father of our spirits” (Heb. 12:9). So, just as bodily we are born in the image and likeness of our human fathers, so, spiritually, we are born of the image and likeness of our spiritual Father. As such, we are unique among the creatures in that, as spiritual beings, we are able to commune with God through our spiritual nature. This constitutes one of the greatest privileges God has bestowed upon mankind.
2. We are reasoning, knowledgeable beings. Our reasoning ability clearly sets us apart from the rest of the creatures. Through it, man has acquired knowledge and understanding of the universe that far surpasses that of any other creature. In addition to this, before the fall we apparently had an intimate knowledge of God and the things of God that we have lost since the fall of man. However, those of us who are born of God are being “renewed in knowledge in the image” of our Creator (Col. 3:10).
3. We are moral creatures, created to be righteous and holy. No other creature makes decisions based on moral considerations. We, however, are expected to. When God forbade Adam to eat from the tree of knowledge, God was expecting Adam overcome his fleshly desires and make a decision based on morality, on the command of God. Despite the fact that Adam failed, we are still to some extent moral creatures, though imperfect ones. Again, those of us who are born of God are created, in our new selves, “to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
Notice that after the fall, to a certain extent, man lost each of these God-like traits. Our spirituality was corrupted so that, instead of communing with God, we commune with the devil. Our knowledge of God and the things of God was lost such that we must, when we are born of God, strive to renew that knowledge. Our righteousness was tainted such that our fleshly desires overrule moral considerations. Yet, in all these things, the child of God is being renewed to the true image of God originally bestowed upon Adam: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16).
In verse 28, man was given dominion over the other creatures. Because he was created in the likeness of God, man was given the ability through his wisdom and knowledge to have dominion over the rest of creation. The obvious fact that man has dominion over all creatures is a testimony to the fact that man occupies a special place in God’s creation. No other creature uses other creatures as beasts of burden; no other creature has the ability to tame other creatures; indeed, no other creature chooses to protect creatures of different species. Only man is given the knowledge and the responsibility to rule over other creatures.
In verses 29 and 30, man and animals are given plants for food. Originally, all were vegetarians, man and animal. Before the fall of man, there was no death, so, necessarily, all were vegetarians. After the fall, during the time of Noah, man was allowed by God to eat meat: “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” (Gen. 9:3). In the new earth, during the reign of Christ, all again will be vegetarian because there again will be no death: “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox” (Isa. 65:25).
God ends the sixth day by again declaring that the creation of man was special. He pronounces the work He had done on the sixth day as “very good”.
The Seventh Day: Rest
2:1Thus, the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2:2By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. 2:3And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
And so, God “completed” His great work of creation. He commemorated the completion of the creation by resting and establishing a Sabbath rest for His people. In the section of Exodus containing the ten commandments, Moses says: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:11). So, we see that one reason God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then rested on the seventh, was to provide a model for us to follow as we perform our work. God, of course, did not need rest, but we do. That is why Jesus said, “The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
More importantly, the Sabbath rest is a symbol of and is fulfilled by the rest we receive when we rest in Christ. The writer of Hebrews says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9-10). And how do we enter God’s rest?: “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Heb. 4:3) and Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). We who have entered God’s rest through Christ are no longer bound by the law of the Sabbath, because we rest in Him always. Thus, Paul says: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17).
Praise the Lord for the rest we find in Him. Though our bodies toil and sweat, we can rest in Him!
The Creation and the New Creation
In II Corinthians, Paul says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Cor. 5:17). Since we are God’s new creation, it should not surprise us, then, if there are parallels between the seven days of the creation of the universe and the phases of our development into a new creation. The similarities are intriguing:
1. The First Day: Light—The first day of the creation is characterized by the light of God shining forth. The first step in our development into a new creation is to see the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Therefore, just as God provided the light to the creation on the first day, so Christ provides the light to us, the new creation.
2. The Second Day: Separation from God—The second day is characterized by separation from God. The waters above the earth separated the earth from God. So, to be a new creation, we must realize that we are separated from God by our sin. Isaiah warned Israel: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isa. 59:1-2). Job realized this as he pleaded: “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me” (Job 9:33-34). And Paul relates: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Col. 1:21).
3. The Third Day: New Life—The third day of creation is characterized by new life. The first life-forms, the plants, were created on the third day. Throughout the Bible, the third day symbolizes the day of new life: Jesus, of course, rose on the third day; Jonah was released from the whale’s belly on the third day; Paul received his sight back on the third day; etc. So, after seeing the light of Christ and recognizing that our sin separates us from God (and thus, recognizing our need for God), the way is opened for us to obtain new life in Christ by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior. As Paul says, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom. 6:4).
4. The Fourth Day: The Light-Bearers—On the fourth day, God created the light-bearers: the sun, moon and stars. So also, after we have received new life, we become light-bearers for God. Just as God was the original source of light for His creation and then He created light-bearers, so also Christ said that He Himself was the “light of the world” (John 8:12) and then told us that we are the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). Thus, again, the originator of the light creates the light-bearers.
5. The Fifth Day: The Filling of the Creation—The fifth day is characterized by the filling of the creation. On it, the Lord commands the waters to teem with fish and birds to fill the air. So, the next step in the development of the new creation is to become filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul exhorts: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
6. The Sixth Day: In His Image—The sixth day is characterized by man being created in the image of God. So also we, day by day, are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. Paul says, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). Paul also says that we “are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory” (II Cor. 3:18) and then that Christ “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21).
7. The Seventh Day: Rest—The seventh day, of course, is characterized by rest. As was pointed out before, the Sabbath rest points to the rest we receive in Christ. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His” (Heb. 4:9-10).
Lord, Almighty Creator, we praise You for Your creation, not only for the creation of the universe, but also for the new creation of us in Christ. May we be light-bearers for You in this dark world; may we be filled with the Holy Spirit just as the seas teem with creatures; may we be conformed to Your likeness and live our lives in the image of Christ; may we rest in You even as we toil on earth, until we come into Your perfect rest on that day when we will stand before You in glory. By the power of Jesus Christ may your new creation glorify You. Amen.
To contact us: