sermon: Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)

Spiritual Creation
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 05-Nov-94; Sermon #155; 63 minutes

Description: (show)

John Ritenbaugh takes issue with errant Worldwide Church of God teachers who have mysticised and spiritualized God away into a shapeless, formless, vaporized, ethereal blob. These individuals have systematically rejected hundreds of scriptural references, dismissing them as figures of speech. In the foundational scripture establishing our purpose and vision (Genesis 1:26), God makes a distinction between animal and human form (tselem, shape, image) indicating that mankind was cast in His form or shape. Using human reason and metaphysical speculation, these misguided teachers claim that the prototype upon which these clay models are based does not really exist. Even though the concept of "image" eventually expands to character, the preponderance of scriptural references refer to a concrete specific shape or form. Paul, under the inspiration of God refers to earthly, celestial, and spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:40-49).

Topics: (show)

Angelic beings Blob Celestial bodies Cherubs Correction Eidos Figures of Speech Form Greek mythology Higher thoughts Instruction Parts Seraphs Shadow Shape Spiritual bodies Training in righteousness




This is a subject that has been much discussed in recent years within the context of the trinity question. Now I am sure that you are familiar with the writings, preaching and teachings that came out from the Worldwide Church of God as a result of their change and their outlook on the nature of God. This sermon is going to cover one aspect of that.

Very early in a paper on this subject the author said, "Since God is a Spirit, He has no form or shape and He takes up no space." Such a statement may appear to be reasonable, or at least be above argument either to the intellectual or the under-educated, but I had to ask myself a simple question because I think I fall somewhere in the middle there. I don't consider myself to be an intellectual, but I do consider myself to have had some measure of education. So I asked myself a simple question, and that was, "Who is the author of the Bible?"

I don't mean by that question who wrote it down? I mean rather who was the brain and the moving force who caused it to be written? Whose words are they that we see written on the page of this book? In II Timothy 3, Paul wrote to Timothy and said,

II Timothy 3:15-17 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In verse 16 four words appear, and I'm going to update them into a little bit more modern context using synonyms for some of these words that you are very familiar with. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for teaching (easier for us to understand), for conviction (something that you know and you know that you know), for correction (or for restoration, to get you turned around, to get you healed in your mind and in your spirit), for instruction (or rather trained in righteousness)."

God's word is intended by Him so that that we may be thoroughly, completely equipped. And He says in His word that He does have form and shape. Or are we misreading what He says? Are such clear statements to be ignored? Peter, in writing the second epistle in II Peter 1:21 says,

II Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

These scriptures are pretty straight forward. They are so clear and yet men advance arguments that cast doubt that God means what He says. And when I say that men cast doubt, I mean men within [the] church of God membership. They try to tell us that God's word doesn't really mean what it clearly says.

Now isn't the Bible God's written revelation of Himself, of His purpose and plan, to those whom He has called? It's not written to the world. It is for the benefit of His children, of His sons, those who have His Spirit. In I Corinthians 2:10, "But God has revealed them to us . . ." Who is the "us"? The "us" are the members of the Corinthian church, and in its broad application the "us" there are those of us who have the Spirit of God because Romans 8 says that those who have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, they are the children of God.

So the revelation of God, the word of God, has been revealed to God's children through His Spirit "for the spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God." That clearly says that God has revealed the mystery to us by His Spirit that we might understand the things of God with the same clarity that we understand human things.

A word of the verse said, "reveal." That English word came to us out of the Latin and it is used here to translate the Greek word. It means, "to uncover." Webster's first definition of the word "reveal" is so interesting. The first definition of that word is, "to make known through divine inspiration." It means, "to open to view." It means, "to make something secret or hidden publicly or generally known."

That's what I Corinthians 2:10 says. "God has made them known to us." The synonyms are "disclosed" (God had disclosed these things), or "divulged", or "to tell." And so God says that the Bible is His revelation of Himself and yet men have attempted to tell us that God is incomprehensible, vague, and beyond the reach of ordinary people. Is there a contradiction there or am I being too sarcastic?

When people complain to these men that they have succeeded in making God into nothing more than a mysterious blob, then the elite teachers tell them that they are just going to have to be trusted. Man has spiritualized away so many plain statements of God that they have nullified the simple meaning of God's revelation to him, that is to man, to us, to His children.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, apparently the thought is to magnify God by making Him a big mystery to those to whom He has revealed Himself. There is an inconsistency in that. There is no reasonable excuse for this approach because the Bible has over 20,000 references to God Himself and collectively they describe in infinite detail what He is like, what He can do, what He cannot and will not do, or what He won't do, what He has done, and what He has yet to do.

Why do these men turn what God has clearly said about Himself into an incomprehensible mystery? There is a very serious side to this. Can you see what an insidious and deceitful play this is because, if doubt can be cast on something as simple as what God clearly describes Himself as (what He looks like), then how much doubt is going to be cast on more difficult areas to understand?

The approach is as old as mankind. Satan used it on Adam and Eve when he questioned God's clear statement about what Adam and Eve could eat and what they couldn't eat. "Oh, did God say . . . ?" It's pretty clear. I mean how much clearer can you get? "You can eat of all of the trees of the garden, except for this one that stands in the midst." It's pretty clear.

Is that any less clear than Genesis 1:26 and 27 which says that God has made man in His image and likeness? And yet people with church of God backgrounds take exception to that. But they won't take exception with an equally clear statement in Genesis 2 and 3—something a little bit askew here. So Satan used that ploy when he questioned God's clear statement about what they could eat and what they couldn't eat.

Isn't it much easier, safer to believe what God says about Himself? After all, He is the author of the book. And who should know more about Him than He Himself? He inspired it.

Now it is either believe what He says about Himself or imply that God isn't being open with us, that He is not giving us a clear disclosure. What they are saying is that He cannot really be what He says He is and they say that the descriptive verses are merely figures of speech so that men might have something familiar—something from our own experience—to relate to him.

Let's turn to Numbers 23:19. The speaker here is Balaam and he is being inspired by God to say these things. Because if you look in verse 16 it says,

Numbers 23:16 Then the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, "Go back to Balak, and thus you shall speak."

It's pretty clear. Verse 19,

Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"

People lie to hide something about themselves. Or they lie to exaggerate a circumstance or what they are or their participation in a thing. But men will read a scripture like this, and then in the context of a different subject say that God is absolutely correct. Why do they say that?

They say that God does not lie, and that He can be trusted. They say that He says what He means and that He means what He says, and then they turn right around and in a different context say that He really doesn't mean what He says. There is a real incongruity there.

To say that God is not real as He describes Himself is to accuse God of lying. That's pretty serious business. In I Samuel 15:29, the speaker, of course, is Samuel and he is talking to Saul and he says,

I Samuel 15:29 "And also the Strength of Israel [The word "Strength" is capitalized. The translators understood that He was talking about God.] will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent."

The problem with mankind is that we have a very strong tendency to think of God as being like ourselves in character. This is clearly seen in Greek and Roman mythology, but especially Greek mythology, where the gods and goddesses of Greece were like men and women. They had the same kind of foibles, the same kind of idiosyncrasies as mankind had except that they were supposedly immortal and they occupied a higher status in life. But that's man's way of looking at God.

God does not look at things the same way that man does. His ways and His thoughts are exceedingly higher, and God can strike a man down and a human being, but I would never do that. But God did it. And God did what He did in loving justice in carrying out an execution on a person like Uzza, or like Nadab and Abihu.

Men don't think like God. God doesn't think like men. God is not a man that He would lie. It's not in Him to lie.

See, that's what was part of Balaam's problem here. He approached circumstances the way man would, rather than the way God would. So God told him, "Look. You go before those people of Balak and you tell them that God is not a man that He will lie. He cannot lie. It's simply not in His character to do so."

Certainly there are figures of speech. There are metaphors. There are similes. But we can tell the difference between God comparing Himself to an eagle or a lion, and when He literally describes what He Himself looks like.

This is especially true in light of the very first reference in the Bible in Genesis 1:26. Let's turn back there. I want to give credit where credit is due, because a great deal of this material was taken from a work by Keith Hunt.

I don't know whether you are familiar with Keith Hunt. Keith was with the Worldwide Church of God for a very long period of time. He left the Worldwide Church of God in 1978, I believe, and to the best of my knowledge he has remained faithful in what he believes and does a very fine work in putting out things of a technical nature—searching out the Bible on subjects such as this.

So I have used some of his material in putting these sermons together. I say sermons because this will be continued beyond today because there is so much in the Bible on what God looks like. You're going to be amazed.

In Genesis 1:26 and 27, the first thing to do here is to look at this in its context. Here it is the very first chapter in the Bible and God is laying the foundation for what is going to follow. If the foundation isn't laid correctly, then the whole rest of the building is crooked. What God is beginning to do here right in Genesis 1 is to establish our vision of what His purpose is and where we are headed with our lives, and being what we are, we need to have some insight into what He is. So He tells us right off the bat that we are made in His image and His likeness.

He contrasts us with the animals. Each one of them reproduces after their kind. And when they reproduce, they look like their parents. They look like each other. Do you see the very clear implication that God is reproducing Himself and that His purpose is that we be exactly like Him when He does this reproducing. Even right now we are made in His image so that we will have the potential to be exactly like Him.

Virtually every explanation of these two verses begins with an assumption. When I say virtually every explanation, I'm talking about many of the research materials that one would look into— commentaries, dictionaries of the Bible. The assumption is that God didn't really mean what He clearly stated. Notice verse 27:

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Now let's read verse 26.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

Verse 26 says the creation of man is about to occur. It is yet future. Verse 27 says the creation in the past tense. By the time the statement in verse 27 is done, man is already in His image. It is not something future. He is already in God's image. It is past tense. It is not an image and likeness in progress as in the creation of a character image, but within the context the image was already accomplished. A physical image and likeness of what God is has been made.

Who knows better? The God who authored the book or the people that He used to write these things down, or people who are looking at it after the fact and have never seen God or heard His voice—people who are using a combination of Bible verses, metaphysics, philosophy, science, and assumption.

What is the assumption based on? It is usually on men's definition of the word "spirit." They combine that with John 4:24 which says that God is Spirit. I'll give you a typical sentence that is used in explanations of Genesis 1:26 and 27. I'm going to quote this from Adam Clark and I chose him because it is so succinctly stated. So in Adam Clark's Commentary, Volume 1, Page 38, he states:

"Now as a divine being is infinite he is neither limited by parts or definable by passions. Therefore he can have no corporeal image after which He made the body of man."

That is a direct contradiction based upon an assumption. It is based upon disbelief. Now this is typical. Certainly God does not have a material body, but that does not address the issue. The issue is whether He has a spiritual body which served as a model for mankind, and if He has a body—it has parts.

This is important because men within the church of God, church of God associations, are now telling members that God didn't have form in mind at all in relation to this verse, but rather only character image. This is important to us in relation to understanding the nature of God and getting a correct perspective of our vision of the goal and purpose of life itself. They are [associating him with] being not much more than the Catholic beatific vision or with man becoming part of a vague, material blob without his independence within a constructive and developing family of creators.

We're going to look at some other scriptures which show an interesting light upon the subject of spirit. Let's go back to the New Testament to I Corinthians 15:35—very interesting subject in light of what we are being taught by these people.

I Corinthians 15:35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?"

Do things ever change, or do the same questions keep coming around all the time? That sounds as modern as last year—God has no body. So people in the first century were questioning what kinds of body are the sons of God going to have in the resurrections. Why do you think they were questioning that? Because there were undoubtedly people who were saying that God doesn't have a body. And since you are going to be in the image of God, you're not going to have a body either.

I think Paul's answer is really succinct. He says, "Foolish one[s]." He called it a dumb thought, a dumb question..

I Corinthians 15:36-37 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be . . .

He says a change is going to take place, and again he makes reference to what comes out of the grave is going to be a body. Look at that again.

I Corinthians 15:37-38 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be [what comes out of the grave is going to have a body] but mere grain [goes back to the physical]; perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

I guess we never thought seeds had bodies, but in the biblical approach they have bodies.

I Corinthians 15:39-40 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

No question in Paul's mind that there are celestial bodies. What do you think a celestial body is? My margin says "heavenly." It's talking about a spirit body. Spirits have bodies.

I Corinthians 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars [and he's looking at these as if they have bodies]; for one star differs from another star in glory.

So all things in creation have bodies designed for their purpose in creation. And though there are similarities in design, they are different because of function. Notice how often the word body appears in this context.

Within the framework of the word body it includes the angelic cherubim and seraphim and angels and we will go on.

I Corinthians 15:42-44 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption [physical], it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body [Is anybody going to argue with that? Will anybody argue that there are natural bodies? Let's look at the rest of the verse.], and there is a spiritual body.

We have got to relate this to Genesis 1 verses 26 and 27. Does God have a body? Paul says—Paul believed—there are spiritual bodies.

I Corinthians 15:45-49 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. [Are there spiritual bodies?] And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear [notice the word] the image of the heavenly Man.

Image—there is no place in all of scripture that says that God does not have a body. Not one. Nowhere in all scripture does it say that God only uses a body from time to time. It nowhere says that He is just vapor. Let's go to Luke 24:36.

Luke 24:36-40 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." [He is now resurrected.] But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit [a ghost, a vaporous formless thing]. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones [meaning a ghost] as you see I have." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.

Now consider the context. Consider the time. He is resurrected. He is Spirit. Does He give any indication at all that being in the body is only a part time experience for God? He is God. Does He give any indication at all that it is only a part time experience? No, but rather instead He taught them that a spirit being's body is not vaporous like a ghost and that it is not composed of earthly flesh and bone.

The inferences, the things that are unsaid here, are very important in relation to other parts of the Bible. In this case what He does not say is also very important because He wants them to answer in their own minds just the opposite of what they originally thought, "This is a ghost. It has no form or shape."

Oh, yes, He did have form and shape and it was solid to the feel. Because they felt Him and their hands didn't pass through Him. And He is saying that He has flesh and He has bones, but they are not physical. They are spirit flesh and bones. Look at John 5:37.

John 5:37 "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form."

Now Jesus again gave no indication that the Father has no form. He is saying there that He does have a form. Instead He taught that He does have a voice and He does have shape.

The word "form" here is from the Greek "eidos" phonetically, and it means, "form, shape, appearance, fashion." It is used in a context indicating what can be seen with the eye, or in the plural, eyes. Let's go back to Luke 3:22. That's even what Jesus said. He said, "You have not seen this form"—that is with your eyes. He didn't mean something that was visualized in the mind.

Luke 3:22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form

Those who were there saw it with their eyes and it had shape to it. And that's what Jesus said in John 5:37. God has shape that is visible to the eyes. And He has a voice that is audible to the ears.

Luke 9:29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.

The word "appearance" is "eidos"—"that which can be seen with the eye." In II Corinthians 5 the purpose of this (I'm going to go no further with this than II Corinthians 5) means that which can be seen with the eye and refers back to John 5:37 in which Jesus said that God has a form. It can be seen with the eye. This is a scripture that we are familiar with in regard to faith.

II Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

That is, what we can see. We don't walk by what we can see in this case. But, again, "eidos"—meaning, "that which can be seen with the eye."

Let's go back to Genesis 1 once again and we will start off from this launching pad.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

First of all, the word "image"—transliterated it's "tselem," and it means "shape, resemblance, figure, shadow." You can see that there's nothing abstract there. What that word specifically means—the one that comes closest to it—is the word "shadow," that is, "something being abstract." We're going to look at Genesis 5:3.

Genesis 5:3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his [tselem] image, and named him Seth.

So Adam lived one hundred and thirty years and begot a son in his own likeness after his shape, after his resemblance, after his figure, after his shadow. There is absolutely no argument from anybody anywhere about the meaning of image here. There is nothing abstract.

Even as the animals reproduced after their kind, so did Adam and Eve reproduce after their kind. What was reproduced was in the form and shape of Adam and Eve. It was in the image. It is only when we apply this to God that people begin to question. All go on the assumption that God really doesn't have any shape to Him. It's only something that He conveniently uses. That's not what the Bible testifies at all.

If we're going to be consistent, let's be consistent. If we're going to be accurate with the scriptures, we have got to be consistent with the way these words are used in the scripture. The same word is used of Adam and Eve as is used of God.

Let's go to Exodus 20:4—right in the commandment.

Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself a carved [tselem] image,

This is the same word as Genesis 1:26. Does anybody argue with this scripture and say that these images don't look like eagles, or like dragons, or like snakes, or like men? No the image, the idol, looks like something that is a resemblance, that is the shape, that is in the form of what it is being copied from.

Let's look at another one, this time in the book of Leviticus 26:1.

Leviticus 26:1 You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved [tselem] image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God."

That's pretty clear, isn't it? But let's keep going. Turn to Psalm 106:19.

Psalm 106:19-20 They made a calf in Horeb [everybody knows this is talking about Exodus 32], and worshipped the molded [tselem] image. Thus they changed their glory into the [tselem] image of an ox that eats grass.

You see, men really get upset when the same word is used about God making man in His "tselem." Let's keep going. Let's look at another one.

Isaiah 40:18-20 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? The workman molds a graven image [tselem], the goldsmith overspreads it with gold, and the silversmith casts silver chains. Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution chooses a tree that will not rot; he seeks for himself a skillful workman to prepare a carved [tselem] image that will not totter.

One more—Isaiah 44 since it's so close. This one's kind of interesting. It is dripping with sarcasm.

Isaiah 44:9-17 Those who make a graven [tselem] image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit. They are their own witnesses; they neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. Who would form a god or cast a graven [tselem] image that profits him nothing? Surely all his companions would be ashamed; and the workmen, they are mere men. [God was not a mere man when He made man in His image.] Let them all be gathered together, Let them stand up; Yet they shall fear, They shall be ashamed together. The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, fashions it with hammers, and works it with the strength of his arms. Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; He drinks no water and is faint. [He's comparing the blacksmith that makes an image, an idol, to the great God who made man in His image]. The craftsman stretches out his rule, He marks one out with chalk; He fashions it with a plane, He marks it out with the compass, And makes it like the figure of a man, According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, For he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread [out of the same tree that He makes an image, a tselem]; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved [tselem] image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire." And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved [tselem] image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!" [But the other part of you I burn in the fire].

Seventeen times the word "tselem"appears in the Old Testament and even the liberal Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, which goes to great lengths to avoid saying it, admits that concrete form and physical resemblance must be considered for Genesis 1:26 and 27. Listen to this quote from Volume II, page 684.

"Perhaps we may conclude that while much of the thought that there is an external resemblance between God and man may be present [they don't really want to admit it] Ezekiel, who was a priest, has it."

The scripture cannot be broken. Scriptures do not contradict one another. They have to grudgingly admit that it is there in the Bible. Man looks like God. Continuing the quote,

"However cautiously he states it, P [You have to understand where they are coming from. P stands for priestly, and they feel there were four different groups of people who edited the Bible, and one of these was priestly, and in the early parts of the book of Genesis, P, the priestly,] seems to have reached a measure of abstraction."

Oh, they are so sneaky. Well, maybe there's a concrete resemblance, and we know that Ezekiel has it, and that fellow who wrote Genesis 1, maybe he seems to have reached a measure of abstraction. How hard it is to give up the assumption.

The same consistency is shown with the word "likeness." In the Hebrew it's "demooth," transliterated. "Demooth" means, "model, shape, fasten, similitude, and bodily resemblance."

Let's go back to the book of Genesis in chapter 5, verse 1.

Genesis 5:1, 3 This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the [demooth] likeness of God [model, shape, fashion, similitude, bodily resemblance]. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own [demooth] likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

Now again if it is used for God in Genesis 1:26 (God's creation of man in His image), and then we see it here in Genesis 5:1 and 3, don't we have to apply the same discernment of what God intends? I think in order to be honest we do. We were in Isaiah 40:18. You can write this down. The word "demooth" appears.

Let's go to the book of Ezekiel, the first chapter. The word "demooth" appears in here a multitude of times.

Ezekiel 1:5 Also from within it came the likeness [there it is—demooth] of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the [demooth] likeness of a man.

The living creatures looked like a man. What does a man look like? A living creature. It has the same general form and shape. Verse 10.

Ezekiel 1:10 As for the [demooth] likeness of their faces . . .

The living creatures had faces. We find in verse 13:

Ezekiel 1:13 As for the [demooth] likeness of the living creatures, their appearance . . .

Verse 16,

Ezekiel 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness [demooth]

Verse 22,

Ezekiel 1:22 The likeness of the firmament . . .

There it is again. Verse 26,

Ezekiel 1:26 And above the firmament over their heads was the [demooth] likeness of a throne . . .

Are we going to argue about what a throne looks like? It was in the form and shape. It resembled a throne. Verse 28,

Ezekiel 1:28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the [demooth] likeness of the glory of the LORD.

Then in chapter 10 we find it again in verse 1, the last phrase.

Ezekiel 10:1 . . . . having the appearance of the likeness [the demooth] of a throne.

In verse 10 we find it again there; and in verse 22 we find it again.

We'll get back to Ezekiel again just a little bit later. As you can see when you begin to read the whole thing you're going to understand why Interpreter's had to say that Ezekiel showed man as a physical resemblance of God.

Now one more definition of tselem needs to be briefly considered. We haven't considered the word shadow and that is the most abstract of it's usage within the Bible. "Shadow," though, is a legitimate interpretation of the word "image."

Some of you may have a Ferrar-Fenton translation of the Bible and I will just give you what he translates—a couple of phrases there in Genesis 1:26-7. He says,

"Let us make men under our shadow as our representative [in verse 26, and in verse 27 he translates] So God created men under His own shadow creating them in the shadow of God."

There's a very simple answer to that. Anything that casts a shadow must be real. That's so simple. Anything that casts a shadow has to be real. Something that is not real, the light passes right through it and it will not cast a shadow. So man indeed is the shadow of His Creator.

Any time light strikes anything that is solid, that solid thing is going to cast a shadow, and sometimes the shadow is going to be distorted because of the direction that the light is hitting it from. But regardless of the distortion, in order for there to be a shadow, whatever the light is hitting has to be solid enough to stop the light so that a shadow is cast. So the shadow then will be in the resemblance of what is casting the shadow and it will be in the resemblance, depending upon the direction that the light is hitting it from. And so it would be in its image.

Let's go back to the New Testament and we will consider the word there that is used in the Greek, but translated into the English word "image." We're going to go to I Corinthians 11:7. It says there:

I Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

The word "image" there is the Greek "icon." Anybody who has a computer and has a Windows program knows what an icon is. Now maybe you don't know exactly what the word "icon" means in Greek, but it means "to be like," it means "resemblance," it means "a representation, a image," and it is used in the sense of the image of a man—something made of gold, silver or other material, and as we're going to see, and we just saw there, man is in the image of God.

Turn to Romans 1:23. Paul, talking about the sins of the Gentiles, says:

Romans 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man; and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

The word "image" there is "icon." Is it exactly like "tselem?" Is it a synonym for "demooth?" Absolutely! Matthew 22:20 says:

Matthew 22:20 And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's."

Whose image was stamped on the coin? We have no problem at all with that. We have images on all of our coins: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy. And so, do we have any doubt at all that what we see on those coins is a likeness of that person? Yet men will argue that God has no form or shape and God Himself says He does have form and shape and that man is in His image. It makes one scratch his head.

There is a peculiarity to the word "icon" in Greek. The peculiarity, is in its usage, is that "icon" not only means "image or likeness or resemblance," but it also indicates that the image was "drawn from the original and becomes a prototype." Now that is very interesting. It indicates that the image was drawn from the original and becomes a prototype.

Let me give you a simple example of this. The sun's reflection on a pond or a body of water is an icon. The reflection is an icon. What this shows you is there is a direct relationship between the image that is on the water and what it is cast from, in this case, the sun, like there is nothing intervening. There is a direct connection between the reality, the sun, and the image, the reflection, that is, on the water.

We use the word "image" this way in the English language as well. We say a child is the "spitting image" of his father or of his mother. There is a direct connection (direct relationship) between the father or mother and the child. In this case it is a blood relationship and the child is a copy. It is a resemblance with nothing, as it were, intervening between the two—a direct relationship. So the child, then, is a "spitting image" because of the direct relationship.

Now, on the other hand, two people may resemble each other. They might be the same height and the same general shape and so forth of the face. They may even walk somewhat the same, talk somewhat the same, but though they resemble each other, there is no direct relationship between them. In that case a different Greek word would be used, a word that means "similitude." Remember this.

We're going to turn to Romans 8:29.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew [you], He also predestined to be conformed to the [icon] image of His Son . . .

Is there a direct relationship between us and Jesus Christ? And in whose image are we to be? We are going to be in His image. We're going to be in the Father's image too. But we're going to be in His image.

II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same [icon] image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Chapter 4 and verse 4:

II Corinthians 4:4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God [Is there a direct relationship between those two? The icon of God], should shine on them.

Here we are moving into an area of likeness or imagery that indicates more than simple form, something that indicates other aspects of personality in which image is expanded to include the whole being. But this is not shown in the Old Testament. That it is implied in the Old Testament, no one has an argument with that. But when men say that shape and form are not intended, that is an outright corruption of the usages of "tselem," "demooth," and "icon."

There is no question about man being made in the intellectual, moral and spiritual likeness of God. The overwhelming usages in their context refer to form and shape and that man is made in the image and likeness of God bodily. Then God must have a body. He must have outward form and shape.

Consider this: one might as well argue that "tselem," "demooth," and "icon," when used of idols, means moral and spiritual image and likeness and not outward bodily shape, for the same words are used of both God and idols. [But,] they refer to what can be absorbed by man's natural senses. They are not something that requires spiritual perception. They are not talking about conversion.

Well we have reached what I consider to be a natural breaking place. To continue in the next section of the sermon would require more time than I want to spend on this particular call, so we will break off the transmission here and the next time I speak we will pick up the subject.

JWR//












 


 
Close
E-mail It