Devotional: Let’s Start at the Beginning

Photo courtesy Matt Gibson

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. Genesis 5:1-2 (KJV)

Summary: If were going to do men’s ministry, then we have to understand where we came from and who we are.

Mankind has a history in a way that no other earthly creature does. Genesis 5:1-2 is the beginning of that history, a written account of the descendants of Adam and Eve. The nature of that account is affected by the nature of these creatures. First, they are a conscious creation of a personal God, not the product of mere chance. Second, they are created in the image of the God who created them, an image that distinguishes them from the rest of creation. Third, they are created male and female, reflecting the multi personal nature of God. The man is not complete in himself and the woman is not complete in herself. Fourth, they are blessed: empowered to procreate.

Nothing about the Fall is mentioned in this passage, but the results of the Fall bear fruit over and over again in the following verses as evidenced in the phrase and he died.

Application

This seminal passage is a cornerstone for western civilization’s concept of the intrinsic value of the individual. Man is a creature, but not just a physical animal. Rather, he is a person created by a personal God. As such, he shares common characteristics with both animals and the Divine. On the one hand, he is finite, material, living, breathing flesh that reproduces like all creatures. But on the other hand, he bears the personal image of God and has a soul.

Theologians sometimes describe this shared likeness to God and distinctness from God in terms of communicable and incommunicable attributes. Examples of communicable attributes – those qualities we share with God – are intellect, emotion and will. Examples of incommunicable attributes – qualities which God alone possesses – are eternity, immutability and omnipotence. The point of this distinction is that there is a part of man that cannot be explained by the material world. Man is a shadow cast on the material world by God. If we try to define ourselves by the material world alone, we ultimately dehumanize ourselves. The only way we can understand who we are is to look to the One who is casting us onto the physical world as a “shadow,” not to the physical world itself.

The irony is that God prohibits us from forming an image of Him. And yet He Himself has made an image – us! We are what God looks like in the physical world. As the image of God, we are in the world, but not of the world. We each have infinite value in the sight of God and have equal standing before God.

At the same time, Man, in the generic sense, is comprised of male and female. Man reaches his ultimate fulfillment in multi-personal relationships. He is not meant to be alone, but in fellowship with other images, and, specifically, images of the opposite sex for the purpose of reproducing. Just as God creates, now Man procreates, resulting in offspring after his kind. No only, then, do we exist in relationship to the opposite sex, but also in relationship to the generations that precede us and the ones that follow us. We live in a continuum. Just as God has and does act in history, Man now acts in history as well, creating a story line that needs to be recorded for succeeding generations to learn.

Teaching

This passage is both intensely personal as well as universally applicable. Every man experiences what it is like to be made in the image of God. And every man has some sort of relationship with women and often children as well.

Some themes we can emphasize in our teaching of this passage are a man’s relationship to God, his relationship to women and his relationship to God’s blessing as expressed in the bearing of children. All of these relationships are interwoven. When our relationship with God is broken, it affects how we treat women and specifically, our wives. It also affects how we treat our children.

Another theme is that men and women exist as image bearers of God. We cannot rid ourselves of the image of God in us, we cannot explain this image apart from God, and we cannot divest ourselves of significance that transcends ourselves and reverberates down through the generations we beget.

Discussion Questions

  1. The Bible is clear that people have been created by God. What do you think this means?
  1. What does it mean to bear the likeness of God? In what ways are we like God and in what ways are we not?
  1. What is the difference between a man and a male? In what sense does the exchange of singular and plural with reference to man reflect the plurality of persons in the Trinity?
  1. What are some differences between a person and an animal? What are some similarities?
  1. If someone doesnt believe in God or in the divine origin of people, then what is the logical conclusion regarding who we are?