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The Creation Of Man

Creation is the opening word of God's self-revelation to man. Whether we think of the knowledge of God imparted in created things (Ram. 1:20) or of the unfolding of Himself in Holy Scripture, the divine initiative in calling the universe into being is paramount. The indictment "that, knowing God, they glorified Him not as Gad" (Ram. 1:21), leaves no doubt concerning human responsibility in regard to the whole of creation; a creation, the plan and execution of which are displayed in the Scriptures in the measure and form determined by God's own wisdom. One obvious element in the plan of creation as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2, is that of movement towards a crowning event - the creation of man.

It is not the purpose of this paper to explore the field of controversy arising from evolutionary theories. In so far as these are propounded in frank opposition to the concept of a divine creative activity, they present no problem to the Bible-believing Christian. Gad has spoken in inspired Scripture and declared that, "in the beginning God created ...". There the essential issue rests (John 17:17; Heb. 11:3). The present purpose is to trace the marvellous act of Gad in the creation of man in terms of His own purpose of grace, and of the spiritual significance of this divine act. In order to do this, we shall look at the subject under four headings.

The Divine Agent

It is appropriate that we should first focus upon the central place given to the Son. The Scriptures make it clear that, within the work of the Godhead in creation, a unique place is accorded to the Son of God. He is the Creative Word in the prologue of John's Gospel; the Mediator of creative omnipotence in Heb. 1:2; and the Pre-eminent, the Firstborn of all creation in Col. 1:15-18. The emphasis, however, on the triune participation in creation comes in Gen. 1:26, where the eternal counsels are revealed in the words, "Let us make man in our image".

This announcement enshrined the message of the total involvement of the Godhead; the appearance from the hand of Deity of a creature more fair, more perfect and more responsive by far to Himself than any of the living wanders hitherto produced. In Proverbs 8 the San of Gad is revealed in inspired poetry as the personification of wisdom. As such He is presented in the practical role of "master workman" (vv. 30, 31). A high note of joy is struck here, "rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in His habitable earth". This was the day when "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7). The words which immediately fallow in Prov. 8:31 have, however, a very special and precious significance for us: "And My delight was with the sons 6f men". The chosen object of the favour and delight of God the Son was this race of men whose very constitution in the divine "image" promised so much of intelligent communion; such was the outreach of heaven's authority, wisdom and love into this tiny selected planet in the vastness of the universe. Thus, while God in creation, "saw that it was very good", the Master Workman of the Trinity chooses in the subsequent revelation of Scripture to disclose His particular delight in the "sons of men". Although our limited, minds cannot encompass the counsels of Deity from eternity to eternity, yet it is impossible to dissociate the Son's delight from the coming supreme honour which humanity was yet to know when, "she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger" (Luke

2:7).

The Creative Act

The controversy to which same have been excited by the dual account in Genesis 1 and 2 of the creation of man, is not our concern here. There should be little difficulty in anyone's mind about the complementary character of the two accounts of man's emergence from the hand of God. Of undoubted significance and interest also is the large proportion of the Genesis story of Creation devoted to the making of man. The statement in chapter 1, "and God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him", seals the truth of man's unique spiritual constitution; of his very special capacity to relate to His Creator. It is associated with God's expressed ambition for man's exercise of delegated authority in this world. This truth is further expounded in the subsequent revelation of Scripture, which demonstrates mare fully the sweet communion which Gad looked far in man (Gen. 3:8).

We shall return to the matter of man in God's image. What then of Gen. 2:7 - "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul"? This is essentially a biological statement. The man whose body God had formed out of the materials of earth, became "alive". Yet this does not, surely, exhaust the significance of the passage. No such statement is in fact made about any other living creature which God made. Only on man was the gift of life conferred, we conclude, by such a specific, personally identifying act as "breathed into his nostrils". Thus is underlined for us by the Lord the Spirit the uniqueness of this culminating work of creation. Moreover, the divine record proceeds in some detail to the further activity of the making of a woman from man. Only in the case of man, among living creatures, do we read, "male and female created He them" (1:27). Both sexes were produced, of course, in the animal creation, but it was from man and his new companion that God purposed to illumine the eternal "mystery" of Christ and the Church (Gen. 2:23,24; Eph. 5:31;32). Thus we can readily appreciate that without man as the apex of the Creator's plan, all else would have been at the best incomplete, and at the worst without point. However, with our God, "His work is perfect" (Deut. 32:4), and the total result of His seven days' work was "very good" (1:31).

The Eternal Purpose

Following a little further the matter of the divine purpose in man, touched upon above, we note Paul's declaration to unbelieving men at Athens in Acts 17:28,29. Here, speaking of men as the "offspring of God", he casts their mind back to their divine origin and special relationship to the Creator. Sin and the Fall had intervened, but could never erase the eternal desire of God for fellowship with His creature. The Athenians must raise their eyes above the degrading idolatry into which Satan had deluded them. Not only, however, had the Fall intervened when Paul spoke, but the events of Bethlehem, Calvary and Joseph's garden-tomb had passed into the unfolding history of God's purpose in Man. The incredible had happened; the Creative Word had Himself became flesh (John 1:14). The human spirit is compelled to worship in the face of such a divine intervention. The sheer magnitude of the glory of the Incarnation of God the Son, is overwhelming:

Woman's Seed in Eden promised,

God incarnate, virgin-born;

Morning Star by men unnoticed,

Herald of a glorious dawn.

It is futile to speculate about this event in relation to God's apparent original purpose for a sinless race on this earth. He who dwells in eternity, who knows the end from the beginning, plans and acts in dimensions of knowledge and purpose not built into the human mind. Psalm 8 with its central question, "What is man?" (3,4), intermingles in poetic mystery the divine ambition far man at the first, and the fuller glory of the San of Man in His redemptive suffering and His resurrection supremacy (Heb. 2:9). Without question man on earth was central in the eternal plan for representative care and dominion in the chosen planet "Thou madest him to have dominion aver the works of Thy hands". As Erich Sauer has expressed it, "The creation has as its purpose the revelation of the divine glory in the entire life-process of the universe.... On earth this must be achieved in man, God's image, God's representative, and the God-appointed ruler of His creation". Yet in the aftermath of the Fall, an even more glorious purpose comes to light in the taking of "the form of a servant" by Him "who, being in the form of God", was "found in fashion as a Man". And such eternally will God the Son remain the Man in the glory. Which brings us to,

The Final Consummation

The day of the ultimate execution of the righteous sentence upon Adam must have cast deep gloom over the universe, as his aged, worn, and possibly diseased body rested back in death in mother earth. But Paul's very soul must have thrilled in response to the guiding Spirit as he wrote to the Philippians, of Christ, "Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory". As we think of God becoming Man our spirits rise yet again to glory in the sorrow and in the triumph of Calvary.

O sacred Head, what glory,

What bliss till now was Thine

Yet, though despised and gory,

I joy to call Thee mine.

Thy grief and Thy compassion

Were all for sinners' gain;

Mine, mine was the transgression,

But Thine the deadly pain.

Yes, omniscient Deity had seen the moment of redemption, and the elevation of ruined mankind to eternal glory in Christ. Created in the "image of God" at the first as to his spiritual constitution, an eternity of still fuller dignity, awaits a cleansed and restored race of men. The Christian has "put on the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:10). As Paul instructed the Corinthians, "The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit" and, moreover, "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Cor. 15:45,49). How majestically is the consummation of the counsels of God's grace summed up in Ram. 8:29: "For whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren". The Son of God, pre-eminent in creative power and glory, shared with none the pre-eminence "in bringing many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10).

"Let us make man" came the voice of the Creator at the first. "What is man?" came the question of the Psalmist ere long. "Handle Me and see" said the living Christ in resurrection glory. David must have glimpsed it all, if darkly, to break forth, "0 LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth I" (Psa. 8:1,9).