Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
I want to think with you this morning about three things taught in this text. One is that God created human beings. The second is that God created us in his image. The third is that God created us male and female.
It is possible to believe these three truths and not be a Christian. After all they are all taught right here in the Jewish Scriptures. Therefore a good Scripture-believing Jew would accept these truths. But even though you can believe these three truths and not be a Christian, all of them point to Christianity. They all beg for the completion that comes with the work and Christ. That’s what I want to talk about, especially in regard to the third truth—that we are created in God’s image as male and female.
God Created Human Beings
Let’s take the first truth: that human beings have been created by God. I think this begs for an explanation. WHY did he create us? When you make something, you have a reason for making it. But does the world as we know it give an adequate answer to that question? The Old Testament speaks of man bringing the world under his dominion. It speaks of being created to show forth God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7). It speaks of the earth being filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
But what do we see? We see a world in rebellion against the Creator. We see the Jewish Scriptures coming to an end with the story of creation utterly unfinished and the hope of glory still to come. So just believing that God created human beings the way the Jewish Scriptures teach that he did begs for the rest of the story to be told, namely, Christianity. Only in Christ can the purpose of creation be achieved.
God Created us in His Image
Or take the second truth for example: God created us in his image. Surely this must have something to do with why we are here. His purpose in making us must have something wonderful to do with the fact that we are not frogs or lizards or birds or even monkeys. We are human beings in the image of God, we alone and no other animal.
But what a mess we have made of this awesome dignity. Are we like God? Well, yes and no. Yes, we are like God, even sinful and unbelieving there is a likeness. We know this because in Genesis 9:6 God said to Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” In other words, even in a world where sin abounds (with the likes of murder) human beings are still in the image of God. They may not be killed like mice and mosquitoes. You forfeit your life if you murder a human being. (See James 3:9.)
But are we the image God made us to be? Is not the image marred sometimes almost beyond recognition? Do you feel that you are like God in the way you should be? So here again the belief that we were created in God’s image begs for a completion—in this case a redemption, a transformation, a kind of re-creation. And that is exactly what Christianity brings. “By grace are you saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works . . . Put on the new nature created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 2:8–10; 4:24). God created us in his image, but we have marred it almost beyond recognition and Jesus is the answer. He comes by faith, he forgives, he cleanses, and he begins a reclamation project called sanctification that will end in the glory that God intended for human beings in the first place. Therefore since we know that we were created in the image of God, our sin and corruption begs for an answer. And Jesus is the answer.
God Created us Male and Female
The third truth in these verses is that God created us male and female. And this too points to Christianity and begs for the completion of Christ. How? In two ways at least. One comes from the mystery of marriage. The other comes from the historical ugliness of male-female relationships in sin.