Mankind Was Created in the Image of God

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 heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on 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 heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

Out of all of God’s creation, only mankind was created in the image of God. But was does it mean to be created in the image of God?

The Hebrew word for “image” used in Genesis 1:26 is tselem (צֶלֶם), Strong’s H6754. The usage of this word suggests that man is made in the likeness or resemblance of God.

God clearly does not have a body of flesh and bones. Yeshua said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 KJV).

In the Book of Revelation, John wrote, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Revelation 4:2-5 KJV).

Certain groups, notably the Mormons, have committed the error of saying that God the Father has a body, and have thus become anthropomorphites, people who say that God has a human form.

This form of doctrinal decay has also set in among certain segments of American Evangelicalism, most notably in the Pentecostal Word Faith movement. Many Evangelicals have (temporarily or permanently) bought into the idea that the Father has a body.

Anthropomorphites argue that man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) and point to verses that refer to the strong right arm of God, the eyes of God, and so forth.

Tatian the Syrian said, “Our God has no introduction in time. He alone is without beginning, and is himself the beginning of all things. God is a spirit, not attending upon matter, but the maker of material spirits and of the appearances which are in matter. He is invisible, being himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things.”

The Bible is clear that mankind, unlike the rest of creation,  is made in the image of God. Furthermore, the Bible repeats this truth after sin enters the world, which means even though sin has stained and marred us, we remain God’s image bearers.

Part of being made in God’s image is that Adam had the capacity to make free choices. Although he was given a righteous nature, Adam made an evil choice to rebel against his Creator. In so doing, Adam marred the image of God within himself, and he passed that damaged likeness on to all his descendants (Romans 5:12). Today, we still bear the image of God (James 3:9), but we also bear the scars of sin. Mentally, morally, socially, and physically, we show the effects of sin.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned — for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
(Romans 5:12-13 ESV)

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
(James 3:7-10 ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:9-11 KJV).

John Calvin wrote the following comments on Colossians 3:10:

“We are renewed after the image of God. Hence, too we learn, on the one hand, what is the end of our regeneration, that is, that we may be made like God, and that His glory may shine forth in us; and, on the other hand, what is the image of God, of which mention is made by Moses in Genesis 9:6, the rectitude and integrity of the whole soul, so that man reflects, like a mirror, the wisdom, righteousness, and goodness of God. He speaks somewhat differently in the Epistle to the Ephesians, but the meaning is the same. Paul, at the same time, teaches, that there is nothing more excellent at which the Colossians can aspire, inasmuch as this is our highest perfection and blessedness to bear the image of God.”

What John Calvin is saying is that to image God is to “mirror” His invisible attributes to the world, somewhat like Moses, who radiated the glory of God after being in God’s presence. Therefore we are not to reflect Adam, the culture or even ourselves to the world. Rather God has bestowed upon us the amazing ability and awesome responsibility to be His mirrors on the earth, reflecting His goodness and glory to all for His glory and our joy. All persons are God’s image in a basic sense, but Christians image Him more than non-Christians and mature Christians do so even more.

God formed man from the dust and gave him life by sharing His own breath (Genesis 2:7). Accordingly, man is unique among all God’s creations, having both a material body and an immaterial soul/spirit.

The good news is that when God redeems an individual, He begins to restore the original image of God, creating a “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). That redemption is only available by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from the sin that separates us from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through Christ, we are made new creations in the likeness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The image of God is generally held to mean that people contain within their nature elements that reflect God’s nature: compassion, reason, love, hate, patience, kindness, self-awareness, etc. Man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Though we have a physical image, it does not mean that God has one. Rather, God is spirit (John 4:24), not flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

Yeshua alone has imaged God perfectly. Many New Testament Scriptures, and even Yeshua Himself, declare this.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.
(Colossians 1:11-16 ESV)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
(Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
(John 12:44-45 ESV)

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
(John 14:8-11 ESV)

Yeshua told is how we can best mirror the image of God and the radiance of His Glory as Moses did. Yeshua said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV).

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Seventh Heaven

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
(Psalms 19:1 KJV)

The Third Heaven is a spiritual division of the universe within Judeo-Christian cosmology. In some traditions it is considered the abode of God, and in others a lower level of Paradise, commonly one of seven. Seven Heavens is a part of religious cosmology found in many major religions such as Islam, Judaism and Hinduism and in some minor religions such as Hermeticism and Gnosticism. The Divine Throne is said to be in or above the seventh heaven in most Abrahamic religions.

It is believed that the origin of this myth goes back to astrology. Ancient astrologists could identify seven great heavenly objects and assumed each was floating in a separate heaven. The number seven in Biblical references symbolically represented perfect completion, as in the seven-day week, the seven eyes and horns seen on the Lamb of God in The Book of Revelation, and the seventh in the generations of Adam: Lamech who was completely wicked, and Enoch who walked with God.

According to Jewish teachings in the Talmud, the universe is made of seven heavens (Shamayim). Vilon (Isaiah 40:22), also called Arafel, Raki’a  (Genesis 1:17), Shehaqim (Psalms 78:23), Zebul (Isaiah 63:15, I Kings 8:13), Ma’on (Deuteronomy 26:15, Psalms 42:9), Machon (1 Kings 7:30, Deuteronomy 28:12), and Araboththe seventh Heaven where the ofanim, the seraphim, the hayyoth and the throne of the Lord are located.

The Jewish Merkavah and Heichalot literature was devoted to discussing the details of these heavens, sometimes in connection with traditions relating to Enoch, such as the Third Book of Enoch.

The Hebrew Bible does not mention third heaven or the number of heavens.

References to distinct concepts known as “Heaven” ( Shamayim) occur in the very earliest books of the Tanakh. The second use of the word heaven, in Genesis 1:8 and 20 refers to the atmosphere over the earth in which birds fly. The third, mentioned in Genesis 1:14, is the setting for the celestial lights, later identified (Genesis 1:16) as the sun, moon and stars. The first use of the word heaven is used in Genesis 1:1 to describe the heaven of heavens (Deuteronomy 10:14) the light creation in Genesis 1:3 is all the celestial beings such as the angels and the very image that the Spirit of God makes for Himself to receive glory on the throne of God as God. When God divided the light from darkness (Genesis 1:4-5) this was the separation of the Heaven of Heavens into two sections Day (God’s throne) and Night (where our universe is contained).

A third concept of Heaven, also called shamayi h’shamayim (the “Heaven of Heavens”) is mentioned in such passages as Genesis 28:12, Deuteronomy 10:14 and 1 Kings 8:27 as a distinctly spiritual realm containing (or being traveled by) angels and God Himself.

Due to the ambiguity of the term “Heaven” as it is used in the books of the Tanakh, and the fact that the word in Hebrew, shamayim, is plural, a number of interpretations have been offered for various texts involving its nature, notably the assumption of the prophet Elijah.

An Epistle of the Apostle Paul, included in the Brit Chadashah, contains an explicit reference to the Third Heaven. In a letter to the Corinthian church he writes, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 KJV). The Greek says “caught away”, not “caught up” possibly reflecting Jewish beliefs that Paradise was somewhere other than the uppermost heaven.

The apparent parallelism of the passage equates the Third Heaven with “Paradise” the traditional destination of redeemed humans and the general connotation of the term “Heaven” in mainstream Christianity.

Four allusions to the Apocalypse of Moses occur in close proximity in 2 Corinthians. The allusions are “Satan as an angel of light”, the distinction of Satan and the serpent as two beings, “Third Heaven” and “Paradise”, the connection to this Jewish material has led to discussion about whether Paul accepted these traditions, or alternatively whether Paul’s vision of Third Heaven is a continuation of his conflict with the Superapostles in the previous chapter, and that the material comes not from his own teaching, but in reply to material similar to Apocalypse of Moses being transmitted by the Superapostles to the Corinthians. Whether this is so partly depends on whether irony is detected in this section. The relationship of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism is still widely disputed among many people.

This article will not discuss the beliefs of Islam, Hinduism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism any further regarding their theology on this subject. Sound Doctrine Ministries mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah and provide glory to God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, the doctrines and theology of these false religions are of no further interest to us  regarding this topic.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

The English word “firmament” in the Bible is a translation of the Hebrew, raqiameaning “expanse.” Its meaning is not “firm boundary” as Biblical critics have alleged, but might be better paraphrased as “stretched-out thinness” or simply “space.”

Its first occurrence in the Bible relates it to heaven  (Genesis 1:6-8). This firmament obviously could not be a solid boundary above the sky, but is essentially the atmosphere, the “first heaven,” the “space” where the birds were to “fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1:20).

Many Young Earth Creationists have interpreted the “waters above the firmament” as a theoretical water canopy which once surrounded the Earth but no longer exists (their source of the waters of Noah’s flood). This is incorrect when closely examined within the literal framework of the Genesis narrative. The reason is because of what is said in this next passage.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
(Genesis 1:14-19 KJV)

There is a second firmament, or second heaven, where God placed the sun, moon, and stars, stretching out into the infinite reaches of space. (Genesis 1:17).

The Prophet Ezekiel’s had a vision in which he described seeing God as attended and served by a vast company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments. Ezekiel then described the firmament beneath the very throne of God, and above the mighty cherubim  who seem always in Scripture to indicate the near presence of God.

And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
(Ezekiel 1:22-23 KJV)

This glorious firmament, brilliantly crystalline in appearance, must be “the third heaven” which the Apostle Paul described in his epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

There are three “firmaments” or “heavens” mentioned in the Bible, atmospheric space (Genesis 1:20), stellar space (Genesis 1:17), and the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:2), where God’s throne is located.

The firmament deals with the structure of the present heavens and Earth. There is presently a three heavens structure. Again, let’s look back at Genesis 1:6-8 and more closely examine that passage to determine the present structure.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

On the second day of the creation, God “divided” the waters (plural) into two parts with a “firmament” in the midst. According to the Genesis narrative, both the waters that were upon the face of the Earth and the waters which God placed above the firmament He called Seas.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:9-10 KJV)

This is important to understand. We know that the waters on the Earth are called “Seas” in the Bible, but there is also another “Sea” that is spoken of in the Scriptures, and that one is above the firmament. During the six days of the Creation, God defined three heavens.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
(Genesis 1:14-15 KJV)

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
(Genesis 1:20 KJV)

These two heavens constitute a continuum called the “firmament,” and this firmament is collectively called “Heaven”.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:8 KJV)

The Third Heaven is above this higher “Sea,” and this higher sea is before and below the Throne of God.

And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
(Revelation 4:6 KJV)

Therefore, this particular “Sea” above the firmament is above the known physical universe. Since the sun, moon and stars are “in” the firmament this “Sea” must be above them. This is difficult for the mankind and science to understand, but it is a Scriptural fact on cosmology.  It represents a firm and impassable barrier between the world of man and the Kingdom of God.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
(Psalms 148:4 KJV)

This is almost certainly the firmament or sea that John saw in his visions.  This is the present sea of separation that will no longer exist when God destroys the old world and makes all things new after the Reign of Yeshua during the Millennial Kingdom and the final judgment that follows.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
(Revelation 21:1 KJV)

This now gives us a better understanding of what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he speaks of a place called the third heaven.

Although the third heaven is not directly mentioned in the Genesis narrative, the established structure of all things is defined in Genesis and, when understood, allows us to comprehend exactly where and what Paul was talking about when he mentions the third heaven in his epistle to the Corinthians. It also gives the reader a better understanding of John’s vision in Revelation. Again, when the Lord God divided the waters He created a boundary which presently exists between the two lower heavens (which constitute the firmament) and the third heaven (where the throne of God is). That boundary is that “Sea,” and again that “sea” is above the two heavens of the firmament. It is also likened in passages of Scripture to crystal or smooth glass.

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
(Revelation 15:2 KJV)

All three heavens “declare the glory of God” and all three firmaments “sheweth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Therefore, we should “Praise God in His sanctuary” and also “praise Him in the firmament of His power” (Psalm 150:1).

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 KJV)

Many times throughout my life, I have likened the universe to a type of snow globe on Almighty God’s desktop. This study of the firmament and the order of the universe does nothing if not prove that analogy to be very accurate.