MA Biblical Studies Essay — Image and Likeness!

We struggle with some of these Scriptures that from a surface reading appear to deal with judgment or God’s disappointment with us because of a wrong understanding of who we (mankind) are. From Adam’s fall to the present day, we walk far below the level God designed for us to walk in. Jesus came and revealed it to us, showing who God is and who we are in Him, and John and Paul both taught it to all men, Jews, and Gentiles. Clearly explaining to them that from the foundation of the world God put His life in us and had never taken it back… that we have always been one with God. But then religion crept back in, and mankind slipped back into an old way of thinking. Now, 2000 years later, we are right back where those Old Testament Jews were…. Not knowing who God is and not knowing who we are.  And so, it’s imperative that as we are awakened to these truths, we shout it from the rooftops!  Declaring the end from the beginning!

Adam fell in his understanding of both who God was and who he was that he was image and likeness of God, who was to rule and reign on earth.  And mankind after him continued to fall farther and farther in that understanding. But God never forgot! And He never changed His mind about who man is! He spent 4000 years following man in the dust realm, pursuing them, trying to clothe their understanding of righteousness through the prophet’s messages. But man had become alienated and hostile in their minds.  They had become non-participants in the life God had designed for them to live, living a life of non-existence.

And so, God sent His Son to redeem them. To reconcile them back to Himself by removing everything that hindered them in this life. To wake them out of their slumber and amnesia. The Word who was in the Beginning, who was face to face… one with the Godhead. The One who had created ALL things and held ALL things together. The Word, the Son, who had within Him life which was the light of ALL men.  The Word, the Voice, Yahweh Himself became flesh and came to dwell among men. Came to reveal the Father and the lost awareness of who we were. Came to reveal God in human flesh… what it looked like to live as image and likeness of the Divine Ones.

Jesus was the express image of God… the embodiment of God. He was the radiance, the shining reflection, of His glory. He was the exact image, the expression, of His substance. Of His reality. He came as the Voice of the Father… as the actions of the Father. No man could ever again say that he had not seen God, that he didn’t know what the Father was like. All we would have to do is look at Jesus! He was the mirror of the Father and the mirror of ourselves. In Him, man and God were once again face to face… breath to breath!

But instead of seeing the face of God and feeling His breath of life, they were staunch in their wrong beliefs… in the God that Moses presented in the law. Demanding wrath and justice instead of mercy and love. Bringing a woman that they caught in judgment and throwing her at Jesus’ feet demanding her death because their societal justice (law) required it.  But the Father, expressing Himself in and through the Son, simply looked at both the woman and her accusers with eyes of compassion and love and began to draw in the dust. Not stalling for time, nor was He writing the names and sins of the accusers as some have suggested. He was declaring Jeremiah’s words to them.

 

We may not have made the connection to Jeremiah 17 when we read John 8, but the Jews of His day would have seen Him writing in the dust (and asking who is without sin?) and they would’ve made the connection. They realized that they were not without “sin.” They had forsaken Him (Jer. 17:13)… that they had abandoned Him in their understanding and had departed from Him. They had turned away from Him and served “other gods.” It says of them in Jeremiah that they “shall be ashamed.”  These scribes and Pharisees who were used to honor and respect from all, probably felt great shame as they realized they weren’t as “sinless” as they thought they were and probably with a tremendous feeling of defeat…. Feeling the sting of self-condemnation.

But He wasn’t pointing out their shortcomings by writing in the dust. He IS love, and all He can pour forth is love. He IS a life-giving spirit, and all He can release is life. These Pharisees and Scribes were His very own! He loved them and desired that they walk in abundant life. When He would say things to them that we think were harsh rebukes of disapproval and judgment, things like “Woe, to you hypocrites,” it was the cry of the Father. In Greek, it is a word uttered in grief. In Hebrew it is the word oy which means a lamentation (a passionate expression of grief; weeping), it is a crying out after; and its ROOT is to crave or much desire or long after; to covet.

A hypocrite means an actor, a pretender; one who decides, speaks and acts under a false part; — one who is walking in a mistaken identity… not walking in their true nature, who they were created to be. When He spoke to them, it was always with a passionate longing after them. It was rooted in His desire for them to walk in who He created them to be. Instead of hearing “judgment” and “disapproval” we are to hear with ears of LOVE. Love that says “this is not who you are to come back to the knowledge of who you always have been IN Me — image and likeness of God.”

Him writing in the dust was a declaration that this One standing before them, He IS Yahweh, the Hope of Israel and the Fountain of Living Water (Jeremiah 17:13). Jesus was declaring to them and to her the end from the beginning. Saying to them that I AM He who was with God and is God.  I AM He who was and is ONE with Father and Spirit….and with you!!!

Although Scripture doesn’t say it (and it’s pure speculation or imagination on my part), I can see Jesus writing the names of everyone standing there in the dust, just like Jeremiah said. And then the Breath of Life, Himself, gently blowing into the dust breathing life once again on the names of those who had forsaken Him because they had lost their way. Reminding them that He had once breathed into that dust and formed a divine one filled with all of the fullness of God. Formed in Hebrew means completed and connected. Man has always been complete and a connection of heaven and earth… of the realm of spirit in this earth realm.

And this Yahweh would heal them and save them (Jeremiah 17:14) from perishing…. From a living a life of non-existence. He would not leave them in the dust realm! Yes, they had turned away from Him because of Adam’s transgression… forgetting who He was and who they were. But His plans would stand firm, His will before the foundation of the world would be done. They had been created by Him in the very image and likeness of Elohim, and they would once again remember they are gods and live out of that divinity.

Image and likeness of God. What is image of God? Image is tselem in Hebrew and had to do with carved images or idols that were worshipped. These carved images were statues of wood, stone or precious metal that were said to be the embodiment of gods on earth… they were images of god. Man made in the image of God does not mean man looks just like God but instead man is the vessel that is the manifestation, the realization, the expression of Elohim. Embodied by God Himself.  Father, Son, and Spirit slowed down to visibility. It is true that in Him we live and move and have our being, BUT it is equally valid that IN us He lives and moves and has His being. God always intended from before the foundation of the world to live His life, finding expression, through man.

Then Yahweh Elohim breathed ALL of His life… all of His likeness (if you will) into man. ALL of God breathed into man. He didn’t just blow into Adam. He breathed into ALL mankind the Breath of Life. The Breath of Life in Hebrew is actually the Breath of Lives, plural. Mankind then became a living soul!  The word Soul at its root means rest; Breath is also “soul or spirit” and in Hebrew, it is neshamah which is also a Hebrew term of endearment implying that “you are a part of me.”  And He breathed His Spirit into mankind… His oneness (Father, Son, and Spirit). Mankind became alive — at rest; at one with the Godhead – fully connected, a part of Them (neshama) made in Their image and likeness.

The soul in Hebrew is also the part of us that gives us speech — a speaking spirit!

In the Targum (the Aramaic translation of the Old Testament), the Jewish sages have translated “living being” as “speaking spirit” — made in God’s likeness…. A co-creator. Man would be able to create their worlds by speaking just like Him.  In Ephesians 5:1 we are told to be imitators of God… mimic Him, imitate the pattern He has set; Hebrews 11:3: Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.  Romans 4:17 says God calls those things that are not into existence… He calls them – He calls aloud, utters in a loud voice, He calls them by name.

And, of course, Mark 11:22-23 shows us that God’s faith “speaks.”  Job 22:28 says “you shall decree a thing and it shall be established.”  And of course, one of my favorites is 2 Cor 4:13 But having the same spirit of faith according to that having been written: “I believed, therefore I have spoken,” we also believe and therefore speak.  And Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of our tongue.  One meaning of power is border.  I like that… death and life are within the “borders” of our tongue. Within the border of our words, of what we say!

The borders of our words should be declaring the end from the beginning. Creating our world with our words the way God formed the world. Mankind was designed to be the embodiment of the Godhead (made in His image) and according to His likeness.  Created to be an expression of God in this earth. But if we don’t have an accurate understanding of what God is like, we won’t be able to reflect Him on earth. We will merely reflect the image of God that we have in our conscious awareness. That was Israel’s problem. They had forgotten what God was like.

In Isaiah 40:18 Isaiah asks the question, “to whom will you liken God? To what image will you compare Him?”  Then in verse 19 and 20, he goes on to talk about the futility of men’s experiences arriving at an accurate perception of God. He talks about how men have missed it. The first man he talks about is in v. 19 described as a man “of works.” Then in v. 20, he talks about an impoverished man or in other words a man with no spiritual insight. These 2 men describe the condition of mankind at that time that had a wrong perception of God and therefore couldn’t accurately reflect His image and likeness on earth.  And so, they had a false image of who they thought God was. Then in Isaiah 46:7 God says to them that they bear this false image around on their shoulders. They carry an image of Him around in their minds that can neither answer them nor save them out of their troubles.

In verse 21 Isaiah sends them back to the beginning… to the foundation of the earth to discover what God is like. Back to creation. He’s telling them that men begin building their understanding of God’s image and likeness with the God of Creation.  The “In the beginning” God. Verses 9 and 10 tells them to remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

They had forgotten that they were image and likeness of God. Forgotten that they were His vessel of Life and ALL that He IS was breathed into them to be expressed in this earth realm. Love, goodness, grace, health, prosperity, peace, joy, righteousness, etc. And all that was necessary to walk in this FULLNESS of Life… this FULLNESS of Him was an awareness in our thinking of who He is and what He’s like. This was God’s desire from before the foundation… He chose us in Christ to be holy, righteous, perfect and complete. To be His sanctuary… His temple. Living life IN us, AS us and flowing so beautifully and uniquely through each of us.

He had had an eternal covenant with us that existed before time began. We have been divine ones chosen to rule and reign with Him since before time began. The fall didn’t erase that design. The only thing that was erased was man’s awareness of God’s image and likeness in them. They began living out of their carnal experiences walking in a sin consciousness, feeling judged and condemned by God. But Jesus came to reveal to us that the Father was judging no man but had placed ALL judgment in His hands. The judgment Jesus chose was declaring the end from the beginning… justifying ALL men as righteous. Quickening us with the newness of life and seating us with Him in the heavenlies.

Seated! The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus being seated is the main point of all that he has written. And then we find out that we are seated with Him. He is seated and at rest. And He placed us in a position of rest…. Which brings us back to an awareness of oneness.  There has never been a moment any of us have ever existed apart from God. Our oneness with Him was God-breathed. We have ALWAYS been in Christ. Paul told us in Ephesians 1 that He chose us IN CHRIST before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love. And then he told us in chapter 2 that we were created IN CHRIST for good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in or live in. I love that – Paul says we were created in Christ and Genesis 2:7 says Yahweh God formed man {Aleph Tav (in Christ)}. The end indeed is declared from the beginning.

We have always been eternal, divine, immortal! God never intended for man to die. It was not part of His original blueprint design of us. Paul wrote in 2 Cor 5:4 that any sense of mortal life we had would be swallowed up by putting on immortality. Putting on the mindset that we are immortal beings and when God created man, he had no mindset of death in him. We haven’t seen ourselves as immortal. We have thought that our spirit was 100% redeemed, our souls are in the process of being redeemed and one day in, the sweet by and by, our bodies will be redeemed. But that’s not what Paul taught. He taught a whole man redemption.

When Yahweh Elohim breathed life into man, it wasn’t just life into his spirit and not his soul or body. It was life into the whole man… the man became a soul alive, or a man wholly alive with the life of God. This life of God flowed through his physical body, his mind, his spirit, his emotions, etc. Through the WHOLE man… everything about him was saturated with the life of God. There wasn’t anything about him that wasn’t image and likeness of God. There wasn’t any part of him that wasn’t pulsating with the life of God! Why would Jesus redeem anything less? Our WHOLE man was redeemed IN CHRIST!

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:1 that we are to KNOW that we have a building (the WHOLE man) not made with hands that is eternal in the heavens. The word know is in the perfect indicative tense. Meaning it is a completed action. It is an action that is completely done with long-lasting results. It’s a knowing that is not carnal… it’s not based on the 5 physical senses. It knows by the mind of Christ. It knows that we all have in us because Christ dwells in us. This knowing that he said we are to have is connected to the previous verse…. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Our knowing is seeing with eyes of the spirit, seeing what He sees and thereby knowing what He knows. We are to KNOW that we have an immortal, eternal, redeemed (whole) physical body. Paul had just said that the life of Jesus is revealed in our physical bodies. And the way we experience the redemption of our WHOLE man is through believing and speaking (v.13).

The beginning of verse 1 said we know that if the earthly house, our tent (speaking of the physical body) should be destroyed. Paul is not saying that someday IF our earthly body is destroyed, THEN we will have a redeemed physical body.  He is saying IF we know that our physical body is destroyed THEN we will see that we have a whole man redemption and we will experience it in our lives. The word dissolved or destroyed is thoroughly loosened which is what Jesus revealed… it is the WHOLE man redemption. The Hebrew equivalent of loosened (luo) is patach and means to open as in an opening of a gate or door; to have no confining barriers!! Paul was saying our earthly body has NO confining barriers… no sickness, no disease, no aging, no pains, no death!  And when we have a conscious awareness of that, we will also experience that in our lives…. Living by God’s blueprint design, His original architecture, which is WHOLENESS in every area of our lives. It is wholeness that is eternal in the heavens or in the realm of spirit… not in a place called heaven someday.

Verse 2 says in the King James says For, in this, we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. The Contemporary English version says it this way… While we are here on earth, we sigh because we want to live in that heavenly home.  We want to put it on like clothes and not be naked. That reminds me of Adam in Genesis 3:10. He had an awareness of his nakedness, of his mortality because of sin consciousness and revealed in that verse in Hebrew is the cry of his heart for God for an indication, some kind of sign of what was spoken from the beginning… image and likeness of God, with dominion over all things. A sign of WHOLENESS. And so God clothed them in a garment of righteousness….. a linen tunic of their at-one-ment (their oneness) with Abba.

 

Paul wasn’t saying that while here on earth we sigh or groan because we want to live in that heavenly home! Paul was fully persuaded that this new life in Christ was one of COMPLETE union with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  No degree of separation whatsoever. He’s still talking awareness here. If we put on the awareness of our WHOLENESS… of our IN-CHRISTEDNESS… we won’t be found naked. Then we won’t think we are lacking in any area of our life. Then we will not feel that we are not FULLY redeemed… FULLY whole! At one time man groaned and longed not to be found naked, just like Adam, so God walked among men IN JESUS revealing the truth of their wholeness… of their union.

And in verse 4 Paul reveals that our sense, our awareness, of mortality is our problem and we must put on the awareness of immortality. Put on the mindset of the truth that we are immortal beings. That we are divine ones. All of this is the premise that Paul lays leading up to verse 10 which says For, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Paul was redefining the idea of judgment. He wasn’t saying we would have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ one day and receive based on the things that we have the good or evil we have done while here on earth. Judgment seat or bema in Hebrew is the platform where the word of God was read from in the synagogues. It also means the administration of justice from the throne. What was the judgment from the Throne? That we are righteous, holy, complete… image and likeness of God, divine ones, that we are WHOLE. What did the Word declare or judge? IT IS FINISHED!

We must ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Appear is revealed or made manifest; it also means to declare openly. And I really like it’s Hebrew equivalent which is yada!  Yada means to have an intimate understanding; it is the word used to describe the intimate relationship of a husband and a wife… a oneness. And here it is the hiphil (causative) form of the word yada. Meaning to make known. He will do it! He will make it known to us… He will cause us to have an understanding of, a revelation, that flows from the intimate oneness that we have with Him. Openly declaring the judgment, “I said you are gods; made in My image and likeness with full dominion over ALL the works of My hands. Crowned with glory and honor. From before the foundation of the world.”

An intimate understanding before the judgment seat of Christ.  Before is face to face plus the word “en” which is in. It is face to face in a position of rest. God will cause us to have the revelation… make known to us that we are IN Christ, IN His rest, righteous, holy, complete, ONE in Him. Make known to us the vast riches of IT IS FINISHED.  Then it says according to what he has done. In other words, “so what!” We are still the redeemed of the Lord. Paul is redefining what the judgment seat is and when the true judgment took place, showing us that we cannot lose our status. We can stand in who we are because God is the one who decreed it and God’s not a liar. Appearing before the judgment seat is not about what we have done but what Father has done before the foundation of the world. I like the Mirror version:  For we have all been thoroughly scrutinized in the judgment of Jesus. We are taken care of and restored to the life of our design, regardless of what happened to us in our individual lives, whatever amazing or meaningless things we encountered in the body. If we are still to be judged for good or bad deeds that we performed in the body, then the judgment that Jesus faced on mankind’s behalf was irrelevant.

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