We little note the most important factor in the creation of man. Of course we all know the story – most of us almost have the text memorized. On the sixth day God created the man Adam. When He did so, He created mankind in the multiplicity of male and female. That is a great and beautiful mystery, but not our topic at the moment. Herein I want to focus on the creation of the man named Adam. At the end of that act of bringing man into the Creation to take dominion over it, God launched the man to set the stage for the rest of us.
We may wonder whether God fully molded Adam’s face. Did He form each organ with care? How tall was the frame of Adam? What color was his skin? Was his hair curly? These and other standard questions may come to mind. They may be cute idle musings, but I think we all place very little importance on them. But where do we place the emphasis when we consider this very important phenomenon? Invariably, our focus is on the finished product. When He was finished with His work, a living being had come into existence. This was a unique entity, different from all the other living entities the Creator had placed in His Creation. Not only was the new entity unique, it had a purpose of a kind that differed from all others.
It is interesting that Our Father placed into that one man all the diversity of mankind for all the generations to come. Not only were all the properties of mankind built in at the beginning, but all the capabilities were present as well. From this one man came every other human being in all the following generations, from now to the end of the time of man. There is physically nothing about us that was not inherently present in that single entity. But still, the most important matter in the story typically eludes us.
He had set out to create man in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). We cannot but conclude that He was successful in that endeavor. Any other conclusion breeds the assumption that God failed in His creative act. When we come to the place we can believe that He did (and always does) what He set out to do, then we agree that whatever it was He intended in the creation of man, He also accomplished. Note that in the creation of all the animals, He simply created them. We even wonder sometimes why he created some pesky thing. In the case of man, He enunciated a high purpose – to bear the “image and likeness” of God Himself. Secondarily, He created man to “govern” the Creation.
Jesus is credited with being an exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:2-4, Colossians 1:15-20). I propose hereby that it was inherent even in His created flesh-self that He would bear the “image and likeness” of God perfectly. The ascription of exact representation is a high form (the highest) of being present in the image and likeness of God. Men often consider what the “image” of God is in this statement, or what the “likeness” of God is. These are pertinent musings in their way, but they cannot take us very far. For example, some people wonder about the race of Jesus, or His ethnicity. That might be interesting to know, but what does it have to do with the fact that He exactly represented God the Father? If these were the defining characteristics, then God, Who is Spirit, would have a specific race and ethnicity. Such matters cannot be spiritual matters, though, as they refer to distinctions seen only in the flesh.
So is the image of God that of a primate, so that in borrowing that image, we could be distinguished from, say, centipedes? Again, when we look at such matters from such a vantage point, they appear to be of the kind of ridiculous musings.
Jesus was very specific on the matter, “God is spirit” (John 4:24). We find instances in scripture where visions given to men were such that God was seen in a likeness similar to man, but it appears these were images provided to permit the person to understand that God was present in the vision, not that He looked like a human being as we are in the flesh. If that were the case, He would have flesh. We know, though, that Jesus did take on flesh for a season but was also the exact representation. So what have we?
Let me be so bold as to state that we (you and I and all other human beings) are spirit first and then we are flesh. What if we are not flesh into which some measure of spirit is placed but are rather spirit upon which flesh is placed? Was the living component of Adam the dirt from which he was fashioned by God? Or, rather, was the living component of Adam found in the breath of God that He breathed into the then-still nostrils of that which He had fashioned from the dirt? I refer you to Genesis 2:7 for your musings.
So, here is what we have. God made animals with life in them (Genesis 1:24-25). He did not separately breathe life into them. In the case of man, though, He made the physical thing we can call a carnal body, but it was lifeless. There was no life in it. However well-finished it was, it was still a dead, inert entity. God could have made it alive but He did not do so. He made it of inert matter, and it remained inert when He was finished with the molding of it. The next step is the vital step. God then breathed into the inert thing He had made in this unique manner. Only after He had breathed into it, did life come into it. Life came to the physical body of the man because the life of the man was found, not in the dirt, but in the breath of God that He breathed into the dirt. In fact, the passage specifies this was a “breath of life.”
Well, God is spirit, not flesh. So why would He breathe air? After all, when air was created (by Him) He was already fully operational. The answer is obviously that we have been provided a word-picture that we can understand. We do not know whether God breathes as we think of breathing. That is not likely as the already living God created air. What we do know is that this idea of God breathing into the formed dust is the picture of God (the Spirit) providing of His own life so that formed dirt could live in the “image and likeness” of God.
So, the dirt was dead and life was found in the impartation of a spiritual breath of God. In Hebrew, the same word is used to refer to spirit and to breath. How about that? A spiritual aspect of God (His “breath”) was imparted by Him into some inert material that He had formed specifically to be the physical locus for that “breath.” So, what really matters is the spiritual substance that was, thereafter, to be found in the man. The life is in the spirit, not in the flesh. The life of a human is to be found in the spiritual presence of the human, not in some property of the flesh that was formed as a housing or garment for that breath of God.
We are spirit, of the Spirit of God, placed into an “earthen vessel.” When we can understand the import of this matter, we can begin to put our priorities where they belong. They do not belong first to the flesh. They belong first to living deposits of the breath of God placed into us by Him to enliven the flesh. Even more to the point, the flesh was created to provide a location inside the Creation for the spirit that is the person. It is not, and cannot be, the other way around. God did not just like dirt and decide to put some derivative of His Spirit into it. He created the dirt thing to house the person that you are while it is to be found in the Creation.
YOU are a particular manifestation (however temporarily in its dirt garment) of the very breath of God. You are in flesh because God wanted a place for you to be for a while. When that while is up, you will fully revert to that unique instance of His divine breath that you are.
“In Him we live, and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 (NIV)