In His Image

Jan Antonsson

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

Sept. 21, 2018

Neosho, MO

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27, NKJV).

Since Bill Watterson first created the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, I have been a fan of his humor and his ability to depict family dynamics so adroitly with a few strokes of his pen.  Calvin is an adorable little bundle of mischief and Hobbes is his faithful, wise-cracking, feline side kick, whom only Calvin knows is much more than a stuffed tiger.  Hobbes comes alive, you see, when no adults are present.

In this cartoon pictured above, Watterson has captured the thought that some of us surely have had over time, i.e., how could we be created in God’s own image and likeness when we do such stupid, silly, often outrageous, not to mention sinful things?  In my youth, I probably wouldn’t have dared to say such a thing out loud, but I thought it often enough when I realized how far away my puny self was from being in the image and likeness of the Creator of the Universe.  

And yet, scripture insists that God did indeed create us in his own image and likeness.  Speaking of Adam’s son Seth, Genesis 5:3 relates, “When Adam was 130 years old, he had a son who was just like him, his very spirit and image, and named him Seth”  (The Message).  We wouldn’t expect Seth to resemble a turtle or a horse, any more than we would expect our own children to look like anything but a human being, very like ourselves.  Therefore, I conclude that we must truly and carefully consider that we are exactly like God in spirit and image.

The Bible itself is the vibrant record of human beings, created in God’s own image, who did stupid, silly, sinful things, but in spite of all that, God loved them, protected them, and gently led them forward from the thorns and thistles where they landed when they were tossed out of Paradise, ultimately to Mount Sinai. There, they received their marching orders delivered from God by Moses.   “Mount Sinai was all smoke because GOD had come down on it as fire. Smoke poured from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain shuddered in huge spasms. The trumpet blasts grew louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered in thunder…All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain, were afraid; they pulled back and stood at a distance.  They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die””  (Exodus 19:18-19; 20:18-19, The Message). 

I’ve never been sure that Moses believed them, but we all know what happened when his back was turned.  That began approximately 1600 years in Earth time, for Abraham’s progeny to stumble and fall, repent and keep on sinning, until the time when Christ left the portals of glory to take on human flesh.  Paul said of Him, “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God”  (Philippians 4:6), but He walked away from all that to do His Father’s will, and because He did, we can now participate in the promises God made to Abraham as we journey toward Mount Zion.

I love the language in the King James Version, but The Message puts it in our everyday words:   “When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, “I promise that I’ll bless you with everything I have: bless and bless and bless!”

“Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him.  When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they’ll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up.  When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee: God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. 

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God” (Hebrews 6:13-19, The Message).

And that, my friends, is the “holy grail” for us.  Yes, we’re saved from our sins; yes, we’re saved from hell after we die, and even better, we now can access the very presence of God 24/7, right now!  Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden.   It was a normal and usual occurrence for them.  Maybe He gave them gardening tips, or advice on how to tend to the animals He had put in their care, but mainly they experienced His presence up close and personal every day.  

That’s what I’ve always wanted, always longed for, a personal relationship with almighty God whom I have loved and admired and yes, feared, since I was a child, because the Old Testament held my favorite stories.  I thrilled to watch Him work through Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel, Esther, Ruth, and oh, so many others.  They didn’t have to wonder what He wanted or how to please Him, they knew from face to face experience.  Because I grew up under the influence of the Law, I never knew actually being in His presence was possible for the likes of me.

Under the Law, only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Presence of God in the Most Holy Place once a year to make atonement for himself and for the sins of Israel.  He first had to purify himself, and then, after sacrificing a bull for himself and the other priests, he took the blood offering of the bull,  to sprinkle on the mercy seat, also known as the “atonement cover” (Exodus 25:17-22).  Next, he went outside the Tabernacle and cast lots over two goats to see which one would be sacrificed and which would become the scape goat.  He took the blood of the sacrificed goat back into the Holy of Holies to offer for the sins of the people (See Leviticus 16).  It was a lot of effort for one man to experience the Presence of God for a brief time once a year. Tradition has it that, he never entered that sacred space without a rope being tied to one of his ankles, lest he be struck dead and have to be dragged out.  It was a fearful thing to experience God up close and personal for them, and also for me for too many years.  I longed for more, but was afraid I was too unworthy to get more.

When I was about 25 years old, Jesus baptized me in the Spirit.  The heavens opened and I saw Jesus on the cross and knew He was there for me! It was a horrifying, glorious, life-changing event and I cried and laughed at the same time.  I never thought He would have to go to the cross for me, but He did, and because of that, I knew that He would be there for me always, through thick and thin, good times and bad.  This was personal confirmation of the scripture which proclaim He will never leave me nor forsake me, no matter what (Hebrews 13:5).

At last, I understood the glorious old hymns which delivered the Gospel message to me before I met Jesus personally.  “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent Word. What more can he say than to you he hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes;  that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”  

And, “Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with thee; Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; As thou hast been, thou forever shalt be.  Great is thy faithfulness!  Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see;  All I have needed thy hand hath provided; Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness, Your care, Your provision, mercy and kindness to us, we who unlikely as it often seems, are created in Your own image and likeness.  Bring us into the glorious reality of that, Father, as we walk and talk with You on our pathway through life. In joyful praise and adoration, we add our voices to “the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”  Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

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