The Creator’s Grand Design—Part 4

Man in the Plan of God

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” —Psalm 8:3,4

MAN was created toward the close of the sixth creative day, or epoch. There are two accounts of his creation. One is presented in Genesis 1:26-28, and the other in Genesis 2:7. The first of these is a general statement of the fact that man was created, together with an explanation of the place he was to occupy in God’s arrangement for the earth. The second is a more detailed account of just how he was created. Some say that the account of Genesis 1:26-28 pertains to a pre-adamic race, but there is no scriptural foundation for this theory.

This first account of man’s creation reveals certain important facts concerning him: he was created in the image of God, and he was to fill the earth with his progeny. He was also to have dominion over the earth and over the lower forms of God’s earthly creation. The fact that man was created in the image of God is a strong refutation of the theory of human evolution. Darwinists are adept at calling attention to the various ways in which the evolutionary ladder may have been climbed throughout the millions of years they claim there has been life on the earth, beginning with protoplasm. But no one has hazarded a guess at what rung in this ladder an ape, or a “missing link,” became conscious of right and wrong and was able to reason the difference between the two. Nor has any one of them been able to suggest a set of circumstances that would prod an ape into thinking on the human level.

In high circles of professorship in and out of the church, and among our government leaders from the president on down, nearly all profess to believe that man was created in the image of God. In the free world it is this viewpoint that constitutes the basis for the dignity of man doctrine, and for the zealous fight to maintain the individual rights of man. This is good, but let us remind ourselves that this biblical viewpoint cannot be harmonized with the Darwin theory of human evolution.

If man is a product of evolution, and not the direct creation of God, then there is no basis for the claim that he is in the image of God. If God did not create man and give him his law, then he has no divine law to guide him in his behavior. From the standpoint of evolution it might be argued, indeed, that what we suppose to be a law against sin is only a mistakenly conceived repressive measure which in reality is keeping man back from the next great step in evolution.

But thank God for the realization that the plain statements of his Word express that sacred truth which all right-thinking men and women instinctively espouse and declare—many of them despite their acceptance of unproved theories of natural selection and evolution. The full beauty of the Bible’s teaching on this subject stands out even more brilliantly when we note the detailed manner in which man is so completely set apart from the beasts; and it is further enhanced when we become acquainted with the Creator’s design for this human creature created in his image.

Not a Physical Image

This is not a physical image, but a moral and intellectual image. Man has the ability to know right from wrong, and he is able to think, to reason. He cannot think on the same high plane as his Creator. His thinking is confined to a realm in which he was created to live, that is, the earthly. Speaking to man, God said, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:9) But man is able to reason with God on matters pertaining to his relationship with his Creator. God invites man to do this, saying, “Come now, and let us reason together, … though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”—Isa. 1:18

Man’s ability to think and reason out the ways and problems of life, rather than to be guided merely by instinct, manifests itself in many ways. We see this from the very beginning of human experience. When our first parents disobeyed, they immediately felt a sense of guilt and were afraid. Then, to cover their shame, they clothed themselves with leaves. Adam and Eve were probably not too adept at garment-making, but which of the lower animals in Eden would even have thought of putting on clothing to cover its nakedness? In fact, God provided a protective covering for the lower animals, but man was left to provide his own.

Man soon began to make and use tools, which is something else the lower animas have never shown any inclination or ability to do. Archeological discoveries reveal that the earliest known man manufactured and used tools. Today this difference between man and the lower animals is more striking than ever. Think of the intricacy of tools and instruments of all sorts which are now in use, including electronic computers. And there are even greater marvels in the making. In modes of travel, communication, and manufacture we are daily witnessing miracles—but the pig merely keeps on grunting. When we consider man’s ability to think, to plan, to invent, we recognize striking evidence of the fact that he was created in the image of God.

Someone has written that monkeys have no music in their souls, and thus we are reminded of another wide gap between man and the very highest species of the lower animals. Music is harmony of sound, and on earth apparently only the human ear can distinguish the difference between harmony and discord. Man, created in the image of God, finds one of his greatest delights in the field of music. Many times in the Bible, reference is made to the joy experienced by man in singing praises to God, his Maker.

Man’s Dominion

Genesis 1:26 uses the word “likeness” as well as “Image” in describing man’s similarity to his Creator. We read, “God said, Let us make man … after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” This would seem to imply that man’s likeness to God included the fact that he was given a dominion. God is the supreme Ruler of all his great universe; and on earth he delegated authority to man, whom he had created in his image. No such grant was given to any of the lower animals, nor would they be capable of exercising dominion.

Man was also commanded to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. His dominion was not merely to be over that one little garden spot in Eden but was to be extended over the entire earth; and every necessary provision was made by the Creator to enable this divine arrangement for the earth to function as planned. God said: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”—vss. 29-31

Man’s Home

It is clear from the record that man was created to live on the earth and that the earth was created to be his home—not temporarily, but forever. Throughout the Scriptures this fact continues to be emphasized. Isaiah 45:18 reads: “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited.” In Psalm 78:69 we are told that the Lord has established the earth forever. Psalm 115:16 declares, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Man forfeited his right to live and enjoy the blessing which God provided for him, but as we shall later see, his lost inheritance has been redeemed by Christ and will in due time be restored.

A Living Soul

If we are to understand and appreciate the Creator’s grand design for his human creation, it is essential to take into consideration what man really is. We have already noted that man was created in the image of God and given dominion over the earth; and now, in the second chapter of Genesis, verse seven, we are given further information. This text reads, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

This is God’s way of explaining that man’s organism, his body, was made up of various chemical elements found in the earth. Medical science today knows this to be true. But Adam’s perfect body was not yet a living being. It had eyes, but they saw nothing; a nose, but it did not sense the fragrant odors of the edenic garden in which this marvelous piece of workmanship was lying. It had a tongue, but it tasted not; and ears to which all sound was but as silence. It had hands which enjoyed no sense of touch. The perfect heart, with its coordinating valves and its connections with the arteries and veins of that perfect body, was motionless. Its lungs were immobile. It was a perfect organism, with all its intricate parts correctly assembled, as only a master workman, the Creator, could do. But it was a dead, lifeless body.

If man was to live, something more than just a perfect body was needed, and this God supplied. He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” and instantly that lifeless organism became alive. The breath of life carried oxygen to the lungs, and they began to function. This induced the heart to start pumping blood through the arteries, returning it through the veins. This brought life pulsations to the nerves, causing the ears to hear, the eyes to see, the nose to smell, the tongue to taste, and the hands to feel. The first man was now alive—he had become a living soul.

What was this magic power which God breathed into the nostrils of Adam? Some have mistakenly supposed that it was an indestructible living entity, which had life apart from the organism into which it was breathed. This alleged entity is often spoken of as an immortal soul. But the expression ‘immortal soul’ does not appear anywhere in the Bible. The word soul simply means a living being, and Adam became a living soul because he was animated by the breath of life.

Adam became a living soul, the record states; he was not given a soul. That soul consisted of a body animated by the breath of life. According to Genesis 7:21,22, where we are told of the destruction of life wrought by the Deluge, it is revealed that the lower animals, as well as man, possess the breath of life. We doubt that many will contend that God gave immortal souls to the lower animals.

What, then, is the breath of life? Simply stated, it is the air that we breathe and that all living, earthly creatures breathe. Just how it animates bodies to make living souls is the secret of life known only to the Creator. For us it is sufficient to know that it was through the breath that God gave life to Adam and that it was not immortal life, as many have supposed. While provision was made through the life-giving fruit of Eden to sustain human life everlastingly on conditions of obedience to divine law, man was subject to death should he disobey.

All One Breath

That the breath of life given to Adam was not an immortal soul is clearly shown by Solomon. In Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 there is a wonderful exposition of truth on this subject. The passage reads: “That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth [or who can prove] the spirit [Hebrew, breath] of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”

The Marginal Translation of the closing question in this passage is a better one. Using this, the text might be paraphrased, “Who knoweth that the spirit of man is ascending, and the spirit of the beast is descending?” The wise man had already answered this question. He had explained that man has no preeminence above a beast so far as the breath of life is concerned, that they have all one breath, and all go to the same place at death. Man’s preeminence over the beast lies in the fact that he was given a more refined organism, capable of reflecting the image of God. He also has been promised an awakening from death.

In Genesis 1:24 we read, “God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind.” Here the expression ‘living creature’ is a translation of the same Hebrew word as that translated living soul in the text which informs us that “man became a living soul,” which the Revised Standard Version translated “living being.” Adam became a living being when God breathed into him the breath of life. But the combination of the organism and breath of life had to be maintained, else that living being, or soul, would die.

Returns to God

In Ecclesiastes 12:7 we have another very interesting reference to the death of humans. Solomon writes, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” The Hebrew word here translated spirit is also frequently translated breath. Its primary meaning is invisible power. When associated with the works of God it refers to the invisible power of God.

This invisible power of God which creates and sustains life was transmitted to Adam through the breath of life. At death, the body which was created from the dust of the ground returns to dust, and the power of God returns to its source. The word return is the key to the understanding of this passage. Man has never been in heaven, so could not return to heaven. But he does get his power to live from God, through the breath of life, and at death this reverts to the Giver.

Male and Female

In Genesis 1:27 we are told that in creating humans God created male and female. In Genesis 2:7 where the process of creation is outlined, only the man is mentioned. Later the Lord gives us the details of woman’s creation. Following Adam’s creation he was told to name all the animals. It must have required some time to accomplish this task, Some study must have been made of their characteristics in order to give them appropriate names. This may well have been God’s way of having Adam come to a realization of his own need for a suitable mate. God had commanded that man fill the earth with his progeny, and to accomplish this, Adam was provided with a wife. All of God’s dealings with those whom he has created in his own image are designed to awaken in them a genuine, freewill desire for the blessings which he has planned for them. God does not coerce the human mind or will.

The method God used to provide a helpmate for Adam is unique. We read: “The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”—Gen. 2:21-24

Many have treated this sacred passage of Scripture lightly, regarding it as absurd. The wise of this world seem to think this was a very crude way for the Lord to create woman. Why, they ask, did he not create Eve in the same way as he did Adam? We may not understand the biological reasons why the Lord adopted this method, but who are we to question the wisdom of one so wise and so powerful as to be able to create the whole universe out of nothing?

God’s method meant that the woman became almost literally a part of man. How much of ineffable joy has resulted from this divinely arranged oneness of the two, we will probably never fully understand. God’s explanation is that because woman was made from man, they become one flesh when the two are united in marriage. This is what God designed, and his wisdom arranged the method of creation so that this would be so.

God’s Instructions

Having now received a suitable helpmate from the Lord, Adam’s joy in his garden home must have been unbounded. All his surroundings were beautiful and inspiring. There was at his disposal an abundant supply of life-sustaining food, and now he had a companion with whom he could share his joys. Among the few instructions given to him was the command to dress and keep the garden which the Lord had provided for him. Considering Adam’s ideal surroundings and the perfection in which he was created, the keeping of the garden would not be laborious, but a joy.

Another command was that these godlike creatures to whom had been given an earthly dominion were to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Evidently that beautiful garden home which God had prepared for man eastward in Eden was intended merely as an example of what the whole earth was ultimately to be like, God leaving this final finishing work of his creation to be accomplished by man, and for his good.

Consider what this earth would have been like had this plan of God proceeded without interruption! The earth would have been filled with a perfect and happy human family, knowing nothing of sin, sickness, pain, wars, and the thousand and one other things which now plague a suffering and dying world. Besides, all would be enjoying sweet communion with the Creator, the God of heaven and earth.

But let us think on; for although darkness now covers the earth and the plague of sin and death blights much of the happiness of the people, this nighttime of darkness and fear and pain will terminate before long in a morning of joy! This is beautifully stated by the psalmist, who wrote, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Ps. 30:5) Then man’s fondest dreams of a golden age will come true. God, who in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, assures us that divine power will again be used to restore paradise and give to all the opportunity of enjoying its blessings forever.

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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