We have seen that in the mystery of godliness, "God was manifest in the flesh" and that in the person of Christ, the invisible God, condescended to the limitations of His creatures, and that Christ is the necessary Mediator by reason of the gulf that exists between Creator and all creatures, just as surely as He must be the Mediator because of the moral gulf that exists between sinful man and a righteous God. Instead, however, of commencing with the teaching of Scripture, that Christ was made in the likeness of man, we must start with the creation of man, to see how emphatic the Scriptures are that in the beginning, man was made in the likeness of God.
Tselem "image". This Hebrew word occurs 17 times in the O.T. and is translated "image" every time, except in Psalm 39:6. This word tselem is allied with tsel "a shadow". It is used not only in a literal sense, as "a shadow from the heat", "the shadow of a cloud" (Isa. 25:4,5). But in various figurative ways, as for example in Job 17:7; 8:9 -
"All my members are as a shadow"
"Our days upon the earth are a shadow"
Let us now turn our attention to the word translated "likeness", the Hebrew word demuth. This word comes from damah "to be like". "Man is like to vanity" (Ps. 144:4). "I have compared thee, of my love" (Song of Sol. 1:9). "I have...used similitudes by the ministry of the pro- phets" (Ho.12:10).
The Lord Jesus Christ is "the Likeness" after Whom Adam was created. While it has always been a difficulty to interpret the image and likeness of Gen. 1:26 on the physical plane, because God is spirit, the difficulty ceased when we realize that the "image" is "the shadowing forth" for which honor Adam was created, and the "likeness" according to which he was created, was the likeness of Him Who had form and shape before His incarnation, and was destined in the fullness of time to be made flesh, to be found in fashion as a man, to be made even in the "likeness" of sinful flesh.
Man's hope in the Lord is not exclusively upon the plane of spirit. In the resurrection the exchange of the earthly image for the heavenly image is defined as the exchange of corruption for incorruption, of mortality for immortal- ity, and even through the resurrection body of some will be a heavenly and a spiritual body, they will be bodies nevertheless, and not spirits.
"In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him...and Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image" (Gen. 5:1,3).
There can be no doubt that Seth, the son of Adam, not only resembled Adam his father in mind and spirit, but in body also. In Phil. 3 we have the pledge concerning the body, while in Col. 3 we have the insistence upon the mind, neither the one or the other being a contradic- tion, but rather a presentation of complete truth.
"Who shall change this body of our humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body" (Phil. 3:21). That is the pledge regarding the renewal of the "image" and "likeness" so far as the body is concerned.
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col 3:10).
It will be remembered that in explan- ation as it were of the intention of the Creator, the words "let them have domin- ion" immediately follow the words "in our image, after our likeness." This domin- ion first exercised over fish, fowl and beast, is to extend until some at least of Adam's sons, shall reign with Christ in that supernal glory "far above all". It will be remembered that the cherubim are described as having four faces, that of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. Adam, who had lost the dominion entrusted to him would see in the symbolic cherubim at the gate of Paradise, God's pledge that this dominion should be restored.
We have covered a deal of ground in our endeavor to attain to some Scriptural understanding of the meaning and intention of the words of Gen 1:26, and we earnestly commend every reader not only to re-read the evidence submitted, but to supplement it by a personal examination of all the occurrences of the key words, so that the matter may be given the fullest examination. Adam was a "shadow" only, just like the typical sacrifices. A "shadow of good things to come" indeed, but "not the very image" (Heb 10:1), and just as Christ sets aside the "shadows" of the sacrificial law, by coming in the flesh, and offering Himself, so as "the second Man" and "the last Adam" he sets aside the frail type, and is revealed as THE IMAGE of the invisible God, in Whose likeness it is the Divine will that everyone of the redeemed shall one day be fashioned.
The wonder will grow as we allow the truth to enter, and the glory of the goal of the ages, focused as it is in the idea of one day being conformed to the image and likeness of the Son of God, will enable us to appreciate perhaps as never before, what lies behind and what leads up to the words "That God may be all and in all." (From Berean Expositor, Vol. 44)