Yom Shlishi, 27 Tishri 5778 — יוֹם שְׁלישִׁי כז תִּשְׁרֵי ה' תשעח Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Genesis 1:26-31 (Part 3 of Series)


A Rabbi met a young man running rapidly along the street."why do you run?" the Rabbi asked."I am running after a job, to an interview actually." The other panted.

"How do you know that your job is before you and you have to chase after it? Perhaps it is behind you and you are running away from it?"

Today, I want to talk about the job God has for us. Some of us may be running away from it, some towards it.

What are we here for? It's a big question these days.

A best selling book, top ten, New York times best seller list is The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. The sub-title is What on earth are we here for? Mike is reading this book and thinks it would be good for us to do it as a Congregation. I think it is a good idea.

Tonight we may take a brief stab at the same question.

The question our text will hopefully solve is What is man, and what are we here for?

Let's read Genesis 1:26-31

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.

Over the next months, I will be speaking more frequently and taking us through a series on the early chapters in Genesis. Currently we are in a Three week series on Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. Where it all began.

Last week:

Framework Hypothesis


Last week, we covered the first 25 verses of the Bible in Gen 1. The two main Points I hit on were:

1) Literary Framework

Days 1-3 - realms, or habitations

Days 4-6 - inhabitants and rulers

Day 4 - Stars govern day and night

2) Written to People of Israel taken out of Egypt.

• The main point being the God who redeemed you out of Egypt is the God who created you.

• The same way in which God worked redemption, so he worked creation.

Thus, part of organizing Genesis 1 and using the wording that it did was specifically to relate to the nation taken out of Egypt and receiving the law.

Hence, the reference on

• Day 3 to the waters being gathered together and dry ground appearing, brings the same image as the waters being gathered and the Israelites crossing through the Red Sea on dry ground.

• The image of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters, would have been a clear image of the way the Israelites had seen God manifested in a cloud over the tabernacle or on Mount Sinai. And, on Mt. Sinai, God spoke out the Theophany or manifestation, and gave the Ten Commandments. So, God speaks out this manifestation, "then God said, Let there be light."

• And just as the Land was without form, uninhabitable, and void, no inhabitants, So God spoke and it can to be. Everything.

First on days 1-3, he created habitations, then in 4-6, he placed the inhabitants there. It brings to mind God's actions with the Israelites, as God has prepared a good land for the Israelites to dwell, and he is taking them up to dwell there.

Now we come to our passage to discuss today Gen 1:26-31.

It is important to see the organization of each day again. Because this section on man is such a significant break from it.

Looking at the 1st Day again.

Gen. 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Gen. 1:4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Gen. 1:5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.

You see this format again and again throughout the chapter.

God said, Let there be, and there was, and he called it ... thus. And so it goes throughout the six days, until you come to the second half of the sixth day. Then there is a break in the structure.

26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.

If you see the rest of the chapter as almost a poetic refrain or song structure being repeated again and again, then there is this major break in the refrain. It still sounds the same, but there has been a big shift.

I think it shifts here because it is climatic, and you are supposed to see it, and be drawn to it.

There are a number of things to bring out. But I would like to make note of three major changes in the refrain.

Do you see the changes?

Three Big Changes in Text
from Days 1 - 5

1) Who is Us???

2) Made in the image of God

3) Created to Rule

1) Let us make man. Every where else, "Let there be"

2) In our image. Everywhere else, it was just create it, and now there is a model.

3) Rule over everything. They have a job.


Why the plural pronoun here? Very debated.

It also shows up in Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah 6:8 is another: "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"

Jewish opinion on this has taken a number of directions.

1. Some have tried to Change the text or translate it differently

According to Jewish tradition, scholars who worked on the Septuagint(5) translation of the Hebrew Scriptures for King Ptolemy were embarrassed by the plural pronouns in Genesis 1:26. They took the liberty of changing the text from "let us" to "let me."(6) Such "liberty" violates the sacredness of Scripture.

2. Others have said God is speaking to his creation

3. God was speaking to the souls of the righteous unborn

4. God was keeping his own counsel, he is deliberating with himself,

The two more common explanations:

5. The royal "we"-plural of majesty

Just as Queen Victoria referred to herself in the plural ("We are not amused"), some say that God, as a majestic being, referred to himself the same way. This is a popular contemporary explanation

That the first person plural is used for royalty in the Book of Ezra.(14 ) "The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me" (Ezra 4:18) is the sole example of a "plural of majesty" construction in Scripture. It also happens to be one of the few portions of Scripture in Aramaic, a language similar to Hebrew.

So it basically never happens in the Hebrew, so you are making a big stretch to apply it here.

6. God is addressing the angels around his throne

Rashi explains that God chose to demonstrate humility by consulting his inferiors:

The meekness of the Holy One, blessed be He, they [the rabbis] learned from here: because man is in the likeness of the angels and they might envy him, therefore he took counsel with them" 10)

According to Rashi, if God had used the singular ("I" and "my") we could not have known he was addressing the angels. True-we would never have guessed that God was addressing angels, since there is no mention of angels in the text. But even with the plural, there is still no mention of angels in the text!

However many Christian Scholars as well believe he is talking about Angels and it is not outrageous. Often time, when God is pictured, he is surrounded by Angels.

• In the other quote in Isaiah 6, in the throne room of God, "who will go for us", we see the throne surrounded by seraphim, chanting holy, holy, holy

• After the Fall, when Man is removed from the presence of God, you see Cherabim are there to guard the way back.

• The presence of God depicted in the Ark is topped with Cherubim or angels.

• Besides if Gen 1 is trying to stress one God to the people coming out of Egypt, why confuse them?

So it is not outrageous. And it may be right.

But still, the very presence of so many explanations shows you the clear implications of the Passage.

In the Stone Edition Chumash, like Robert has, a Rabbi is quoted as saying:

Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman said in Rabbi Jonathan's name: "When Moses was engaged in writing the Torah, he had to write the work of each day. When he came to the verse, AND GOD SAID; LET US MAKE MAN, etc., he said: 'Sovereign of the Universe! Why dost Thou furnish an excuse to heretics?' (for maintaining a plurality of deity). 'Write,' replied He; 'whoever wishes to err may err.'"(22)

Because the clear implication of the verse is the plurality of God! And, some things in the text also point us in that direction:

Verse 27 states twice that Man was made in the image of God; male and Female he created them. Male and Female in the image of God.

The singular man or humankind is created as a plurality in the image of God.

John Sailhamer writes, "...the divine plurality expressed in verse 26 (can be seen as) an anticipation of the human plurality of the man and woman, thus casting the human relationships between man and woman in the role of reflecting God's own relationship with himself" pg. 96 - Penteteuch as Narrative.

While this verse does not prove the existence of the Trinity by any means, it certainly allows for it.

Image of God:

The second big break in the text comes in Man being made in the image of God.

Nothing else created has a model, God just says Let it be.

But Man, he says, has a model he is fashioned after: God himself.

We are to be the: Imago Dei - latin for the image of God.

The word "Image" means, literally, a phantom or shadow, and it's not a common word in the Bible, appearing mostly in the Torah and Daniel.

The basic meaning, I think, is clear.

• Man is being set apart from creation in that Man is uniquely like God. In the likeness of God he is made.

You see this picked up later in the early chapters of Genesis:

Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

Adam was the image of God, now Seth the image of Adam. The image of God passing now down through the Godly line.

Then, just after the Flood, the command comes to Noah and his sons.

Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

Do not murder, do not shed the blood of man. Why? Because he bears the image of God!

A big question is, do we still bear the image of God after the Fall?

While this verse with Noah implies that we still do, others would imply that it is a broken image, a fallen image.

Continuing with the theme in the Torah:

But I think you again see reference in this idea to the Israelites coming out of Egypt.

2nd commandment

Exodus 20: 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

And in Levitcus:

Leviticus 26:1 'You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a [sacred] pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.

Make no image - 10 commandments - there is an image

Man himself.

In the ancient near east, kings or Pharoah was said to be the image of God.

But, here, the Bible says all man in image, not just Pharoah

Remarkably Egalitarian - No one is better than any other. Male and Female both created together in image of God.

Ruling over.

The third remarkable thing about Genesis 1:26. is Man is made with a job.

He is to rule.


Here it says man will

"let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

Everything listed in Day 5 and the 1st half of Day 6. Those things which rule and fill the habitations of Day 2 and 3.

Even the Vegetation is listed in Day 3, is mentioned here in v. 29

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

It's interesting that the Day 1 - 4 is not included.

But in day 4, it says specifically, the sun, and moon are to govern the light and darkness.

So man does not govern that.

But still there is a sense of Climax.

Man is to rule over the Creation.

This is echoed elsewhere in the Scripture:

Psalm 8:3-9

3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Who ruled over creation before man?

• God - he made it, he is master over it.

• Now, he has made man in his image, and he will now rule over it.

• We are like God's regents on earth.

• Then, in Genesis 2, God makes his dwelling with us.

Don't think of ruling as a bad thing. We live in a society terrified of authority, and deeply distrustful.

Why? Because we fear the authority will harm us.

But actually, don't you love to be under the authority of people:

• who care about you and love you?

• Who are looking out for your best interests?

• Who are wiser, more intelligent, and know better than you do?

• You are glad to have them rule over you!

• That is the sort of rule God had over creation, wasn't it.

• He made it, of course he cared for it. Who would make something to have it be harmed?

• It would be like making a flower garden, then stamping your feet all over it.

That was the kind of benevolent rule man was to have over creation, to care for it as it's King.

So what? Let's close again with a So What Section.

This goes straight to the core of who we are.

This is how we were made and we are ultimately supposed to do.

The New Testament goes back to this very purpose of Man and three of these aspects of Genesis 1:26 as central themes.

1) Plurality of God

John 1:1 starts off discussing this amazing plurality of God, that manifests itself in the very beginning of the Scripture and of Creation.

In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God, He was with God in the beginning.

The very coming of Y'shua was the ultimate revelation of the nature of God.

2) To be in the image of God

The New Testament speaks of when we come to Y'shua, we are now being remade in to his image, the image of that we were always intended to be.

2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Ro 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son,

Col 3:10 (We are told to) put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

In fact, it says Satan's big plan is to blind us to this.

2Co 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of God.

It is the plan of Satan to Blind us so that we don't come to Y'shua, the image of God.

And, as we behold Y'shua, we are being transformed into his image: Our true image!

3) Ultimate destiny - to reign.

This may sound wild, but this is still our ultimate job.

Some of the obvious references are in Revelation.

Rev. 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

But Paul makes reference of it as well.

2Tim 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him.

And he asks the Corinthians.

1Cor. 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?

1Cor. 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

He says essentially, Corinthians, don't you realize what it is all about. You are going to Judge, we are to reign with Messiah.

And should it surprise us? We were created for this very thing. That is why now, we live to be not conformed to this world, but be transformed into the image of God; that we may be like God in all we do, that we may think like him, act like him.

Thus, we are to Begin to care for this world as he does; To love him, and to love the things he does; To love our neighbor; To love our enemies; To be just and righteous in all we do; To live in this world, in preparation for our ultimate destinies in the world to come.

As John wrote:

2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.1