Meditations on the Larger Catechism, pt. 14
Meditations on the Larger Catechism
God’s Making of Man
We live in a time in which our humanity is misunderstood, at best, and under attack, at worse. Our consumer society is rooted in the philosophy that greed is good, that “it’s not personal, it’s business,” and that he who dies with the most toys wins. The proliferation of pornography, sexuality, and libertinism is rooted in a hedonistic philosophy in which pleasure is the goal of life and there are no consequences for our actions. Sadly this has led so many young girls to become mothers and has taught boys to treat girls like object to be used and tossed away. Worse yet is the philosophy that treats the termination of new life as a choice merely to be exercised. President after President profess the name of Jesus Christ yet shrug their shoulders and say of abortion, “It’s settled law,” while refusing to obey God’s law. Congress presides over this scourge all the while beginning each day in the name of God with prayer. The Supreme Court that gave us this interpretation of the law audaciously begins the hearing of each case, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.”
This is why we need to know what we believe and why we believe it. Concerning the nature of our humanity, the Word of God in Genesis 1–2 teaches us of God’s Making of Man.
The first point Genesis makes about God’s making of man is that it was the climax of his creative work. The Larger Catechism picks up on this when it says, “After God had made all other creatures…” As we read the narrative of the creation week we realize that there is something more going on than just God creating and ordering all things. Creation is moving somewhere. Why is God creating form on days one through three? Why is he filling those forms in days four through six? Why are the trees bearing fruit? Why are the lights made to mark times and seasons?
The reason is in 1:26. Here there is a dramatic shift in the narrative. Here the climax of creation is found in the creation of humanity. This is evidenced in that humans are the last of God’s creation, but also because instead of God speaking his fiats, that is, his powerful commands (“let there be”), he has a personal conversation, “Let us.” Finally, the impersonal refrain, “and it was so,” is replaced by “God created” three times. There is something special going on here. Thus the master artisan of whom Job spoke prepares to make his greatest masterpiece. The climax of creation is man. All that God is doing is to make a place for his image-bearers to live and to serve him.
What lessons can we take away from humans being the climax of creation?
First, we learn here of the overwhelming love of God in creating us. That God actually made anything, that God decided to make us, and that God took so much care, so much time, so much concern to form and fill his world for us, is a testimony of his love. To this we sing, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). When Isaiah sought to comfort Israel, who had rebelled against God, he said, “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name” (Isa. 54:5b).
Second, we learn that as the climax of his creation, God created us especially for communion and fellowship with him. Unlike the rest of creation, which he simply spoke into existence, he shaped us from the ground and personally breathed into us his own breath (2:7).
The second point Genesis 1–2 makes about God’s making of man is the constitution of man. We learn several things about what makes us human here.
First, God created the constitution of humanity as male and female. There is a beautiful poem in 1:27 that says,
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.
This means that as far as our humanity goes, men and women are equal. While we know that Scripture says in the church there is a certain order and that only men may serve in an official capacity as minister, elders, and deacons (1 Tim. 2), nevertheless men and women are equal. This is true not only in terms of their humanness, but a wonderful reality is that in Christ “there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). In speaking to Christian husbands, Peter tells them to live with their wives “in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). They are co-heirs of the grace that gives us eternal life.
Second, God created the constitution of humanity as body and soul. As for the body, man was made from the dust of the earth (2:7) while the woman was made from the side of the man (2:21–22). One use of this truth is that we as humans are closely related to the earth since we came forth from it. And while we certainly do not worship the earth as a mother goddess nor is our religion the new fangled fad of “greenianity,” nevertheless we do need to be stewards of what God has given us. How much more since God will renew and resurrect the earth in the new heavens and the new earth (Rom. 8:18–25; Rev. 21–22) As for the soul, the Catechism says that God “endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls.” We see this particularly in 2:7 where the breath of life makes man a living soul.
Third, God created the constitution of humanity in his image and likeness (1:26–27). One of the best ways to understand this is to acknowledge that what Adam damaged by his sin is being renewed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. What Adam defaced Christ renews. In Ephesians 4:24 Paul says we have learned in Christ that we have “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Since we are being renewed in righteousness and holiness this means that Adam’s original creation in the image of God was to be made with these blessings. In Colossians 3:10 Paul contrasts our former life outside Christ with our new life in Christ. We must not lie because that was a part of our old nature that we put off. Instead, we have put on the “new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
The final point to notice in God’s making of man is the crowning. Appended to the LORD God’s conversation about making man in his image and likeness is the fact that he gave humanity dominion over the creation: “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (1:26). Since Genesis 1 is a record of God building his kingdom on earth, he places his earthly prince over it rule it, to take care of it, and to bring glory to his Maker. The Psalmist ponders this in Psalm 8:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (Ps. 8:3–8)
Beloved, you were made just a little lower than the angels and you were crowned with glory and honor by God himself. What a privilege! What an amazing truth about our humanity! Do not, then, live inhumanely. Do not think of yourself as a consumer. You are an image-bearer of your Creator, made to be the climax of his creation to bring him glory in body and soul.
Rev. Daniel R. Hyde
Pastor, Oceanside United Reformed Church