Sunday, December 12, 2010

In his image

For God's title, the Old Testament, regularly uses the plural noun 'Elohim instead of 'Eloah, the singular form. With singular verbs, 'Elohim clearly refers to the one God of Israel. But in Genesis 1:26, we have a plural verbs and pronoun too:
God (Heb. 'elohim, plural noun) said (singular verb), "Let us make (plural verb) man in our (plural pronoun) image, in our (plural pronoun) likeness. (Gen 1:26).
Interpreters suggest various explanations for this plural reference, but the clear choice is that God uses "us" and "our" when he speaks to the rest of the heavenly hosts. They form a ruling council, which both Daniel and John saw (Dan 7:9-10; Rev 20:4). Job and his friends never saw it, but that council debated his righteousness (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). God even permitted argument and counter-argument from Satan, who attended. When God set out the judge and destroy wicked king Ahab, he took angelic council. When one council member came up with a suggestion God liked, God told him "Go and do it" (1 Kgs 22:19-22). When God needed a messenger to deliver his message of judgment, he asked the heavenly council for volunteers: "Who will go for us?" And the prophet Isaiah volunteered, "Send me!" (Isa 6:8). This depicts prophets as members of the heavenly council, which is perhaps why Scripture says, "Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Even today, God charges his ministers not only before man, but also before the heavenly council (1 Tim 5:21).
God creating Adam, by Michalangelo in Sistine Chapel

In Genesis 1:26, God told the whole assembled host of heaven, "Let's make man in our image and likeness," "a little lower" than the 'Elohim that staff the heavenly council. Then God commissioned his earthly image and likeness to rule over creation (v. 28). When we're renewed in that image, we'll reign with Christ in the heavenly council, judging even angels (Dan 7:9, 22; 1 Cor 6:2-3; Rev 3:21; 20:4). And that's the whole point of being created in the image and likeness of the 'Elohim, who is judge of all.

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