Friday, August 2, 2013

According To His Own Image (part 1 of 2)

When Adam had lived 130 years he fathered a son in his own likeness, according to his own image, and he named him Seth. – Genesis 5:3  (NET)

From the beginning, it seems that Seth was looked upon as something of a replacement for Abel.  His name means “placed” or “appointed”.  Upon his birth, Eve, who is said to have named him, declared that “God has given me another child in place of Abel because Cain killed him” (4:25).  In the name that is given to him, and in the statement of Eve, there is a faint echo of what was said by Eve when she gave birth to her first son, Cain. 

When Cain was born, Eve said, “I have created a man just as the Lord did!” (4:1b)  This can be expanded upon, and considering the ordinary course of the process of giving birth, it is possible to hear Eve saying, “The Creator God brought forth this world in which we live from the waters, and I brought forth a man through the waters.”  Given the mindset reflected in “I have created a man just as the Lord did,” one can imagine her repeating this type of statement upon the birth of Abel, and along with what is recorded in the Scriptural narrative, also doing so upon the birth of Seth.  With the name given to Seth, there is almost a sense of “Not only can I create a man just as the Lord did, but I can also appoint and replace that which was lost.  The Creator can restore His creation.  I can do the same.” 

From there, Scripture moves along to the genealogy of Adam, which is then traced through Seth.  It is reported that Adam “fathered a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and he named him Seth” (5:3b).  Seeing these words, and considering that the entirety of the Genesis narrative is shaped and premised by the first two chapters of the story, it is possible to look to the first chapter of Genesis so as to consider the creation of man. 

There it is reported that “God said, ‘Let Us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the creatures that move on the earth’.” (1:26)  In this there is both creation and vocation.  The divine image that humankind was intended to be and to bear, from the outset, included ruling over the earth.  That rule was to exercised in the image and likeness of the Creator God, reflecting His glory into the world and reminding the creation of its Creator. 

Continuing to the very next verse one is able to read the confirmation of the intention of the Creator, as “God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them” (1:27). In accordance with the plan that went along with His original consideration of their creation, the Creator God is said to have spoken to the human beings that He had created and said “Be fruitful and multiply!  Fill the earth and subdue it!  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground” (1:28b).  When humankind took up the charge to multiply, with this occurring (at least according to the Biblical record) after the fall, doing so induced an understandable measure of pride in the achievement.  Indeed, the words that the serpent is said to have spoken to Eve rang true. 

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