Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. 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.”

27 So 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 have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:26-31

Willet # 10 of 11 | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

We are not amused.” So says the Queen, using the plural of majesty, or the royal we. In the public situations in which it is used, the monarch or other dignitary is typically speaking not only in their own personal capacity but also in an official capacity as leader of a nation or institution. In the grammar of several languages, plural forms tend to be perceived as deferential and more polite than singular forms (Thanks, Wikipedia!). 

Let us make man in our image…” says God. Some have suggested that in this instance God is using the plural of majesty. That may be the case. God is majestic, and it would be appropriate for him to express his majestic holiness by use of this grammatical device.

There are at least five suggestions as to why God speaks in this manner here. 

  1. The revelation of himself as Triune; speaking within his three-in-one nature about his work of creation
  2. God speaking about his work with the angels in attendance and assistance
  3. God and creation itself working out this marvelous design
  4. God’s revelation of his majesty by use of the grammatical construction known as the plural of majesty
  5. A polytheistic view of God as though God is working with other gods to create the world and everything in it

We reject the final idea out of hand. Scripture is clear: there is one and only one God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4). There is no biblical evidence that the angels or of creation itself participated in creating. That leaves us with either the plural of majesty or God speaking within his three-in-one being – a self-reflecting conversation about this dramatic work. 

Opera ad extra indivisa sunt. That’s Latin for “works [of the Triune God] outside of his being are indivisible.” In other words, God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as One created the world. If you want a deeper consideration of this, you might check out this website

There are many ways to conjecture about these issues – including how God relates within his being as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three persons. Perhaps this is a peek into that mysterious reality. We can even diagram  the Bible’s teachings about Triune God. (Thanks to Pastor Brian Chilton for this diagram.)

Image result for triune god diagramBut make no mistake. The diagram is not God. It really doesn’t do justice to the sublime nature of God’s being.  I find it quite plausible that God is speaking within his being as he says, “Let us make man in our image…” And I know that the teaching of the Triune nature of God is vital to true faith. But in the end, two truths sustain me: 

If I could understand and explain the Trinity, you and I would have a puny and paltry god. If God could fit inside my head, and if I could understand his being, he would be in my image – not the other way around. 

As I’ve said before, “We know precious little about god but the little we know is precious.”

I am thankful to God for creating me and all people in his image. It is a tragic truth that we have tarnished and besmirched that image. But the God who created us has also come to our rescue. He has saved us through the death of his Son. He has given us the Holy Spirit, and invites to to pray to him as “Our Father.” For all that I shall thank, praise, serve, and obey him.  

 

 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. 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.”

27 So 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 have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:26-31

Willet #5 of 11 | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

Maybe you’ve seen the vacant stare. Eyes open but not seeing. Breathing shallow breaths, lungs not filling with the breath of life. More recently I’ve not taken for granted this gift of breath. Through a sleep study, what my wife had told me was confirmed by hard data. According to the results, I stopped breathing 3 times (as I recall) in the 5 hours of the study. I also did something else – different from snoring – although I don’t recall the term. My bi-pap machine is now my night time friend. It helps me breathe. 

But if you’ve seen the vacant eyes and shallow breaths of someone barely alive, you know the difference between machine-induced breath and the breath of life. The first cry of a newborn baby. The gasp of delight at the sight of the Christmas tree and all the presents on Christmas morning. The gulp of fresh mountain air on the ski slopes. The deep sigh of a day well-ended. These are all possible because God breathed into the man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

Yes, I know I’m getting ahead of myself here. The “breathing into his nostrils…” doesn’t occur here in chapter 1. But look closely. It does mention “everything that has the breath of life in it” (v. 30). The point is two-fold here. Breath certainly hearkens back to the Spirit of God, hovering over the face of the deep (1:2). And the breath of Jesus over his disciples after his resurrection (John 20:22). It is also echoed when the Bible speaks of the Word of God being “inspired,” better yet, “God-breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16. 

We may occasionally hold our breath in anticipation of the anxious moment being resolved. The game-winning field goal. The play at home plate. The moments that may seem like hours when we’re waiting for her to say, “yes.” When the point is scored, the date is set, and news is good, we let out a sigh of relief. We might even cheer. And as we do, we are echoing God’s out-breathing of life. And we certainly ought to recognize our need to give God the glory for another breath of life. Full. Blessed. Hope-filled. Or even if we must wait for the answer to our question or our prayer. 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. 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.”

27 So 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 have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:26-31

Willet # 5 of 11 | Galveston, Texas | February 2021 [Apologies for yesterday’s misidentification of this bird!]

With a bit more discretionary time these days, I’ve managed to watch a couple movies – some of which I might one day recommend. One very clever series, Lupin, is about a thief who steals Marie Antoinette’s prized jewels from the Louvre. There was quite a back-story, and many twists and turns of plot. Those jewels, though. Precious. Valuable. Beautiful! 

Perhaps you’ve seen it in a newborn baby. Maybe it’s a supermodel. Perhaps it could be your favorite heartthrob actor. Would I date myself if I mention Rachel Welch, or Tom Selleck. George Clooney? Sophia Loren? How about the Venus de Milo sculpture? Or Michelangelo’s David? Maybe it’s your husband or wife that you see reflecting the beauty, creative splendor, and image of God. 

If you watch almost any TV or movie these days, in addition to the electricity between leading man and woman, you will no doubt see a gay or lesbian couple. Portrayed as normal, upstanding role models these actors provide a glimpse of the subtle tools of the deceiver. When God is finished with his work of creation (male and female) he pronounces it not just good, but very good. 

The pure and perfect relationships of man and woman with God – together with all of creation is very good. We have here the grand sweep of God’s creative work. He creates light first and at the end creates man and woman from the dust of the earth. He breathes into their nostrils the breath of life. And man becomes a living being. The crown of God’s creation.

Consider what we are able to do! We can imagine a painting or sculpture and if we have the skill  create a work of art. We are able to conceive and bear children. We are able to manicure lawns, grow flowers and vegetables according to our personal tastes and desires. We can build cars, rockets, airplanes, and ships, and travel near and far. 

There are also ways we can damage and abuse the creation. We will look at that soon enough, but for now let us reflect on God’s very good creation. Imagine if you are able what life in a pristine environment without sin or brokenness of any kind would be like. One day it will all be restored. One day we will leave behind this present brokenness and trouble. But for now we must do all we can to subdue the earth, manage it well, and reflect the image of God in how we live, speak, think, and move. 

We must thank, praise, serve, and obey the Creator of everything initially deemed to be very good.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:20-25

Willet # 4 of 11 | Galveston | February 2021

There is an art to taking a good photo of a bird. It’s all in the eyes. You want to capture the catchlights in the bird’s eyes. This shows that the bird is in focus, and gives the bird a clear sense of being alive. Birds typically move fast, so getting that in-focus shot isn’t always easy. Then there’s framing, the direction and quality of the light, the background and foreground of the photo, and the composition itself. Where is the bird in the frame? Are there any tree branches, grass, or other things that distract or obscure. 

It also helps to have a good camera and lens. Bird photographers go for long lenses – 500MM or longer. And many add a teleconverter, multiplying the lens focal length by 1.5, 2, or more times. Continuous autofocus is a real asset, as is a camera that will allow you to take a burst of 10 or more photos in a second. 

All that, however, is nothing without the person behind the camera. Ansel Adams has famously said, the most important part of the camera is the 12 inches behind it. He was referring to the eyes and brain that sees, sets up, and takes the shot. 

When someone says to me, “That looks like a really good camera. I bet it takes good pictures!” I reply, “Yes, I’m sure it does. Let me set it down here and we’ll watch it do so.” Well, maybe I only imagine saying that, but I do imagine doing so!

Which gets to the whole point of this rant. If God had not created the heavens and the earth, the seas and “every living creature that moves,” the finest camera, greatest photographic eye, the most perfect technique, and setup would be for naught. It’s like the scientist who told God he could create life, and picked up some dirt do begin his work. God says to him, “Just hold on there. Get your own dirt.”

The splendor of God’s created order is delightfully beautiful and worthy of my best photographic pursuits. And I’m thankful for the excellent photographic equipment I have available to me. Once in a while I manage to take a decent photo. But all glory goes to God, for whether it’s “Flowers by God…” or “Birds by God…” or “Light by God…” it’s all his work. It’s my privilege to see, and I thank God for it.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. – Genesis 1:9-13

Willet | Galveston | February 2021

What’s your favorite day of the week? Mine used to be Sunday/Monday! Thursday was a close second. But because I start my week on Sunday. With worship. Gathering. Hearing the Word of God. Calling on him in prayer. Receiving Jesus’ body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. And on Monday, the week was before me. Things to do. Hills to climb. Opportunities to embrace. Challenges to face. Purpose. Meaning. Mission.

Thursday was my close second in those days. Thursday evening was my Friday. Since I took Fridays off, and often had a much lighter work day on Saturday, I looked forward to that day. Friday morning was perhaps even better. After our workout, Diane and I would go out for breakfast on Friday mornings. 

But now all that has changed, and I’ll have to discover my new favorite day. Perhaps I should choose Tuesday. That would be in alignment with the double-good third day as recorded in Genesis 1. Did you catch it? Twice during the creative activities of the third day. First when waters are gathered together and dry land appears, “God saw that it was good.” Then, before the third day ends, the earth brings forth trees, vegetation, and fruit. And again God sees that it is good.

In Israel some couples choose to be married on Tuesdays – the double-good day. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from them. This is not about superstitious posturing for the right day of the week to start a business, look for a new job, ask for a raise, or start a diet. It’s about recognizing that God determines that which is good. And if he twice calls a day good, it just might be worth looking at the land and sea, vegetation and fruit with a deeper appreciation for these things. 

Today is a good day to thank God for his beautiful creation.

For your personal meditation and reflection on this Lord’s Day

Psalm 7:17

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
    and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 67:1

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations.

Psalm 97:11-12

Light is sown for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
    and give thanks to his holy name!

Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1:11-25

We had an unexpected guest in our container garden pepper plant. A tomato plant appeared. Uninvited but welcome. Unexpected but not a mystery. Simple explanation: either a seed from a nearby tomato plant made its way into the soil, or the pepper plant seedling we bought had accidentally contained also a tiny too-difficult-to-notice tomato seedling. We know the pepper plant didn’t produce tomatoes. Horses don’t bear baby pigs. 

This is a reflection of a phrase that runs throughout this first chapter of Genesis: “According to their kind.” 

I learned long ago of several scientific arguments against evolution. From the amount of dust on the surface of the moon, to the decay of the strength of the north and south pole’s magnetic energy, to the second law of thermodynamics: entropy increases. I find these arguments interesting, and worthy of note. They form a significant foundation for rejecting the idea that all life evolved from a single cell from some sort of primordial soup. 

The Answers from Genesis website offers some helpful arguments that are based on both scientific investigation as well as the Genesis account of creation:

The strategy of using design arguments which are divorced from Scripture was tried once before, in the early 19th century, and it failed to convert people or to overcome the growing skepticism in the once-Christian cultures of Britain and America. In our evangelism we need to present design arguments and the Scriptures at the same time.

They also point out that, “Gecko feet, bat wings, and horse leg bones are among many structures that defy evolution. Design implies a Designer, and life certainly looks designed!”

I like to use the found watch argument: If you find a watch, you naturally conclude that someone lost it, that it was made for the purpose of telling time, and didn’t just happen to come into being over billions of years. It had its origin in a watch factory. We believe that without ever actually seeing a watch factory. 

When you go to the grocery store and buy a can of beans you fully expect to get beans. They don’t morph on the way home into corn or deviled eggs. If you do discover your can of beans to be filled with beets, you naturally conclude that there was a labeling mistake. 

We take the orderliness of our world for granted. Instead we ought to thank God for creating a world in which there is an orderly progression of life, and marvel at the created beauty of flowers, the near miraculous experience of newborn life, and the majesty of mountains, seas, and stars. These all reflect the glory of God and point us to our incredible privilege of knowing him and experiencing his creation. 

 

Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day. – Genesis 1:6-19

Once in a while I win a photo club competition ribbon. These days it’s a virtual ribbon: a graphic image of a blue, red, white, or green ribbon, superimposed on a PowerPoint slide. And it feels pretty good to see my photo next to the ribbon. Most of us consider the green “Honorable Mention” ribbons to be little praise. But at least we still get the mention. Most veteran photo club members worry less about ribbons and seek to learn more about their photos through the discussion and critiques of our images. But even the veterans enjoy winning. 

Winning or losing is not the issue in the case of the days of creation. Light, which was first created, was not an end in itself. Light was created to illuminate that which God was yet to create on the following days of creation. It would allow stars to be stars. People to see flowers. Planets to reflect their presence in the night sky. So too with the separation of the land and waters. They would support the presence of plant life and water and land animals, and ultimately man. 

There is a reason for the unfolding nature of creation’s order. And every step of creation will find its purpose in that which follows. Light doesn’t exist for its own sake. Neither does the dry ground or gathered waters. Planets and stars mark season. Wildlife and plants provide food and adorn the creation with beauty. All these will both serve man. And man will have dominion over them – serving creation itself.

All creation declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-6; 148). The Creator – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – has made us and all that exists. His orderly unfolding of the heavens and the earth reveal a thoughtful and purposeful intention. That purpose is ultimately expressed in the delightful relationship between earth, heavens, man, animals, plants, and God himself before the fall into sin. 

The planets and stars of day four needs the events of days one, two, and three to have happened. And day one is not complete until God is finished with his work on the sixth day. Now God is forming and filling that which was empty and formless. As we see it unfold we can delight in that which God says is good. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. – Genesis 1:1-4

Looking for Food in All the Right Places | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

“It’s a sine qua non,” said my seminary Greek professor. “Sine qua non? What is that?” “It means, ‘without which there is nothing,'” he answered. You can’t go on if you don’t pass Greek. I was in no little danger of not going on (hope you can follow the double-negative!). 

God is the ultimate sine qua non. Without him there is nothing. We cannot go on without God. Had God not said, “Let there be light,” there would be no light. Without light there is no life. Too many people try to do a work-around in this regard. Too many people try to live as though God is deus qua non: God is nothing to them. He’s a non-factor. There is no creator. There is no accountability. We, not God, will determine that which is good or evil. That, after all, is the Original Sin: Adam and Eve decided to determine for themselves that which was good or evil.

God calls the light good. He names the day and night. He orders time. He ordains the rhythms in which we live. The result of all this: we are accountable to him. We will answer about our thoughts, words, and actions as to whether they be good or not.

Ever since we decided that the idea of creation was outside the realm of science, and regelated it to the naive Sunday school children’s simplistic faith, we have abandoned morality and decency in favor of our own brand of goodness and light. We’ve become too smart for God. We don’t want him to determine what is good or evil in our lives.

Holding to God’s definition of good and evil is no easy task. There are forces and enticements that push us off the path of righteousness and pull our hearts away from the source of life. Sometimes resisting temptation to the easy way, or the imagined delight is dreadfully difficult, and even painful.

But the One who created the heavens and the earth and made them very good, is himself good. He is the source of goodness and the One who brings good things to us. The first thing he brought was light. And when the light of God’s love shines in our hearts in the face of Christ, we are eternally blessed (2 Corinthians 4:6). In him is the light of life (cf. John 1:4-5). That Light is the ultimate sine qua non

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. – Genesis 1:1-4

Sea Shell | Galveston | February 2021

What time is it as you read this? Morning for many. Evening for some. We reckon our days and times in these terms because God has ordered our world in these terms. “Evening and morning, the first day…” All comes ab out because God created light and separated the light from the darkness. He called the light day and the darkness he called night. Evening and morning: it was all his idea. His determination. 

But there are not only evening and morning times. There are also seasons: Springtime, summer, fall, and winter. Each with its own unique characteristic. Some think of their lives in terms these seasons, so that as they age, they speak of entering the autumn of their lives.

Although I’m not thinking of being in the autumn of my life, I am entering a new season of life. I’ve ended my service as a pastor – though I’ve not abandoned my calling to serve Christ. But just as morning is different from evening, one season is different from another. My challenge is to define what that new season will be. 

As much as is possible, I hope not to acquiesce into a long winter of discontent. While I need to power down for a while, there will be days of opportunity that challenge that I will face. During these down times, I hope to rest in anticipation of the new tomorrow that will dawn. 

It is important to remember – in the face of our quest to define our lives and determine our seasons – that our days are all numbered. There is a limit to them. And every breath we take is possible only because the God who created the universe makes it possible. He sets the times and seasons. And it all started that first day. 

And the rhythm of evening and morning may also point to a different way of thinking. The rest of evening makes the opportunities of the morning possible. So I rest, in anticipation of the opportunities of the mornings yet to come. How about you?