26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.
Genesis 1:26

By creating humanity in His image and likeness, God shows that He is all about relationships, and the art of building and growing healthy relationships flows from an authentic relationship with Him

The Hebrew word for “image” is tselem and “likeness” is demuth. These two words, “image” and “likeness” are very similar in meaning and yet distinct from one another.

“Image” is translated as “a model”, like a three-dimensional or structural representation of someone or something, for example, the physical resemblance of a son to his father or a carved statue of an idol or a king. Adam was God’s representative on earth because God gave Adam stewardship over all creation (Genesis 1:28, 2:19). In other words, Adam was at the top of a hierarchical relationship with the rest of creation by virtue of the image of God in him and the divine mandate to look after and be responsible for God’s creation.

Adam was God’s caretaker in His Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) and Adam was to “tend and keep” the garden so that he could return it to God in as good or better condition than when he first received it. Before the fall, Adam worked from rest and had no problem in carrying out his responsibility. Indeed, the work wasn’t heavy, especially when it was God who planted all the trees in the garden (Genesis 2:8) and gave Adam free access to their fruits, except for the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16). Furthermore, it was God who provided Adam a co-worker in Eve to help him (Genesis 2:18) and it was also God who brought the animals for Adam to name (Genesis 2:19-20).

“Likeness” is translated as “mirror-like picture or representation”, just like a mirror reflecting the genuine image of a person standing in front of it. Adam received from God His likeness when God breathed His Spirit into him.

Even though Adam was physically formed from dust, he was created after the image and likeness of God. To be created in God’s image and likeness makes Adam and his human descendants unique in creation and clearly distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom. Human beings are the only species that possess a physical body, a soul that can reason and rationalise, and a spirit that is capable of knowing God. In this sense, Adam was given certain godly qualities and attributes which enabled him to reflect the life of God in every aspect of his life.

God makes you a new creation when you have Christ’s life in you. In doing so, there is nothing to impede you from having a real relationship with God that will bring blessings and abundance into your life.

© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.