Been a common practice for millennia the world over: people of prominence end up with their images in number of places. True of lesser personages, especially so for those with ruling authority. Portraits, statues, money – reminders everywhere, even in our fair country, of those who have served as leaders in past. Some places and times, privilege of displaying one’s image not reserved until person has died – ancient empires, modern nations like North Korea make big deal out of that kind of display.
Nebuchadnezzar fell into that trap – 90-foot tall gold-plated statue set up for everyone to bow down to at stated times each day. Image of current Caesar embossed on coinage throughout Roman empire in its heyday. Statues of Lenin, the various Kims – make mute statement of who is in charge, in some instances lay claim to ownership. Is as much master-slave relationship as ruler-subject.
So, “who are we….that God pays attention to us?”
“Some ancient philosophers regarded humans as encased souls or animated bodies; the Bible rather emphasizes the unity of our personhood. Naturalism says we are a little higher than the tadpoles; the Bible says we are a little lower than the angels. Scientism says we are an accidental arrangement of molecules; the Bible says we are crowned with glory and honour. Behaviourism says we are complex biological machines, whose behaviour is explained in terms of inherited or environmental factors; Jesus invites us to use our God-given capacity to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. Marxism says all human reality can be reduced to natural processes and events; the Bible affirms our God-endowed dignity and worth.” Rowland Croucher
God is unlike all other sovereign rulers – does not put his image on canvas or coins or carved image. Instead, every human being – past, present, future – bears image of God; that is what gives mankind value and signifiance. Our individual worth comes from whose image we bear, not what we look like or how much we can contribute to society. But there’s a problem: the way it is is not the way it was. And…the way it is is not the way it will be, either. It really is a big deal, one we should understand.
A. the way it was v.6-8a
need to go all the way back to the beginning, the way it was when God could look at all his creation, “all that he had made – and it was very good!” (Gen. 1:31)
read Gen. 1:26-31– mankind, male and female, created by God to have dominion over the earth and all that’s in it
in other words, to be God’s vice-regent: “a person who acts in the place of a ruler, governor, or sovereign”, a privileged position greater than all other created beings
next to God in authority, charged with the responsibility of governing the earth – harnessing its potential and using its resources just as God would
bearing God’s image, blessed by God, commanded to fill the earth and manage so appropriately you can’t tell it isn’t God actually doing it
at that point in time, creation was programmed to cooperate with man’s dominion – no hostility from animals, no resistance from earth or vegetation – all in perfect harmony, behaving according to God’s initial design
rest of creation apart from man not designed to run itself, needed wise management; had all remained as at the beginning, it would have done so in full cooperation with no opposition
included periods of regular intimate fellowship with God, opportunities for worship of God – nothing at the beginning to hinder relationship with God
makes you wonder – apart from assisting in worship, what place did angels have in scheme of things at the beginning
so “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?” – the only one of all creation bearing image of sovereign ruler, only one capable of rational worship of that ruler, the one charged with highest responsibility next to God
at the beginning: pretty special creatures, highly privileged, greatly endowed by God, with a significant role in his creation – crowned with glory and honor, set in position of authority
had original conditions prevailed, all creation including the angels would have remained under man’s vice-regency; but…
B. the way it is v.8c
“now we do not yet see all things put under him” – Adam and Eve given mandate: go and subdue the earth, reproduce and rule
don’t have to look far or hard to see man does not have dominion in any ultimate sense; has managed to harness some of earth’s potential, really pretty little given how long he’s been at it!
tables have been turned, man is at mercy of much that he was supposed to subdue and manage
wild weather, wild animals, wild teenagers (and adults) – all put us at risk of injury and even death, constantly in fear
in fact, relationships in every sphere of life have been damaged or broken – self, one another, creation, God
we know what happened – Bible tells us, even though millions reject it’s truth, refuse to believe the account
everyone knows something is wrong, natural man refuses to accept truth about what is wrong
“Therefore, …through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12)
man knows he’s supposed to be in charge, God designed him for that purpose; sin decrees he will go about exercising his authority in all sorts of wrong and harmful ways
man knows he’s supposed to be in elevated position of privilege; tries to put himself there even though he really can’t
worst thing that happened: broken relationship with God because of sin; now, all the sinful ways of dealing with that
try to deny the existence of God even though everyone without exception knows the truth
redefine God into something more comfortable and accepting – “my God this” or “my God that”
take God’s place as Satan attempted – pantheism, New Age, “look within you, you are your own god”
C. the way it will be v.8b
yet we know that God’s word is settled in heaven forever (Psa. 119:89) – it is fixed, his counsel will stand, God will do all he pleases (Isa. 46:10)
remember the bumper sticker: God said it, I believe it, that settles it? don’t need the middle one!
that must mean that what he said will somehow, sometime be the way of it, the way it will be
there must be a time coming – in the world to come – when there will be nothing that is not under man’s governance
God promised it, that is not the way it is now, but it must happen if God is God, and…man is absolutely powerless to bring it about
all the glory and honor and position lost in the Fall must somehow be restored if mankind is to fulfill his created design
in the meantime, do not think that since Adam blew it, no one is in charge! God has not ever missed a step, skipped a beat, left anyone or anything to its own devices for even a nanosecond
and…God has a plan and is presently working out his plan; is the same one he always had, is moving toward goal he always had – none of this surprised God, is all part of his divine plan
don’t forget: scope of initial mandate to Adam was dominion over this earth; what is in view here is mankind’s position in the new earth!
no floating around on clouds strumming harps and singing Kum Ba Yah for all eternity; will be productively occupied, carrying out original design in perfect world without possibility of another Fall
D. how is it possible v.9
Adam failed his assignment – obedience; he sinned, he blew it, now we need a second Adam who will actually succeed
for man to rule as God designed him, must be restored by Lord Jesus and is available only through Lord Jesus
man was crowned with glory and honor (v7) but he lost it; now we see Jesus …crowned with glory and honor (9b)
in order for Lord Jesus to receive that crown, had to become one of us first – for a little while made lower than the angels
time of Jesus’ incarnation, humiliation was temporary, but not beginning of Son’s existence – was already existing second person of Trinity who was made a little lower…
by condescending to take on flesh, he accepted a position (not just geographically) lower than angels – they came and ministered to him: temptation, Garden
suffered something they can’t, death, the lowest humiliation possible for Son of God, and reason he was crowned!
applies to us, his people, also: Jesus’ suffering a prelude to glory, our suffering also a prelude to future glory; will be much more on that subject later in Hebrews
if this is only way for mankind to be restored, no wonder we can’t pull it off on our own! required God doing all this!
shows the lengths a loving gracious God will go to in order to restore his shattered and distorted image in fallen man
There is a question before all of us today: are you living under the sun, s-u-n? The way Solomon talked about in Ecclesiastes? Striving to find meaning and significance in all the things this world has to offer – what you can see/taste/touch. Power, position, pleasure, possessions. They can never satisfy because they are not what was lost in Garden of Eden. Pursuing them only leads to more pursuit and frustration and emptiness. And just so you know, dying won’t be a help either; for those who live their lives that way, the next life is pure hell. Forever.
Or, are you living under the Son, S-o-n? Listen to what Paul said in Rom. 8:14-17 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Living under the Son, under his gracious rule as our Lord and Savior we have some great and wonderful promises: child of God by adoption, heir because a child, joint-heir (whatever Christ inherits, we have full share in), suffer with him, glorified with him. When we grasp that to best of our ability, can agree with Paul, what he says in next verse: Rom. 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
“Then we shall be where we would be, Then we shall be what we should be.” Only if we are one with Christ, trusting in him alone for our righteousness and acceptance with God.