It is quite amazing that God did not forsake Adam and Eve for their act of disobedience of His one command in the Garden of Eden. King David expressed surprise that God cares for man so much as to what does God find in man to consider him worthy of such attention. But are we willing to ask ourselves to give account of what we have done or plan to do to reciprocate this ‘agape’ love of God.
Man’s value in God’s eyes – We shall see the Jewish perspective on why God created mankind? God expressed His desire to create man in His image, His likeness and to give him dominion over everything (Genesis 1:26). We shall see these three aspects separately.
First, the word dominion is translated from the Hebrew word ‘yiredu’ which comes from the root word ‘radah’ which is translated to mean to ‘control, subdue or overpower’. But did God command man to overpower the animals and all else? The Jewish interpretation of this is that the root word for ‘yiredu’ is not ‘radah’ but ‘yarad’ which means to ‘descend, lower oneself, show respect’. As per this God’s command to mankind is not about exerting control and overpower His creation but to humble us, but to bring us down from our high ground to teach us about God’s love, character and His mercy and grace.
God reveals Himself to mankind through His creation which declares His Divine glory and it cannot be that man would be given authority to do what he pleases with it and use and abuse it. Rather we can hear the voice of created things revealing God’s glory only when we show respect to it and the original residents in every country show this respect and many in them can even communicate with animals.
Second, The words ‘Let us create’ has been a challenge to Jews and Christians alike where the Jews consider the consultation of God being with the angels. The Christians in this on the other hand read the plurality of God in the Holy Trinity and consultation being between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Jewish sages see this differently. The plural in Hebrew is not like the English language and it could be more than one thing or it could be something that is the ultimate or the greatest or the best. In Hebrew everything is either male or female and Adam is one such word and Adam should mean a human being rather that a male. After separation of sexes God called man ‘ish’, not Adam and the woman ‘ishah’. God created mankind as the ultimate part of creation.
Third is about image and likeness to God – Hebrew word ‘tselem’ is translated as image and it also means a representative figure. God is a Spirit and His image would mean an outward display of His Being which is His emotion, imagination, creativity and thinking. The Hebrew word for likeness is ‘demuth’ which also means resemblance indicating similar actions, thereby implying that mankind is created by God to represent Him in every aspect.
The Talmud, the Jewish book of commentary on Scripture, says that on the seventh day God did not stop creating but passed on the task to mankind. God put eternity into our hearts to create the urge within each one of us to live eternally. But since death is the result of sin, we attempt to create something to be remembered long after through finding a purpose and meaning for our life. The knowledge of this universe tells us almost nothing about the purpose of our life and we try to create our own meaning and purpose fitting ourselves into our own imagined sphere. But it is only through guidance of God that we understand His Divine plan for us and then try and fit into that.
God gave us free will to love God or not. God loves everything that He creates and it is to love Him in return. Only the human being has the capability to love God in return and when we choose to do so we become special to God. When God gave dominion to mankind over everything that He created on the earth, He gave an empty canvas to us to fill it with our expression of our love for Him. God’s love for us is displayed through His Son and it now becomes us to die for others to show that love of God to them (1 John 3:16). Only animals are given that finished canvas for their lives and they do not have to think it out. Every individual is given some talent or gift by God and use of that gift using our own imagination and creativity to discover a special way to tell God about our love for Him is our meaning and purpose for life. God gave everyone something, even if it is just a smile and a sense of determination to encourage others to move forward. The real purpose in life is to select your own way out of the infinite means available, to express our love for God and our neighbor.
God could have, but He brought every animal and bird to Adam to name them and thus giving him a sense of belonging to that and glorify God through that close relationship with all of the creation. God created mankind and breathed a part of Himself into that pile of dust to enable us to choose and live our way to show God how much we love Him and His creation for He has shown His love by creating us in the first place.
God states, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for My holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations’ (Jeremiah 1:5). This is the verse quoted to support the question of God’s plan for every human being that He has created. Hebrew word ‘etsorekha’ has been translated as ‘form’ and it comes from the root word ‘yatsar’ which means ‘form, fashion or mould’, like a potter making a vessel. There could be two other possible root words for this same word ‘etsorekha’. One could be ‘atsar’ which means a treasure, thus rendering the translation to be, ‘Before you were formed in the womb, you were a treasure to Me’. The other possible word could be ‘natsar’ which means to ‘watch over, guard or preserve’ and the meaning of the verse could then be, ‘Before you were formed in the womb I was protecting you (natsar) or was watching over you’
It could be that the root word ambiguity is that God desired to imply both meanings. Thus before we were formed in the womb we were a treasure to God and God was watching over us. God declares to His people, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11). Sometimes God’s plans are totally opposite to what we have planned. Job lost all that he had, suffered sores on the body and allegations of hidden and unconfessed sin that brought about his sufferings. But he walked in faith and though perplexed about the situation; remained faithful to God.
We remain in God’s care in every situation through faith and it implies that first, God has a plan even when we are unable to find the right answers. Hagar, Sarah’s slave woman produced Ishmael with Abram at Sarah’s command but after getting filled with pride tried to flee. Later Sarah asked Abraham to get rid of her and her son. Hagar was comforted by God when she had left her son under a shrub to die for want of water in the wilderness (Genesis 21:10-21). God not only provided water for them in the desert but also promised to make Ishmael into a great nation and ‘God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness’. We may be roaming about in the wilderness but God’s plan does not cease and the promise is ‘your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way walk in it’ (Isaiah 30:21).
Second, releasing our control over our situations, releases God’s plan. Hagar in her desperation for water could not bear to see her son Ishmael suffer, ‘she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot (about a hundred yards); for she said to herself, ‘Let me not see the death of the boy’…. She lifted her voice and wept’ (Genesis 21:15-16). Our children face unimaginable pain during their lifetimes; sickness, failure, self destructive choices and much more. Usually we will not have the answers but God always has and we are assured of His Divine help when we let Him.
Third, What we love, God loves much more – God did not respond to Hagar’s cry but He ‘heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven’ assuring her that ‘God has heard the voice of the lad where he is’. God heard the cry of His children and sent His own Son to die for us to redeem us from sin, death and the devil. God promises to give good things from heaven to those who ask Him, when we cry out to Him with our cares (Matthew 7:11). God, the LORD of hosts says, ‘he who touches you touches the apple of My eye’ and not only I but all that He has given me is important to Him (Zechariah 2:8).
Four, God’s promises in Scripture apply in every situation irrespective of its gravity – Like the Israelites in the wilderness we tend to believe God for smaller matters but when faced with a crisis, we slip into doubt and the ‘what-if’ attitude and go under the desire to know the outcome first. Sarai’s maid Hagar conceived and despised her mistress and not willing to face harsh treatment from Sarai, fled. But the angel of the LORD promised her to multiply her descendents exceedingly beyond count but she must return back and submit to Sarai (Genesis 16:9-10). The expected son was also given Ishmael as his name. Hagar could hold on to that promise of God to give Ishmael a great future under any situation but she did question God’s plan by saying, she did not wish to see her son die. Doubt and discouragement counter hope but God’s promises are ‘yes’ in His Son and we glorify God by saying ‘Amen’ (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Five, God is always with us and in us – God’s prophetic promise that His Spirit and His words that He has put into our mouths will not depart from you (Isaiah 59:21). The promise is made by the Son of God to the believers about the ‘Helper, the Holy Spirit’ and ‘He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you’ (John 14:26). While exhorting the Israelites about their entry into and conquering of the Promised Land, Moses told them, ‘Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them (the giants in the land) for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Remembering the promises of God I am filled with courage and hope for I know how precious I am to my Heavenly Father. Then Apostle Paul’s words ring in my ears, ‘He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32). Filled with the promises of God I place my anxieties and cares before Him and I bring my requests, with prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving before the Divine throne of God and rest assured that He is with me, suffering much more in my trials and pain than I am (Philippians 4:6). This fills me with confidence to face any giant that has come as a problem in my life, for I am sure that my God is by my side fighting my battles.
Why do we have to wait for receiving the promised blessings – The Scripture reveals the answer, ‘And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted that He might be merciful upon you; for the LORD is a God of judgment, blessed are all that wait for Him’ (Isaiah 30:18). While Hagar was undergoing that suffering, God was there all the time waiting patiently. I was presented a copy of the Holy Bible in June, 1978 but I never opened that for years and God waited patiently for me to turn to Him and He could make the first move at the right moment to be gracious. The Hebrew word used for wait means continuous waiting for if the offer of God to wait was to end after a fixed time, I and many others like me, would never have received forgiveness, His grace and mercy. Another Scripture verse about waiting is, ‘those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength’ and the word for this wait also means ‘binding and twisting’ like a rope implying binding myself to God (Isaiah 40:31). In this the tighter is the binding, the more the strength.
God lets us run through all our fleshly efforts till we finally see no light and the darkness becomes extremely dark with no star in the horizon and then suddenly He is there leading us to Him. Lord Jesus declares to every human being about His waiting at the door for us to welcome Him into the heart so that He can then bless us with heavenly Manna and close fellowship with Him (Revelation 3:20). If God’s love and waiting was for a fixed time and then He would move on to someone else, many believers would have perished in sin. But God demonstrates His love for us through His beloved Son who died for us while we were yet sinners for He could not have waited for even one person to be righteous on earth to do that, for that would have never happened. So we must rejoice in His love, grace and mercy and reciprocate His love in our fallen state in whatever way we can.
During the process of creation, the only time God expressed His desire to create something as per a particular design was before creating Adam. He loved His creation so much that everything needed for sustenance was already prearranged. After the fall of mankind, God still valued us so much that He brought down His invaluable Son to our level to redeem us through His sacrifice. Our responsibility is to rejoice in His mercy and thank Him in obedience to His Word. But do we?