The Image of God

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Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

“And YHVH spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; there was only a voice…since you saw no form of any kind on the day YHVH spoke to you out of the fire at Horeb, be careful therefore that you do not act corruptly and make an idol for yourselves of any form or shape, whether in the likeness of a male or female, of any beast that is on the earth or bird that flies in the air, or of any creature that crawls on the ground or fish that is in the waters below.” – Deuteronomy 4

Does God have an image? Does the Creator of the universe who commanded that “you shall make no image” have an image?

At the time that the second Temple of YHVH stood in Jerusalem many other divine temples stood throughout the nations of the world, each with carved images of its gods erected within. The exquisite Parthenon stood on the hill of Athens housing its image of Athena, in Rome the Pantheon stood with niches for statues of all its gods from Zeus to Poseidon, in Ephesus was the great temple dedicated to the lusty image of Diana, the many temples of the many gods of the Levant including Baal, Mordoch, and Tammuz, and the plethora of multi-gods and demi-gods of the Far East, the Mayan and Aztec gods and the Nordic gods Woden and Thor, all containing their divine images. Only the Temple of YHVH alone stood on Mount Zion empty of any image, its holy-of-holies completely void of any image of the invisible Creator God YHVH.

But the Bible tells us that man is created in the image of God. But it also tells us that “God is not a man” (Numbers 23:19, Hosea 11:9). What then, is the “image of God” (tzelem Elohim)?

The name YHVH (yod-he-vav-hei) is the unique combination of the verb ‘to be’ in its three tenses- past, present, future – the One who was, is, will be. He is also echad– which is the number, one. How then is man created in the image of God? Humans are created with the amazing facility of recording through five senses all sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch of the present now and storing them in what we term memory of the past. We are also granted what we call the imagination, wherewith we may take those stored data and recombine them into new configurations to be projected into the future.  Therefore with our minds and bodies we may create amazing achievements in art and architecture, medicine, science, philosophy and politics- the possibilities are endless. We are therefore, in the invisible realm of consciousness, like God, living in the three dimensions of past, present and future.

Unfortunately, along with many fine achievements for the betterment of mankind, humanity in its free will has used those divine gifts and attributes to produce havoc and death in all its forms throughout history. It is for this reason that YHVH sent the Messiah.

From among those who are called the sons of YHVH- Israel (Exodus 4:22)- one who is the quintessential Son of  YHVH, who is “the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation,” the Jew Yeshua of Nazareth was sent directly to heal the distorted and corrupted image of God. He informed us that “God is spirit” and “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” His mission was to leave us, by his deeds and words, the living example in our own image and language of the unstained image of God, and to carry away in forgiveness in his own being the filth of our rebellion and sin which has polluted the image of God in us. By his resurrection from death he has given us a second chance in this life, an empowered new life now in direct contact with the Creator by which to live and act responsibly in His reborn image in us as sons and daughters of God, for eternity. It is ours only to receive that priceless gift according to our free will to choose, or to refuse it.

To be, or not to be, that is the question.