In the likeness of God was humankind created. That’s what the Bible says, but let’s see what that means. It has profound implications for you and me.
In the likeness of God. We saw that God made all living things to multiply after their own kind. A species reproduces according to its species. But when it came to humankind, there’s a close relationship with the image and likeness of God. Let’s continue our study.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 1:2)
Let’s focus on God making humans after our likeness.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (H1823): and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
We shall see the meaning of image in the next blog post. Both these terms, image and likeness of God, reinforce humankind’s special closeness to God their Creator. We shall see that this likeness of God includes much more than just “letting the earth bring forth…” as He did for the animals in Genesis 1:24. This direct association that humankind has with God is substantiated by many principles and verses, including the Biblical Hebrew meanings of likeness and image. Let’s take a closer look at the comprehension of after our likeness (H1823).
In the Likeness of God
Here is the Strong’s concordance rendition of likeness.
דָּמָה dâmâh daw-maw’; a primitive root; to compare; by implication, to resemble, liken, consider:
Look how H1823 is translated elsewhere; this is referring to similitude: as the translators rendered it. Of course, similitude doesn’t mean exactitude. Humankind is not Godkind, but somewhere there’s a likeness, a resemblance. Likening humankind to God is not irreverent.
We see Adam’s son with the likeness of his father; this is a phenomenon with which we’re familiar from a genetic point of view. God doesn’t have genes! Nonetheless, He endowed humankind with a particular similitude to Him, which we are going to discover. As Adam’s son had the likeness of his father, so humans have the likeness of their Creator God.
In another Bible episode, King Ahaz sees an altar in Syria and wants a copy made for himself in the Temple in Jerusalem. He sends a sketch to Urijah so the artisans can build something similar and recognizable. Putting the two alters side-by-side would reveal their likeness.
Ezekiel, a prophet of God, uses the same Biblical Hebrew word, demooth (H1823), numerous times in Ezekiel chapters 1, 8, 10, and 23. He was a man who, because of what God wanted him to convey, became privy to some incredible visions depicting God’s surroundings, he contemplated some beings around God’s throne and gave us their description. Ezekiel had never seen anything like this before and must’ve wondered how to describe what he’d seen. Here’s the description of one of these types of beings:
As for the likeness H1823 of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Here are spirit beings with four faces with the likeness of man, two animals, and a bird. Don’t ask me how this is possible. But an interesting point is that we see a likeness of a lion, an ox an eagle on spirit beings that have been around for a long, long time, way before human beings. So, it is not only that humans are in the likeness of God but also that certain animals, even though the earth brought them forth, have counterparts in heaven.
I do realize that for practical down to earth people, what I’ve just written might be quite challenging to accept, and that is probably an understatement. Again, if this is the case, then look at it as a story. You practically can’t go to a movie today without seeing some fantastic out-of-this-world character that an author/artist has come up with, who is an essential part of the plot. That’s all fiction, but is that the case of the Bible story? It’s your call.
Let’s go back to Genesis 1:26. When God said: “Let us make man after our likeness,” He did just that. From a descriptive point of view, God and humans have the same likeness in that the Bible representation of God indicates He can manifest Himself with a head, hair, eyes, mouth, a chest, legs, feet as well as hands and voice (Revelation 1:13-17). Animals do not possess the two latter but are so important to humans, as pointed out in Inventory of the Universe. God, of course, can take on any appearance He desires, or none at all, but in most instances, in the Bible narration, He takes on that of a male presenting a similar external appearance.
This likeness of God even goes so far as to encompass functions both God and humans perform. God speaks (Rev. 1:15), He stands (Rev. 5:6), He sits (Rev. 5:7), He breathes (Gen. 2:7), this is just a picture because, of course, He doesn’t need oxygen to live. He also appreciates wine (Judges 9:13), and good food (Gen. 18:2, 8, 22) attributes ascribed exclusively to humans.
As I talk about what the Bible says regarding, for instance, God appreciating wine, I think, wow, what are readers, who hear this for the first time thinking? Here is where the comprehension of the term theology takes on full meaning. In an exchange with a friend about this, he said, “when it comes to God being described with human traits, it’s only so we humans can get a better understanding of God, but it has nothing to do with God possessing these traits.”
When the Bible says God appreciates wine, it does sound somewhat ridiculous, especially since it is part of an allegory in Judges 9. Can we believe in stories given to show us a lesson? An All-Powerful Spirit Being taking a sip of wine into His mouth and enjoying the smooth flavor and aroma of a fine Bordeaux wine! As I explained about theology, are we looking at these contexts from God’s point of view or a human point of view? Ask yourself, could God enjoy wine? Well, since He could do that, why can’t He? The Bible says He does.
I realize that this kind of exposition of the Bible makes me look like some literal fundamentalist, So be it. Because the other side of the coin is this: WHY do humans alone enjoy a good glass of wine? Where and when did that propensity come about? Please answer that. Personally, although I live in France, I prefer chocolate, why do humans have preferences? It’s easy to put labels on what I write, but at least give an alternative for what I’m proposing. What is your worldview for the origin of human characteristics?
We’re right at the very beginning of the Bible narrative. The first six days are reshaping the physical planet and creating all the sustainable life forms and systems so humans can live on Earth. From this blog post onwards, we are going to delve into human beings and see what the Bible says about you and I. Please give me time and yourself time to expand and digest this intriguing subject.
Remember, we are putting a 1,000 to 1,000,000 piece puzzle together. In this post, I’m discussing one small part of just one piece of that puzzle. If you saw that part of a piece on the table among all the other pieces, you’d question its proper place. You’d question someone who knew where that piece fitted in the puzzle. Yes, I hear what I’m writing, and it does sound presumptuous, but at least hear it out. Give it a chance to see if this one-piece makes sense and how it assembles with the other one million pieces. Patience
We have to realize the limits of this likeness of God because, of course, God is far, far, far superior to humans, God is never tiring (Isaiah 40:28), invisible (I Timothy.1:17) and possesses many other characteristics way beyond humans. Nonetheless, humans are Godkind with incredible potential that will discover as the puzzle pieces bring the overall picture more into focus, and as we’ll see from many other Biblewide corroborating contexts.
Here’s just one New Testament corroboration, I don’t want to get too much into the context right now, not to get off course. The timeframe is in the future after Christ’s return, “And as we have borne the image (H1504) of the earthy, we shall also bear the image (H1504) of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49).
εἰκών eikōn i-kone’; From G1503; a likeness that is (literally) statue profile or (figuratively) representation resemblance: – image.
εἴκω eikō i’-ko; Apparently a primary verb (perhaps akin to G1502 through the idea of faintness as a copy); to resemble: – be like.
εἴκω eikō i’-ko; Apparently a primary verb; properly to be weak that is yield: – give place.
Humans have a pale, faint resemblance and representation to God right now, but, according to the New Testament, this will give place to a fuller and more complete likeness of God in the future. Patience, we’ll get to it.
This short expose about likeness is just a brief introduction to this fascinating subject. Next week we’ll elaborate on the term image.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 1.2 of the book Origin of Humankind
I suggest you go to UnlockBibleMeaning.com and take a look at Genesis 1:26. Switch to Strong’s and click on 1823 to the right of likeness. Then, at the bottom of the annotation, that will display on the right, mouseover the bottom of the annotation and click on Hebrew Concordance for H1823.
You’ll see about 20 verses in the Old Testament that use this Hebrew word. Just read them and picture in your mind how these authors use this Biblical Hebrew word. They are literal descriptions to help us see what is the reality of God’s environment, just as there’s an explicit description of the special relationship between God and humans who have the likeness of God.
Dig Deeper into The Explanation
Join The Explanation Newsletter to stay informed of updates. and future events. No obligations, total privacy, unsubscribe if you want.
The Explanation series of seven books. Free to read online or purchase these valuable commentaries on Genesis 1-3 from your favorite book outlet. E-book and paperback formats are available. Use this link to see the details of each book and buy from your favorite store.
Since you read all the way to here… you liked it. Please use the Social Network links just below to share this information from The Explanation, Humans have the Likeness of God – What that Means