The Image and Likeness of God

It is interesting and encouraging to see how the yearnings of the saints of God of Old Testament times are answered by the truth of the New Testament. Who told Job for instance, that, raised up from the corruption of death, he would see God? Yet this was the faith that had struck its roots deeply into his soul, and made him cry out with hope in his distress, "As for me, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and the Last, He shall stand on the earth (shall stand up above the dust); and if after my skin this shall be destroyed, yet from out of my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another" (Job 19:25-27. N.Tr.). His great hope was that he would be delivered from all his woes when he should see the Last (see Isa. 48:12) who is also the First, triumph in His power over all the corruption that death had brought in. He knew that he would see that triumph, and so he will; for this is assured to "all who are Christ's" (1 Cor. 15).

But David with more light goes further. "As for me," he says, "I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Ps. 17:15). Every soul that has been taught of God can enter into the aspirations of this man of many experiences. They know the turning from self with loathing, the cry, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" followed by the discovery that all goodness, all beauty is in Christ, then the deep longing of the soul to be like Him, and the conviction that nothing can satisfy but this. God instead of self, was David's desire; to change this marred image, this ruined life, for the beauty of the Lord! His hope would not be realised and his heart could not be satisfied until he reached this.

Moses, the man of God, was inspired by the same great thought, for in his immortal lament over the frailty of man, and the apparent futility of his fleeting life, he looks onward, beyond the gloom of death and cries, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" (Ps. 90).

All this is so wonderfully answered in the New Testament. God, who by His Spirit created these desires in the hearts of the patriarchal saints had even then His great purpose in view and with what wonder and worship we read, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). And the Spirit who dwells in us works unceasingly to bring us into moral conformity to that blest image even now, to displace self, from which there can be no satisfaction, and to make more room for Christ who makes the heart run over with gladness and praise. It is true that we of New Testament days will have the nearest place of all those who are blessed, yet the desires and hopes of these Old Testament saints will be more than satisfied in the day of the Lord's glory.

And this, when we come to think of it, carries us back to the creation of man, when God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). The likeness was marred and the image lost when sin came in, separating by moral death the creature from His Creator. But God has not been thwarted, for Christ is the true image and likeness of God. We have borne the image of the earthly, a marred vessel indeed, but we are to bear the image of the heavenly, to be like Christ; and this was God's intention from the beginning "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'"