God Creates People
Read: Genesis 1.26—2.7
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them . . . then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
Genesis 1.27; 2.7 (NRSV)
There are two creation accounts in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. In the first, we watch from a distance as God creates with the spoken word. In the second, we watch up-close as God shapes the creation by hand. The God of Creation is both above and beyond his works and below and among them.
In the first account (Genesis 1.1—2.3), the sixth day description is an announcement that reinforces the “Who” of creation: God is the sole creator who makes man, male and female, in the image of God (1.27). The word “man” in Genesis 1.26-27 is the Hebrew word “adam.” Here it is a generic term that is better translated as “mankind” or, to be more inclusive, “humankind.” Note that it takes both genders to reflect God’s image. Note also that it is people who look like God, not that God looks like people. We often describe God with human characteristics (God’s heart, eyes, hands) but those anthropomorphic approximations are for our benefit; God is more than human beings enlarged. In ancient times, the “image” referred to a stamp or seal that indicated ownership. Humans carry God’s image in the creation. They are commanded to “be fruitful and fill the earth” and to have dominion, i.e., to rule in God’s name. Humanity is not to waste or abuse the earth but to be stewards of it.
In the second Creation account (Genesis 2.4-25), we get a little “how” added to our ‘Who.” In this up-close, personal look at creation, God alone forms (or fashions or crafts) the man from the ground and then breathes God’s own breath (spirit) into him and Adam comes to life. Note that “adam” here is both the personal name for the man, “Adam,” and the word for the ground/clay/dirt out of which he is made (adamah, (2.7). Adam comes from adamah. Humans are not above the creation, we are an inexorable part of it. We were created to live in harmony, not discord, with everything that God made.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence