THE IMAGE OF GOD (EXCERPT OF WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE LORD)
Taken from “The Image of God,” an excerpt from, What I Have Learned From the Lord.
Copyright © 2012, by Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We have been called to be made in God’s image. The first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel gives us an idea of the awesomeness of God’s image I believe we will be formed into this image if we keep pressing into Christ; but it may requires a few thousand years for its full accomplishment.
But there are a few characteristics we can be working on today.
And their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. (Ezekiel 1:9)
The above is speaking of the four living creatures, the cherubim. They portray the Personality of God, so to speak. It is as though God reveals Himself in this external form.
The first lesson we gain from the cherubim is that they go straight ahead. They do not turn as they move.
If we would be in God’s image we must behave in this manner. It speaks of righteous, straightforward behavior. We do not turn from the path God has set before us.
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:10)
The above is the image of God and consequently the image of man. The face of a man speaks of the ability of God and man for union with another person. I doubt that any of the other creatures of God, including the cherubim, have the ability for union that is true of God and man.
The wings of the four cherubim touch each other, but that is not the kind of union that is true of God and those in His image. God and man have the ability for a deep union that produces oneness. Such is the face of man.
Each had the face of a lion. It is God’s will that man, being made in the image of God, govern the creation, just as a lion is the king of the jungle. In order to rule with Christ we must have strength, majesty, and fierceness formed in us. The need for these characteristics to be formed in us accounts for many of the situations we encounter throughout our discipleship.
The present world has been designed to select and train kings. It is not an easy, pleasant process. I believe it was Saint Anthony to whom the Lord said, “The cup a king drinks from must be burnt in the fire.
I am concerned about us Christians in America. We are so soft! The pastors and evangelists who ought to be warning us about the hardships we can expect as soldiers of Jesus Christ are crying assurance, assurance, assurance, grace, rapture, Heaven.
Many of God’s people simply will not tolerate any preaching that does not tell them how wonderful they are and that God is too kind to permit any sort of suffering to come to them. We are not prepared for the social chaos that is ahead of us, or the privations and sufferings that will accompany the Divine judgment on our worldliness, lusts, and self-centeredness.
The face of a lion–the image of God. Have you ever noticed the face of a male lion? He is a king, and he brooks no foolishness. Woe unto those who displease him. Won’t it take this kind of personality if we are to govern the self-centered nations with a rod of iron?
The face of an ox also is the face of God. The ox is a burden bearer. God is a burden bearer. The ox is accustomed to work. God is accustomed to work.
Each member of the Body of Christ is to be a burden bearer, and to be ready to work diligently and continually as Jesus leads him or her.
According to the Bible, The Spirit of God has given to each member of the Body of Christ a ministry and a gift or gifts. The churches are in such a state of confusion today that most members of most congregations, it appears, have no idea what their ministries and gifts are, and what part they are to play in the building up in Christ their fellow believers. Is that true?
In many instances we have settled into a priest (pastor)-people pattern. It is not often that we see many people in the church with the ministries and gifts outlined in Romans, Chapter Twelve; I Corinthians, Chapter Twelve, and Ephesians, Chapter Four.
We who are pastors need to bear down on this issue, I believe, if the people are to be prepared for the coming days; and if they are to find out what the Spirit is saying to the churches right now.
I believe the balconies of Heaven are filled with gifts, as someone pointed out, just waiting for believers to pray for the ministries and gifts—to keep praying until they receive. Sometimes we have to pray for quite a while before we receive. Maybe God wants to discover how sincere we are.
But God said: “Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened.” This, Jesus said, referring to our praying for the Holy Spirit that we might have bread for others.
The Word cannot be changed in any manner. We shall receive! We shall find! It shall be opened! We have not because we ask not.
There is a load for every “ox” (believer) to haul; a burden for every member of the Body of Christ to bear. I think many of the people are just waiting to go to Heaven. They have no idea there is something they are supposed to be doing to build up the Body of Christ.
I am not suggesting that we all are to go forth and save souls. Rather, I am crying out that God has something wonderful for each one of us to do; but we will never find out what it is until we pray, pray, pray until we receive; until we find out what our heart is desiring; until the door is opened before us.
It is a real war and the bullets are real. There is fruit for the Master’s table ready to be picked. There is some for you and me to pick. If we neglect to seek out the work Christ has for us, He will give the inheritance that should have been ours to someone else. In that day we will hear, “Depart from Me into the outer darkness.”
May this never happen to you or me.
Many of the believers picture their life in their mansion in Heaven to be one of ease, while they do nothing of significance. Where did we get that idea? From the Muslim religion? Assuredly not from the Bible.
The Kingdom of God is just that—a kingdom. There are all kinds of roles, tasks, opportunities for service, that will continue throughout eternity. We humans each have something to give to the community in which we are placed in the spirit world. When we find out what Jesus wants us to do, we will discover it is as play—like Adam and Eve taking care of the trees in the Garden of Eden.
Heaven is no place for lazy people who expect to do nothing but sit around and admire the scenery. This is not God’s way. We only grow as we keep active in Christ. There is so much to be done! As one little girl said recently as she prayed to the Father, “I promise I will do my very best.” When I heard that I took a deep breath, straightened up, and proceeded to type out the things the Lord has been showing me for the past 65 years.
The man has been created to love God and his or her neighbor. The lion tells us of the majesty and strength we must have if we are to govern with our elder brother. The ox reminds us that of Christ’s Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end; and during that time Jesus will gives us joyful tasks to accomplish; wonderful roles to fulfill.
But what about the face of the eagle? Is God like an eagle? Are we to be like an eagle?
The eagle is not at home on land. He has been created to fly in the heavens. So it is true of us. We have been created to fly in the heavens. The Apostle Paul exhorted us to set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
The Lord Jesus probably was the most heavenly minded Man ever to walk on this planet. But He did the most earthly good. What does that teach us? It teaches us that the more we dwell in heavenly places in Christ, the more help we will be to those in the earth who have problems.
Everything around us, in these days, appears to clamor that we must pay attention to this problem, or that mess. It is so depressing! But when we get alone with the Lord in prayer, we are lifted into the heavenlies. It is there that we gain the peace and the understanding that enable us to cope with the darkness of the earth that seeks to pull us down to despair.
Suicide is fairly common in our day. Why? Because people do not spend time in the heavenlies in prayer. As they look about them they see the death that always is working where people are not serving God. The horizon is grim and becoming ever darker. But when we soar in the heavenlies with the Lord Jesus we can remain above the satanic darkness of earth.
It is not God’s will that we spend our days plodding through the mud. We have the authority and power through Jesus Christ to come to the Father any time we wish and gain the peace, the courage, the wisdom, the strength that we need to survive earth’s horrors.
Our child dies, and instead of yielding to despair we pray until we know she is happy in Jesus’ Playland. We are sued for more money than we have. We pray until God assures us that He will provide for us. We have a terminal illness. We pray until we begin to get a glimpse of a wonderful land filled with decent people who obey Christ.
It is Satan’s business to fill us with worries; to turn our minds away from God and His promises. But while God is an Ox, who bears our daily burdens, He also is an Eagle. He soars in the heavens above the clouds of depression and worry. No one can cause God to worry. God wants to share with us His gladness of heart.
God has the face of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. As we press toward maturity in Christ we too shall find these characteristics in our personality.
Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. (Ezekiel 1:12)
It is a sign of spiritual maturity when we can be led by the Spirit in such a complete manner. One of the main victories we need to gain is deliverance from grasping any relationship, any thing, or any circumstance. We are to be free to enjoy moment by moment whatever the Lord give to us. We have to pray vigorously for such freedom.
The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. (Ezekiel 1:13)
Our God is a consuming Fire. Those who are in His image also must be consuming fires. Each of us who is pressing forward in Christ passes through many fires. Their purpose is to burn out of us all that is flammable. When we have been judged sufficiently, then, wherever we go, Divine judgment will follow.
We are destined to judge the world, and the angels as well. We are neither competent nor qualified to join with our Lord in the judgment of the world and of angels until we ourselves have been judged thoroughly. In fact, if we are pressing forward in Christ, we are being revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ right now. All that we grasp, all idols, every aspect of our personality, must be refined by fire until it suits God’s Nature.
The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. (Ezekiel 1:14)
We must follow the Spirit of God as He teaches us to obey Christ, until all inertia is removed from us. Our adamic nature is subject to inertia. When it is at rest it wants to remain that way. When it is in motion it wants to continue at the same speed and in the same direction.
We cannot possible speed back and forth like flashes of lightning when our adamic nature is in control. But when we are living in the Spirit of God we can be free of grasping our desires and move quickly with God.
This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:16)
The wheel intersecting the wheel. God is in Christ, who is in us, who are in Christ, who is in God. This perfect union is to be true of us from now throughout eternity.
Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. (Ezekiel 1:18)
God sees everything as it truly is. He want us to see everything as it truly is. On how many occasions did the Lord Jesus accuse people of being blind? Our adamic nature is blind and cannot see the hand of God all around us. God wants us to have our eyes opened so we can see what God is doing at all times.
God’s servants are blind to that which is superficial. The disciples pointed out to Jesus the splendor of Herod’s Temple. But Jesus saw what was true—the Temple in shambles, having been destroyed by the Romans. May God give us eyes so we are not blinded by the glitter of the American culture, and see ourselves as God sees us.
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. (Ezekiel 26-28)
It does not seem possible that any of us would ever look like the man pictured here. But it actually is to this image that we have been called.
We who are fervent Christian are used to ordinary church life. We may have attended the same church for many years. During that time our idea of what being “saved” means may be somewhat short of what God has in mind.
By being “saved” we mean that we will escape Hell when we die and go to Heaven. What we are to do in Heaven throughout the endless ages of eternity we have no idea. We on earth are tired, worn out, worried, sometimes very ill, in some cases impoverished without enough to eat, we may be cold, we may be sweltering in the heat, we may be being harassed or tortured because of our beliefs, we may be at the point of death. There may be numerous problems in addition to these.
So the idea of going to Heaven and doing nothing for eternity, without any of the worries and pains of life, may be very appealing to us.
I believe eventually it will be true that we will be living in a world without such troubles as I have just mentioned. But unless I am incorrect, God did not make man to spend eternity lying in a mansion without responsibilities.
In the beginning God made man in God’s image. The first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel portrays God’s image; and, if you will notice the words, “the figure was like that of a man.”
Has Jesus said that if we live a victorious life we shall sit with Him on His Throne? How do you picture that throne. Could it possibly resemble the throne described in Ezekiel?
The Apostle Paul said that one of our roles will be to judge the world and also the angels. How would we appear then? Would we appear as the man in the first chapter of Ezekiel?
We have been called to be co-heirs with the Lord. The Lord has inherited everything in Heaven and everything on the earth. How do you suppose we will look when we are governing the nations with the rod of iron?
How do you think the brothers of Christ will appear in their glory?
If we are to be filled with all the Fullness of God, how shall we appear?
What will a pillar in the Temple of God look like?
I am not endeavoring to get us all puffed up. I am pointing out that we have been accustomed to regarding our destiny as one of doing nothing. It is true rather that we shall be so filled with God that sleep no longer will be necessary. Can you picture that?
It has been given to the Apostles to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Will they be doing that while they are resting in their mansion? It is my impression of Jewish people that they will not be easy to judge.
And then there is the army of Christ descending from Heaven to destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet. This climactic event would be difficult for us to participate in while we are at rest in our mansion.
In Revelation, the Twenty-second chapter, we notice that the saints will rule for eternity. Will they govern from their mansions?
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
When you think of all the roles of the believers I have just mentioned, then the idea that the first chapter of Ezekiel is portraying a son of God does not seem so fantastic after all.
Do you agree with that?
(“The Image of God”, 3935-1)