“And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26a).
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”(Genesis 1:31a).
As you can see from the above scriptures, the first family (Adam and Eve before they had children) were a) made in the image and likeness of God and b) measured by God’s perfect holy and standards to be “very good”.
My question then is if we (humanity) are made in God’s image and likeness, and made according to the highest standards of perfection, can we assume that the Christian Family of the 21st Century has either retained or regained that divine pedigree? If this is not the case, then what went wrong?
Everyone familiar with the story of the “fall” of the first human family will quickly realise that their perfect standing was altered when following the advice of the serpent, Eve, then Adam, ate of the fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and “sin” and “death” entered human nature.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17).
The first pair filled with guilt and shame, hid from God, covered up with fig leaves and then entered the blame game – Adam blamed Eve and God and Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent, well he was nowhere to be seen, and so it is still today!
I would like to include an adjunct to the description of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil- and include the word “practice” in between the words “Knowledge” and “of”, hopefully this will make sense as we go along.
Such is the pervasive nature of sin (evil) that no sooner than the first couple had children, that the sin gene began to proliferate. So, in just one generation of human beings’ anger, jealousy, hatred, and murder entered humanity. Cain the eldest son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel.
Without having to recount the whole course of events that followed, suffice to say that by Genesis 6:5-6 God regretted ever creating human beings in the first place and decided to start all over:
“And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them”.
As the Bible recounts only Noah and family (because of him) found grace in God’s sight and they survived the flood that destroyed the rest of humanity. God reminds Noah after the flood of the value of human life and pronounces a judgement on those who commit murder: “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:6). Ham, one of Noah’s sons was guilty of dishonouring his father after the flood by uncovering his nakedness whilst he (Noah) was drunk (Genesis 9:21-22).
Without labouring the point, we can search through the whole of the Old Testament and not find one perfect or restored family. Why is that? Even among the Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob we find family disfunction. Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister, not his wife, to save his life (not hers). He also at the request of Sarah, slept with his wife’s handmaid turned concubine, Hagar in order assist God in securing an heir. Isaac repeated his father’s behaviour and pretended that his wife Rebecca was his sister also to save himself.
Well Jacob whose name means “deceiver”, probably escaped being killed by Esau his twin brother because he stole his inheritance, goes on to marry twice (sisters Leah and Rachel) after having been duped by his father-in-law Laban. Jacob fathers twelve sons and a daughter with four different women, two of which were the handmaids of Rachel and Leah. Ten of his sons plotted to kill their brother Joseph, Jacob’s favourite, but ended up selling him into slavery instead.
As we progress in the Old Testament, we find even more family challenges, tragedy, and trauma, which no-one, not even priests- set apart for God’s service, are exempt from. Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, also priests are destroyed by God by being drunk on duty and offering strange fire to as part of the sacred sanctuary service (Leviticus 10:1-3). Eli the high priest’s sons, also unruly, were judged and killed at the behest of God (1 Samuel 12:1-17). Not even Samuel, the highly favoured priest, prophet, and judge was able to raise sons of his own caliber- they too were corrupt (1 Samuel 8:3).
The last family I wish to focus on in the Old Testament is from King David who God describes as a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). David was from the tribe of Judah, who lineage Jesus was born from.
David had many wives and concubines. He also had an affair with Bathsheba who when she became pregnant, David tried to persuade her loyal husband Uriah to come home from war to sleep with her, to cover up his own misdeeds. When Uriah refused to sleep with his wife, David sent him to the front line to be killed.
David then married Bathsheba, but their baby died. God graciously gave them Solomon, the wisest, wealthiest, and most powerful King of Israel. Solomon out did his father with wives and concubines by having 300 wives and 700 concubines, what a feat!
One of David’s sons, Amnon raped his own sister Tamar, David did not address this heinous crime. Another son of David, Absalom, took revenge by ordering the death of his brother Amnon. Absalom slept with his father’s concubines for all of Israel to witness. Not only that, Absalom attempted to usurp his father as king, but died whilst trying to escape being captured by David’s army.
We can conclude from the examples referred to above that something went wrong with the human family from the very start of their creation and that this malfunctioning has reproduced, proliferated, and engendered its own kind.
In Genesis 1:28 God has high aspirations for man “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” May I bravely, but reverently ask the question then, does God make mistakes? Did God get it wrong? What happened to the reproduction of his image and likeness and the pronouncement of “very good” with reference to his handiwork? Perhaps the script changed and was overwritten by the devil. You see Adam and Eve made a choice, one of the greatest gifts besides being created in the image and likeness of God, was and still is, the gift of free will.
God as a loving parent, warned his freshly made adult children not to eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as the consequences would be death: “thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 1:28).
God established healthy boundaries for Adam and Eve along with the warning of the consequences resulting from their disobedience. They knew what they were allowed to eat and what was forbidden. However, they chose to listen to the wrong voice and obeyed the master usurper, Satan instead.
Adam and Eve until that point did not understand what death was - they were designed to be eternal. So, could it be that God’s initial proclamation of “be fruitful and multiply” remained in place, but after the fall it referred to the Knowledge of Evil rather than the Knowledge of Good?
My initial question was whether the Christian Family of the 21st Century has either retained or regained that divine pedigree? If this is not the case, then what went wrong? If we fast forward to the 21st Century, how is the human family doing?
Approximately 2 thousand years ago a ransom was paid in full by God the Father himself, sealed in blood by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ for the sin problem that was unleashed in the Garden of Eden. So, in answer to the question the human family have both retained and regained their divine pedigree in the name of and through faith in Christ Alone!
It appears from our comparison between Ancient Israel and this current age, that not much has changed: the drama in our lives and relationships continue and even worsen. In fact, one could also add that what seemed like scandalous then, is becoming passé now. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:1-5
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of
God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
God is a God of love and justice. He never springs surprises upon the human family – that is not his style. All we need to know about living well in healthy relationships, is laid out in his word:
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:6-7, NLT).
God cannot excuse the guilty because he is perfect, just and holy, so when unconfessed, the guilt of sin continues to worsen, degrade and destroy our relationships. However, God is quick to forgive sin.
The fault is on us, family, do we confess our sins? Do we throw ourselves on the lovingkindness of our merciful and gracious God? Do we understand what he is like? Do we seek to please him by loving him with our whole being? Love makes all the difference. You see God lavishes his unfailing love to a thousand of generations of those WHO LOVE HIM.
Firstly, when we love God, he will enable us to love others, his way – even the unloveable, yes even in our families, even in our churches, even in our neighbourhoods, even in our workplaces. Secondly, his LOVE made all the difference, so that our love can change us and then WE can make a difference!
Can I make a case then for the efficacy of the Blood of Jesus Christ as the antidote to all historical, biological, cultural, spiritual, psychological, and social family mistakes, maladies, and malfunctions in the whole history of time from the fall of man going forward? Jesus paid for our sin in blood – his love was exemplified on the cross.
You see he was the “seed that would bruise the heel of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
God wants to give us the blessing of Abraham as outlined in Genesis 12:2-3:
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
God made a covenant with David, that through him would come the Messiah: “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16).
He was determined that despite our mess, he had a message of Hope and Encouragement to all families that turn to him: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6).
In Matthew 1:1, God ensured that all believers would know that they are part of “the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:18-20).
My Charge to you as Christian families living in the 21st Century as salvation is nearer than when we first believed is not to become discouraged, distressed, or despondent about your situation of crises and brokenness. Jesus Christ is the Answer! His blood can deliver, heal, restore, save, and reconcile. Choose him and be recreated in his image and likeness again, nothing is beyond repair!
In the vast Plan of Salvation, thought up before the foundation of the earth, God took a risk to give us free will, even if in doing so we would choose our own way and reject his. The state of the families and the condition of this broken world still bears the signature of their Creator, and HE IS ON HIS WAY AND WILL MAKE ALL THINGS NEW!