God is a master builder, and every creature that He makes is a masterpiece.
An earthly, human, master craftsman has his mistakes as well as his masterpieces. The knife may slip in a moment of carelessness. The brush may not realize the desired effect; and the color may not be wisely mixed and chosen. The fingers may become numb, stiff or weak, and a substandard work results. But God’s work is always perfect. All that which He does has the characteristics of the work of a master. One is not more perfect than the other, for all are absolutely perfect. And His last work of creating on this earth instead of showing weakness or weariness becomes His earthly masterpiece.
We may single out this one of His earthly creatures as His masterpiece because it stands at the top of an ever-ascending scale of master works, not as something more perfect, but as that which reveals to a greater degree His wisdom and skill. And the very way in which He brought it into being likewise sets upon it the seal of being His earthly masterpiece. We refer, of course, to man who was brought forth by God as the last work of creation.
First God brought forth the inanimate creation, the lifeless ground on which man would stand, where he would work, and which would sustain his earthly life through the plants about to be created. Then God brought forth the living creatures. The first of these were those that would be rooted in the ground, the plants which had life but no blood, and were not able to move about from place to place. Then came the living creatures which have the power of locomotion to swim, fly, crawl or walk and have blood, wherein is their life. Finally came this masterpiece of a rational, moral creature, a living soul that was created in the image of God.
In all this the evolutionist sees an ever-ascending scale of creatures that is the result of an evolving process whereby one species produced the next higher species. He sees a link between the plants and the animals in the sponge, which, though it is an animal, is rooted in the bottom of the sea as a plant. He finds a link between the water animals and the land animals in a reptile that “adjusted” itself to living out of the water on the dry land. But he cannot find the “missing link” between the beasts of the field and man. The closest he comes is the gorilla. But he realizes that there is an important gap between the highest of primates and man.
That he will never find this “missing link” is due to the fact that there is no missing link. The animal world did not produce man. The serpent in his original form was higher than all the beasts of the field. For Scripture declares that he was more subtle than all the beasts of the field. That means that he was more clever than any other creature. It does not mean subtle in an evil sense. The serpent could perform more of the actions peculiar to man than any other earthly creature. But were men to find a serpent in his original form (which, of course, is impossible), they would not have in their possession the “missing link.” Man did not evolve from the serpent, or from any other creature. He came into being by a very special work of God. And the very way in which God brought man forth strikes the death blow to the theistic evolutionistic explanation of man’s origin. For God formed him and, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and created him in His own image.
That God formed man speaks of special care, that is, of a special touch of God. He was very careful in all His works, and therefore all are masterpieces. But with man God used His hand instead of issuing a creative call, as He did with all the other earthly creatures. In fact, in God’s own mind man is a special creature. For before creating man the triune God spoke to Himself and said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.” No such speech preceded any other work of creating. And if we appreciate this truth, we will cry with the psalmist, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visitest him?” Psalm 8:4. Or again when the psalmist cries out in Psalm 139:14, “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
Take a look at the human eye and ear, the marvelous brain and nervous system, the digestive system, the heart and circulatory system, the properly placed muscles and perfectly designed skeleton to support that body! Even now under the curse these bodies are a wonderful piece of “engineering.” They are masterpieces of construction and design. What camera can compare with the eye? Yea, the movie camera and TV camera depend upon the human eye to record or reveal any object to us. What piece of machinery can heal itself as the human body does? What work of man can do what the human brain is capable of performing? The computer was designed by human brain, must be fed its data by human brain, must be repaired by a human brain’s direction. What mental powers are found in man—such as reading, adding a sum of numbers, inventing machines and labor-saving devices, to mention only a few, which are far beyond the powers of all the beasts of the field and forest!
And created in the image of God there was in man’s nature—not in his physical appearance— creaturely reflection of some of-God’s attributes. He was created in true knowledge (Colossians 3:10) and in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24), in these to be like, the holy, righteous all-knowing God. He was like God in these virtues with creaturely limits. An image is like but not the same as that after which it is fashioned. An image of a man may resemble his appearance. But the wax, or stone or wood is cold and not warm, like flesh. It is hard and not skin-soft. It is like in appearance from a distance, and as far as proportions of the features are concerned, but it also misses much of what the reality is. So, although man, the creature, was made in the image of God, the Creator, he resembled God only in a creaturely way and with creaturely limitations. He is not God’s equal but His image bearer.
And this is possible because, while God formed him out of the dust of the ground, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man became a rational, moral being, that is, a creature who could know God and could love Him, and therefore could consciously and willingly serve Him. It is into that rational, moral (or thinking, willing) nature that God pours this true knowledge, righteousness and holiness, which also, of course, imply love.
Of special interest is the reason why God created man, and the reason why He made man exactly that way as a rational, moral being. To begin with the latter, Genesis 1:26 declares further, “. . . . 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.” Having dominion means that he was to be their king. In Genesis 2:15 we read that God placed man in the garden of Eden “to dress it and keep it.” These two verses declare the truth elsewhere pointed out in Holy Writ that man was made to be God’s royal priesthood, his priesthood of kings. His kingly priest, in order that through him the whole of the earthly creation might in loving service, be dedicated to God.
A creature that knew God and loved God was brought forth so that through his mind and will all the rest of the earthly creation that is not able to know and love Him would yet glorify the Creator. The fish and fowl, the cattle and creeping things of Genesis 1:26 cannot speak to God and tell Him how glorious He is. The garden of Eden and its plants had no voice to sing God’s praises or power to extol Him for His virtues. But God made man with these powers so that he could use that garden and all the fish, fowl, cattle and creeping things, the water and the soil, and then could with them and because of them come before God and say, “O God how great Thou art! O God how good Thou art!”
Therefore also, God, according to Genesis 1:28, blessed man and told him to multiply and replenish the earth and to subdue it. He must spread over the whole earth and subdue it. This does not mean that there was conflict between God and the irrational creation. It is not a case of putting it down, but a case of directing that which cannot itself consciously and willingly direct itself to God’s glory. To subdue it then means to use it and direct it to the glory of God.
For that reason we today have that earth and the fullness wherewith it is stored as God’s royal priesthood. Picture in your minds a pyramid like those that stand in Egypt. The base is broad and wide. The sides have a distinct, sharp, inward slant upward to the point at the top that is directed heavenward. That base represents the earthly creation. The point represents man as his life then was directed upward to God. All that earthly creation is under him as its king and priest, and at his disposal to use to the glory of the God to Whom his life pointed, whether it be fish or fowl, cattle or creeping thing, plants, water, or soil. Indeed, here is God’s earthly masterpiece! What a glorious picture!
Everything in that pyramid from the base line to man at the top flowed in one direction, namely, toward that man as he exercised dominion over it, dressed and kept the garden. And he was directed to God. Physically and externally he faced that creation. Inwardly and spiritually He faced the Creator of it all. His fleshly eye saw that earthly creation, while his spiritual eye saw God in His glory in that creation. His earthly hand took hold of these creatures, and his spiritual hand directed them to God’s service and praise. His fleshly feet stood on that warm soil—no shoes then and there—while spiritually his feet were walking in the paths of righteousness. All creatures through Him returned back to the God, Who made them and sustained them, in praise and deeds of love.
But we know that it did not remain that way. Man inverted the pyramid to press all that creation into the service of his flesh. Now that whole creation presses down on him to crush him. Its beasts slay him. The food he eats to sustain his body kills him. The storms howl over his head, the floods destroy his home and crops. He fell from being that lofty royal priesthood of God to being a SLAVE OF HIS FLESH, dedicated to Sin!
We must remember, however, that God is a master craftsman. All His works are masterpieces. That creation fell into ruin by man’s rebellion is not because there was a flaw in God’s work. No, all was very good. But God had, even when He brought forth this earthly master work of man, a more glorious pyramid with Christ at the apex andunder Him heaven and earth (Ephesians 1:10); and God purposed from eternity to come into our flesh to realize this. See also Hebrews 2:5-18. Man must be made in the image of God, a rational, moral being if His Son is to assume a human nature prepared in the Virgin Mary. We must look to Christ and His glorious kingdom when we examine the work of God in bringing forth this earthly masterpiece. It is a necessary stepping stone to the masterpiece of all masterpieces when God Himself in our human nature sits upon the throne of the united heaven and earth, and the angel world and the creatures of heaven as well as man and the earthly creatures are all “subdued” by Him and directed to the glory of God.