Give Us Men – Father’s Day-1

that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  [Matthew 5:45]


God give us men!  A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie.  [Josiah Gilbert Holland (1872)]

Father’s day got me thinking about men (seriously).  There is so much press dealing with women redefining their roles, and how they should be similar to men in many respects, such as in equal pay.  What is disturbing though is how it seems that the definition of a man is simply assumed.  Yet I do not think that any clear concept is operating in our society as to what a male should be.  Many of the marks in the past that made a man distinct from women (the “bread-winner,” and so forth) – and women from men – have been eroded or simply thrown out.  For another example, the man has strength, once very important, but now there are really few occupations in this modern world where that is of much consequence any more.  So just what does make a man a man?

In the “Mother’s Day” blog a few weeks ago and “Intimacy, the Physical and the New Covenant – 5th Sunday in Lent”, I mentioned how fascinated I was that God had deliberately hampered Himself.  He created a universe in which He could not be plainly seen, but rather chose to make human beings be an essential partner in His activity in the world.  When God does His visible work, such as feeding the hungry or sharing the Word about Jesus, He does not use angels, He looks solely to the humans.  In fact, so much so, that there are things that will not be done at all if humans refuse to do it.  Even when it came to a role that God had to be uniquely involved in, namely, saving the world, He did that as a human being.

Perhaps that is part of the significance of Genesis 1:26-28:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

There is more to “the Image of God” than merely that we have similarity to God, for example, that we also are a trinity.  Immediately after proclaiming that mankind would be created in this Image, the reason in the verse following is that the humans would have dominion, they are to put creation under the umbrella of their leadership (“subdue” does not mean that creation is resistant, but rather it is the process of linking it into the human’s commission).

The humans are to be the visible exercise of God’s authority to creation – they are not to represent themselves, but rather God’s care.  So significant is their place in managing the physical creation, this world, that this responsibility will be done by no other creature.  If man does not take on his charge, then creation will suffer.

This idea is strengthened by the concept of Covenant.  Going through the original languages in preparation for Covenant: The Blood is the Life, I was startled to discover that not only is both “Adam” and “dust [adamah]” derived from “dam” [Blood], but so also is “likeness [damah]”:
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DAM”       – Blood
ADAM”       – the (red, Blood) man; humanity in general  [Genesis 2:7]
ADAMAH”  – the “(red, Blood) soil” [Genesis 2:7]
DAMAH”   – the “[Blood/Life/Soul]-likeness of God”  [Genesis 1:26; 5:1]

The basic concept behind Covenant is that as each participant cuts his palm, then joins hands with his partner, the Bloods are mixed – the picture is that as the Bloods (“Life” or “Soul” [Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11,14; Deuteronomy 12:23]) are so joined, so also now “one Soul” (one Blood) flows between them, the same “one Life” flows in them.  Since the concept of Blood is so heavily introduced in the creation of the man, the impression then is that the Life of God, flowing through the man, is the authorization for this creature to be the agent that carries out God’s management of creation, and, possessing this extraordinary resource, he is also accountable to God.  In poor human words: man bears the likeness of the very soul of God.

Now carrying the sign of God’s Image and Likeness before all Creation, Adam is placed into the Garden of Eden to tend it [Genesis 2:15], and then God brings the animals ”to Adam to see what he would call them, and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name” [v 19].  As well, he is high priest of creation, to bring its needs and praise to God – as suggested in the call to creation to worship [Psalm 148; Isaiah 44:23;49:13;55:12-13].

This is a serious and highly privileged business!  But unfortunately the pride and rebellion of Satan has also affected humanity:

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.  [Isaiah 14:12-14]

The Bible echoes with this same desire to be after the Master’s job, to “sit on the mount” – often a poetic symbol of God’s rule –, emphasizing the “I will” rather than declaring the will of the Him Who has entrusted His creation to these agents.  This sin, of trying to second guess and override God’s will, starts in Genesis 3, and the result has been destruction and evil ever since.

…when creation looks even to us, it does not find the clear image or representation of God that it needs to regain its balance.  Instead, too often it finds selfishness, greed, plunder, and destruction – the chaos in creation is but a reflection of the chaos in the human heart.  So even though we may not appreciate it being said this way, but yes, we are a cause (again) for suffering in this world.  [Suffering and the Lost Image of God]

Rather than manage creation, humans would trophy-hunt and seek aphrodisiacs even if it means a species goes extinct.  We would pollute to protect profits rather than to guarantee a good environment for plant and animal.  We would have the rainforest be decimated, rather than to value its secrets, much less to share the abundance of our food   We would rather abort than to challenge even the “discomfort” of children to our own lifestyle.

So, then, how does one be a “man” in this, God’s world?  The first step is to become realigned with what God intended for man, that he should be as agent of God and high priest of creation.  It is the privilege that the New Testament brings back, as it speaks of being entrusted with the “ministry of reconciliation; … in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself … entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” [II Corinthians 5:18].  As mentioned previously, Colossians 1:23 and Mark 6:15 seem to suggest that the reconciliation includes all creatures, which St Francis of Assisi had taken literally, as does Romans 8:19-23.

No, this is not something to be relegated to “the wife,” but rather as indicated in those opening chapters of Genesis, it is the responsibility and honor for the man.  It is to be concerned, not so much about “the bottom line” (financially), but to be more concerned about “THE bottom line,” standing before the One Who can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master” [Matthew 25:21,23].  It is to use his strength, ingenuity, creativity, but also his Master’s love, boldly and determinedly to carry out the mission to take care of all of creation, the mission which came even before his family did, yet which will also include his family.

Over the span of at least ten more blog posts, we will investigate what are the characteristics of this emissary of the rule of God in this creation.

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