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In God's Image: Plagues & Justice Pt. 5


If you've been keeping up with our series you know that we are in the midst of Genesis and things aren't going well. You also know that God God is brewing up a plan to do something new and save a world that it described as "full of violence" (Gen. 6:11)

When I take a look at our world today, it is so easy to see that it too is "full of violence." On our last post I asked the question "What would you do if you were God?" And this week we see what God decided to do... "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth." (Gen 6:13)


There is something about violence that breaks the heart of God.

Why?

In the ancient world, people worshiped deities in temples, shrines, and at altars of worship. At those altars was placed an image of the deity. It was a fairly simple concept - you would place an idol made of iron, bronze, silver, gold, or some other precious metal or expensive materials at the altar and devote yourself to it. These graven images were reminders of who their allegiance was directed to.

There is something about violence that breaks the heart of God.

People believed that these deities could be swayed by making sacrifices, sometimes self-mutilation, or making child sacrifices, or some other offering. Here is an example of the Prophets of the god "Baal" trying to call on Baal to burn up an offering in the book of 1 Kings...


"And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention." (1 Kings 18:26-29)


There are countless other examples in the Bible of other deities - of people worshiping their image, and of the powerlessness of the gods other than the true God of all.


So what does this have to do with God hating violence? Well, you see, many other religions and ways of seeing God have on an altar the image of the god. And you are to respect the image, sacrifice to the image, treat it with utmost care...

But the God of the Bible does not have an image like that. In fact, the Bible says that humans are created in the image of God. That is to say, that people like you and me are the image of God! (Gen. 1:27)


Wow!

Let that sink in for a moment.

You are the image of God.

You are the pinnacle of God's creation.

You are of utmost worth and value.

The way you act and the way you treat others says a lot about whether or not you believe they are made in God's image too.


That should help you understand why God hates violence.

He hates it because it is the destruction of His very image.

Perhaps this will help some of us understand why God wanted to start over in Genesis 6. He was so grieved by the destruction of the human image-bearers that he wanted a fresh start.


Are you grieved by the mistreatment of human life in our world today?

Are you?


It's a tough question for each of us, but it's an important one that the Bible wants us to ask...

Because God cares deeply about every single life.


Are you grieved by the mistreatment of human life in our world today?

Justice becomes a lot easier when we begin to see people the way God sees them - as beloved image-bearers.

But there is, of course, a problem.

It makes us feel good to see ourselves as bearing the image of God. Or to see our friends as bearing the image of God. But what about the people who don't look like us, or talk like us, or live with the same economic means as we do?

Are they not also made in the image of God?

What about nasty people who take advantage of others?

Or hated political enemies?

Are they not also made in the image of God?


How do you treat people as beloved-image-bearers, when they don't even realize they bear God's image and they have no interest in reciprocating that love and respect to you?

Friends, I take you to the cross of the Messiah.

Jesus knew intimately well the experience to sacrifice and love those who hated him.

It's an unnatural thing to love those who hate you.

But this is the story the Bible tells - of a God who will not stop loving and giving himself for the sake of the world.

For the sake of people who want nothing to do with him.


"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17)


Want to take a step towards reversing the violence and hatred in the world?

Refresh your mind with those words of Jesus - words that remind us of how much God loved us, and of how he gave His own life in order to save the human image-bearers.


Do you know that God loves you beyond measure?

Let it sink down a level deeper into your soul today.

Then turn around and love the people the world tells you to hate.

Turn around and love those who mock you.

Turn around and love those who want nothing but the worst for you.

And when you do, you'll be one who bears the image of God - you'll look just like Him.

COntact us

General Inquiries:

cedarburgcumcmosaic@gmail.com

Nate Gruber:

nateg@cedarburgcumc.org

Stevie Stibor:

stevies@cedarburgcumc.org

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© 2020 by Mosaic Youth+Teens. This is a ministry of Community UMC in Cedarburg, WI.