There is reason to fear God. What we think of ourselves may not stand. No one can escape the truth. The beauty and goodness of what God has done will not be lost on anyone, and many will awaken to the unpleasant realization of failure. We are fashioned by the Heavenly Creator to understand and respond to the truth. Whether we admit it or not, we know this is a good thing. God has given us a high order of life. “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. . . I said, “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High” (Psalm 82:1, 6). All are called gods and all will ultimately agree with Him. There is harmony in this even in the sorrow of condemnation.
The eighty-second psalm was written as an admonition to Israel. The psalmist wrote of Israel’s past and future failures, as well as their potential to fulfill the good of God’s design. Man has divine origin not only because he is a part of God’s creation, but because man was given a share in God’s divinity. “You are gods.”
When man was created, he was made like God. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). God creating an image of Himself would be similar to man making a statue of himself. This is a feeble comparison but the idea of making an image is true. The very best of artistic talent among us can fashion a shape which may evoke some attitude or feeling but that is all the farther it goes. The image has no life. On God’s plane of wisdom and love, the image He made was not done in futility, conceit, or artistic reverie. He created an image of Himself that is true, beings who might live in the glory of our Father’s goodness. We are designed to be His children, not in a figure of speech but in the reality of His creation.
We see, in God’s conversation with Cain, that Cain possessed a measure of awareness and capability similar to God. It is the core of accountability.
“So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7).
Cain was accountable for doing well. This implies he understood God’s will. It further indicates that God made known His will. Cain and his sacrifice were rejected because he failed to do well. God reasoned with Cain in the aftermath of this failure. This at once denotes God’s desire for Cain’s reform. Cain could have repented and done the right thing. Being accountable, able to understand and able to respond, having the capacity to learn and the capacity to repent, are markers of being made in the image of God.
Jesus taught of a certain rich man who died and was in torment: “he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). There was no talking back, no hiding his guilt, trying to offset it by whining. He didn’t argue that there would be no comfort forthcoming. He accepted his situation. He knew the righteousness of God. This was amplified by a fervent desire that his brothers should be saved. (This shows the condemned want the gospel to be preached.) “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, ‘for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment’” (Luke 16:27-28). Abraham told him that his brothers had Moses and the Prophets. This tormented man could appreciate the truth. What God had established through Moses and the prophets (the Bible) was enough. They (as well as we) did not need a resurrected neighbor to bring proof. This former rich man was in harmony with God because he understood and learned something in his state of torment. He was not forced into this awareness. He came to it because this was the only thing left – the truth.
As shown by Jesus, the brothers of the rich man could have learned. Jesus didn’t tell us their outcome. However, there is a warning for us. We can put a veil over our ability to know and walk with God. We can give in to deception. We can live a lie if that is what we want. We can choose the truth or the lie. In the grave and beyond we will wear the outcome of our choice in harmony with our Creator. We are gods, and we will appreciate the truth and know that God is right.
One might argue; “We didn’t ask to be created. It would have been better not to have been born. If God is so good then why did . . .?” This evasion might seem to shield us for a little while, but it won’t last. In the end, every soul, whether rebellious or just, will tender their agreement that God is good, that the prospects of life were desirable, and that He is fair and just. Therefore “every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).