Restoring God’s Image and Likeness in Man

THE HOUSE OF DAVID

David, the son of Jesse from the tribe of Judah, became the heir of the promise God

made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Eight centuries before David was born, the Lord God revealed to Jacob:

Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart form Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of his peoples (Genesis 49:9-10).

The “He comes” pointed to Christ, who will open God to the world. David shall hold the key to the coming of the redeemer king, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17). Jesus told his disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he charged them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6). The “Man Jesus” came to Israel! The “Risen and Glorified Jesus” came to the world! Jesus stated, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). The Apostle Paul shared this message with the Christians in Roman:

While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man — though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation (Romans 5:6-11).

At the end of twenty-four centuries, John Zebedee wept because no one could reveal the hidden things of God contained in the scroll. Then one of the elders in heaven said to him:

Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousand of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped (Revelation 5:6-14).

Long before John had that revelation, Moses was promised that God would not give up on man, especially on the house of David:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you among from their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

To Isaiah the Lord God revealed how the man like Moses will come into the world:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman (a virgin) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. The LORD will bring upon you and your people and upon you father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria (Isaiah 7:14-17).

Isaiah also was given a glimpse of the man who would announce Immanuel’s presence in John the Baptist. A voice cries:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken (Isaiah 40:3-5).

First, the Apostle Paul received this insight from the Holy Spirit:

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, saying, “Abba! Father! So through God you are no longer a save but a son, and if a son the an heir” (Galatians 4:4-7).

Then, again to the Ephesians Paul wrote, “For He made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10).  

Second, John, Luke, and Matthew witnessed to the fulfillment of Moses, Isaiah, and Elijah. Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would have believed me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writing, how will you believe my words” (John 5:45-47)?

Luke reproduced this very significant statement in Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost:

And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness (Acts 3:17-26).

Regarding the announcement and actual birth of Christ has been accurately timed and fulfilled prophetically and historically:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went up to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judah, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and linage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).

In Matthew, God disclosed his purpose to Joseph, who apparently was familiar with Isaiah:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25).

The prophet Malachi was given a vision of the forerunner of the Messiah. God had expected Jerusalem and Judah to be prepared for the arrival of the Messiah. The house of David (the house of Judah) was the last remnant that was to deliver the Christ to the world. However, the people were unprepared, “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (John 1:11). The leaders did not want the Messiah to rule over them, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). They preferred Caesar to their own king and said to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). The leaders had turned the temple over to the profiteers, and Jesus said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:13). The time had come to refine God’s remnant and reach out to people who gladly would accept the Christ and His Laws:

Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statues and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.

Your words have been stout against me, says the LORD. Yet you say, ‘How have we spoken his charge or of against thee?’ You have said, “It is vain to serve God. What is the good of our keeping his charge or walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? Henceforth we deem the arrogant blessed; evildoers not only prosper but when they put God to the test they escape.’

Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another; the LORD heeded and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and thought on his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him (Malachi 3:1-18).

Tradition had it that Elijah would return, and that Elijah would become the forerunner of the Messiah. Jesus regarded the work of John the Baptist as the work of Elijah. When John was in prison, he sent messengers to Jesus. John asked Jesus whether Jesus was the “One” to come? The question was unexpected because John stood in the Jordan River and pointed at Jesus, proclaiming:

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have born witness that this is the Son of God (John 1:29-34).

After Jesus had sent a message back to John in prison, Jesus asked the crowd several times:

Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more that a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come (Matthew 11:9-14).

In the fulfillment of God’s promise to David’s descendants, Malachi is of monumental importance. In the new Kingdom, in which the successor of David was to reign, man would no longer be linked or tied down to a nation, a temple, or a mountain. The Kingdom of God will be a moral force. The Kingdom of God will be in control of man’s desires and of man’s passion. Every person, that so wishes, will be in touch with “God’s Spirit” and with “God’s Truth.” Jeremiah, a contemporary of Malachi, had this message for the people of the “New Spiritual Theocratic Kingdom of God”:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Jesus the Christ fulfilled the promise to Jeremiah when He gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:4). And at Jesus’ “Last Supper,” Jesus took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. Then Jesus said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:23). The idea of “Redemption and total Absolution” was not available until Christ Jesus ushered in the “New Covenant.” Jesus’ “Atonement” freed man from their costly gods, their religions, and their sacrifices. Particularly those sacrifices, that shed human blood for their salvation. The true God was never partial and indifferent to the Gentiles until Israel. Judah turned God into a national deity. For Peter, it was an incomprehensible task to receive Cornelius into the kingdom of Christ. After he arrived at Cornelius’ place, Peter began to speak:

Truly I perceive that God show no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are his witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. The Peter declared, “Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days” (Acts 10:34-48).

The religious leaders, priests, and Pharisees kept their own people out of Christ’s Kingdom. They sent their guards to arrest Jesus, but the guards could not find it in their hearts to do so:

The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisee, who said to them, ‘Why did you not bring him?’ The officers answered them, ‘No man ever spoke like this man!’ The Pharisees answered them, ‘Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who does not know the law, are accursed.’ Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?’ They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee’ (John 7:45-52).

Luke reports an incident when one of the experts of the law took issue with Jesus, regarding his accusation that leaders were keeping the truth from the people. He said to Jesus:

Teacher, in saying this you reproach us also. And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:45-52).

The end of Judah was only three decades away and the people did not realize it. Jesus wept when he uttered these words:

And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).

“The time of visitation” was a reference to Jesus the “Prince of Peace” who rode into Jerusalem on a foal of a donkey. And Jesus was hailed by the crowd, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). A day later, Jesus uttered this sad prediction:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the building of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 23:37-24:20).

Jesus’ words were echoing God’s disclosure to Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth (Zechariah 9:9-10).

The end of the house of David marked the beginning of the reign of a King, who was not born of the flesh, but of the Spirit. Jesus the King is the complete likeness of God. Yet, being Man, Jesus did what God would do. The closest a person can come to see the image of God in a man is the “Man Jesus.” Also, the closer a person can come to God is to emulate Jesus the Christ. It was an impossible task to see God until Jesus came. Thanks to Thomas and Philip’s questions, Jesus explained emulation.

Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:5-14).

Paul, who never walked a day with Jesus; yet, he spent his life for Jesus. Because Paul emulated Jesus, and not just imitated him (as most of us do), Paul should be named with John the Baptist who described who Jesus really was. His message to the Colossians and to the Philippians was and still is for us. This message is simply out of this world. Paul described the “One” who has transferred man from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of light as follows:

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

To the Philippians, Paul said, in brief, what it took to emulate Jesus:

Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness the of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

Jesus has demonstrated that a human being can, in spite of his weakness and in spite of his limitations, do what is right and what is beneficial to others and what is acceptable to God, the Creator. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews was confident that man could emulate the Son of God:

Since we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).