Every Man a King

February 2000

One good reason for keeping clear in our minds (as suggested above) that God is not pudding-ish but personal is this: We are made in His image, and we are meant to live as persons, not as puddings. Genesis says (9:6; 1:26-28) that man is made "in the image of God," and the notion is so familiar that even we who believe it devoutly may begin to take it for granted. So it's good to be reminded that in that phrase we are paid a supreme compliment and raised to a high station. A writer in Bible Review (Feb. 1999) points out that this verbal formula about the "image of God" occurs often in ancient inscriptions from such neighbors of Israel as Assyria and Egypt. But in those texts this lineage is claimed only for kings and pharaohs: The ruler is said to be in the "image of Enlil" or in the "image of Bel" or in the "image of Marduk" or in the "image of Amun." But in the Old Testament, says the writer, such a relationship to the divine "is applied not just to the king but to all mankind." The employment in Genesis of this "regal vocabulary," says scholar Nahum Sarna, means that "each person bears the stamp of royalty."

This is way beyond puddinghood. We're not just persons, we're part of the royal household, which must mean that we have both royal privileges and royal responsibilities. And what exactly are they? Thankfully, we don't need to wonder. The Prince of the household, God's only begotten Son, came long ago to these lower precincts of the kingdom, to introduce us to our high office and instruct us in the manners of the court. With His example and His help, we can learn to live up to our royal heritage.

New Oxford Notes: February 2000

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