Regaining the Image of God
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
14 July 2013
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Matthew 5:9, 48
Why would we have to be regaining the image of God; didn’t He make us in His image?
Yes, but through our disobedience of God, we rejected being in the image of God; for we know that God would never do the horrible things that humans do, since they are not a part of His creation or heavenly will.
When God created the world and the Garden of Eden, He was making a perfect world reflecting His heavenly will, where there was no suffering or death, and where humans and other animals were like members of the same loving family, where all lived together in peace.
However, sometime after God created humans in His own image, they seemed to desire something more than God’s perfection, and were tempted to disobey God; thus they fell from grace and no longer lived in the image of God.
We know this is true, because God would never do the evil things that humans do to our fellow human beings, to the other animals, or to the rest of His beautiful creation..
And since we were given charge over the earth to care for it as God would care for it (which we would naturally do, if we were living in the image of God), the whole world suffered along with us, for we had corrupted it.
Thus, God chased humans out of His perfect Garden, which is where we remain to this very day, for relatively few people are really striving to free creation from its present corruption.
Jesus tried to bring us back into the image of God, when He told us in Matthew 5:48 –
48. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
But few people seemed to take Him seriously.
Likewise, the vast majority of people don’t seem to want to live in God’s heavenly will, as Jesus told us to pray for in Matthew 6:10.
10. ‘Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Similarly, these same people didn’t want the blessing Jesus presented to us in Matthew 5:9.
9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [children] of God.
What Jesus is telling us is that if we were truly these kinds of peacemakers; our blessing would be to transform us back into the image of God, which is a description of true children of God.
Paul picks up on this and tells us in Romans 8:19-21 –
19. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
20. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21. that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
The glory of the children of God is living in the perfection and image of God. Those children of God do everything in their power to end the horrible suffering and death of millions of our fellow human beings and billions of the other animals every year, and to restore the environment in which we all live.
Let’s apply these heavenly concepts to what we are told in Amos 7:1-17.
1. Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing.
We have been seeing on the news in recent weeks that the world is still being plagued by locusts. Are these also plagues of God, because of our society’s ungodly ways of life and hardness of heart?
2. And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said,
“Lord GOD, please pardon!
How can Jacob stand,
For he is small?”
3. The LORD changed His mind about this. “It shall not be,” said the LORD.
4. Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, the Lord GOD was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farm land.
Could there also be a correlation between this and the violent weather patterns we are having, or with the droughts, floods, and wild fires we are having?
5. Then I said,
“Lord GOD, please stop!
How can Jacob stand, for he is small?”
6. The LORD changed His mind about this. “This too shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.
The raising of animals for human consumption produces about 20% of all greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Could eliminating these greenhouse gasses through our compassionate plant eating help stem these plagues in the same way as Amos’ prayer?
These are the kinds of things that peacemaking children of God strive to do.
7. Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall, with a plumb line in His hand.
8. And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,
“Behold I am about to put a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel.
I will spare them no longer.
9. “The high places of Isaac will be desolated
And the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste.
Then shall I rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
10. Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words.
11. “For thus Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.'”
12. Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah, and there eat bread and there do your prophesying!
13. “But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”
Notice carefully that there is no mention of it being for God.
14. Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.
15. “But the LORD took me from following the flock and the LORD said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’
Amos didn’t have to explain himself, but he did to show that he was just a regular person, just as there are many compassionate peacemaking children of God from all walks of life in the world today, all of whom have been called to speak out and help free creation from its present corruption.
True children of God cannot keep silent.
And because Amos could not keep silent either, note how the Lord responds to Amaziah and the king of Israel.
16. “And now hear the word of the LORD: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you speak against the house of Isaac.’
17. “Therefore, thus says the LORD, ‘Your wife will become a harlot in the city, your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, your land will be parceled up by a measuring line, and you yourself will die upon unclean soil. Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.'”
When our societies turn against God, these are the kinds of judgments that befall us.
Amaziah tried to silence the truth, but the Lord compounded His judgment against him and Israel.
God wants our obedience.
He wants us to truly love Him and the whole of His creation, which puts His interests before ours.
God charged us with protecting His creation and every other living being in it, way back when He created us and the other animals, including bringing God’s heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven, as Jesus taught us.
We are to free creation from its present corruption.
Note how this applies to what we are told in Psalm 82:1-8.
1. God takes His stand in His own congregation;
He judges in the midst of the rulers.
2. How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked?
Isn’t this exactly the way most people are acting in our churches and in our governments?
Is there any wonder that God is angry?
We are to take a stand against the evil in this world, everywhere we encounter it, just as Amos was called to do.
3. Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
And don’t forget how horribly afflicted the animals have become at the hands of our fellow human beings.
We also need to remember and remind others all the time, for there is no way to use or exploit animals and still bring them justice, which means we have to stop eating the animals and return to eating only the plant foods God created for us all to eat.
This is the only way to do justice and vindicate the animals.
4. Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
These are not just empty words; they are a divine challenge to us to take a stand against all forms of evil in the world around us.
5. They do not know nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are shaken.
We can no longer give them any excuse for saying that they don’t know or that they don’t understand.
6. I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are sons of the Most High.
7. “Nevertheless you will die like men,
And fall like any one of the princes.”
This is because most people no longer desire to live in the image of God, because they prefer to live in the corrupted ways of the world with all its suffering and bloodshed; that is, unless it’s their own.
8. Arise, O God, judge the earth!
For it is Thou who dost possess all the nations.
Are we going to sit quietly on the sidelines and watch others suffer and die while waiting for God to judge the earth?
Or, are we going to be a part of the solution, and speak out and do everything in our power to help free creation from its present corruption?
The choice is ours, but as for us, we will continue to take an active stand against the evil and corruption in this world.
We need to return to being in the image of God, just as He created us to be.