“Questions and Answers” Since I realized very quickly that I had way more questions than I could answer during 2 or 3 Sunday sermons, I decided to answer some of them via the Body Builder. So here goes! 1. When God said in Genesis 1:26 “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” who is it that God is referring to when He says “Us” and “Our?” Good question! We see God use this plural form in other places as well such as Gen. 3:22 “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us,…” 11:7 “Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language…” and Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” There are a few different thoughts on how to interpret this plurality of the Hebrew word elohim which means “God.” One is that God is referring to His heavenly hosts that seem to always be around Him as in Is. 6. The problem with this view is that we know from other places in Scripture that God alone created man, the heavenly hosts had no part in this act as clearly understood in Genesis 2:7, 22 “7Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 22The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man (cf. Is. 44:24).” In addition, man is made in the image of God, not in the image of the heavenly hosts (Gen. 1:26). A second view is to say that the plural form of elohim refers to “plural majesty.” In other words, the plural form of God is the most full and majestic way of understanding God and all of His divineness and power which is the truth for the basis of the Trinity. A third, and certainly the most popular modern view, is to say it’s a direct reference to the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The problem with this view is that it infers much. For instance, there is no number mentioned as an explanation for how many are included in the “Us” or “Our.” One also has to remember that the original Hebrew audience knew of Yahweh as a singular God, in opposition to the many pagan gods worshiped by non-Hebrews. That is not to say that there aren’t other places in the Old Testament as well as the New that clearly lay out the doctrine of the Trinity or speak of the Godhead in a plural way, it’s just a big jump to say that these verses in Gen. and Is. are specifically pointing to this. The answer? I believe the plural form of elohim in these specific references of Gen. 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Is. 6:8 are best understood as teaching that the Godhead is a plurality but it’s only when we go to other Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments that the doctrine of the Trinity is completely revealed. There was a second part to this question which asked (paraphrasing), “What does this mean that man is created in the “image” and “likeness” of God? One aspect is that, “It establishes a personal relationship between God and man that does not exist with any other aspect of creation…God was the pattern for the personhood of man.” I also refer you to what we learned in the Basic Bible Doctrines class: “God created man in His “image” and “likeness.” “Image” and “likeness” relate to those non-physical qualities we have that are like God to some degree. We have many attributes that God has which are unique to humans, ones that animals do not possess. Thus, animals are not made in His image or likeness. For instance, man is a thinking creature, he does introspection, self evaluation, has awareness of self, has emotion, has complex initiative, has complex social abilities, has a historical reference, etc. All these things set man apart from animals.” “But probably the greatest "image” and “likeness" is in the area of function. Just as God is ruler over heaven and earth so man was given dominion over the earth. God not only gave man a sphere of dominion but the commission to rule over the fish, birds, animals, plants, and “creeping things.” This is clearly emphasized in the context of Genesis 1:26-30. Man was created to be ruler of earth like God who is ruler over all of creation.” 2. In staying with the Genesis theme (I have re-worded this question slightly), “Who are the ‘Sons of God’ mentioned in different places but more specifically in Gen. 6:2? Are they angels? Gen. 6:1-2, 4 says, “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose…4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” There are several major views regarding this passage: 1) Because the phrase “sons of God” almost exclusively refers to angelic beings or heavenly hosts elsewhere in Scripture (i.e.: Job1:6), the first view is just that – these “sons of God” are angels who violated the natural order of pro-creation and were marrying and having children with earthly human women. Matthew 22:30 says of human beings, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This would tell us that angels are not allowed to marry but could they procreate? If so, it would seem that these angelic beings would have to be sinful, fallen angels, otherwise known as demons and they would have to either possess or somehow take on a fleshly, human form capable of procreating. 2 Peter 2:4-5 does indicate that there were angels who sinned that are seemingly associated with the “ancient world” around the time of Noah (some would say that these are the same disobedient angels spoken of in Jude 6). 2) The second view is that in this instance, the “sons of God” are simply mortal men in the line of Seth (the Messianic line) who co-habitated with the “daughters of men,” “beautiful” Canaanite women (pagans), producing offspring. 3) Thirdly, it has been said that the “sons of God” were earthly kings and princes who married commoners (“daughters of men”). A literal interpretation is always best. Therefore, the phrase “sons of God” (which has never before been used in the preceding pages of Scripture) could only refer to true sons of God which could only be Adam or some other being that was directly created by God, not born in a human sense. This would leave the angel/demon view (#1) above as being the most viable option. That being said, it would also seem more viable that these fallen angels/demons had possessed the bodies of some godless men who then procreated with the “daughters of men” thus producing fully human offspring. It starts getting very complicated, theologically speaking, to consider angels that might be able to take on a human form and participate in some kind of angel-human sexual union. This is a complicated study on which much more time could certainly be spent! 3. Why is 666 considered to be the number of the devil? Is it really an evil number? Numbers are simply numbers; the number 13 and 666 are no more evil than 25 or 2,471 just like the letters that make up a curse word are no more wicked than those that form “good” words. In fact, the number 666 is used in 1 Kings 10:14 to describe how many talents of gold Solomon received in one year! So what makes a word or in this case a number significant? The meaning given to it.
Revelation 13:16-18 (speaking of the second beast, that is, the false prophet of the antichrist) says “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” This passage is in reference to the time period of the second half of the 7 year tribulation period (often called the Great Tribulation) where the antichrist (“the beast” who is indwelt by Satan) has come into power along with the false prophet and is deceiving the nations. During the time period of vv. 16-18, the false prophet is declaring that all who follow and worship the antichrist shall have a mark of identification put on them showing their allegiance to the antichrist. If they would refuse to take this mark, they would be killed. This mark will also serve as a way for these people to buy and sell goods. In other words, it is a way for the antichrist to try and turn all people into his followers by making life as difficult as possible those who won’t swear allegiance to him, especially Christians who have been able to avoid taking the mark without the consequence of death. The text says the identifying mark will be “the name of the beast or the number of his name.” The number that believers in that time period are to calculate as being the beast is 666. In other words, believers need to understand what is happening around them and the significance of this number connected with the antichrist’s name. But what does the number mean? If you can answer that question, you win the million dollar prize! This question has intrigued theologians and lay people alike since it was written in the Bible 2000 years ago. Who knows, maybe the apostle John didn’t even fully understand. People have tried to come up with mathematical formulas, schemes involving different historical figures, Greek, Hebrew and Latin numerical equivalents and the like to explain it. There has been no end to people’s speculation of how to figure out its significance. I think John MacArthur has it right when he says, “This sobering passage (vv. 1-18) is not intended to be the source of fruitless speculation about its details. Rather, it stands as a warning to the unbelieving world. It challenges believers to live careful, godly lives (1 Pet. 4:7; 2 Pet. 3:11) and to evangelize a world headed for destruction.”