Over the last two days, we have looked at some Hebrew words used in the Genesis creation account. The two most important words are “bara” and “asah.” They describe two different processes God used. Yesterday, we said that “asah” refers to making something from materials that have already been created. “Bara” refers to something only God can do in creating something that did not exist before. The Bible uses that word in describing the creation of the first humans.
Genesis 1:1 uses “bara” to refer to God creating the universe and planet Earth out of nothing. The same word is used in Genesis 1:20 for the creation of the first life when only non-living matter existed before. Then it is used in Genesis 1:27 for the creation of the first humans in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.” This view of what a human is, values every human. All human lives matter because all lives, all races, all ethnic groups, and both sexes are created in the image of God.
All attempts to get animals to exhibit characteristics unique to humans, such as artistic creation, musical synthesis, worship, and being able to be taught to think, have been a failure. There are horror stories of animals raised in human homes as humans and how they eventually reverted to their instinctive drives. One of them was a chimpanzee raised as part of a family. It savagely attacked and wounded a female visitor whom the chimp considered an invader in his territory.
The Bible is very clear in its teaching about the unique nature of humans and their equality with one another. In John 4:1-42, Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman. Verse 9 points out that Jews at that time didn’t even talk to Samaritans, much less a Samaritan woman. Verse 27 tells us that the disciples marveled that Jesus spoke with her. Galatians 3:26-29 states the Christian view of the equality of all humans in no uncertain terms.
Skeptics have attempted to say the Bible denigrates some humans as second-class citizens by pointing out the conflict between Jews and Gentiles. That conflict had nothing to do with race but was over religious matters. Others have suggested that Genesis 6:1-8 denigrates some groups by calling them “nephilim.” The word “nephilim” doesn’t mean a giant or an alien or a half-human. The word’s literal meaning is “fallen ones,” and the passage’s context is clear that it describes people who have rejected God and His will. The word for giant in Hebrew is “gibbor” (Job 16:14) or “rapha” (Deuteronomy 2:11, 20 and 2 Samuel 21:16, 18, 20, 22).
The Biblical concept of humans is not only that all races and nationalities are equal, but that humans as a whole are unique and special because they are created in God’s image. The lineage of all people on Earth today goes back to the creation of the first humans. No other faith but Christianity has given the instructions to treat one another–even our enemies–with love, respect, and care (Matthew 5:38-48). That is because we are all created in God’s image.
— John N. Clayton © 2021