Man is unique in all creation for God created Adam
in his own image (Genesis 1:26). We are distinct from all living things by a divine mark upon our kind. The entire creation came into being for the expressed benefit of God's image bearers who were to rule over it just as God rules over his responsibilities.
Made in his image gives us insight into our ultimate purpose, which is to grow up into the full likeness of our Creator. He calls us to become a son or daughter of His Majesty, mirroring the divine character and devoutly following his instructions and example. Jesus Christ was just such a son. Jesus, as God's firstborn Son, the Second Adam, is the exact image of the heavenly Father. Jesus was and is what the human race was destined to become from the beginning.
If we are in God's image, it follows that we should engage our lives in such a way as to imitate God. If we are MADE like him, it follows that we should ACT like him and be like him in every way possible. We need to let his character become our character; his love the pattern for our love; his justice how we meet out justice; his judgment how we judge, and so on.
Separation of Light from Darkness
Fresco by Michelangelo
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While on the earth Jesus actively engaged in being in the image of his Father.
"Therefore, Jesus answered and said to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, the Son has no power to do anything of Himself, but only what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, these things the Son also does in the same manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him everything that He Himself is doing. And He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may be filled with wonder.'" (John 5:19-20)
What Jesus "sees" his Father doing becomes his guide for what he does. This would include the Father's personal example as well as the instructions and commandments given from the beginning. He was so faithful to his Father in the area of worship, especially in observing the seventh day Sabbath, that Luke records it as being habitual (Luke 4:16).
Jesus' imitation was precise and total:
"'For I have not spoken from Myself; but the Father, Who sent Me, gave Me commandment Himself, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. Therefore, whatever I speak, I speak exactly as the Father has told Me.' " (John 12:49)
Not only did he follow his Father's commandments, he followed their intent and spirit. Jesus said "'And He Who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone because I always do the things that please Him.'" (John 8:29)
Imitate our Maker
Just as he separated Adam and Eve from the rest of creation by making them in the divine image, he separated the seventh day from the other days of the week by the divine action of RESTING. The Hebrew word that means "to rest" is sabat, from which we get our word "Sabbath." The Sabbath got its name by what God did on the first one, which is ceasing from his labors and resting with those made in his image. He rested from his work in order to have some peaceful fellowship with man and to celebration his creation.
The first Sabbath, as stated elsewhere in the Bible, becomes the template for the Kingdom of God and for his plan for man. We do not know how long it took for Adam and Eve to mess up this wonderful relationship by sinning, but it probably happened by the following Sabbath.
Was man made for the Sabbath?
The creation of man and the Sabbath occurred very close to one another. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:28) and we can see that by the very order man was made first then later the Sabbath. The Creator enjoins the Sabbath upon all humanity by his own example and by the fourth commandment he gave through Moses.
The seventh day was the beginning of God's spiritual work to make man ultimately as holy as he is. The beauty of the Sabbath is that in God's rest we can enjoy the divine gift of freedom from the labors and acknowledge him as our Creator. If we share his rest TODAY we can look forward to sharing his rest FOREVER.
The seventh day Sabbath is set apart by our Creator as a time to cease from our work and dedicate ourselves to communing with him. It is time for us to further imitate our God and do what he does on the day created holy for his purpose.