BOOK EXTRACT – Reflecting God's Glory to a watching world

This is another extract from Phil Moore’s new book on Genesis:

CAT’S EYES (1:26-31)

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Percy Shaw knew the Bradford-to-Halifax road, but he needed some help one night in 1933. The Yorkshire fog had descended thick and fast, and the winding road had ravines on either side. He strained his eyes to see through the fog, and suddenly two bright lights made him slam on his brakes in alarm. He had been about to drive unwittingly off a cliff-edge, and had only been saved because his headlights reflected in the eyes of a cat which was sitting on the barrier. The following year he filed a patent for his new invention – tiny cat’s eye reflectors which would be placed on roads all around the world to mark out the right path any motorist should take. Percy Shaw’s idea was simple and it made him a fortune, but God had already had the same idea at the dawn of time.

The whole universe proclaims the glory of God in general, but he wanted to mark out the path to his door more specifically. In order to demonstrate what his character is like, he therefore made the human race as the pinnacle of his creation. Adam and Eve were his first pair of reflectors, and he urged them to go ahead and multiply to fill the earth. God referred later to the human race which “I created for my glory”,1 because they were to be a set of divine cat’s eyes who reflected his identity for the whole world to see.

He made them to reflect him as the three-in-one God, who hints at the Trinity throughout this chapter. The universe was “very good” and yet at the same time “not good” in 2:18 until the man was complemented by the woman. “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,” God said to himself as he “created man in his own image … male and female he created them.” Then he gave Adam and Eve the gift of marriage and sex so that they could “become one flesh” and reflect the Trinity more perfectly.

Unless you are very bad at maths, you will have noticed a slight problem there. God is Three-in-One, but he created humankind to be two-joined-into-one. That’s why God continues his instruction and tells them in verse 28 to “Be fruitful and increase in number.” God’s human cat’s eyes would reflect his glory in even deeper ways than a husband and wife echoing the love within the Trinity or the sacred union between Christ and the Church.2 They would also reflect God the Father through their parenting, and God the Son through their obedience. These cat’s eyes would be laid out in ordered family units as God’s definitive flesh-and-blood answer to the question “What is the Creator God truly like?”

God also made them to reflect his role as Ruler of the Earth. Right from the outset, he gave them delegated authority in verse 28 to “Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” He designed his cat’s eyes in 2:5 and 2:15 to “work the ground” and take care of the Garden of Eden. When they made and built and named and organised, they acted as little reflectors of the Creator God whose image they bore.

If you walk down any stretch of highway, sooner or later you will come across a cat’s eye which is broken. Percy Shaw’s cat’s eyes are durable yet destructible, and God’s human cat’s eyes have also suffered damage. In chapter 3 we will read about Adam and Eve launching a rebellion against the very God whose image they were created to reflect. The two-joined-into-one then bicker and try to pass the blame for their sin. In chapter 4, we see the damage go much further, as one of their sons murders the other. Moses picks up on this in chapter 5 when he tells us that Adam became father to “a son in his own likeness, in his own image,” not in the image of God as we might have expected him to say. These early chapters of Genesis tell the sad tale of how God’s cat’s eyes have been terribly broken. Instead of reflecting his glory and lighting up the trail towards his door, our sin and rebellion reflect a distorted view of what the Creator God is like.

But all is not lost. God is more than able to fix his broken cat’s eyes. He tells Noah in 9:6 that in spite of human sin it still remains the case that “in the image of God has God made man.” The New Testament confirms this in James 3:9. Just as a broken cat’s eye can still reflect the headlights of oncoming traffic, so too sinful human beings still reflect something of their Maker. What is more, we discover subtle hints in these chapters that the Lord has a long-term plan to redeem his cat’s eyes and remake them, good as new.

It begins in chapter 3 when God promises for the first time that he will send a Saviour to the human race. This is the one whom Paul would later describe as “the image of the invisible God … For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”3 This Messiah would resist temptation where Adam failed, submit to the Father where Cain refused and reflect God’s glory perfectly where the first human beings proved too fragile for the task. Then, in a dramatic reversal of the folly of Eden, he would allow himself to be flogged, beaten and crucified until “his appearance was disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.”4

God is so determined to have a race of humans who reflect the brilliance of his glory that he is even willing to sacrifice his own Son to fix his cat’s eyes and lead a watching world to his door. One day, when Jesus returns and we see him face to face, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” but until that day God makes a wonderful promise to anyone who believes in him as Saviour. Even in this life, he promises to change them so that they “reflect the Lord’s glory … being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”5

God made the world because he wants his glory to be seen in the universe. He is invisible, but he reflects his glory through men and women throughout the world. We can be broken cat’s eyes and defame the Lord through our sin, or we can let him transform us more and more into his glory. Let’s be cat’s eyes who mark the path clearly to God’s door, and who warn the world to slow down and worship their Creator.

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