When I was a boy I recall seeing drawings in history books of American revolutionaries toppling the statue of King George III. Since that time I have seen similar images whenever a people rise up against their rulers – destroy the photographs, destroy the paintings, destroy the statues of the ruler is an impulse to which crowds give vent when they rebel (rightly or wrongly) against rule and authority.
God, unlike most earthly rulers, prohibited the making of drawings or carvings or statues purporting to be His likeness when He gave His Law to Moses. No doubt an element of this prohibition was the fact that it would lead to the type of superstitious demonic idolatry which the peoples of that era practiced. But perhaps an even more important element of this prohibition is the fact that God created mankind in His image, male and female He created us. Thus, to recognize His image in one another and to honor that image is, in a way, to see the image or likeness of God.
Of course, Adam and Eve desecrated that image when they refused to believe that they were created in the image of God; they sought something different, they sought something they thought was better, they lusted after a grand self-improvement project – and in that lust they defaced the image of God within not only themselves, but in all of their descendants. In an earthly sense, Adam and Eve toppled the image of God in mankind.
However, defaced as we might be, vestiges of His image have remained in us through the ages, sometimes shining brightly, sometimes ever so dimly. In Bethlehem, some 2,000 years ago, we see the pure image of God walk this earth – and what did we collectively do in response? We murdered Him; but He came to lay His life down for us, and laying His life down He took it up again on Easter morning – thus bringing the offer of a restoration of the image of God to humanity.
And so mankind has pursued its desecration of God’s image, sometimes subtly and subversively, often in the guise of religion, often in the guise even of what passes for Christianity, sometimes in the guise of high-culture, sometimes in the guise of popular culture, often in the pursuit of wealth and power and pleasure – the ropes cast around the image to pull it down are woven with diverse fibers, and those pulling on the ropes come from all cultures and races and beliefs. While the revolutionaries may argue with one another about the best rope to use, they do not argue about the goal. Perhaps they have not realized that if they will all get on the same side of the image and pull together, rather than against each other, that they might be able to pull the image of God down with such a crash that it will never rise again.
In Romans Chapter One Paul describes the downward spiral of mankind as it repudiates the image of God, the image that God placed within mankind. One can only weep at our concerted attempts to destroy, once and for all, the image of God. But perhaps we can do more than weep, perhaps we can hear the laugher of God in Psalm Two, for as David writes, “He that sits in the heavens laughs” at the attempts of this world in rebellion to loosen its ties to the true and living God.
As the beast in its collective and coercive fury rises out of the sea of mankind to erect its image in opposition to the image of God, as it seeks to displace the image of God in mankind by its own perverted and twisted image – who will remain faithful to the express image of God in Jesus Christ?
There is a stone cut without hands, a heavenly stone, that will destroy all of the images of mankind [Daniel Chapter Two] and that stone will fill the entire earth – which image shall we bear? The image of the beast of Revelation Chapter Thirteen? Or the image of the Lamb and His Father of Revelation Chapter Fourteen?