Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 1of2

Living in the Image of God

Every person is created to represent God in interactions among people: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Those that live according to this purpose will follow God’s schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the purpose will depart from God’s schedule. Examples from David illustrate his approach in interactions with Saul satisfy God’s mandate of keeping “the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” The approach contributed to his success on a path to kingship that lasted over ten years and included transition from Saul, training for David, and preparing Israel to accept David as king. Two encounters with Saul presented opportunities for David that could have been misinterpreted. Saul conceded the kingship to David on both occasions as David’s commitment to “right and just” prevailed over the temptation to clear his way to the kingship by killing Saul. The concession contributed to preparing Israel to accept David as king.

The Beatitudes. wikipedia.org

GOD’S AMBASSADOR God creates every person to represent him among others and wants us to fulfill the purpose in interactions among people and between people and other creations. To understand the biblical basis for this statement, we note that God is supernatural, created the universe (including the earth and its inhabitants) to work naturally, and wants to interact seamlessly with the universe and its constituents. Let’s focus on people and the earth. God creates people and other inhabitants of the earth to work naturally and wants to interact seamlessly with them. He can interact with people through the Holy Spirit but the interaction is supernatural and doesn’t fill the need for natural interaction with people.

To understand the importance of working naturally, imagine a person’s bank account suddenly swells with a large amount of money that is not traceable to any natural source. How would other people, including the regulatory authorities, respond to the change? It would be unacceptable to say that God gave the money. That is a supernatural explanation. The natural system requires a natural explanation. As a second example, how would people respond to a full-grown tree appearing suddenly in the middle of a highway? Or a person showing up one day to claim the presidency of a country saying God appointed him/her president? God can do any of these but chooses the natural way to do them.

The natural way requires interactions among people following certain rules and processes while God channels his participation in the interactions through the people. For example, if he wants to provide money to a person, he works with the person and others to provide the money naturally. He works through people in every situation to implement changes naturally to fulfill his purpose. He creates every person to represent him in interactions among people to fulfill his purpose in every situation.

The biblical basis for this understanding is in God’s declaration of his purpose for humans: “Let Us make man in Our image…” [Genesis 1:26], which we paraphrase as: let us create every person to represent God (his presence, desire, approach, methods, sensitivity, compassion, etc.) in interactions among people and between people and other inhabitants of the earth. The paraphrase helps us understand the declaration to mean that God creates every person to be his channel for natural interactions with other people.

Living in the Image of God

God explained his purpose for people more when he spoke to angels stating why he chose Abraham and what he expects from Abraham’s family: “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” [Genesis 18:19].

Abraham and the three angels wikipedia.org

God’s purpose for Abraham and for every person is to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” and bring up their children to do the same. Abraham needed to fulfill the purpose “so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Through the declaration, God established “doing what is right and just” as the guiding principle for Living in the Image of God and necessary condition for receiving fulfillment of his promise. Those that follow the principles of Living in the Image of God will follow God’s schedule whereas those that depart from the principles will depart from God’s schedule.

In this bible study, we discuss examples from David to illustrate his approach in interactions with Saul was based on the principles of keeping “the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” As we know, David became king of Israel after more than ten years on a path to kingship that included transition from King Saul, training for David, and preparing the people of Israel to accept him as king. He completed the path successfully. We can surmise that his commitment to “right and just” contributed to his success, consistent with God’s declaration that he fulfills his promise for those that “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”

Again, several generations after David, Christ explained the principles of Living in the Image of God through formal teaching at the Sermon on the Mount and through parables and real-life illustrations during his human ministry. We discuss Christ formal teaching through the Sermon on the Mount in a follow-up bible study. There he explains the principles of Living in the Image of God as guidance to fulfilling God’s purpose for every person. Those that live according to the principles will satisfy requirements for Following God’s Schedule to fulfillment of his promise.

David’s Approach in Interactions with Saul

As we discuss in a previous study under Guided by Right and Just—David Spares Saul, David understood “right and just” in his interactions with Saul to mean he would not “lay a hand” on Saul or get into battle against him, because “who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless” [1 Samuel 26:9]? He understood that reverence for Saul in awe of God was “right and just” and represented a purpose superior to any other. Therefore, he chose a strategy of avoiding Saul or any battle against him in order to avoid any chance of stretching out his hand against the Lord’s anointed.

Therefore, when David had opportunity to kill Saul on two occasions, he chose instead to withdraw to a safe distance and confront Saul verbally after leaving evidence of the close encounter. Both situations appeared to present David with opportunity to gain a strategic advantage by eliminating Saul as an obstacle to his becoming king of Israel. Some of his followers urged him to take the advantage. However, David declined in each case and withdrew to a safe distance from Saul after leaving evidence of his presence unnoticed by either Saul or his troops. He confronted Saul thereafter to explain he had opportunity but chose not to harm him. Also, he used the occasions to explain to his followers that he could not stretch out his hand against Saul because Saul deserved reverence as God’s anointed king of Israel.

First Close Encounter

David and his men were resting far back in the inner parts of the cave of En Gedi when Saul entered the outer areas of the same cave.

Crept up unnoticed
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

David’s men urged him to take advantage of the opportunity and kill Saul. Instead, he crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Later, he explained his principle to his men, rebuked them and did not allow them to attack Saul. When Saul left the cave, David went out and confronted him verbally from a safe distance. Saul wept, expressed regret for his attitude to David, and for the first time acknowledged publicly to David that “…you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand” [1 Samuel 24:20].

Therefore, an opportunity to receive Saul’s concession of kingship could have been misinterpreted by David as an opportunity to kill Saul. David received the concession because his commitment to “right and just” prevailed over the temptation to clear his way to the kingship by killing Saul.

Second Close Encounter

Saul asleep and unprotected
Moody Publishers FreeBibleImages.org

In the second encounter, David stole into Saul’s camp in the Desert of Ziph while Saul and his guards were in deep sleep. David’s associate Abishai urged him to take advantage but he declined and explained God will choose how and when to end Saul’s life. They collected Saul’s spear and water jug as evidence that they were there while Saul and his guards slept, moved away to a safe distance, and confronted Saul verbally. Saul expressed regret for seeking David’s life and conceded David “will do great things and surely triumph” [1 Samuel 26:25]. Thus, for a second time, an opportunity for David to receive Saul’s concession could have been misinterpreted as an opportunity to kill Saul. David received the concession because his Godliness prevailed over the temptation to kill Saul.

In both encounters, Saul conceded the kingship to David in the presence of approximately 3,600 witnesses (3,000 of Saul’s troops and 600 of David’s followers). The concession contributed to preparing Israel to accept David as king.

Summary of What We Learned

God creates every person to represent him in interactions among people: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Those that live according to this purpose will follow God’s schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the purpose will depart from God’s schedule.

We discuss examples from David to illustrate his approach in interactions with Saul satisfy God’s mandate of keeping “the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” The approach contributed to his success on a path to kingship that lasted over ten years and included transition from Saul, training for David, and preparing Israel to accept David as king. Two close encounters with Saul presented opportunities for David that could have been misinterpreted as opportunities to kill Saul. On both occasions, Saul conceded the kingship to David in the presence of thousands of witnesses. David received the concession because his commitment to “right and just” prevailed over the temptation to clear his way to the kingship by killing Saul. The concession contributed to preparing Israel to accept David as king.

More Information

You can download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation of this bible study from PDF_LINK.

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