What Is Man?
This is one of the oldest questions that mankind has asked. If you were to ask the average non-christian this question today, they would probably give you an answer based on the philosophy of evolution: Man is just another animal – but we are getting better, progressing, rising upwards, evolving. Another closely related philosophy is humanism: Man doesn’t need God. Given enough time and resources man can do anything, meet any crisis, solve any problem - all without God. Unfortunately, man cannot solve the most important dilemmas he faces: death, disease, and destruction (wars, murders, and so on) – nor the sin problem (only God can!). The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart!
Looking at the world around us, we can easily see the effects of man’s rebellion against God. Instead of God leaving man to his own destruction, He stepped into our universe as one of us and died for our sins; therefore providing redemption for all who will repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
In the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job, we see a believer going through a time of great trial in his life, a time where the Lord let Satan prove him. Job did not know what was going on behind the scenes, in the spiritual realm, he only knew what he could see in his life – the tragedies he faced with the loss (death) of all ten children at once, the devastation and destruction of his wealth and possessions (servants, camels, oxen, sheep, etc.), and the disease that ravaged his body for months on end.
During this time of trial, Job asked some of mankind’s toughest questions – one of which was “What is man?” Why would God deign to pay attention to fallen man; why would He stoop down in compassion and lift up man from the dust; why would He come and pay the penalty that the sins of man deserved? What is man that God would reach out to him?
Job 7:17-18 What is man, that Thou shouldest magnify him? and that Thou shouldest set Thine heart upon him? And that Thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?
About 1,000 years later, we have someone else – this time King David - asking similar questions, but in an entirely different context:
Psalms 8:3-6 When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet:
Who has not looked out at the stars and thought how small and infinitesimal he was? Who has not looked at the wonder of creation – of all that God has done – and thought what was he, where did he fit into all of this? Who has not looked at the beauty of the Northern Lights or sensed the awe during a violent lightning storm – and thought that God did all this, by His power and wisdom He has created all the glory and majesty of this world, yea this whole universe, and wondered, “what is man” in comparison?
Maybe it would be better to answer the question of What by that of Why. Why was man created?
The Bible teaches that man is the highest of God’s creation, made in His image. All things were created for God’s pleasure – especially man.
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.
Proverbs 8:30-31 Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men.
Here wisdom (whom I believe is a picture of Christ, in this passage) is portrayed as taking delight in man. Mankind was created to bring God pleasure – that can only happen as we receive His free gift of salvation and worship Him in spirit and in truth – when we love Him freely from our hearts, in gratitude of all He has done for us, in gratitude of the way of salvation Jesus Christ has prepared through His shed blood, His death on the cross, His burial and resurrection.
God created the first man, Adam, and placed him in the Garden of Eden where He fellowshipped with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. Eden means delight. I always believed that it referred to the delight of that first couple God created, in seeing the perfection around them, the delight of having all their needs met, and their delight in walking with the Lord day by day. Then the other day I thought maybe it also referred to God’s delight in man - it was God that named the Garden Eden, after all. Praise the Lord for having His plan of salvation ready to be revealed and brought into play as soon as the first man had sinned – yea, planned even from before the foundations of the world!
Truly, we can say with King David:
Psalms 144:3 LORD, what is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that Thou makest account of him!
Notice, this time it is a statement, and not a question. A statement of awe and wonder at what the Lord has done for him, wonder at the Lord’s pity and love for man! In light of all God’s mercies and promises to him, this same king – a man after God’s own heart – asked the question of Who:
1 Chronicles 17:16 And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto?
1 Chronicles 29:14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.
It is not important who we are, but who God is! He is the omnipotent Creator, and He created us for His pleasure, for His glory. Are you bringing Him pleasure? Have you received His only-begotten Son as your personal Saviour? We can only please Him through faith in Him (see Hebrews 11:6) – and that starts with faith in Jesus Christ’s finished work of redemption on the cross of Calvary.
What is man? Why was he created? Who are you living for – for yourself or for the Lord God?
Basking in Your presence at the start of the day,
I meditate in wonder and begin to pray.
“So amazed,” is all my raptured soul can say.
Who am I, Lord, that You would love me this way?
Once burdened by sins that my mind couldn’t erase,
Now, forgiven – in Your sight there’s not even a trace.
So amazed and awed by Your amazing grace.
Who am I, Lord, that You would die in my place?
At the mountaintop, at last, I rest from my climb,
Rejoicing in the soothing peace that I find.
So amazed, in Christ I have victory this time.
By staying focused on Him, steadfast in mind.
So amazed, Lord, by Your amazing grace,
So amazed, Jesus, that You died in my place,
So amazed by all the wondrous things that You do,
So amazed, my God, I’m so amazed in You!
Poem written April 5th, 2002
Study written March 12th, 2005
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