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In the Image of Elohim
A deplorable irony in man’s continuing quest for knowledge and understanding is most manifested among the so-called “cream of society.” Eminent scientists and philosophers, who, by this world’s standards are among those seated on top of the academic ladder, are the very ones who blatantly deny Elohim their Creator and ridicule the biblical account of creation.
     Considering the international reputation, prestige and honors bestowed by the academe on these highly regarded men of higher learning – great thinkers – we can only guess as to what extent the impact of their pronouncements have on the people’s beliefs around the world.
     Here in the Philippines, dubbed “the only Christian nation in Asia,” there’s already noticeable decline in church attendance as compared to the time of the hell-fire preachers during my childhood days. And based on media reports, this phenomenon is more true in the more developed nations, e.g., the United States.
     Nowadays, there is an ongoing mentality among the young generation that going to church is for the old folks. Add to this the very popular teaching of the “no law” preachers, and now we have a society best described by Paul’s prophecy.
     But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be self-lovers, lovers of money, boastful, aughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of Yahweh; having a form of righteousness, but having denied the power of it: from these also turn away, 2 Tim. 3:1-5 TSS.
We need not be a political scientist to understand that throughout the ages, heads of states usually rely on human intelligence rather than religious conviction in governance. Let’s take a glimpse of how one of the kings of Israel acted.
     Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their master, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.” After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your Elohim, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin, the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there, 1 Kings 12:26-30.
     Regrettably, no one in the ten tribes nation of Israel raised a voice against King Jeroboam’s decision to completely abandon Yahweh and institute idol worship prevalent among the nations surrounding them. Since then the succeeding kings of the northern kingdom relied on their own intelligence rather than on Yahweh’s guidance.
     King Jeroboam was a victim of humanism – a system of thought which regards humans as capable of using their intelligence to live their lives – rather than on religious beliefs. Perhaps unknown to many, humanism is a potent force that each and every one of us have to content with in our daily lives. You see, this negative trait is deeply rooted in human nature, and exerts a downward pull on human values and behaviour. It is a force that operates like gravity.
     Even among supposedly upright personalities, e.g., priests, pastors, elders, etc., moral values and religious convictions sometimes go down the drain in exchange for material gain. Yahshua tells the crowd of thousands before Him,
     Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions, Luke 12:15.
     For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? For what should a man give in exchange for his life? (Mark 8:36-37 TSS)
     Yahshua’s words are not only for the crowd, but also to all generations until His return. Remember, the desire for material things is just one aspect of humanism. Let us strive not to let humanism take control of our life.
The lowest point into which humans may fall is that mental state of unbelief in Elohim who caused all things, visible and invisible, to exist. Paradoxically, the eminent scientists and philosophers – given their highly regarded knowledge and intelligence – are the very ones who brazenly deny Elohim their Creator.
     Now let’s consider a few questions: What benefit has unbelief brought on mankind, if any? Has unbelief promoted understanding, love of neighbour, or compassion to the very unfortunate and destitute? Specifically, what has atheism or communism contributed in human relations towards the attainment of world peace?
     This reminds me of the former Soviet Union, and Nikita Khrushchev’s deployment of ballistic missiles in Cuba which almost precipitated a horrifying nuclear war with the United States. And as I write this article, Kim Jong II of North Korea hurls threats of a nuclear war against neighbouring nations and other perceived enemies. And the whole world has also witnessed how brutal and ruthless a communist government could be. A prime example is what happened in Cambodia.
     In the name of “social cleansing” and a desire to create a classless society, Pol Pot had caused the massacre of over a million of his own people. Obviously, Pol Pot doesn’t believe that a day will come when he will be made to stand before the Judge of the universe, Rom. 14:10. What an example of unbelief!
     For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of Elohim without effect? May that never be so: yea, let Elohim be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, “That thou mightest overcome when thou art judge,” Rom. 3:3-4 TWOY.
     If the concepts of Elohim – with His law and commandments – do not occur in a man’s mind, that gives him the sole power and authority to determine what is right or wrong. So, to a die-hard communist like Pol Pot, to achieve his dream of a classless society there is nothing wrong with the mass killings. King Solomon tells us,
     The fear (reverence) of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, Prov. 9:10 TSS.
     Pol Pot doesn’t know Yahweh, and is totally ignorant of the law. The law says, “You shall not murder,” Exo. 20:13. Does that mean Pol Pot’s ignorance of the law excuses him from his wrongdoing?
     For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law, Rom. 2:12 TSS.
     Now here is a grim reminder. If those who are ignorant of Elohim are not absolved of sin, what’s more for one who profess to know Yahweh and yet ignores and transgresses His law? Whose guilt is greater between the two? The apostle Paul reminds Yahweh’s people,
     Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall, 1 Cor. 10:12.
     Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers, 1 Tim. 4:16 NIV.
     Unbelief is not confined to denial of Elohim. In a broader perspective, it refers also to most people’s mentality that Yahweh and the law is a distant reality; that the law has become irrelevant to the current social as well as cultural changes needed to keep abreast of new developments; that Yahweh, as a loving Father, is a flexible Elohim; and that if we just believe on Elohim, the penalty of the law will not be upon us without necessarily keeping His commandments.
     And they said, “Believe on the Master Yahshua the Messiah, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” Acts 16:31 TWOY.
     Just believe – “no law” preachers tell their flock – and there is no need to keep the commandments. We are now under grace.
     No wonder that even prostitutes, thieves, kidnappers, murderers and almost everyone in christendom, still hope that when they die, they will go directly to heaven. Even the Islamic suicide bomber has overcome the fear of death – believing that after the blast, he will be transported direct to paradise.
     Sadly, gullible churchianity believes everything their leaders tell them. Don’t be deceived. Just believing but doing nothing to keep the commandments is by itself an act of unbelief.
     Take heed, brethren, lest there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living Elohim, Hebrews 3:12 TSS.
A lesser form of unbelief is agnosticism. Proponents of agnosticism say that it is impossible to know whether there is really an Elohim and a future life beyond the material world. This term is nowhere to be found in the Bible. In biblical usage it is simply called doubt. Relative to this feeling is uncertainty.
     From the works (psychoanalysis) of Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939), we learn that what a man thinks has something to do with either peace of mind (equilibrium), or mental imbalance, e.g., anxiety or fear. This brings to mind Vladimir Lenin, who carried out the bloody purges in Russia way back in 1917, and his disciple Pol Pot, the erstwhile Cambodian despot. Having blotted out the concept of Elohim in their minds, perhaps they were at peace with themselves and devoid of any guilt feelings for what they have done during their lifetime.
     Contrast this to an agnostic who cooked a rooster that strayed into his backyard, or one who occasionally goes to bed with another man’s wife. Unsure of whether Elohim exists or not, to an agnostic anything is possible; and this leads to idiosyncrasies in which one’s future is left to chance.
     Doubt muddles a man’s perception and deprives one of a clear-cut philosophy and principle in life. In many cases, doubtful dispositions have led to negative happenings – many of which ended up in tragedy. Of course, even among Yahweh’s people, there are instances when doubt is understandable and excusable. Consider the case of Martha, the sister of Lazarus.
     Yahshua therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Yahshua said, “Take ye away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, “Master, by this time he stinketh: for he has been dead four days,” John 11:38-39 TWOY.
     Martha’s doubt is justifiable. From common knowledge she knew that a dead body decays rapidly, and thus spoke from the human point of view. But to doubt that Elohim, i.e. Yahweh, exists – is inexcusable. And to doubt the account of creation in favor of evolution is a ludicrous mental delusion.
     No amount of rhetoric from the atheistic scientific community will in any way invalidate the existence of an Absolute Reality – a First Cause – the Almighty Supernatural Being whose name is Yahweh. To doubt the existence of Elohim will do you no good.
     And your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you shall fear night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life, Deut. 28:66.
     Remember, it was doubt that led to Eve’s fall. So, for one who prefers unbelief or doubt, the future is grim and dark.
Have Faith
On the question of whether Elohims exist or not, three options are laid before man to choose from, namely: be an atheist, an agnostic, or a believer. Amazingly, many who are deemed very knowledgeable chose atheism or agnosticism. I am convinced that at times, intellectual conceit leads to erratic or warped ideas.
     In the Philippines, there’s a joke that “little learning is a dangerous thing.” Ironically, “too much learning” has caused many to deny Elohim. In the pursuit of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, man may become wise or foolish. To avoid becoming the latter, something is needed to prevent one’s mind from going overboard. And that, dear reader, is FAITH!
     Yes, just faith in Yahweh and His Son Yahshua, the true Messiah and Savior. Let’s see a very good example of simple faith.
     And when Yahshua was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, “Master, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.” And Yahshua saith unto him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Master, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, go, and he goeth, and to another, come, and he cometh; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it.” When Yahshua heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,” Matt. 8:5-10 TWOY.
     Even Yahshua Himself marvelled that such great faith should come out from the most unlikely or unexpected source. The Roman centurion was a gentile. For other examples of great faith, see the ff: Matt. 8:2, 9:18, 14:36, 15:28, and Mark 5:28.
     Sadly, scientific conceit has led many to deny Elohim and reject the reality of creation when considering the complexity of even the seemingly most simple (onecelled) organism, the invisible but precise law that regulates the movements of the galactic bodies – millions and millions of stars and solar systems – the diversities of flora and fauna. To assume that all these came to exist by way of an accident or mere chance is stranger than fiction.
     Now, concerning the existence of life, the eminent biologists have yet to come up with a credible explanation as to how that one-celled thing from which all life forms supposedly descended came to be. Was it really the result of mere chance, e.g., the accidental convergence of carbon, amino acid, protein molecule, etc., and then by incredible odds and sequence of events the inanimate compounds were again accidentally subjected to intense heat/ pressures and there came out that little one-celled thing? What a fantasy the scientists would have us believe.
     It is no secret that scientists have been trying to create a kind of life form in the lab. So far, they have not succeeded. This proves that only life itself begets life, and that the biblical account of creation is more credible that the theories or fairy tales concocted by the scientists.
     Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at Yahweh’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible, Hebrews 11:1-3.
     Have faith in Yahweh and His Son Yahshua Messiah. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
In His Image
I take comfort in the fact that what the scientists are saying is a mere hypothesis. But the problem is, modern science continues to promote the evolution of man from the apes. At worst, evolution is still being taught in biology classes worldwide. In doing so, they are heaping undeserved insult of humankind – degrading and demeaning man down to the level of an animal.
     We’d better let the Holy Book explain and clarify the issue.
     And Elohim said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth....” And Elohim created man in His own image, in the image of Elohim created He him; male and female created He them,” Gen. 1:26-27 TSS.
     Other than to have dominion over the different creatures, the Bible reveals a far more important reason and purpose as to why Yahweh created man. Firstly, let us consider the word likeness. By any stretch of the imagination, no one can have a true picture of Elohim i.e., how Yahweh really looks like. That is impossible because Yahweh exists in the Spirit and is invisible.
     The Bible says that no one has seen Elohim as He really is, and at any time, John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12. To have a better understanding of what the texts really meant, let’s take a deeper scrutiny of words image and likeness. In Strong’s Hebrew dictionary image is #6754 tselem; an unused root mean. to shade, a phantom, i.e., (fig.) illusion, resemblance; hence a representative figure. Likeness is #1823 demuth, from #1819 damah; a prim. root, to compare; by impl. to resemble, liken.
     Now we can see that the two words were used in the figurative and not literal sense. It’s like this: let a Caucasian, African and Asian stand side by side. Physically, with their distinct features, you can easily differentiate which is which – the Caucasian with his pointed nose and white complexion as compared to the Asian, or the African with his black skin. But when you look at their shadow, all these disappears and what you see is just the image of man.
     In the creation of man, in context the words image and likeness is symbolic of Yahweh’s attributes, i.e., holiness, righteousness, and knowledge, Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10. That’s why the apostle Peter tells us,
     For it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy,” 1 Peter 1:16.
     Contrary to the evolutionary tale, Yahweh directly created man, and for good reason and purpose.
     For we are His workmanship, created in the Messiah Yahshua unto good works, which Elohim hath before ordained that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10.
     But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of Elohim, even to them that believe on His name, John 1:12.
     For ye are all the children of Yahweh, by faith in the Messiah Yahshua, Galatians 3:26 TWOY.
     Yes, Yahweh created man to reflect His holiness, righteousness, and potentially to become members of the Elohim family. Indeed – we humans were created to be like Him – In the Image of Elohim!
-Elder A. S. Untalan, Sr.

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