What’s so special about human beings?

“The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

The Bible contains two accounts of creation. Genesis 1 gives us the overview, covering the whole universe in one majestic seven-day sweep. Yet even so, the making of mankind is singled out as something special. Other living creatures are produced by the earth at God’s command; but humans are created by Him directly, in His image.

In Genesis 2, we see the same act of creation from an earthly viewpoint. God is depicted as a potter, making the first man out of clay (Isaiah 64:8). However, I don’t think we should necessarily interpret this literally; elsewhere in Scripture Job uses the same terminology to describe his own conception (Job 10:9,10), and David describes God as ‘knitting’ and ‘weaving’ an embryo inside the womb (Psalm 139:13-15). These images of a craftsman are not a technical description; rather, they convey God’s ‘hands-on’ approach, and His intimate personal involvement with what He creates.

In one sense, Man is nothing special (we are made from the same ‘dust’ as all other creatures, and we share the basic biochemistry and physiology of other mammals). What makes us different – indeed unique – is the breath of God. “The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.”(I Corinthians 15:46) It was an intensely personal process – almost like a kiss. Adam may already have had physical life, but now he also became spiritually alive and able to have a relationship with his Creator. Without such a relationship with God, we cannot be fully human.

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)

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