Humans have this little habit of taking over God’s job. The original influence for this perpetual error in judgment was Satan, the serpent Eve encountered in that lovely garden so long ago. He is the one who subverts and corrupts every good intention of Creator God by deception. He tells us that we’d better take over control, because God can’t be trusted. The accuser attempts to spoil God’s reputation, and in weak moments we buy into his nonsense.
God had said, on the sixth day, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26)
This is the truth: we were made to be like God, not to be gods ourselves.
Lucifer knows the difference and has known it since he was “cut down to the ground” from his high place as “son of the morning,” star of God’s worship choir. He crossed the line when he said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-15). It was not his privilege as a created being to declare himself on par with the Lord of all created beings.
Worse still, he made Adam and Eve accessories to the same type of crime. His slimy, lying tongue urged them to eat the forbidden fruit, saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5).
Whether you take a literal or figurative view of the story, the underlying reality persists. Human beings are easily tempted to sin, become haughty and rebellious when sin overcomes them, and forget their rightful place in God’s created order. This is why the human world looks and feels so broken. Because it is.
But God has a plan of restoration he is working out.
How fortunate we are as God’s human creatures to have been rescued and redeemed from our first ancestors’ fall from honor and grace. The Apostle John celebrated the good Father-heart of God when he wrote,
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!… Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2).
Most of us have a longing within us to bring children into this world. We want to produce little people who look and act like us in some way. Our children share pieces of our DNA; often we can recognize characteristics that resemble Mom or Dad. But no matter how great the resemblances might be, each child can only be said to be like us, not to be us, or take on our role in life. Every person is unique, and uniquely responsible for becoming the best version of her human self. This is obvious on the human level.
In the spiritual arena, however, humanity’s folly shows up when we start to believe we can become enough like God that we no longer need him. Like Lucifer, we believe we deserve the best seat at the table. We seek the attention and acclamation of people, when we ought to be simply reflecting and pointing people toward the Shining, Glorious Lord of the Banquet. We ought to look more and more like our God as we pass through all of the seasons of life, yet still remain fascinated by his “otherness.”
This is what Moses “the servant of God” expressed when confronting the hardhearted Pharaoh’s refusal to release the Hebrews from slavery. Pharaoh seemed to be relenting, and begged Moses to remove the plague of frogs from the land of Egypt. Moses agreed, saying, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God” (Ex. 8:10).
There is no one who compares. Christ’s death and resurrection restored the possibility of carrying God’s likeness. But we are not God, don’t sit in his place, and don’t do his job. We are his people, commissioned to occupy the earth awaiting his return. While on the planet, our job is to live in faith and humble trust, boasting about God, and allowing him to use us as instruments of His mighty works.