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LIFE HAS MEANING
Some time ago I was the lone passenger on a motorcycle at Puerto Princesa, a small city in the province of Palawan, Philippines, when my eyes caught sight of three English words painted inside that reads, “Life Has Meaning.” Three simple words which convey a profound truth, particularly for people who believe in the concept of a First Cause, i.e., a Creator who caused all things to exist.
In His Image
In Genesis 2:7, the word SOUL is from the Hebrew nephesh, Strong’s #5315, properly a breathing creature, i.e., animal or (abstr.) vitality; used very widely in a lit., accommodated or figurative sense. It is the same Hebrew word translated CREATURE in Geneses 1:24.
And Elohim said, “Let the earth bring forth the living CREATURE (nephesh) after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”
Shockingly, it seems, animals are also living souls. Perspectively, in Hebrew, Geneses 1:24 and 2:7 imply that mankind, at least physically, does have an affinity with the animals. But, that doesn’t give credence to the contention (biological science) that we humans are the highest form of animal. Mankind is a special creature.
Definitely not, and until now Darwin’s concept of evolution has not been satisfactorily and conclusively proven. In fact, anthropologists have not yet found what they believe is the “missing link” that will connect man and ape.
But, aside from the physical aspect of life, man is uniquely different from the inferior creature. Here’s the great difference.
Let us make man in our image, in our likeness… So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim he created him; male and female he created them, Gen. 1:26- 27.
Clearly, man is created far above the animals. Man alone is created in the image and likeness of his Creator. Even the angels are not given such honor. Indeed, man is the crowning glory of Yahweh’s creative activity – truly His masterpiece. But, being in the image and likeness of Elohim transcends outward form, or appearance. It is more than that, as we will find in this study.
The Master Potter
Josiah Wedgwood (c. 1730-1795) was no mere potter. From his factory at Staffordshire County, Stafford, England out comes pottery, whose exquisite beauty has gained admiration and fame far and wide. And, because of his beautiful creations, Josiah Wedgwood’s name is well-known in his country.
But, Mr. Wedgwood is nothing compared to the Master Potter, whose creations far excel the works of all other potters of all time. The greatness of this potter is that He has the power to give life to his creations. Who is this potter?
But now, O Yahweh, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter, and we all are the work of your hand, Isaiah 42:8 TSS.
There He is! Yahweh is His name, Ex. 3:15 and Isa. 42:8. He is the Elohim of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, whether Israelite or gentile, Gal. 3:29. Regrettably, there came a time, when, because of superstition, Israel chose to ignore and avoid mentioning the true name of Yahweh, preferring to call Him “adonay” instead.
The rest of mankind followed suit, and called the Creator with a variety of fake and substitute names or titles, e.g., the Lord (in Hebrew ha Baal), GOD, Jehovah, Allah, etc. Maybe that is the reason why the Psalmist was inspired to write,
If we have forgotten the name of our Elohim, and spread forth our hands (pray) to a strange El; will not Elohim search this out? For he knows the secrets of the hearts, Psa. 44:20-21 TSS.
Before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River the prophet Moses gave them this warning,
Be careful that you do not forget Yahweh, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear Yahweh your Elohim, serve him only and take your oaths in his name, Deut. 6:12- 13.
This warning applies to you and me as well. Regrettably, despite man’s vaunted knowledge and wisdom, the great majority of mankind is still ignorant of Yahweh. Is it not strange that the name of the Master Potter has been missing or hidden, and unknown for thousands of years? Be wise to reflect seriously on the following text,
O Yahweh, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust, because they have forsaken Yahweh, the spring of living water, Jer. 17:13 NIV.
A Clay Model
Man’s natural body was not meant for eternity. Yahweh, Himself, told Adam that he was dust; and to dust he will return, Gen. 3:19. However, there is yet another form or dimension of existence for man. Paul made it quite clear in his letter to the Corinthian assembly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, 1 Cor. 15:50-53 TSS.
Another passage of Scriptures tells us that our natural bodies are just “houses of clay,” Job 4:19. And, the true self, in the words of Paul, is the “inward man,” Romans 7:22. It is clear, then, that man, made of dust, is just a clay model. Model for what?
The Making of Righteous Character
In our modern society, we are accustomed to such things as instant coffee, tea, noodles, etc. You just pour hot water, and presto, you’ve got an instant beverage or meal. What about character? Is there such a thing as instant righteous character? What about the angels? Let us consider the creation of an angel.
You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you, Ezek. 28:13 NIV.
Take note of the parallel to Genesis, chapters 2 and 3. Was not Adam also blameless until he ate from the forbidden tree? Incredible as it may seem, it appears that the angels, and man as well, were originally created perfect beings, except in character. With crystal clarity, we can see that even the angels are susceptible to wrong-doing. The fact is, one third of the angels committed an act of rebellion and sinned, Rev. 12:4, 7.
The making of righteous character is a process that involves time. Regrettably, for the many, even a lifetime is not enough to build up good character. This is because by himself and alone, man is hopelessly devoid of righteous character. What seemed right to man is nothing but illusions, or delusions.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away, Isa. 64:6 NIV.
But this is not all the more surprising, taking into consideration that even the angels fell short of perfection.
Behold, he puts not trust in his servants; and his angels he charges with folly: how much more them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust…, Job 4:18- 19 NIV.
Certainly, there is no such thing as instant righteous character.
A Case of Vain Pride
Now we need to understand why the All-Wise Creator formed man from the dust of the ground. To repeat the question: “Why common dust?” Yahweh Elohim could have used gold dust, but He did not. Why? Take note how this angel was created.
Thou hast been in Eden the Garden of Elohim; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond., the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold…Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness, Ezek. 28:13-17.
Have you noticed the great difference in the creation of this Being in contrast with Adam’s lowly origin? Note that this angel was covered with gold and nine precious stones. How? The word “covering” is from the Hebrew mecukkah of Strong’s #4540, and from Strong’s #5526, cakak or sakak; a prim. Root: properly, to entwine as a screen. No wonder then that in Isaiah 14 he is called Lucifer (KJV), Latin for Shining One.
His heart overflowing with pride and confidence, the erstwhile cherub thought of becoming equal with his Creator. He wanted to be like Elohim. He coveted the position, honor and glory that belonged exclusively to the Elohim Family. That led to his expulsion from heaven, and he became Satan (Adversary) and devil.
This tragic incident is an object lesson both for man and angel. It also proved that in created beings, righteous character is developed over a period of time (not instantly). Experience is also a valuable factor, and that’s what Lucifer lacked, there being no precedent. But, aren’t angels a paragon of virtue? Yes, they were, until Lucifer sinned.
Now we can understand why the omniscient Creator formed man of common dust. By the way, if man, who is made of dust, can still be conceited and haughty, what is more, had Yahweh formed man of gold dust?
What Image – What Likeness?
In the creation of man, the true sense of the word “image” and the synonym “likeness” is somewhat vague. This comes to mind the possibility that the converted black man is left wondering, whether in the other life, he would still be black or be resurrected white.
We can not think of Elohim in terms of form or appearance. To do so would be limiting Elohim’s boundless attribute. To the more discerning, the two words transcend the literal meaning. Consider the following text.
Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? says Yahweh. Do not I fill heaven and earth? says Yahweh, Jer. 23:24 TSS.
Yahshua Messiah Himself tells us that no man has ever seen Elohim as He really is, and at any time, John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12. So, in Genesis 1:26- 27, Elohim’s image and likeness construe more of His holiness, righteousness, and knowledge, Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10. That is why the apostle Peter tells us,
For it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy,” 1 Peter 1:16.
Paul also tells us that Yahshua is the image of the invisible Elohim (Col. 1:15), the radiance of Elohim’s glory, and the exact representation of His being, Heb. 1:3 NIV. But, that doesn’t mean Elohim is like a human being in appearance. It was the other way around.
Have this mind in you, which was also in Messiah Yahshua, who, existing in the form of Elohim counted not being on an equality with Yahweh a thing to be grasped; but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant being made in the likeness of men, Ph’p. 2:5-7 TSS.
Leading By Example
Adam, the first clay model, was a perfect specimen, until an envious Adversary sneaked into the garden and induced him to commit sin. This Adam, Yahweh’s masterpiece, was marred or ruined. Henceforth, death loomed and stalked Adam and his descendants.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Yahweh is eternal life through Yahshua Messiah our Master, Romans 6:23.
Man, marred with sin, lost Elohim’s image and likeness, i.e., holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4:24) and became sinful flesh, Romans 8:3. By himself and left to his own devices, man lost his bearings and relied on his own wisdom to figure out the right way.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way, Isaiah 53:6 NIV.
So Elohim took human form in the person of Yahshua Messiah to lead man by example to Yahweh’s way of life.
Because Messiah suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth, 1 Peter 2:21-22 NIV.
Yes, the Father allowed His Son to condescend into being human and, like each of us, was tempted in every way, yet without sin, Heb. 4:15. Clearly, Yahshua came to restore Elohim’s image and likeness to man (1 Cor. 1:30), which Adam lost in Eden.
Why Are We Here?
Life on earth is generally taken for granted. Most people are busy confronting the hustle and bustle of daily life, and do not care to understand why we are here.
On the other hand, evolutionists try to enlighten us, not on why, but on how we came to be, and never truly and satisfactorily providing an answer. More still, this world’s cacophony of religious persuasions all the more contributed to the pervasive and ever worsening moral and spiritual decadence we see all around.
In between the conflicting beliefs and opinion, agnosticism surfaced and gained adherents. But agnosticism is just a hypothesis which is more precarious, there being no certainty of a much better existence beyond the grave.
We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, in believing that human life, as well as other life forms, was directly created by an omnipotent Supreme Being on purpose.
For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua, unto good works, which Elohim hath before ordained that we should walk in them, Eph. 2:10 AV.
In hope of eternal life, which Elohim, that can not lie, promised before the world began, Titus 1:2 AV.
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Yahshua the Messiah to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Eph. 1:4-5 .
By far, I find these words of Scripture more credible in contrast with evolution or agnosticism. Many other Scriptures reveal that human existence is neither by chance nor incidental. Rather, we are here on purpose, in accordance with Yahweh’s plan.
Adversity – Suffering
When adversity comes and things turn from bad to worse, do not lose hope. Many a time adversity or suffering turns out to be a blessing. For example, here is a real life story that happened in the Philippines.
Juan dela Cruz (John Doe in English) lived with his old widowed mother who had no source of income. But the lad managed to earn a living as a bootblack and newsboy. Before Juan turned 18, he got sick and was found to have moderately advanced TB in both lungs.
Forced to give up his trade, Juan’s dilemma is “NO MONEY for medication and food.” He and his mother had to make do with dole outs from relative and neighbors. And, there were nights when he woke up bothered by gnawing hunger pains in his stomach.
As the young man’s body was wasting away, and Juan continued to cough up phlegm with blood, no one in the community expected him to last a year. Someone even taunted him. Distressed and with no relief in sight, the lad was overwhelmed with self-pity and thought of committing suicide. But it dawned on him to take one’s own life is a sin, because his mother sometimes took him along to her church. One night, with tearful eyes and between sobs, Juan poured out his feelings toward Elohim.
“Holy Father, if this is my lot, then so be it. Thy will be done. And, if you are to take back my life this early, the sooner the better; and let me rest now from all this suffering and misery.” With that prayer, he fell sound asleep.
At daytime, with no work to do, Juan thought of reading his late father’s old Bible. He read, read and read, until his eyes were tired and bleary. Everyday he read, and he stopped worrying about his misery. Why worry? He is going to die soon anyway.
For lack of space, let me shorten the story. Amazingly, nine years later, Juan is still alive and he even got married. And, four of his five children finished college. For many years since, he has been in Yahweh’s work. And, Yahweh blessed Juan with a little knowledge of the English language. So he does some writing, and the chances are you might have read some of his articles in a religious magazine..
How did Juan survive? Was it a miracle? I don’t think so, but I believe in what the apostle Paul wrote:
And we know that in all things Elohim works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, Rom. 8:28.
Moral lesson: Juan’s illness was a blessing in disguise. Had he not been sick with TB, there would have been no time for him to read the Bible. He would have pursued only material things all his life. Now in his seventies, Juan remains within the poverty line, but richly blessed with FAITH in Yahweh.
We all do have our own plans. But these don’t always work out if they don’t conform to Yahweh’s plan for us. And, take note, our economic or social standing doesn’t earn us a point in Yahweh’s eyes. If you are rich, Yahweh doesn’t regard it because He owns the earth and everything it contains. If you are powerful, that is nothing to Elohim because He is the source of all power. If you think you are somebody because of your academic credentials (maybe a master’s degree or a doctorate), that doesn’t impress Him because man’s knowledge and wisdom is foolishness to Elohim.
But the Savior commended the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in heart (unpretentious), etc., who seek after righteousness, Matthew chapter 5. What matters more to Yahweh is how we live our life, regardless of our economic or social status. And, remember, all the pains, suffering and misery we may have to pass through can never compare with Job’s experience.
Like Job, we have to understand that we are lumps of clay and the Master Potter needs to spin us in the wheel of life. All the while there goes the spinning, and in the process fashioning us into “vessels” of various looks and colors.
Then, after having been tried with fire (1 Peter 1:7) or the furnace of affliction (Isa. 48:10), either we become vessels for His glory or vessels fit for destruction, Romans 9:22-23.
Dear reader, what would you rather be? As for this life’s problems we’d better say with Job.
But he knows the way I take; when he has tried me, I will come forth as gold, Job. 23:10.
At birth, each one of us is given a role to perform in this life. Discover for yourself what your role is, and you’d better use it to serve Yahweh through FAITH in Yahshua, the true Messiah. When you do, you will soon find out that indeed – Life Has Meaning!
-Elder A. S. Untulan, Sr.
© 2007 Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua
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