“…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
Genesis 2:7 (ESV)
It’s an interesting phrase isn’t it? Man of Dust.
Notes given in the NET translation label dust as an adverbial adjective describing what material made up the man. What was he made from? He was made from dust.
This is why translations like the NET and NIV say man “from the dust” or “from the soil”. That can be helpful if we want to describe the material.
Man of Dust can sound like something called a genitive of source, which gives a slightly different flavor to the term. Man of Dust can sound like “Fred of Columbus”.
It’s a relatively insignificant quibble, but here is my point:
We don’t belong to dust, at least not in the negative sense.
Man of Dust sounds to me like “Man who hails from dust and who will never rise above being dust.”
But when God formed the man from dust, it was a good thing. It was only after the Man of Dust tried to play the part of God that things went wrong.
Being a creature formed from created material by God’s hand is special in and of itself.
Being the creature formed from that material and having God breathe life into you is even better.
Being the creature that God looks at and declares “very good” is pure wonder.
The well-known saying “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” comes from the connection between Genesis 3:19 and Ecclesiastes 3:20.
The best reference about the man of dust, though, comes in 1 Corinthians 15:47-49:
The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
It’s the best reference because it makes the best comparison. It compares the man of dust and the man of heaven. Adam was of dust. Jesus is of heaven.
Whether we like it or not, we all understand instinctively what it is to be a man of dust (even if you are a woman!). We bear Adam’s image.
While being formed from the material of creation we all bear the pain of what it is to be living in a created world that is broken by our own rebellion against God that began in the Garden when the man of dust chose to play God.
Yet Jesus came from heaven to walk on earth. He took on the image of the man of dust, only he didn’t play God. Rather he obeyed God. More than that he is God.
On the cross, Jesus bore the punishment owed to the man of dust so that we could bear the image of the man of heaven – his image!
This means that just as instinctively as we have borne the image of the man of dust and everything that means – being made good, yet experiencing the pain of our sin and the sin of others against us, hoping against hope, and also being frustrated – we will instinctively bear the image of the man of heaven.
We will be freed from the brokenness of this world and our own personal brokenness due to sin.
Have you placed your faith in the man from heaven that you might bear his image?
If you have, what are you facing that remembering you will bear the image of the man of heaven help you?