And God said, “Let us make a human in our image, after our likeness; and these will rule over the fish of the sea and over the bird in the heavens, and over the beast, and over all the earth, and over every creeping animal that creeps on the earth.”
To members of the earliest church, whom the Lord addressed face to face, he appeared as a human being. (Many things could be told about these people, but this is not the right time.) As a consequence, they used the term human for none but him, or for his qualities. They did not even call themselves human, excepting whatever they could tell he gave them, such as all the good embraced by love and all the truth espoused by faith. These traits they described as human, because they were the Lord’s.
As a consequence, the terms human being and son of humankind in the prophets have the Lord as their highest meaning. At a lower but still internal level, the meaning is wisdom and understanding and accordingly everyone who has been reborn. An example from Jeremiah:
I looked at the earth, and there—void and emptiness; and to the heavens, and there—no light in them! I looked, and there—not a human! And all the birds of the heavens had fled. (Jeremiah 4:23, 25)
At the inner level, the following passage in Isaiah uses a human being to mean one reborn, and on the highest level the Lord himself, as an exemplar:
This is what Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel and its fashioner, has said: “I made the earth, and the human being on it I created. My hands stretched out the heavens, and to their whole army I gave commands.” (Isaiah 45:11, 12, 13)
For this reason, the prophets saw the Lord as a human being. Ezekiel was one who did:
Above the expanse was a seeming appearance of sapphire stone, like a throne, and on the likeness of a throne was what looked like the appearance of a person on it, high above. (Ezekiel 1:26)
When Daniel saw the Lord, he called him “Son of Humankind,” or human being, which is the same thing:
I looked, and there! In the clouds of the sky, it was as if the Son of Humankind was coming. And he came to the Ancient One, and they brought him before [the Ancient One]. And he was given power to rule, and glory, and kingship; and all peoples, nations, and tongues will serve him. His ruling power is eternal, a power that will not pass away, and his kingship one that will not perish. (Daniel 7:13, 14)
In fact, the Lord often calls himself Son of Humankind, or human; echoing the prophecy in Daniel that he will come in glory, he says:
They will see the Son of Humankind coming in the clouds of the sky with strength and glory. (Matthew 24:27, 30)
“The clouds of the heavens” (or sky) is what the literal meaning of the Word is called. “Strength and glory” are terms for the Word’s inner meaning, which at each and every point focuses exclusively on the Lord and his kingdom. This focus is what gives the inner meaning strength and glory.
What the people of the earliest church meant when they spoke of the Lord’s image involves more than can be put into words.
People have no idea whatever that the Lord governs them through angels and spirits, or that at least two spirits and two angels accompany each of them. The spirits create a link with the world of spirits, and the angels create one with heaven. We cannot possibly live without a channel of communication open to the world of spirits through spirits and to heaven through angels (and in this way to the Lord through heaven). Our life depends totally on such a connection. If the spirits and angels withdrew from us, we would be destroyed in a second.
from Regeneration, Pages 151-153