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Mark Eastman :: Chapter Nine: Messiah—God the Son?

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"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Jesus of Nazareth (Revelation 1:8)
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins." Jesus of Nazareth (John 8:24)

Jesus Christ set himself apart from virtually every religious leader in history by making claims such as these. He left us no room for fence sitting. Jesus declared that he is no less than God, the great "I Am."

In making this claim, Jesus set off a firestorm of debate that began when he claimed equality with God and continues even to this day. Jesus and his disciples clearly maintained that Messiah would be no less a person than God in human flesh. It was these claims that led the ancient rabbis to try Jesus for blasphemy, i.e. claiming equality with God.

The belief that God is a plural being, eternally existent in three persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit, is called the doctrine of the Trinity. This is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and a point of view that is strictly denied by modern rabbis.

This issue is perhaps the most contentious between modern Jewish and Christian scholars. According to virtually all modern Jewish scholars, the belief that the Messiah would be a physical manifestation of God himself, God in human flesh, is a Christian fabrication.[1] Some also claim that there is no biblical evidence for the plurality of God or the deity of the Messiah. However, a careful examination of the Hebrew scriptures reveals verses where Messiah is called God, verses where Messiah is worshipped and strong evidence that God is a plural being, existing eternally in more than one personage. Finally, there are verses that portray the Messiah as a literal and physical manifestation of God.

Places where Messiah is Called God

"God With Us"
"Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, the Almah shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel."(Isaiah 7:14, J.P.S. Translation, 1917)

The book of Isaiah is considered by many Jewish scholars to be the greatest book of Messianic prophecy in the entire Bible. In Isaiah, we are told more about the origin, nature, ministry and destiny of the Messiah, than in any other prophetic book. Therefore, it should come as no surprise, that if the deity of the Messiah is to be found in the Bible, it should be found in Isaiah.

In Isaiah 7:14 we are told that a child would be born into the world as a sign to mankind. We saw earlier that the ancient Septuagint translators believed that this child would be born of a literal virgin, the "almah."

The name of the child is to be called Immanuel. The word Immanuel comes from the Hebrew roots "Im," which is translated "with" and from the root "El" ()which is one of the names of God.

The identity of the child "Immanuel" is a point of great contention. However, we examined evidence in chapter three that the child called Immanuel was tied to same individual called "the Root of Jesse's stock", in Isaiah 11:1 and the "Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace", in Isaiah 9:6, verses which were clearly believed to be Messianic.

Although some have found this verse perplexing, it is clearly powerful evidence for the deity of the Messiah. To find a passage that declares that a virgin will have a child whose name will be called "God with us", must have been startling to the ancients. Yet, it is totally compatible with several other scriptures that indicate the Messiah would be God in the flesh.

"Mighty God"

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder; And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6, N.K.J.)
"For unto us a child is born, a son is given unto us; And the government is upon his shoulder; And his name is called pele-joez-El gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom." (Isaiah 9:5, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

Isaiah the prophet lived during a time of great despair for the nation of Israel. Yet, in his prophecies there are rays of great hope for the future inhabitants of Israel. In this fascinating verse we see the great Messianic hope declared. Deliverance would come through a "son" who is born physically into the world, a redeemer who would be called "Mighty God."

As we saw in chapter three, this verse was applied to the Messiah by ancient rabbis as well as some contemporary Jewish scholars. Presently most rabbis deny the Messianic application of this verse and in fact, try to apply it to King Hezekiah of Judah. As we see above, the Jewish Publication Society decided not to translate the names of this Messianic figure into English. Instead the titles are placed in the footnotes and translated as "Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the Everlasting Father, the ruler of Peace."

The key point of contention between Christian and rabbinical scholars is the identity of the one called "Mighty God." When we examine the name in question, "El Gibbor", we find that it is a compound term. The word "El" is found thirteen additional times in the book of Isaiah. Twelve times the word is translated by the Jewish publication society as "God" and once as "Lord." Furthermore, in Isaiah 46:9 the word "El" is used as an absolute reference to Jehovah God.

"Remember the former things of old: That I am God () and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me." (Isaiah 46:9, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

In this passage God, , tells of his ability to declare the beginning from the end, that is, of his existence outside of time and space. Clearly, the prophet Isaiah attached the highest possible meaning to the word , a meaning no one could seriously apply to a mere mortal, such as King Hezekiah.

Finally, the exact title "El Gibbor" is found in Isaiah 10:21 and is unashamedly translated as "the Mighty God" in the 1985 edition of the JPS Bible.

"A remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God" (El Gibbor). (Isaiah 10:21, JPS Version 1985)

The identity of the person in this passage was not doubted by the ancient rabbis. We saw in chapter three that ancient and even some modern Hebrew scholars believe that the person spoken of is the Messiah.

In another fascinating commentary, the Targum of Isaiah, we find the following statement regarding this passage:

"His name has been called from old, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, he who lives forever, the Anointed One (Messiah), in whose days peace shall increase upon us."

Clearly, the redactor of the ancient Targum of Isaiah associated the Messiah with the one to be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father.

The clear Messianic application of Isaiah 9:6 (9:5 Hebrew Bible.) coupled with the fact that the title "El Gibbor" is a definite and common reference to the eternal God of Israel, is powerful evidence that, in some supernatural way, the Messiah would be a physical manifestation of God!

"The Lord our Righteousness"

"Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:6, J.P.S. Version 1917)

Jeremiah the prophet was a witness to the destruction of Jerusalem and the abduction of the people of Israel by the Babylonians. In the midst of his prophetic book, after many chapters of doom and gloom, Jeremiah includes this beautiful prophecy regarding the future redeemer of Israel and the security of the nation under his reign.

This remarkable prediction states that a future king of Israel, from the line of David (a "righteous shoot", sometimes translated the "branch") will bring justice, righteousness and salvation to Israel, and will be called The Lord () Our Righteousness!

The key word in this passage is , which was translated as "LORD" by the Jewish Publication Society translators in 1917. This word is called the "Tetragrammaton." It is the name of the one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, the undisputed name for the eternally existent God of Israel, commonly called "YAHWEH."

Who is this person, this "righteous shoot", the one who will reign as king, the one who will save Judah and will be called "The Lord () Our Righteousness?"

How could the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses also be a descendant of David? Why is this person described as a physical being, born of the line of David, one who will reign as king "in his days," and yet his name the Lord () Our Righteousness?

Some might argue that this is simply a prophetic declaration that God will rule over the people of Israel at some point in the future. However, an omnipresent being cannot fit the bill here. Such a being isn't born into time and space with a beginning or end of days. Furthermore, God, in his spiritual, omnipresent state, cannot be a descendant of David. What kind of a being could possibly fulfill such criteria?

The only solution to these requirements would be for God to enter our space-time domain, manifesting himself in a physical body, being born supernaturally as a descendant of David, then to "reign as king and prosper, and... execute justice and righteousness in the land!" All these criteria could be solved by God in just such a way. He could be a descendant of David, yet still be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses. Furthermore, by entering space-time continuum at a finite point, he would technically have a beginning to his physical earthly days.

Did the ancient rabbis believe that this verse was a reference to the Messiah?

Yes!

This verse is applied to the Messiah in a number of ancient rabbinical writings.[2] Regarding Jeremiah 23:6, the ancient Targum of the prophets states:

"And I will raise up for David the Messiah the Just."

Rabbi Kimchi (1160-1235 C.E.), a highly respected rabbi in his time, wrote of this prophecy:

"By the righteous branch is meant Messiah"[3]

Finally, in the Midrash on Psalm 23, it is interesting to note the Messiah is given a divine designation. He is called, "Jehovah is a man of war" and "Jehovah our righteousness."[4] Also in the Midrash on Lamentations 1:16, the name Jehovah is expressly attributed to the Messiah.

If the ancient rabbis are correct, then the obvious and startling conclusion is that the Messiah (the righteous shoot) will be born into the world as a literal and physical manifestation of God, the great I Am!

For those who might argue that this is not the Messiah, then the obvious question is again, "to whom else could it refer?" What other man could deserve the title "The Lord Our Righteousness?"

A common theme in the verses we have just examined is that God himself is manifest as a being in time and space! Some of you may be thinking that this is stretching the interpretation of these two verses. For those of you that might argue that it is ridiculous to propose that God would manifest himself in a physical body, I would like to point out a number of other places in the Tanakh where God does just that!

In the book of Zechariah we read of the glorious day of the Lord when God will make war with the enemies of Israel and rule among the people in righteousness and truth.

"Then the Lord () will come forth and make war with those nations, as He is wont to make war in a day of battle. On that day, He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east; and the mount of olives shall split across from east to west, and one part of the mount shall shift to the north and the other to the south, a huge gorge." (Zechariah 14:3-4, J.P.S. Version, 1985)

In this verse we read that YAHWEH will manifest himself as a physical being, a being with feet, and he will step on the Mount of Olives!

In Genesis 32:24-30 there is a strange story about Jacob wrestling with God.

"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he said, 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.' And he said unto him, 'What is thy name?' And he said, 'Jacob.' And he said, 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.' And Jacob asked him, and said, 'Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.' and he said, 'Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?' And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'"

In this fascinating portion of scripture we find Jacob wrestling with a man whom he identifies as God! Furthermore, Jacob apparently recognizes that a man cannot see God in his glorified state and live. So what form did God take? The form of a man!

In the book of Genesis we read of an encounter that Abraham had with God.

"And the Lord () appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said 'My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant.'" (Genesis 18:1-4)

The verse states that God appeared to Abraham. What form did God take during this appearance? We know one thing for sure, he did not appear in his glorified, omnipresent, spiritual state. The Bible tells us that no man could survive seeing God in this state.

After receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai, Moses asked to see the glory of God.

"And he [Moses] said: 'Show me, I pray Thee, Thy glory.' And he said, 'I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.' And he said, 'Thou canst not see My face, for man shall not see Me, and live.'"(Exodus 33:18-20)

Obviously, these verses provide a serious challenge to the skeptic that might argue that God has not or will not manifest himself as a man. [See also Genesis 3:8 where it is recorded that God was walking in the Garden of Eden.]

Places Where Messiah is Worshipped

"One Like Unto a Son of Man"

"And I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and he was brought near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

Throughout the Bible the people of God are admonished to serve and worship the God of Israel only and not to serve and worship other Gods. This is absolutely foundational to the beliefs of the observant Jew.

"Then it shall be, if thou shalt forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them and worship them, I forewarn you this day that ye shall surely perish." (Deuteronomy 8:19)

In the above passages, Daniel 7:13-14, we read of an individual to whom "all the peoples, nations, and languages" will serve. Who is this individual?

We saw earlier that the person identified in this passage is tied to the humble servant of Zechariah 9:9:

"If Israel behaved worthily, the Messiah would come in the clouds of heaven, if otherwise, humble riding on a donkey." (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a)

The author of this portion of the Talmud apparently had little doubt that the person described as the son of man, in Daniel 7:13-14, is the Messiah.

A curious aspect to this prophecy, however, is that we are told that "all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him." The word Aramaic word translated "serve," is the word Pelach, and literally means to serve or to worship; especially in the sense of offering service or worship to God.[5] The very same word is used six additional times in the book of Daniel, each time with the idea of serving or worshipping God.

In Daniel 3:16-17 the three young Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are summoned to King Nebuchadnezzar, because they would not serve, (pelach) the false Gods of Babylon. When the three Hebrews are threatened with death in the fiery furnace for not serving those Gods, we find their remarkable response:

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve, (pelach) is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from your hand, O king.'" (Daniel 3:16-17)

Later, after King Nebuchadnezzar had discovered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had been rescued from the fiery furnace, he was astonished and began to praise the God of Israel, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego:

"Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, 'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve, (pelach) nor worship any God except their own God!'" (Daniel 3:28)

Finally, in the seventh chapter of Daniel we are given a description of a dream and vision that Daniel had in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar. Daniel is shown a succession of four beasts which represent the four Gentile kingdoms of the earth. These were to be the kingdoms that would arise prior to the coming kingdom of the Most High God, a kingdom that will be everlasting. After a description of the four kingdoms we are told:

"Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve, (pelach) and obey him." (Daniel 7:27, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

Here we find the very same Aramaic word, pelach, used in reference to "all dominions" (that is all peoples) serving the Most High God. This is the very same word and the very same activity that Daniel said, in chapter seven, verse 14, would be reserved for the Messiah.

As we can see, by these three additional uses of pelach, this word represents, in the full sense, the qualities of worship and service to God.

However, God absolutely forbids that we serve or worship anything other than himself, the true and living God of Israel!

Deuteronomy 8:19 tells us what will happen if we worship other Gods, "You shall surely perish."

Therefore, during the everlasting kingdom of the Most High God, it will be forbidden to serve and worship two masters.

According to Daniel 7:14, the group that will serve the Messiah is composed of "all the peoples, nations, and languages." That is, every person on earth will serve him. However, Daniel 7:27 states that the same all inclusive group will be serving "the Most High" God.

Here we encounter a serious dilemma. If everyone on earth is serving the Messiah, who is left to serve the "Most High" God?

Has Daniel contradicted himself? How do we reconcile this dilemma?

The obvious solution is that in some supernatural way, the Messiah will be a physical, spiritual and literal manifestation of the eternal God!

In serving (pelach) the Messiah, all humanity will truly be serving the Lord, the God of Israel!

"Let All The Angels of God Worship Him"

In the New Testament we find a fascinating verse in the book of Hebrews:

"God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: 'You are my son, today I have begotten You'?[6] And again: 'I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son'?[7] But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him.'" (Hebrews 1:1-6)

In this portion of the book of Hebrews the writer (widely held to be Paul the Apostle) quotes a number of Old Testament passages and then attributes them to Jesus Christ. After describing Jesus as God's Son and "the brightness of his [God's] glory and the express image of his person," the writer then quotes Psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7:14, Messianic verses which are found in modern Jewish Bibles. The writer of Hebrews then goes on to state, "but when he again brings the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all the angels of God worship him.'" In saying "he says", the writer specifically attributes the words "Let all the angels of God worship him" to God himself. However, if we search the Massoretic text (the official text used by the Jewish Publication Society for printing Bibles) we would search in vain to find this phrase.

Paul, a Pharisee and Apostle of Jesus Christ, was trained by Gamaliel at the most prestigious rabbinical academy in the nation of Israel. He was a keen student of the Bible and could quote the Tanakh from memory on the spot. Memorization of the Tanakh was a requirement of his training. Even through the middle ages, young men as young as twelve were expected to memorize the books of Moses, the Torah. Therefore, the verse in question here was very well known to Paul. But where did Paul get this verse?

The solution to the problem can be found in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls. As previously discussed, the Septuagint was a Hebrew to Greek translation that was commenced in 285 B.C.E. During the period from the first century B.C.E. to the second century C.E. It was the most commonly used translation. In fact, many of the New Testament references to the Old Testament are from the Septuagint.

In the book of Deuteronomy we find the following rendering:

"For I will sharpen my sword like lightning, and my hand shall take hold of judgment; I will render judgment to my enemies, and will recompense them that hate me. I will make my weapons drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh, it shall glut itself with the blood of wounded, and from the captivity of the heads of their enemies that rule over them. Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people." (Deuteronomy 32:41-43, Septuagint version)

In this portion of scripture, Deuteronomy 32:41-42, God tells the children of Israel of his power, his glory and how he will render judgment upon his enemies.

In the very next verse we read of someone who will, "avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies."

What is astonishing about this individual is that God states that his angels will worship him! "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let the angels of God worship him." This phrase is also found in the Dead Sea Scroll fragment of Deuteronomy 32.

Who is this individual? Why would God have his angels worship him?

It is obvious that this person could not be a mere mortal. No king, priest or prophet could qualify for worship. Not even an angel may receive worship. The Bible tells us;

"...for you shall worship no other God, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14)

And as we saw earlier;

"Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other Gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish." (Deuteronomy 8:19)

We can see by these verses that God takes worship seriously. The penalty for worshipping anything other than him is death! Consequently, the person sanctioned for worship by God must be a physical manifestation of God himself. The only person that the Bible hints as being a physical manifestation of God is Messiah.

Evidence for Tri-Unity of God

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

If you are reading this book from the perspective of an observant Jew, at this point a fair degree of agitation may be setting in. The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God. However, we have seen that the Messiah is called "God with us," the "Mighty God," "The Lord our Righteousness" and that he is served and worshipped by all people and even God's angels during the kingdom age. We have also found evidence that the Messiah will be a physical manifestation of God or God in the flesh!

How can this be? Could it be that God is in some way a plural being, existing as one God, yet being manifested in more than one personage? Is there scriptural evidence for such a nature? Interestingly, there are many indications of the plurality of the one true God of Israel.

"In the Beginning Elohim"

In the very first verse of the Bible we find a statement which openly declares the plurality of God.

"In the beginning God, () created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

The word used in Genesis 1:1 is the word Elohim, ,which is a form of the word 'El' () As we saw earlier, this is a commonly used word for God. In the context of Genesis 1:1, there can certainly be no doubt as to who is doing the creating. In the Hebrew language the "im" ending imputes plurality. Therefore, "Elohim" is the plural form of the word "El." Consequently, according to Genesis 1:1, the creator of the universe, Elohim , exists as a plural being. If this were not so then the word "El" () or perhaps Yahweh () would have been used. However, the Holy Spirit chose to use the word Elohim, the plural form of the name of God in the very first place where the name of God is proclaimed.

"Let Us Make Man in Our Image"

"And God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" (Genesis 1:26, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

According to this fascinating verse, man was created by God, Elohim () in his own image. However, there is something provocative and unexpected in this verse. Prior to the creation of man we find a conversation between God (Elohim) and an unidentified being ("let Us make man in Our image"). Who is this person with whom God is speaking?

This person or intelligent being, has some attributes that we can glean from the text. First, the being is able to speak with God "on his turf," that is, in the realm of timeless eternity. We know this because man had not yet been created. Therefore, God was not talking to an earthly intelligence. He must have been speaking to a being that exists in the supernatural, eternal realm.

Secondly, this being apparently has the same kind of creative ability as God ("Let Us make"). This describes a cooperative effort between Elohim and the person with whom he is speaking.

Finally, the likeness or image of this being is comparable to God's ("in Our image, after Our likeness").

When confronted with this passage, modern rabbis often claim that God is speaking to the angels. However, this explanation fails to recognize a number of problems.

First, there is no indication in the Bible that angels can create life. Secondly, nowhere is it indicated that angels are made in the image of God. Finally, there is no indication that mankind was made in the image of angels either![8]

We may conclude that the person with whom Elohim is conversing lives in the eternal realm, has his creative power and exists in the image or likeness of God. No angel, no man, no created being in heaven or on earth could possibly fit this criteria. What is the solution? It may be found in one of the strongest monotheistic passages in the entire Tanakh.

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4)
In this verse we are told that God is one. However, when we examine the word "echad" (translated "one"), we discover an interesting meaning. This word "echad," translated here as "one," we discover an interesting meaning. The Hebrew word "echad" comes from a Hebrew root "achad" which means "to unify" or "to collect together." The word in question means literally a "united one."

We can get a better feel for it's usage by examining a couple of additional verses.

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one (echad) flesh." (Genesis 2:24, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

Regarding the people of the earth after the flood we read:

"And the Lord said: they are one (echad) people, and they have all one language." (Genesis 11:6, J.P.S. Version, 1917)

In each of these verses we see the idea of separate persons viewed as a unified "one." The man and woman become "one flesh." The people of the earth become unified together as "one people." This unification in these verses obviously does not mean that they physically unite into a single being. The individuals still retain their personal identity and distinct personage. The word "one" here implies a "compound unity."

It is in this sense that we can understand the "One God" in Deuteronomy 6:4.

In the Hebrew language, the word "Yachiyd" (pronounced "yaw-kheed") is used to indicate "one and only one." This word is frequently translated into the English word "only." However, it literally means "only one" or "solitary one." It is a word which implies an indivisible one as opposed to the compound unity implied by the word "ekhawd."

In the following verses we see some of the uses of the word "yachiyd."

"And he said, 'take now thy son, thine only ("Yachiyd") son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."[9] (Genesis 22:2, J.P.S. Version 1917)
"For I was a son unto my father, tender and an only one ("Yachiyd") in the sight of my mother." (Proverbs 4:3, J.P.S. Version 1917)
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only (Yachiyd) son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born." (Zech. 12:10)

If God was an indivisible unity, as opposed to a compound unity implied by "ekhawd," then surely the Holy Spirit would have inspired Moses to use the word "Yachiyd."

The infinite, eternal God of Israel, is in some sense, a unification of two or more persons or a compound unity!

The "Creators" of the Universe?

The plurality of the Creator seen in Genesis 1:1 has been dismissed by some as simply a description of God's plural majesty. However, the plurality of the Creator is also seen in a number of very provocative verses.

In Ecclesiastes 12:1 we read:

"Remember also thy Creators in the days of thy youth, While that the evil days come not, Nor the years have arrived, that thou sayest, 'I have no pleasure in them.'" (Young's Literal Translation, 1898)

The word Creators is a plural form of the word "bara," which means to create out of nothing. [This is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 "Elohim created (bara)." In most English translations this plurality is not carried through. However, it is there in the original Hebrew text.]

The notion of plural Creator is also seen in Isaiah 54:5, where the prophet states:

"For thy Maker is thy husband, Jehovah of Hosts is His name, And thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, 'God of all the earth,' He is called." (Young's Literal Translation, 1898)

In this verse the word "Maker" is the plural form of the word "asa," which means to form or make from existent materials.

Next to God's work of salvation, the creation of the universe is esteemed by the rabbis as His greatest achievement. So it [is] astonishing to find verses which speak of a plural Being, "Elohim," and the concept of "Creators" or "Makers" for the universe.

The Feet of God!

In the book of the prophet Zechariah, written at least four hundred years before the birth of Jesus, we are given a glimpse of the last days:

"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south." (Zechariah 14:3-4)

In this portion of Scripture we are told that Yahweh ("LORD") will manifest himself in time and space in a body with feet and stand on the mount of Olives.

In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the identity of this person is further clarified in chapter one. The scene depicted is forty days after the resurrection of Jesus. He has just told His disciples that He is going to send the Holy Spirit. In the very next verse we read:

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, 'Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.' Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day's journey." (Acts 1:99-11).

This is one of those places where a casual reading of the text fails to uncover an astonishing nugget which reveals the supernatural engineering of the biblical text.

In Acts, chapter one, the scene is the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Can you imagine the look on the disciples faces as they watched this event? As they are staring in awe, two angels (men in white apparel) tell the disciples that Jesus' return will be, in effect, a re-run of His ascension into heaven. Then the Holy Spirit inspired Luke, the author of Acts, to insert a seemingly insignificant commentary that they returned "unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet."

In other words, when Jesus comes a second time, He will descend from heaven and set His feet on the place from where He ascended-the mount of Olives!

The Book of Zechariah states that this event will be accomplished through a physical manifestation of Yahweh. The New Testament says it's Jesus. Either we have an irreconcilable contradiction, or Jesus and Yahweh must be One and the same!

Messiah-God the Son!

In this chapter we have examined a number of perplexing yet provocative passages of scripture. When examined individually, they seem confusing, even contradictory. However, when we synthesize them, a remarkable solution results.

Most modern rabbis claim that there is no evidence that the Messiah would be a physical manifestation of YAHWEH (). However, we have found verses in which the Messiah is specifically called God!

In Isaiah 7:14, the Messiah is called Immanuel, meaning "God with us." In Isaiah 9:6 he is called "The Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Finally, in Jeremiah 23:6, the Messiah is called the Most Holy Name of All, "The Lord () Our Righteousness."

Daniel 7:14 tells us that during the everlasting kingdom the Messiah and the Most High God, will both be served and worshipped by everyone on earth. However, Deuteronomy 8:19 tells us that if we serve and worship anything other than God we "shall surely perish."

In Deuteronomy 6:4 we find the plural nature of God again expressed in a word translated "one" (echad). This word implies that God is somehow a compound unity.

Finally, we find God, (Elohim) having a conversation with someone regarding the creation of man. God stated, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness."

How can this all be true, and yet, there be only one true God?

The only possible answer is that God is a plural being manifested in at least two persons, one of which must be the Messiah!

In the entire history of the world there is only one person that has even made claims compatible with the criteria we have examined.

His name was Jesus of Nazareth.

During the life of Jesus of Nazareth, he claimed equality with God ().

In fact, he was tried and condemned by the Sanhedrin for this very claim. Yet, the claims of Jesus were totally compatible with the scriptural paradoxes we have just examined.

Jesus of Nazareth declared in John 10:30:

"I and My Father are one."[10]

The Greek word that Jesus used in this verse is again, a compound "One," indicating a union of two or more persons in one God.

Jesus of Nazareth declared that he was the "I Am," the one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, "For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24)

One day Jesus astonished the Jewish leadership in the following discourse:

'Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.' Then the Jews said to him,'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.'" (John 8:56-58)

Apparently there wasn't much doubt among the Jewish leadership regarding just exactly what Jesus was claiming. In the very next verse we read:

"Then they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." (John 8:59)

The disciple Thomas, upon seeing Jesus alive after the resurrection, fell down, worshipped him and declared, "my Lord and my God."[11]

To his disciple Philip, Jesus declared that he was the very image of God.

"Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father.'" (John 14:9)

In the New Testament, the Immanuel prophecy is specifically applied to Jesus.

'"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' which is translated, 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:23)

Jesus accepted service and worship from his disciples, something Deuteronomy 8:19 stated was to be reserved only for God.

Jesus declared that he lived in heaven, in eternity, prior to the creation of the world.

"And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (John 17:5)

The New Testament declares that Jesus was the Creator of all things.

"In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made.... And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-3,14)

According to the Apostle John, Jesus "was in the beginning with God." Consequently, Jesus must have been a party in that conversation with God (Genesis 1:26) before the creation of man.

The plural nature of God, the descriptions of the Messiah as God and the fact that the Messiah will be served and worshipped as God, all indicate, that the Creator, Elohim, was speaking to the Messiah, the one he calls "My Son,"[12] before they created man in their image.

Did the rabbis of ancient times believe that the Messiah would be a physical manifestation of God?

According to Alfred Edersheim:

"The Messiah expected was far above the conditions of the most exalted of God's servants, even his angels; in short, so closely bordering on the divine, that it was almost impossible to distinguish him therefrom."[13]

Within one generation of the life of Jesus, tens of thousands of Jews and Gentiles were willing to die for the belief that Jesus fulfilled these criteria, and therefore, that he was God in the flesh!

Notes

[1] You Take Jesus, I'll Take God, Samuel Levine, pg. 12. Hamoroh Press, 1980.

[2] See Babylonian Talmud Babha Bathra 75b, Midrash on Psalm 21.

[3] Baron, David, Rays of Messianic Glory:Christ in the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI:Zondervan, 1886.

[4] See Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix ix, Mac Donald Publishing Co.

[5] See Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies, pg. 382, Kregel Publications, 1987.

[6] A reference to Psalm 2.

[7] A reference to 2 Samuel 7:1.

[8] Some Scholars argue that the plurality implied in the name Elohim is a plurality of majesty. However, in this section we find Elohim acting as a plural being in the creation of man.

[9] A fascinating aspect to this verse is that the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to use a word that means, "one and only one" indicating that God recognizes only one of Abraham's sons, Isaac. God had given Abraham a promise that through his seed all the nations would be blessed (Genesis 13:16). Abraham at the time that God told him to sacrifice his "only son," had an older son named Ishmael. However, God did not recognize Ishmael as the son of the promise, the one through whom the Messiah would come, God told Abraham that Isaac was to be the son of the promise (the one through whom the Messiah would come, Genesis 17:19).

[10] When Jesus quoted the verse in Genesis 2:24, "The Two shall become one flesh," He used the same Greek word when He stated, "I and my Father are One," showing that He understood and was reaffirming the compound unity He had with the Father.

[11] John 20:28.

[12] Psalm 2.

[13] Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. pg. 179.

Psalm 138:2

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