The Defense of Christian Deity

Recently, a reader of my post, The Defense of New Testament Prophecy, wrote a comment.  He wrote:

 Perhaps the problem with your group is that a “Torah-observant Christian” is an oxymoron. For an observant reader of scripture reads:

Numbers 23:19: YHWH is not a man, that He should be deceitful, nor the son of man, that He should repent.

Psalms 146:3: Do not rely on princes in or in the son of man, for he holds no salvation.

Hoshea 11:9. I will not execute the kindling of My anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not a man.

1 Sam15: 28-29 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you, today; and has given it to your fellow who is better than you. And also, the Strength of Israel will neither lie nor repent, for He is not a man to repent.”

Perhaps a Torah observant reader would conclude that these verses are incompatible with the notion of a Christian Deity.

     These comments, from a Karaite Jew, really demonstrate the point of the above-mentioned article.  Mainly, that a Peshat (plain/literal) interpretation of scripture has tremendous pitfalls.  This comment also demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of Christian Deity.  The concept of Christian Deity is much deeper than Jesus, the man.  It represents YWHW as Father, Son, and Spirit.  That all three are equally YWHW, that all three are one (Hebrew “echad”) and all three are well documented in Torah, even using a Peshat mode of interpretation of the text.  This is a great mystery.  As Avram Yehoshua writes, “The problem that some have with Jesus ‘being God’ is that most confuses the noun-title God with a name like John or Ted.  So, in Heaven, there can only be on John (God), but God is not a name.  It is a designation, the One having it being deity.  In a sense, ‘God” could be the last name of Deity; the family name:  Papa God, Yeshua the Son (God), and the Holy Spirit (God). All share the God-ness or deity.  We have no problem with an earthly family having all its members with the same last name…They, too, share the name nature (human) and are one family.” (1)  Yes, they can be different but be “one”.  The Hebrew word “echad” denotes this particular concept.  According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament it means, “to be united…and stresses unity while recognizing diversity within that oneness.” (2) This concept is, perhaps, demonstrated the most in what contemporary Judaism calls the “Sh’ma.”  In Deuteronomy chapter six it states, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is one.”  The word is “echad” and illustrates the point that God is diverse but still united.   The purpose of this post is to demonstrate the concept of the Trinity, not from the entire Tanach (in which it is also well documented) but from the Torah alone.

    Our first evidence comes from the book of Exodus (twmv) and it states, “HaShem (YWHW) would speak to Moses face to face, as a man would speak with his fellow…” (33:11 Stone Edition Tanach, I’m using a Jewish translation to demonstrate no Christian bias from the text) However, we see an apparent contradiction in a different verse later in the same chapter.  Moses, requesting to behold the glory of YHWH is told, “You will not be able to see My face, for no human can see My face and live.” (33:20) (The Hebrew word for face is the same in both verses.)  How can both these exist?  Simply, it is the Father whose face cannot be beheld by humans and live.  It is a different aspect of YHWH than what Moses met with face to face in the tabernacle.  This is the Pre-incarnate Messiah!  There is additional evidence of this. 

     When Moses beholds the “glory” of God from the rock, this is what the Torah says, “Hashem  (YWHW) descended in a cloud and stood with him there, and He called out with the Name Hashem (YWHW).  Hashem (YWHW) passed before him and proclaimed…” (34:5-6) How can YWHW descend in a cloud and stand next to Moses and proclaim the name of the YWHW as YWHW passes by?  Plainly, there is more than one aspect of YWHW.  There is the Father who passes by, the Son who descends in the cloud, and the Spirit is the cloud (The Shekinah).

    In Exodus ((twmv), the angel of the YWHW appears to Moses in the burning bush.  Who is this angel that speaks in the first person on behalf of YWHW?  It is this angel that tells Moses to go to Egypt to deliver “My People”.  It is this angel who tells Moses that “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…”  It is this angel that tells Moses that his name is YWHW.  The text clearly identifies YWHW with this angel.  Who is this angel?  This is the Messiah before his incarnation into humanity.  I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion.  The Talmudic Sages saw the same reference to Messiah here as well.  They state, “Three things were created on the basis of the name of the Holy One:  the Righteous, the Messiah, and Jerusalem.” (3)  Also, Rabbis Shmuel Ben Naham (ca 260 ad) and Abba Bar Kahan (ca 300 ad) came to the conclusion that “this is the name of the Messiah.” (4)  According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “This angel is spoken of as ‘the angel of the Lord’, and ‘the angel of the presence or face) of the Lord.’  The following passages contain references to this angel:  Gen 16:7 the angel and Hagar; Gen,18  Abraham intercedes with the angel for Sodom; Gen 22:1 the angel interposes to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac; Gen 24:7,  Abraham sends Eliezer and promises him the ange’ls protection; Gen 31:1 the angel who appears to Jacob and says, “I am the God of Bethel’; Gen 32:24  Jacob wrestles with the angel and says, ‘I have seen God face to face’ ; Gen 48:15 Jacob speaks of God and the angel as identical; Ex 3 the angel appears to Moses in the burning bush; Ex 13:21; 14:19 God or the angel lead Israel out of Egypt; Ex 23:20  the people are commanded to obey the angel; Ex 32:34-33:17  Moses pleads the presence of God with His people.” (5) This angel is the pre-incarnate Messiah!  I say this because the Hebrew word for angel (מלאך mal’lach) can be translated a “messenger or representative” and not just angel.  We can clearly see that this representative of Yahweh was in fact, Yahweh Himself.  Additionally, it was necessary for this angel or pre-incarnate God to become a man.

     It began in the beginning.  Immediately after Adam and Eve sin and eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the mission of Messiah is identified.  In Genesis chapter three, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)  It is the ‘seed’ of a woman that will crush the head of the enemy (HaSatan).  Thus, it is imperative that Messiah would become a human being.  Jesus was not just a man, as the comments from my Karaite friend seem to suggest, He was God who became a man because the seed of a woman would crush the enemy (death and the devil).  This is not just my opinion, it is also noted in the Jerusalem Targums.  It reads, “Finally, in the days of Messiah-King, he will be wounded in His Heel.” (6)  In order for mankind to be redeemed from the curse, it required the intervention of a man.  The seed of a woman would be the Messiah, it was necessary for this aspect of Yahweh to become “a man.”

  The activities of the Spirit are well documented as well.  It is the Spirit that “hovers over” in the beginning of creation (Bereshit Gen 1:2) It is the Spirit that “will not contend” with sinful humanity (6:3).  In Exodus, (twmv), it is the Spirit of God (ruach elohim) that fills Uri and Bezalel and empowers them to construct the tabernacle. (Ex 37:1-2)  It is also the Spirit of God that comes upon Balaam and orders the prophetic blessings rather than curses.  The activities of the Spirit are all activities of YWHW.  Thus, the Spirit is an aspect of YWHW as well.

     In conclusion, it is well documented in the Torah that YWHW acts through three distinct beings.  That of the Father, the Creator who no human can behold and live.  That of the Son, the pre-incarnate angel of YWHW who speaks in the first person for YWHW and delivers Israel from Egypt.  That also of the Spirit, who gives divine power to accomplish the will of YWHW and to speak prophetic blessings of Israel.  This is the concept of Christian deity; it is more than just “a man.”  Rather, Christian deity exemplifies all of the activities of YWHW and recognizes the many aspects of YWHW as all co-equal and one.

 

 

 

 

Endnotes

  1. 1.      Yehoshua, Avram, Yeshua:  God the Son, www.seedofabraham.net.
  2. 2.      R.L. harris, Editor; Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, Associate Editors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 30.
  3. 3.       Masekhet Baba Bathra 75b.
  4. 4.      Ibid.
  5. 5.      Bromiley, Geoffrey, Editor; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,   Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, volume one; 1979, page, 125.
  6. 6.      As quoted in Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament  in the Light of the Rabbinical Writings, Keren Ahvah Meshihit, Jerusalem Israel, 1992, page 38.
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