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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Worship and Encountering the Divine; Part Five "Who do you say He is?"

Go to Part Six...

…Worship and Encountering the Divine…

Part Five

..The LORD is ONE…
But who do you say that I am?”

..The Sh’ma.. [1]
Sh'ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad.
Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One.

Ba-ruch sheim k'vod mal-chu-to l'o-lam va-ed.
Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.

V'a-hav-ta eit A-do-nai E-lo-he-cha,
B'chawl l'va-v'cha,
u-v'chawl naf-sh'cha,
u-v'chawl m'o-de-cha.
V'ha-yu ha-d'va-rim ha-ei-leh,
A-sher a-no-chi m'tsa-v'cha ha-yom, al l'va-ve-cha.
V'shi-nan-tam l'-va-ne-cha, v'di-bar-ta bam
b'shiv-t'cha b'vei-te-cha,
uv-lech-t'cha va-de-rech,
u-v'shawch-b'cha uv-ku-me-cha.
Uk-shar-tam l'ot al ya-de-cha,
v'ha-yu l'to-ta-fot bein ei-ne-cha.
Uch-tav-tam, al m'zu-zot bei-te-cha, u-vish-a-re-cha.

“…You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates…” [2]
Every day I start my day and end it by reciting the Sh’ma. With this, my declaration of dependence upon God, I seek to unite with Him and His people Israel. As a Messianic believer, I try to live my life as best as I can by following His word. I have models before me, those forged out of over 5000 years of studying God and His ways; the halakah of the Jews. Now, I’m not Jewish, nor am I trying to be. I liken it to this; when a small child is growing up, he looks to his older brother to learn how to act. Sometimes this leads to good behavior, sometimes not, but we all look for models in our lives, a way to conduct ourselves with dignity and humility. I am aware that the actions of some Messianic groups or individuals reflect negatively on the movement as a whole. I am also aware of the great sensitivity that must be undertaken by those of us who call ourselves Messianic towards our Jewish brethren and their culture. We can be no less reverent of the things of God than they…

As aware of this as I am,  I try to walk as circumspectly as I can. To walk circumspectly is to walk with consideration for all that is pertinent, cautiously and prudently.[3] This involves using sound judgment in what I do, how I present myself and how I conduct my affairs. In my past, none of that mattered to me; I walked for forty years in the wilderness of drugs, alcohol, violence and ungodly living. That all changed when the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob apprehended me and told me enough. I was an addict, at times homeless, in and out of jail and a stint in prison. I neglected family and community; I became a “1%”-er, an outlaw biker. I tell you these things, not to glorify that previous life, but to let you know how far Father YHVH has brought me. Toward the end of my wilderness journey, I was ready to end my life; death was preferable to the way I was existing. Abba had other ideas. When He pulled me out of the snares of death, He gave me my life verses from His word:
Deuteronomy 8:1-3
1     “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you amay live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers.
2     “aYou shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has bled you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, ctesting you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
3     “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you 1understand that aman does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. [4]

Deuteronomy 8:2 changed my life. It was forty years to the day that I started my journey into darkness, from the day of my thirteenth birthday to that of my fifty-third when He spoke these words to me. I knew that there was something more then. I had tried walking as a “New Testament” Christian; nothing worked, my sins beset me, dragging me down, I could find no freedom in the traditional “orthodox theology” of the church. It took the realization that God had already set in place a way to live, a way to approach Him and treat my fellow man (including my family) to bring me out of the miry clay. I found the Torah of God and in the Torah, I found my Messiah. I say found, but it was truly right before me the entire time, just hidden away in the “legalistic” attitude of a church system that denied my Father’s words as being valid.  We are not meant to live apart from the guidance and lead of God and His Spirit. We cannot live apart from the sacrifice of our Messiah. I agree for most part with the sentiment of Patrick Navas who wrote in the introduction of his book:

“…I certainly do not pretend to have resolved all the “doctrinal” questions Christians have wrestled with throughout the centuries; and although I may have my own opinion on certain matters of faith and scriptural understanding, I do recognize when they are in fact opinions—of course, always endeavoring to form them on the basis of the scriptural harmony and sound reason. However, the teachings that I do hold to with confidence are those which the Scriptures clearly, confidently, and continually present—including the fact that there is one supreme God, the Father, that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Son and Messiah (God’s anointed one), that God sent him into the world to give his life as a ransom for sinners, that God raised him to life three days after his execution, and that Jesus Christ is Lord by God’s own appointment, the possessor of “all authority in heaven and on earth.” [5]To this day, after all my years of research and experience among Christians of diverse religious backgrounds, I still wonder,—in light of what the Scriptures do say, and in light of what they do not say—who can rightfully claim that it is unchristian or unscriptural to believe that the “one God” of the Bible is “the Father,” J______ [6], the God of Israel, the God of all creation, that the man Jesus portrayed in the Gospel accounts is the promised and long-awaited Christ or Messiah, “the Son of the living God,” and that the holy Spirit is, in fact, God’s Spirit, the Spirit that inspired and empowered the ancient prophets of Israel, the same Spirit that was possessed by the Son of God without measure, that same life-giving and sanctifying Spirit that now dwells in the hearts of the faithful, producing the fruitage of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, long-suffering, and self-control?...” [7], [8]

It is in my studies that I have been troubled by a common theme that not only exists in Christianity, but for the most part in Messianic circles also, whether it be Messianic Judaism, or the Hebraic Roots, and that is the issue of a “three-in-one” God. It doesn’t matter if it is expressed in a Trinitarian formula or in a Triune pronouncement (God is made up of three essences). Either of these seem to me to fly right in the face of the strict monotheism of the Tanach and the statements of Messiah Yeshua Himself. I do not pretend to have this all worked out; I am a seeker of truth and am still in the process of sorting this all out, but I cannot shake what Yeshua Himself said in Scripture:

Mark 12:28-34
28 aOne of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and brecognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the 1foremost of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is,
aHear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;
30 aand you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this, ‘aYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that aHe is One, and there is no one else besides Him;
33 aand to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, bis much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him,
You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
aAfter that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions. [9]

And in His greatest prayer:
John 17:1-3
Jesus spoke these things; and alifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; bglorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as aYou gave Him authority over all flesh, that bto 1all whom You have given Him, cHe may give eternal life.
This is eternal life, that they may know You, athe only true God, and Jesus Christ whom bYou have sent[10]

Are these words plain? Does not Yeshua confirm the Sh’ma as His core belief, His Creed? If this is so, we must examine this at greater length so we can answer the question He (Yeshua) posed to Peter:

“But who do you say that I am?”

          Here is where I must add a qualifier into our conversation. I don’t want anyone to think I am bashing the “church”. I have my issues with the organized religious system called the “Church”, but not with those people who profess Yeshua/Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I love God’s people but I love His Truth more. It is as Pat Navas had said:

“ … although I may have my own opinion on certain matters of faith and scriptural understanding, I do recognize when they are in fact opinions—of course, always endeavoring to form them on the basis of the scriptural harmony and sound reason. However, the teachings that I do hold to with confidence are those which the Scriptures clearly, confidently, and continually present—including the fact that there is one supreme God, the Father, that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Son and Messiah (God’s anointed one)…”[11]
Figure 1: George Buytendorp: Crossroads




I do not believe that I have a lock on the truth. What I hold today may be different than what I hold to tomorrow. This is not to say I am double-minded or swayed by every wind of doctrine that blows my way; no, what I am is teachable and correctable, open to the lead of the Spirit to show me the glorious truth of the Father’s words and reveal unto me the mystery of Jesus Christ. But don’t get me wrong; We are all at the crossroad brethren.
For what is there for us as believers? Are we so locked away in a theological box that we expect God to stay there also? Has our approach to God and Yeshua become so rigid that we can no longer think for ourselves, that all we hear and all we believe is at the whim and mercy of whatever denomination we belong to, or what “creed” or mission statement that the house of worship we attend adheres to? Is Pastor “X” or Rabbi “Y” the only ones who “get it”, and we have to blindly follow their teachings without questioning where and how they developed their particular “take” on Scripture? Am I advocating spiritual anarchy, or simply a return to  a more reasoned approach, one in which we just let God tell us what we need to believe. Teachers and pastors and rabbis’ all have their place, and we should listen to them, but their words need to line up with the Word of God. We need to be Bereans today brethren..

Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. [12]

The choice is stark: the broad way that leads to destruction or the narrow path that leads to life and few are they that find it (Matt 7:13-14). What crossroad are you on? The time to straddle the fence is gone; God wants your decision today, for today is all you have.
Daniel 12:9-13
9)   He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and asealed up until the end time.
10) “aMany will be purged, 1purified and refined, but the bwicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but 2those who chave insight will understand.
11) “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the 1aabomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.
12) “How ablessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the b1,335 days!
13) “But as for you, go your way to the 1end; then you will enter into arest and rise again for your ballotted portion at the end of the 2age.” [13]

Revelation 22:10-11
10) And he *said to me, “aDo not seal up bthe words of the prophecy of this book, cfor the time is near.
11) “aLet the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.[14]


What I say here is my cry to all, to come and see and taste that which is good. The choice is yours.

For me, I understand that anyone who dares to question the existence of a triune or Trinitarian God, the usual response is to brand them either as a cult member or a heretic or both. Most will cite the early church fathers for their proofs of the Trinity such as:
 Justin Martyr: "...the Father of the universe has a Son; who being the logos and First-begotten is also God" (First Apology 63:15).
Irenaeus: (referencing Jesus) "...in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, . . ." (Against Heresies I, x, 1).
Clement of Alexandria: "Both as God and as man, the Lord renders us every kind of help and service. As God He forgives sin, as man He educates us to avoid sin completely" (Christ the Educator, chapter 3.1). In addition, "Our educator, O children, resembles His Father, God, whose son He is. He is without sin, without blame, without passion of soul, God immaculate in form of man accomplishing His Father's will" (Christ the Educator Chapter 2:4).
Tertullian: "...the only God has also a Son, his Word who has proceeded from himself, by whom all things were made and without whom nothing has been made: that this was sent by the Father into the virgin and was born of her both man and God. Son of Man, Son of God, ..." (Against Praxeas, 2).
Hippolytus: "And the blessed John in the testimony of his gospel, gives us an account of this economy and acknowledges this word as God, when he says, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' If then the Word was with God and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two persons however, and of a third economy, the grace of the Holy Ghost" (Against the Heresy of One Noetus.14).
Origen: (with regard to John 1:1) "...the arrangement of the sentences might be thought to indicate an order; we have first, 'in the beginning was the Word,' then 'And the Word was with God,' and thirdly, 'and the Word was God,' so that it might be seen that the Word being with God makes Him God" (Commentary on John, Book 2, Chapter 1).
The Scriptural arguments are also almost always the same;

“…Old Testament Trinity Proof Texts
                                 
·         Genesis 1:26
o   "Let US make man in OUR image": Three plural pronouns, (We, Us, Our) used 6 different times in four different passages: Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8. The unanimous opinion of the apostolic Fathers was that the Father was talking to Jesus.

·         Genesis 19:24
o   "Then Yahweh [on earth in human form] rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh [in spirit form in heaven] out of heaven. Genesis 19:24. In this text Abraham is visited by three individuals, one being Yahweh and the other two angels. Here we have God on the earth (Jesus) and God in heaven (father) sending down fire from heaven. This incident when Abraham met with Yahweh God, is what Jesus referred to when he said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." (John 8:56) The unanimous opinion of the apostolic Fathers was that Jesus visited Abraham in Genesis 18 and 19.

·         Isaiah 6
o   Isaiah saw the glory of Yahweh, but John says that Isaiah really saw the glory of Christ. This proves Jesus is Yahweh. Combine this with the fact the Yahweh said, "Who will go for US" is a plural pronoun indicating more than one person in the Godhead.

·         Isaiah 40-55
o   Jesus echoes the "I AM" statements in Isaiah chapters 40-55. This spectacular link explores over 20 different passages in Isaiah and John.


·         Isaiah 45:23-24
o   I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. "They will say of Me, 'Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame.

·         Micah 5:2
o   But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.

·         New Testament Trinity Proof Texts

·         Mark 2:5-12
o   Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?

·         John 1:1
o   In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

·         John 5:18
o   For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

·         John 8:58
o   "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

·         John 10:33
o   "I and the Father are one." The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. ... Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'?"

·         John 12:41 + Isaiah 6
o   A simple reading of the context of John 12 makes it clear that John is saying that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus Christ himself in Isaiah 6. This proves Jesus is Yahweh.

·         John 19:7            
o   The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God."…

·         Romans 14:11
o   For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God."

·         2 Corinthians 13:14
·         Philippians 2:1-2
o   The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

·         Philippians 2:9-11
o   "Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

·         Revelation 22:3
o   "And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall [latreuo] serve Him." : Jesus worshipped in the highest sense of "latreuo"…”[15]

Let us take a reasoned look at these texts, but let us also make one thing clear:  any study into the nature of God must begin in the “God texts”, those that explain His character and define His name. The Hebrew Scriptures are the foundation of understanding God and His nature; they are also the building blocks we need to use to understand the One that was to come later, the Messiah. To begin in the “New Testament” and try to insert Yeshua backwards is the wrong approach. Who reads the end of a book and then explains how the beginning is laid out? A lot of detail is missed in this type of interpretation; this method of study also lends itself to picking and choosing your way through the Book in order to support a preexisting bias.

                Now it can be said of me that I enter in with a preexisting bias also. I’d like to address any Jewish brethren out here that might stumble across these posts: I love you all and hold no ill will toward you, and I sincerely apologize if I offend you in any way with the things I speak of – but – here is the truth, the same thing I say to Christians: the word of God offends. It really does. It either offends a man so deep into his soul that he has to look at himself in the light of God’s word and change or it offends someone enough that they turn away from hearing. Either way a man’s soul is offended. I seek not to change anyone’s beliefs, not my job. I don’t want to convert Jews, I don’t want to change Christians into Torah-keepers; I just want to be able to present  (I hope and pray anyway) a reasoned dialogue from which we can air our opinions and have a discussion. I’ve seen too many “comments” on too many web-sites that engage in an endless diatribe[16] of Christian against Jew, of Messianics against everybody, you get the picture…. That is not my intent. How can the hurt and the pain of 2000 years of misunderstandings and irrational hatred be eased when we spend our time in rancorous  debate? That the believers of Jesus Christ in times past (and unfortunately in the present also) have done horrendous things to the Jewish community is not up for debate; may my apologies be accepted for all of those misguided ones; I pray that in light of this, we might be able to agree on something important: the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. I pray any dialogue can start there, in love and patience, and the rest can be hashed out over coffee J.  Do I have a bias? Yeah, but I’m honest enough to try to control it, to see both sides…

Take this quote from The Jewish Encyclopedia:

“…However, a great historic movement of the character and importance of Christianity cannot have arisen without a great personality to call it into existence and to give it shape and direction. Jesus of Nazareth had a mission from God (see Maimonides, "Yad," Melakim, xi. 4, and the other passages quoted in Jew. Encyc. iv. 56 et seq., s.v. Christianity); and he must have had the spiritual power and fitness to be chosen for it. The very legends surrounding his life and his death furnish proofs of the greatness of his character, and of the depth of the impression which it left upon the people among whom he moved…” [17]

While there was much more to this article, it was as balanced as it could be. We, my brethren, will not always see eye-to-eye, but I hope we can hear each other heart-to-heart.

Okay, off soap-box, to on with our study:

·         Genesis 1:26:
Gen 1:26   ויאמרH559 said,  אלהיםH430 And God  נעשׂהH6213 Let us make  אדםH120 man  בצלמנוH6754 in our image,  כדמותנוH1823 after our likeness:  וירדוH7287 and let them have dominion  בדגתH1710 over the fish  היםH3220 of the sea,  ובעוףH5775 and over the fowl  השׁמיםH8064 of the air,  ובבהמהH929 and over the cattle,  ובכלH3605 and over all  הארץH776 the earth,  ובכלH3605 and over every  הרמשׂH7431 creeping thing  הרמשׂH7430 that creepeth  עלH5921 upon  הארץ׃H776 the earth.

,  אלהיםH430 And God  : H430
אלהים  'ĕlôhı̂ym
BDB Definition:
1) (plural)
1a) rulers, judges
1b) divine ones
1c) angels
1d) gods
2) (plural intensive - singular meaning)
2a) god, goddess
2b) godlike one
2c) works or special possessions of God
2d) the (true) God
2e) God
Part of Speech: noun masculine plural
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: plural of H433
Same Word by TWOT Number: 93c [18]

“…It is now universally admitted that this [foreshadowing of the Trinity] was not what the plural meant to the original author… When angels do appear in the OT they are frequently described as men (e.g., Gen. 18:2). And in fact the use of the singular verb “create” in 1: 27 does, in fact, suggest that God worked alone in the creation of mankind. “Let us create man” should therefore be regarded as a divine announcement to the heavenly court , drawing the angelic host’s attention to the master stroke of creation, man. As Job 38:4, 7 puts it: “When I laid the foundation of the earth… all the sons of God shouted for joy” (cf. Luke 2:13-14)…” [19]

I have highlighted three Hebrew words in Genesis 1:26 that have caused heartburn to many a soul, both monotheists (or Unitarians if you want to use that designation) and Trinitarians alike. Let us go into the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament for another discussion/definition of the word “'ĕlôhı̂ym”…

“…’ĕlōhı̂m. God, gods, judges, angels. (Generally, agreement is found in ASV and RSV, however in some passages where the meaning is not clear they differ from KJV: Ex 31:6, where RSV has “God” but KJV “the judges”; similarly in Ex 22:28 [H 27] where RSV has “God” but KJV “the gods” or as a margin “judges.”) This word, which is generally viewed as the plural of ’ĕlōah, is found far more frequently in Scripture than either ’ēl or ’ĕlōah for the true God. The plural ending is usually described as a plural of majesty and not intended as a true plural when used of God. This is seen in the fact that the noun ’ĕlōhı̂m is consistently used with singular verb forms and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular. [emphasis mine]
Albright has suggested that the use of this majestic plural comes from the tendency in the ancient near east toward a universalism: “We find in Canaanite an increasing tendency to employ the plural shtorôt ‘startes’, and natôt ‘naths’, in the clear sense of totality of manifestations of a deity’ ” (William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity, 2d ed., p. 213). But a better reason can be seen in Scripture itself where, in the very first chapter of Gen, the necessity of a term conveying both the unity of the one God and yet allowing for a plurality of persons is found (Gen 1:2,26). This is further borne out by the fact that the form ’ĕlōhı̂m occurs only in Hebrew and in no other Semitic language, not even in Biblical Aramaic (Gustav F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, p. 88).
The term occurs in the general sense of deity some 2570 times in Scripture. Yet as Pope has indicated, it is difficult to detect any discrepancy in use between the forms ’ēl, ’ĕlōah, and ’ĕlōhı̂m in Scripture (Marvin H. Pope, El in the Ugaritic Texts, p. 10).
When indicating the true God, ’ĕlōhı̂m functions as the subject of all divine activity revealed to man and as the object of all true reverence and fear from men. Often ’ĕlōhı̂m is accompanied by the personal name of God, Yahweh (Gen 2:4–5; Ex 34:23; Ps 68:18 [H 19], etc.)…[20]

While the introduction of the Trinity appears elsewhere in this article, it does not apply to the use of the word 'ĕlôhı̂ym. The NET® Bible notes agree with this assessment as does several other commentaries and dictionaries:

“…1 sn The plural form of the verb has been the subject of much discussion through the years, and not surprisingly several suggestions have been put forward. Many Christian theologians interpret it as an early hint of plurality within the Godhead, but this view imposes later trinitarian concepts on the ancient text. Some have suggested the plural verb indicates majesty, but the plural of majesty is not used with verbs. C. Westermann (Genesis, 1:145) argues for a plural of “deliberation” here, but his proposed examples of this use (2 Sam 24:14; Isa 6:8) do not actually support his theory. In 2 Sam 24:14 David uses the plural as representative of all Israel, and in Isa 6:8 the Lord speaks on behalf of his heavenly court. In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8). (The most well-known members of this court are God’s messengers, or angels. In Gen 3:5 the serpent may refer to this group as “gods/divine beings.” See the note on the word “evil” in 3:5.) If this is the case, God invites the heavenly court to participate in the creation of humankind (perhaps in the role of offering praise, see Job 38:7), but he himself is the one who does the actual creative work (v. 27). Of course, this view does assume that the members of the heavenly court possess the divine “image” in some way. Since the image is closely associated with rulership, perhaps they share the divine image in that they, together with God and under his royal authority, are the executive authority over the world…” [21]

Those who hold to the Trinitarian view always use explanations such as this:

·         “Anti-Trinitarians and Unitarians alike, try to explain away the plural references to God in the Old Testament: "Let US make man in OUR image". (Gen 1:26)
·         While Trinitarians expect to find such plural pronouns and verbs used in reference to God at face value, anti-Trinitarians fall all over themselves trying to find a way to avoid the obvious truth that there are three persons in the one God…”[22]

Not for lack of trying, the Trinitarians ignore the work of the same scholars they trot out to support their views. Elohim always points to a singular God, not a plural. There isn’t enough room or time to go into this much more, but if you need more, then please pursue the following (you may find opinions in both camps…)

“..Bibliography: Albright, W. F., “The Names Shaddai and Abram,” JBL 54:175–92. From the Stone Age to Christianity, Johns Hopkins, 1957., Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, Johns Hopkins, 1942. Bailey, Lloyd R., “Israelite l Śadday and Amorite Bel Sade,” JBL 87:434–38. Cross, Frank Moore, “Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs,” HTR 55:226–59. , “El and Yahweh,” JSS 1:25–37. “ ‘My God’ in the Old Testament,” EQ 19:7-20. Davidson, A. B., The Theology of the Old Testament, Edinburgh: T & T Clark. Della Vida. G. Levi, “El Elyon in Genesis 14:18–20,” JBL 63:1–9. Drafkorn, Ann E., “Ilani/Elohim,” JBL 76:216–24. Eerdmans, B. D., The Religion of Israel, Leiden, Universtaire pers Leiden, 1947. Feigin, Samuel J., “The Origin of ’Eloh, ‘God,’ in Hebrew,” JNES 3:259. Gordon, Cyrus H., “Elohim in its Repeated Meaning of Rulers, Judges,” JBL 54:140–44. Jacob, Edmond, The Theology of the Old Testament, Harper Brothers, 1955. Keil, Karl F., Manual of Historico-Critical Introduction to the Canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament, I, Eerdmans, 1952. Kelso, James A., “The Antiquity of the Divine Title,” JBL 20:50–55. Kohler, Ludwig, Old Testament Theology, Westminster, 1957. Kuhn, H. B., “God, Names of,” in APEB. May, H. G., “El Shaddai,” JBL 60:114-45., “The Patriarchal Ideal of God,” JBL 60:113–28. Miller, Patrick D., “El the Warrior,” HTR 411–31. Pope, Mar-vin H., El in the Ugaritic Texts, Brill, 1955. Richardson, TWB, p. 89. Segal, M. H., “El, Elohim, and YHWH in the Bible,” JQR 46:89–115. Thomas, D. Winton, “A Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew,” VT 3:209-24. Van Allman, J. J., A Companion to the Bible, Oxford, 1958. Weingreen, J., “The Construct-Genitive in Hebrew Syntax,” VT 4:50–59. Wilson, Robert Dick, “The Names of God in the Old Testament,” PTR 18:460–92…[23]

·         Genesis 19:24

This is a misinterpretation of the Hebrew grammar to assume that there are two “Lords” spoken of here.  The Trinitarian says “…Here we have God on the earth (Jesus) and God in heaven (father) sending down fire from heaven…” There is no way to allude this from the Scripture. We see that this is a grammatical technique of referring to Himself in the third person that Father YHVH uses throughout scripture (cf. Genesis 18:19; Exodus 3:12, 24:1; Numbers 19:1-2; Zechariah 1:17). There is no Biblical reason to assume two divine personalities are mentioned.

·         Isaiah 6

The argument of the Trinitarians continue using Isaiah chapter 6, but the same counter-argument can be used as in Genesis 1:26. In fact, the very mention of Genesis 1:26 as a comparison to Isaiah 6 rules this out as a proof.

“…An article in the Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary has the following observation along with a suggestion as to the identity of those whom God could have been addressing:
The doctrine of the trinity has been related to various aspects of the Old Testament revelation, the most important being possible indications of plurality within the Godhead and indications of the deity and distinctness of the Spirit of God and of the Messiah. The support of all these aspects of the Old Testament revelation for Christian doctrine of the trinity have been exaggerated, especially what have been taken as indications of plurality in the Godhead. The ‘us’ in ‘Let us make man in our image’ (Gen. 1:26; cf. 3:22; 11:6-7) refers to ‘sons of God’ or lesser ‘gods’ mentioned elsewhere (6:1-4; Job 1:6; Ps. 29:1), here viewed as a heavenly council centered around the one God (cf. Ps. 82:1). In later usage these probably would be called ‘angels.’ The Jewish Study Bible is apparently in agreement on this matter: “The plural construction (Let us…) most likely reflects a setting in the divine council (cf. 1 Kings 22.19-22; Isa. ch 6; Job chs 1-2).” The footnotes in the New English Translation (sponsored by Dallas Theological Seminary) have a similar observation: The plural form of the verb has been the subject of much discussion through the years, and not surprisingly several suggestions have been put forward. Many Christian theologians interpret it as an early hint of plurality within the Godhead, but this view imposes later Trinitarian concepts on the ancient text. In 2 Sam 24:14 David uses the plural as representative of all Israel, and in Isa 6:8 the Lord speaks on behalf of his heavenly court. In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:1922; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8)…” [24]

  • Isaiah 40-55
These are not proof texts of the Trinity, but are rather prophetic texts that are prophesying the coming of the Messiah in the future, describing His nature and calling as the Messiah of Israel, the Holy One proposed from the beginning of time. These chapters are a stunning promise of the God of all creation to His nation of a coming Savior, one  like unto Moses that will deliver His people once and for all in the Messianic age to come.  

We have to understand YHVH’s sovereignty. He has had a plan since the creation of all things, from before the foundation of the world, was His future Son to be slain. He knew of the rebellion in heaven before He created one angel. He knew that the man and woman He formed would transgress in the Garden. He knew the fallen angels would take human brides for themselves and pollute the human race with hybrid offspring, and that the only solution would be the flood. He knew how to fix all the brokenness of the world to come – with the blood of His only begotten Son. This was the plan and the purpose of God, to affect all these things. His word spoke it, His word accomplished what He planned.

You know, I could go on and on with all these so-called “proof” texts, but what would be the point? If any of you have questions, please comment and we can discuss them. But here is the bottom line…

I’ll say it out loud, and let the chips fall where they might. I believe in the divinity of Yeshua Ha’Machiach, as the exalted human being that sits at the right hand of God, full of grace and power, the sole-heir of God, because He is the Son of the Living God, but He is not God. Only YHVH is God. Period.

Now, could I be wrong? Of Course! Because I won’t put God in my box that says “God you can only be this, and not that!” While there exists the possibility I’ve gotten it wrong, I cannot see how, by a belief in the inerrant word of God, free from bias and supposition and man-made interpretations, I don’t see it. I believe Yeshua when He said:

Sh'ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad.
Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One.

The LORD is one.

We will look at echad next post, and continue our exploration of this theme, of who do we say He is. Also we will look at what it really means, a new creation….

Hope I haven’t lost you….

..May YHVH richly bless you my beloved till next time..
Amein


[1] The Shema includes three paragraphs. The theme of the first (Deuteronomy 6:4-10) is the acceptance of the “yoke of Heaven,” the second (ibid. 11:13-21) of the acceptance of the yoke of His commandments, and the third


[2] Transliteration of the Sh’ma from: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/282822/jewish/Transliteration.htm Translation from: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/706162/jewish/Translation.htm

[3] "circumspectly." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/circumspectly>.

a Deut 4:1

a Deut 8:16

b Ps 136:16; Amos 2:10

c Ex 15:25; 20:20; 2 Chr 32:31

1 Lit know

a Matt 4:4; Luke 4:4

[4]New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Dt 8:1-3). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[5] 1 Corinthians 8:6; 15:3-4; Matthew 16:15-17; 28:19; John 3:16; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-11

[6] I have edited out this common pronunciation of YHVH’s Holy name as it is my opinion that it is incorrect; any flack for doing so is squarely upon my head.

[7] Patrick Navas (2011-07-07). Divine Truth or Human Tradition?:A Reconsideration of the Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Kindle Locations 110-125). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

[8] 2 Peter 1:20-21; John 3:34; Galatians 5:22

a Mark 12:28–34: Matt 22:34–40; Luke 10:25–28; 20:39f

b Matt 22:34; Luke 20:39

1 Or first

a Deut 6:4

a Deut 6:5

a Lev 19:18

a Deut 4:35

a Deut 6:5

b 1 Sam 15:22; Hos 6:6; Mic 6:6–8; Matt 9:13; 12:7

a Matt 22:46

[9] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

a John 11:41

b John 7:39; 13:31f

a John 3:35

b John 10:28

1 Lit everything that You have given Him, to them He may

c John 6:37, 39; 17:6, 9, 24

a John 5:44

b John 3:17; 17:8, 21, 23, 25

[10]New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Jn 17:1-3). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[11] See footnote 7.


[12] New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

a Dan 12:4

a Zech 13:9

1 Lit made white

b Is 32:6, 7; Rev 22:11

2 Or the instructors will

c Dan 12:3; Hos 14:9; John 7:17; 8:47

1 Or horrible abomination

a Dan 9:27; 11:31; Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14

a Is 30:18

b Dan 8:14; Rev 11:2; 12:6; 13:5

1 I.e. end of your life

a Is 57:2; Rev 14:13

b Ps 16:5

2 Lit days

[13]New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Da 12:9-13). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

* A star (*) is used to mark verbs that are historical presents in the Greek which have been translated with an English past tense in order to conform to modern usage. The translators recognized that in some contexts the present tense seems more unexpected and unjustified to the English reader than a past tense would have been. But Greek authors frequently used the present tense for the sake of heightened vividness, thereby transporting their readers in imagination to the actual scene at the time of occurence. However, the translators felt that it would be wise to change these historical presents to English past tenses.

a Dan 8:26; Rev 10:4

b Rev 1:11; 22:9, 18f

c Rev 1:3

a Ezek 3:27; Dan 12:10

[14]New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Re 22:10-11). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[15] From:  http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-proof-texts.htm

[16] Random House Webster's College Dictionary definition: di•a•tribeˈdaɪ əˌtraɪb(n.) a bitter, abusive denunciation or criticism. From http://www.definitions.net/definition/diatribe?source=agave


[17] From the article “Jesus of Nazareth” http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8616-jesus-of-nazareth ©2002-2011, JewishEncyclopedia.com. All rights reserved

[18] The Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, by Francis Brown with S.R. Driver and Charles A. Biggs, electronic edition, e-Sword© 2000-2013 by Rick Meyers version 10.2.1

[19] Quoted from Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15, Word Books, 1987, 27-28 in Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian  by Buzzard, Anthony (2012-04-15). (Kindle Locations 7210-7216). Restoration Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

[20] Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, article 93c אֱלֹהִים (’ĕlōhı̂m) gods, God  by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke; MOODY PUBLISHERS, CHICAGO © 1980 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, electronic edition, theWord® software, version 4.0.0.1342 © 2003-2012 - Costas Stergiou

[21] NET Bible® Notes - copyright ©1996-2007 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., electronic edition, theWord® software, version 4.0.0.1342 © 2003-2012 - Costas Stergiou

[22] http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-oneness-unity-plural-nouns-pronouns-verbs-adverbs.htm

[23] Bibliography from Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke; MOODY PUBLISHERS, CHICAGO © 1980 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, electronic edition, theWord® software, version 4.0.0.1342 © 2003-2012 - Costas Stergiou



[24] Patrick Navas (2011-07-07). Divine Truth or Human Tradition?:A Reconsideration of the Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Kindle Locations 7885-7902). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.