Wednesday, July 22, 2020

CHRIST IN THE TORAH




Both Jews and Muslims discount the possibility that God can appear in human form. Even the Bible acknowledges that this is not a possibility:

·       No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)

·       ...[God] alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:16; Exodus 33:20)

How do we resolve the confusion - Jesus was seen, but the Father has never been seen? How then could Jesus be God? Interestingly, it is also the OT that helps us to resolve this perplexity.

In the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), there are many accounts where God had been seen. Moses had communed with God on Mount Sinai:

·       When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29)

However, the rabbis reason that Moses must have been communing with an intermediary, since God cannot be seen, the very interpretation also adopted by the NT:

·       Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. (Galatians 3:19; Acts 7:38)

Who was this intermediary? Since the Exodus account claims that Moses was with God, even that he communed with God face-to-face (Numbers 12:6-8; Exodus 33:11), we conclude that it must have been God, but, instead, the second Person of the Trinity - Jesus. Other accounts are also resolved by the understanding that while the Father could not be seen, Jesus could, and He had even led Israel out of Egypt:

·       When we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice and sent the Angel [or “Messenger”] and brought us up out of Egypt. (Numbers 20:16)

·       "Behold, I [God] send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him… For My Angel will go before you… and I will cut them off.” (Exodus 23:20-23)

What does it mean that God’s “name” is in Him? It means that “My essence or nature is in Him” (Matthew 28:19). Nevertheless, God the Father also makes a sharp distinction between Himself and His Angel (or “Messenger” – an alternate translation of the same word, “malach”):

·       “And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people." (Exodus 33:2-3)

God, the Father, could not be in the presence of Israel. Therefore, He sent His Angel, the second Person of the Trinity to be with Israel. Nevertheless, He would drive out the Canaanites through His Angel.

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There is a wealth of other evidence for the appearances of “Yahweh” in the Five Books of Moses, the Torah.

Often, the Christophany (or Theophany, the appearance of God) is termed the “Angel of the Lord.” Interestingly, in each one of His appearances, there is evidence that He is God. Take the first appearance of this Angel:

·       The angel of the LORD found her [Hagar] by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” So she called the name of the LORD [“Yahweh”] who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:7-13; capitalizations are not found in the Hebrew or in the Greek. The translator uses them at his own discretion. The “LORD” is used to translate “Yahweh.”)

Here, the Angel of the Lord is identified as the “LORD,” “Yahweh” in Hebrew. After this:

·       The LORD [“Yahweh”] appeared to him [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)

After “Yahweh’s” two accompanying angels went down to scout-out Sodom, Abraham petitioned Him. After this:

·       And the LORD [“Yahweh”] went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place. (Genesis 18:33)

Jacob later wrestled with a man, whom he later realized was God:

·       So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:30)

Later, Jacob identified God as the “Angel” with whom he had wrestled:

·       And he [Jacob] blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (Genesis 48:15-16)

In order to bless them, Jacob invoked the name “God” twice and the Angel the third time and implored them, in the singular, to bless the lads, acknowledging that They are One. Again, this account confirms that Jacob understood that this Angel is also God.

Then the Angel appeared to Moses in the midst of the burning bush in the middle of the desert:

·       And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD [Yahweh] saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:2-4)

This Angel is also called “LORD” [“Yahweh”] and “God.” All of these appearances provide us with evidence that God is not as the present-day rabbi’s claim. Instead, these appearances of this Messianic Figure provide us with evidence of the Trinity.

Likewise, God is often identified as the “redeemer of Israel.” However, at closer examination, it seems that the “Angel of His Presence” had “saved” and “redeemed” Israel:

·       In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)

Is this a contradiction? Not unless this Angel is also God Himself! Here is further evidence. Although God the Father claimed that He could never be seen, He declares that He has been seen: 

·       And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8)

This sounds like a contradiction, unless Moses had seen God the Angel, the second Person of the Trinity. Elsewhere, the Angel is mentioned interchangeably with God, suggesting that the Angel is also God:

·       And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. (Exodus 14:19)

·       Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. (Exodus 14:24)

·       And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. (Exodus 13:21)

Therefore again, the Angel seems to be God Himself but in the form of another Person.

The rabbis and the various cults do not want to engage this evidence. It simply does not accord with their worldview. However, these verses provide for us an irrefutable glimpse of the Trinity in the Torah.

For the sake of brevity, I have to stop. However, the books of Joshua and Judges also offer us the same kinds of evidences for the Trinity, not to mention the different kinds of evidences revealed in the rest of the OT.

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The Deity of Christ is of utmost importance to our faith and life. God demonstrates His love in this: while we were still His enemies, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Knowing that God loves us necessary:

·       and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

To know His love is to be “filled with all the fullness of God.” However, if Jesus is created, God could have spoken 10,000 Jesus into existence, without any cost to Himself – hardly a demonstration of God’s love. The same pertains to the belief that Jesus isn’t a Person but just a manifestation. However, if it was just a manifestation who had died for us, this too would fail to show God’s love.

Instead, it was the understanding of His love, demonstrated in His supreme sacrifice for us, that had delivered me from decades of depression, self-loathing, and panic attacks.

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-24)

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