Christ in the Old Testament 6

Ok lets look at a few more key OT passages.

Here’s a favourite of a friend of mine who uses it on Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Genesis 19:24

Then the LORD rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of the heavens.

This even works in the New World Translation:

Then Jehovah made it rain sulphur and fire from Jehovah from the heavens

Having turned it up in their Watchtower bibles my friend asks: “To which Jehovah are you witnessing, the one on earth or the one in the heavens??”  Brilliant.

Because as even the New World Translation admits, it is the LORD (Jehovah!) who appears to Abraham in Gen 18:1, who along with two angels (cf Gen 19:1) eats the food Abraham and Sarah prepares (18:8).  While Abraham intercedes with this LORD the two angels go onto Sodom (Gen 19).  In verses 1-23 we see the angels get Lot out of Sodom and then… The LORD rains down judgement from the LORD out of the heavens.  This raining down is in the hiphil stem – it is not a reflexive.  The LORD who ate with Abraham now judges Sodom with fire from the LORD from heaven.  To which LORD do we witness?  Here we are presented with two divine Persons working in concert.  The Father has entrusted all judgement to the Son!

Another one that works in JW bibles is Exodus 33.  Here we see in the same chapter two Persons called LORD.  First, parenthetically, Moses tells us what used to happen in the tent of meeting (Ex 33:7-11).

Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting”. Anyone enquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp… The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

The narrative has been following events on top of the mountain but here Moses deems it necessary to tell us about his previous face-to-face encounters with the LORD in the tent.  This is so that we get the full importance of his meeting with the LORD on the mountain. Because this Person says to Moses unequivocally:

“You cannot see My face, for no-one may see Me and live.” 21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”

Now Moses has gone out of his way to lay side by side these two incidents: Face to face fellowship with the LORD in the tent and then a meeting with the LORD on the mountain who says His face must never be seen.  I haven’t had the chance to do this yet, but the next JW that comes knocking will definitely be asked, “To which Jehovah are you witnessing?  The face-to-face Jehovah or the unseen Jehovah??”

Interestingly Moses had been asking the LORD on the mountain who would go with the Israelites.  He is told ‘My Presence (Face, paniym) will go with you.’ (v14, cf Deut 4:37; Ps 51:11; 139:7; Isaiah 63:9).  Moses considers this essential.  Unless the Presence of the LORD continues to deliver them he prefers to rot in the desert.  Later, when the unseen LORD declares His Name (Ex 34:6-7), Moses understands that the Name of the unseen LORD is in the promised Presence of the LORD (cf 23:21).  He realizes that in the Angel who has delivered them they already have the fulness of deity in their midst.  And so, satisfied, he says:

“O Lord, if I have found favour in Your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us.” (Ex 34:9)

The unseen Lord delivers them through the Lord in their midst who is His Presence and Angel in Whom dwells His name and nature.

When we get to Isaiah we see that his vision of the LORD’s future deliverance is patterned upon this trinitarian exodus:

7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us–yes, the many good things He has done for the house of Israel, according to His compassion and many kindnesses. 8 He said, “Surely they are My people, sons who will not be false to Me”; and so He became their Saviour. 9 In all their distress He too was distressed, and the Angel of His Presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. 10 Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned and became their enemy and He himself fought against them. 11 Then His people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and His people–where is He who brought them through the sea, with the Shepherd of His flock? Where is He who set his Holy Spirit among them, 12 who sent His glorious arm of power to be at Moses’ right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for Himself everlasting renown, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; 14 like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how You guided Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name.  (Isaiah 63:7-14)

Isaiah looks back upon this trinitarian salvation and claims that the future deliverance will be along the same lines.  See for instance Isaiah 48.  Verse 12 introduces us to One who says:

I am he; I am the first and I am the last

Read on and the I AM says this:

And now the Sovereign LORD (Adonai Yahweh) has sent Me, with His Spirit.

He is the great I AM sent from the Sovereign LORD with the Spirit.  In the power of the Spirit, the I AM accomplishes the Sovereign LORD’s salvation.  And of course Isaiah has just told us that the Sovereign LORD anoints One called ‘the Servant’ with His Spirit:

“Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in Whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations.” (Is 42:1)

The Servant and the I AM seem to be the same Spirit anointed Person.  Other Isaiah passages pick up the essential empowerment of the Spirit in the work of the divine Servant.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD– 3 and He will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears; 4 but with righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be His belt and faithfulness the sash round His waist. (Is 11:1-5)

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Is 61:1-3)

It is the work of the Sovereign LORD’s Servant in the power of the Spirit to bring about His cosmic redemption.

Ok, enough for now.  If you want to study some more why not just pick up the book of Zechariah.  All of it!  Check out the Angel.  See how He is described, how He relates to another called LORD, how He is called LORD and speaks as the LORD.  See how the LORD says He is sent from the LORD (eg 2:9,11) and… well, check it out yourself. It’s an absolute treasure trove.  And then just read the whole OT and see if you don’t spot trinity everywhere!  Once you put aside the expectation of a monadic doctrine of God you release the OT from a unitarian straight-jacket and allow it to speak as the Christian revelation it has always been.

Next post I’ll list some ‘so what’ implications and then I’ll give some juicy quotes from church history.

Next post…

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Posted on by Glen in christology, covenant continuity, Doctrine of God, Old Testament, revelation, trinity

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

7 Responses to Christ in the Old Testament 6

  1. Rubens Oliveira

    You can go ahead and even assume there is a trinity in Gen 19:24 and be sure that such ideas you try to convince others are manmade theology.
    There is not one scripture in the Bible that supports the idea that the Father, the son, and the holy spirit are all three the same person. The holy spirit is the power of God, the son is (logically) God’s son (John 3:16; Matthew 3:17). The Father is the One who created all things, even the One to whom Jesus was obedient (John 5:19; Hebrews 5:8).

    Many will twist scriptures around to make them seem trinitarian.

    Many quote John 1:1 to support the trinity despite the fact that a third person is not even mentioned there.

    The teaching of a Trinity developed in Christendom sometime during the 3 and 4 centuries C.E. It was incorporated into “Christianity” by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Trinity-gods have been around for thousands of years:

    Babylon: Ishtar, Sin, Shamesh (2000 B.C.)
    Egypt: Horus, Osiris, Isis (2000 B.C.)
    Palmyra: moon god, son god, Lord of the Heavens (1st century C.E.)
    There have been several others such as in Kampuchea and India. All these various religions bear the markings of false religion, inluding the false doctrine in Christendom that God is made up of a Trinity. People who teach such things are sorely mistaken (Mark 12:29; Deuteronomy 6:4 These laws were given to Israel to protect them from teachings such as the trinity.)

  2. glenscriv

    Hi Rubens, if nothing else you’ve shown that it doesn’t matter what testament you’re looking at, prior commitments will blind you to the obvious. You are living proof that unitarianism in the OT is of a piece with unitarianism in the New. Having been confronted with so many OT passages it’s clear that you don’t need ‘the *surer* testimony of the NT’ – you need to undergo a repentance of mind that can only come as you sit under the whole counsel of God.

    No one is arguing that Father, Son and Spirit are the same Person. That would be modalism (a close relative to your own heresy of subordinationism/Arianism). Rather, the eternal community of the Three have always existed in distinct but united communion.

    I’m so glad to see you admit that the ‘Father’ created for He was indeed Father of the Son before He was ever Maker. And your grudging reference to John 1:1 alerts us (along with Psalm 33:6; 102:25-7 Heb 1:10; Prov 8:30; 30:4; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2; Rev 3:14) to the fact that the Son is co-creator. Creation even on your own ‘logic’ flows from a prior Father-Son relationship and is effected from the Father through the Son. I take it that quoting Ps 104:30 won’t convince you that the Spirit was also co-creator for you’ll just say that He is the power of God. I would agree but point out that He also strives, yearns, leads, counsels, groans and is grieved. He is the extremely Personal power of God.

    The fact that there are grotesque perversions of trinity in human religion is neither here nor there. The church has long labelled the ultimate perversion to be the Arianism you seem to espouse. When it comes to ‘man made’ doctrines of God, unitarianism is surely the most obvious example reproduced in Aristotle, Allah and pub debates the world over. Trinity is precisely not the god of human ‘logic’ – the ‘man made’ accusation is for *you* to answer.

    The greatest tragedy in all this is that you have made your only Lord and Saviour into a demi-god (at best). You have left yourself with only a demi-salvation. Christ’s revelation of the divine life cannot be for you a divine revelation. Christ’s word of forgiveness cannot be to you a divine word. I pray that you will begin your thinking again with Jesus.

  3. The Orange Mailman

    Hey Glenn-

    Would you mind breaking down Isaiah 63:7-14 a bit? What do you see there as being indicative of trinity? I think I know where you’re coming from, but I’d like your take on it.

    Also, you know what would be cool, from you anyway, is a post focusing entirely on passages from Isaiah which point to the trinity. In your spare time, of course.

    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  4. glenscriv

    Good idea Orange. I’ll get onto Isaiah 63 in the next couple of days. (The whole of Isaiah might be a bit beyond me at the moment!!) Stay tuned…

  5. glenscriv

    Hi Orange, I think Is 63 breaks down like this:

    7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD (Father), the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the LORD (Father) has done for us–yes, the many good things He has done for the house of Israel, according to His compassion and many kindnesses. 8 He said, “Surely they are My people, sons who will not be false to Me”; and so He became their Saviour. 9 In all their distress He too was distressed, and the Angel of His Presence (Son) saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. 10 Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit (Holy Spirit!). So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself (Father probably) fought against them. 11 Then His people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and His people–where is He who brought them through the sea, with the Shepherd of His flock (Christ)? Where is He who set his Holy Spirit among them, 12 who sent His glorious arm of power (prob euphemism for Christ) to be at Moses’ right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for Himself everlasting renown, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; 14 like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD (Holy Spirit!). This is how You guided Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name. (Isaiah 63:7-14)

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  7. Chris W

    On second reading, I’m not sure I agree. “Angel of his presence” seems to be synonymous with “Holy Spirit”. It could be a reference to the son, but it’s not a given by any means. I think it goes something like this:

    7 I will tell of the kindnesses of CHRIST, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all CHRIST has done for us–yes, the many good things He has done for the house of Israel, according to His compassion and many kindnesses. 8 He said, “Surely they are My people, sons who will not be false to Me”; and so He became their Saviour. 9 In all their distress He too was distressed, and the Messenger of His Presence (Spirit) saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. 10 Yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself (Christ) fought against them. 11 Then His people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and His people–where is He who brought them through the sea, with the Shepherd of His flock (Moses)? Where is He who set his Holy Spirit among them, 12 who sent His glorious arm of power (Holy Spirit) to be at Moses’ right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for Himself everlasting renown, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; 14 like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of CHRIST. This is how You guided Your people to make for Yourself a glorious name. (Isaiah 63:7-14)

  8. Pingback: Genesis 19:24 – Yahweh Rained Fire From Yahweh - Jesus and His God

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