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.