It is sometimes claimed that the Hebrew Bible's doctrine of God is essentially unitarian. It seems to me that anyone who makes such a claim is out of touch with how the church has always read the Scriptures and they have clearly not been paying attention to the Bible itself.
In this post I will simply (and very briefly) draw attention to 24 passages in which we see plainly a multi-Personal revelation.
My point is not that the OT betrays hints, shapes and shadows of triune structure.
My point is not that NT eyes can see trinitarian themes in the OT.
My point is not that we go back as Christians and now retrospectively read the trinity into the OT.
My point is not that the OT gives us partial suggestions of trinitarian life that are then developed by NT fulfillment.
My point is that these texts read on their own terms and in their own context (as the Jewish, Hebrew Scriptures that they are) demand to be understood as the revelation of a multi-Personal God. The only proper way to understand these texts is as trinitarian revelation. These texts are either to be understood triunely or they are mis-understood – on their own terms or any others!
Ok. Here we go – 24 Scriptures to consider:
- Genesis 1. Verse 1: “In the beginning Elohiym… ” Here is the God to Whom we’re introduced. A plural noun! One that takes a singular verb. The grammatical oddity is meant to make us sit up and take notice. Our plural God acts as one. And His plural counsel (v26) “Let us…” gives rise to a united creation of a plural humanity – male and female to image His own life.
- Genesis 3. The Voice of the LORD God (v8) who comes to walk with Adam and Eve is also the LORD God (v9)
- Genesis 16. The Angel of the LORD (v9) is also LORD and God (v13)
- Genesis 18&19. The LORD who appears to Abraham (18:1) is Judge of all the earth (18:25), yet He excercises His divine prerogative in union with “the LORD out of the heavens.” (19:24)
- Genesis 32. Jacob wrestles with the Man (v24) who is the Angel (Hosea 12:4) who is God (Gen 32:28,30)
- Genesis 48. The God who is God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is Shepherd and the source of blessing (v15) is the Angel of God (v16).
- Exodus 3. The God of the burning bush is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (v6) and the great I AM (v14). He is also the Angel of the LORD (v2) and will bring the people to worship Godon the mountain (v12).
- Exodus 19. The LORD on the mountain (v10) warns Moses that in three days the LORD will come to the mountain (v11) and things will be very different then. Sure enough, three days later, the LORD descends on the mountain (v18) and then the LORD descends on the mountain (v20)!
- Exodus 33. Moses meets face to face with the LORD in the tent of meeting (v11) but the LORD on the top of the mountain he must never see (v20-22).
- Joshua 5&6. The Commander of the LORD’s army (5:14) who fights for Israel to deliver her is also the LORD who is worthy of worship (5:15; 6:2)
- Judges 2. The Angel of the LORD brought them out of Egypt and established His covenant with them. (v1-4)
- Judges 6. The Angel of the LORD (v11-12) brings the LORD’s blessing (one who is Sovereign LORD, v22). Yet the Angel, as another Person is Himself the LORD (v14) with the same divine majesty (v22-24).
- Judges 13. God sends the Angel of the LORD (e.g. v9) who is Himself God (e.g. v22). And the Spirit fills Samson (v25)
- Psalm 2. The Son Whom we are to kiss and find refuge in (v12) is the Anointed Son of the Father through Whom is exercised all divine rule and authority.
- Psalm 45. The most excellent of men who rules the nations as Champion and King is called ‘Lord’ by His bride and ‘God‘ by His God. (v6,7)
- Psalm 110. David knows two Lords who converse in their rule of the nations. There is the LORD and there is the Kingly Priest who is David’s Lord.
- Proverbs. The Wisdom of God who creates (8:30) and gives new life (8:35) through granting the Spirit (1:23) is also possessed by the LORD (8:22)
- Isaiah 9. The government of God’s righteous kingdom will be on the shoulders of the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (v6). Yet He is One who is born and through Whom the zeal of the LORD will accomplish His work (v7)
- Isaiah 48. The great I AM, the first and the last who created the heavens and the earth and who called Israel (v12,13) is One who is sent from the Lord GOD along with His Spirit (v16)
- Isaiah 63. The Saviour sends the Angel to save, yet they grieve His Holy Spirit (v9-10)
- Ezekiel 34. The Shepherd of Ezekiel’s prophesy will be the LORD Himself (v12-22), yet this loving, kingly rule is exercised through the Prince, His Servant David (v23-24) who does all that the LORD is said to do as Shepherd and who rules for the LORD.
- Daniel 7. The Possessor and rightful Ruler of the Kingdom that shall never pass away is the Son of Man (v13,14) who inherits the kingdom from the Ancient of Days (v9-12).
- Micah 2. The Shepherd who will gather the remnant of Israel is the LORD (v12) who will set at their head a King who is also called ‘LORD’ (v13)
- Zechariah 2. The One Sent from the LORD Almighty (v7,9,11) is the LORD Himself to live among the Israelites as the gentle, righteous, saving King of 9:9 (compare with 2:10)!
In all this my argument is not that these are hints of trinity but that they are texts that can only ever be understood from the perspective of a multi-Personal God. When two Persons called LORD are interacting in the text (when we see plainly “true God from true God”) then an understanding of God as uni-Personal is just dead wrong. It must always have been dead wrong for it could never account for the Hebrew Scriptures as written.
The only God there is is trinitarian and His revelation has always been such.
For more on Trinity in the Old Testament, see this series.