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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

008 - Our Triune God [B]

Ephesians 1:3-14 by Robert Dean
Have you ever grappled with the concept of the Trinity? It’s not easy to understand that God is one in essence but three distinct persons. Listen to this lesson to learn that there is not a singular God of the universe but an eternal plurality. See how this concept means that every individual has value but not at the expense of the one and what its implications are for government and other aspects of life. Find out if only one member of the Trinity created the world or if all three were involved. Understanding these truths helps us to worship God more fully.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:52 mins 10 secs

Our Triune God
Ephesians 1:3–14
Ephesians Lesson #008
November 18, 2018

Opening Prayer

“Father, we come before Your throne of grace on the basis of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. He paid the penalty for our sins so that by faith alone in Christ alone—only believing and only in Christ—we have eternal life: a new life, a rich life, an abundant life that is beyond anything that we can imagine.

“Very few of us, sadly, ever pursue it to the greatest extent that we can, to truly take advantage of Your provision for us: Your grace and Your goodness; and to truly focus on You and probe the depths of Your Word—Your revelation to us of who You are.

“Father, as we continue our study in this opening section of Ephesians, to better understand the background, the thinking, the profound ideas that are expressed so simply there by Paul, we need to think about Your existence, Your unity, as well as diversity: the oneness of the Godhead plus the plurality of the Godhead. Help us understand more fully who You are that we may worship You more truly.

“We pray that You would open the eyes of our soul as we study today to understand this difficult doctrine for some, that we may see how profoundly it shapes our lives.

“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”

Slide 2

Last week in the opening section of Ephesians, we began to look at this eulogy. The term does not mean something nice you say, not some nice lies you say about people when they die, but the term “eulogy” means something that is written that praises someone. In fact, we saw that term—the Greek from which that term in English derives—is used several times in the opening verse of this section from Ephesians 1:3–14.

Slide 3

But in the break down here, we see that the foundation for Paul’s praise of God is grounded on the teaching of the Trinity—the Triune God—that we worship:

  • God the Father is praised in Ephesians 1:3–6
  • God the Son is praised in Ephesians 1:7–12
  • God the Holy Spirit is praised in Ephesians 1:13–14.

If we look at that breakdown, we have four verses related to the Father; we have 6½ verses related to the Son and about 1½ verses related to the Holy Spirit. What that tells us is that the focal point in this praise is really on what we have in Christ and what He has provided for us.

The work of Christ is not mentioned first but the Father is because He is the Author of the plan. Jesus is the One who carried out the plan, and God the Holy Spirit is the One who reveals the plan and applies the plan. Each has a distinct role.

This doctrine— this teaching —of the Trinity: that there are three Persons with one essence—is one that is difficult for many people to comprehend or to understand, especially if you’re a child.

Some of you are parents, others of you are grandparents, and there comes a time as a child is growing up that they begin to wonder, well, who is Jesus? Why do we worship Jesus? We worship God; we worship Jesus. Is Jesus another God? How does all of that fit together and work together?

I remember asking that question when I was probably seven or eight years old coming home from Sunday school. We’ve all grappled with our comprehension of the Trinity, but the Scripture says that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

Nevertheless, this idea of a Triune God, a God who exists in a plurality of person, but is unified more than anything that we can imagine in His essence. The Three-in-One is something that is distinctive to Christianity.

I think there are two doctrines that are truly distinctive to Christianity:

1.      The understanding of the Trinity, and

2.      The substitutionary death of Christ for forgiveness of sins.

Those two are distinct for Christianity, and the second depends upon the first.

We will eventually get into a little study of the history of the church’s understanding of the Trinity and how we came to articulate it, because the word “Trinity” doesn’t show up anywhere in the Scripture, and it is not until later on in the second century that the word is coined.

I’ve told you this many times: there are ways in which we can think about God because we have a vocabulary word, “Trinity,” with which no one in the Bible could think about God, because they didn’t have that vocabulary word. They did not have that concept.

They understood the concept of the Trinity, but they didn’t have the vocabulary, and vocabulary is important because that’s the tool of our thinking. That is patterned in God’s design by His creation of us as sentient beings who could speak, because the first thing we learn about God in Genesis 1 is that He spoke and He created.

In each time, 10 times, in Genesis 1 the Lord speaks, “God said,” “God said,” “God said.” Ten times! What He said each time was a command. His is the first Decalogue, the first 10 Commandments, God’s commands to bring creation into existence and to make all that fills His creation.

It is important to recognize that speaking entails vocabulary. Vocabulary and language are grounded in the very thought of God, and we can’t even fathom all of the implications of that.

One of the things that we have to think about with the existence of God is that there is the Father, there is the Son, and there is the Holy Spirit. Many of us will think about this doctrine, and we accept it, and we sort of move on, but there are those in the history of Christianity, who have not stopped there.

They have probed the complexities and the profundities of the Trinity. In fact, one of the things that has come out of a study of the Trinity is the fact that the ultimate reality in the universe is not a singular deity.

I’m going to use a couple of terms as we go through this that you need to make sure you understand. One is the concept of a singular monotheism, a unitarian monotheism, or a solitary monotheism. That is the kind of God that you have in Judaism and the kind of God that you have in Islam, where there is just a singular person and a singular being who is in their view eternal.

There are problems with that, as we will see. In Christianity—and truly in the Old Testament, as we’ll see from the very beginning—our God exists in a plurality: eternally as a plurality. He’s one in essence, so that gives value to the One; and He is a plurality of person.

That’s important because in many areas of life, if you have studied philosophy, you know that one of the ultimate problems in the study of metaphysics—that is ultimate being and existence in the universe—that one of the problems is defining the concept of unity, or universals, and the many. It’s called “the problem of the one and the many,” “the problem of unity and diversity.”

If you’ve ever studied early Greek philosophy, you have the debates between Heraclitus and Parmenides and whether ultimate reality is being itself or whether ultimate reality is becoming, and you get into all kinds of intricacies and all of that.

But the reality is, that if you think about the Trinity, what this tells us is there is an eternal value to the one, the universal, that does not sacrifice the value of the many; that is the multiplicities.

There are a lot of ways we can go with that, and we will look at a couple of those, but one of those that is important this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving and we relate that to being thankful for the grace of God in the founding of this nation and the historic freedoms that we have, is that in our form of government: every citizen has value.

That’s the many, but not at the expense of the one, which is the government. But on the other hand, the one, which is the government, has significance, but not at the expense of the many.

If you over-emphasize the value of every individual to the expense of the unity, you end up with anarchy—what is really a true democracy—and everything falls into chaos. If you over-emphasize the one as more important than the value of the individuals, the many, then what happens? You have tyranny.

It is in the vision of the kind of government that is instantiated in our Constitution that they sought to hold a balance between the one and the many, so that the one would not overpower the many and the many would not destroy the one.

There’s a lot that can be said about that, but it is the result of several generations of the leading thinkers—political thinkers, and resting on the thought of theologians—that brought this together in a unique way at a unique time in all of human history.

That is just one of the many implications of understanding the Trinity, some things that we don’t normally think about. It also applies to the home. It applies to the fact that there should be a unity in the marriage, for they have become one flesh, but it doesn’t destroy the significance of each individual, and it runs very similar in ways to what I just covered in terms of what happens in government.

What happens when you have a solitary monotheism as in Islam, is that you get a dictatorship. You get the tyranny of Allah, you get people who do not really have genuine freedom, for everything is under this fatalistic, deterministic god that controls everything.

You don’t have that in Judaism. You ever wonder why? I think it is because the God that they worshipped—even though in Judaism as it developed later on in reaction to Jesus’ claims to be God, then they became solitary monotheist. Before that they were grounded in a concept of God that had plurality. It’s not an overtly understood doctrine, but it is there, as we will see.

What we’re going to do is before we start getting into all of these kinds of implications and applications, we have to understand what the Bible says for the Bible is always our foundation. The Bible is always that which undergirds all of our thinking, and we can’t get so far removed—which is what happens in various theological systems and with some pastors, where they get so far removed—from the Scripture that you can’t quite connect the dots back down to what the Scripture says.

So we always have to start with the Scripture and always make sure that our anchor is in the Word of God, and we don’t cut loose from that anchor and free float in some sort of philosophical theology.

Slide 4

We’re going to look at:

  1. Old Testament passages that emphasize that God exists in a plurality; that there is not just a solitary monotheism. We’re also going to look at the passages that speak of a Second Person, and indeed even a Third Person in the Old Testament that are also equally God. It’s not explained or developed, but it is there.
  2. New Testament passages that talk about the plurality of God and the deity of Jesus as the One who came to fulfill the promises and prophecies related to the Messiah, Who is clearly thought of as One, who is God.
  3. The Nicene Creed. One of the reasons we’re looking at the Nicene Creed is we’ve recited it a few times in communion the last two or three months, along with the Chalcedonian Creed, and these are the two doctrinal statements that come out of the early church that formed the two bookends of the development of our understanding of the deity of Christ and the Trinity.

It’s a fascinating, dramatic time in history. It really took about 200 years to think precisely about these two things. When we come to it in Sunday school or later on in life, it’s all been thought out, we hear the definitions, and we think, “Well, of course, that’s so obvious.” It wasn’t obvious to those church fathers from approximately AD 150 to AD 450—AD 451 being the date of the Council of Chalcedon—so that’s important.

The role that that plays in history is because it establishes the foundation of Christian thought in history as being Trinitarian. When that doctrine is worked out—and it took hundreds of years to do that—that’s what eventually culminates in the political philosophy that undergirds our nation. All of this connects together, and it’s important.

Many of us will never go through the rigors of the philosophy that’s entailed in this. Some of you will, but it’s important just to know that that is why this is significant, even if we may not fully grasp all of the details of it.

We’re going to look at this and tie these things together over the next couple of weeks.

Slide 5

Our doctrinal statement is on both the Dean Bible Ministries website and the West Houston Bible Church website and in there we have a brief statement on what we believe about the Trinity. We state that we believe in one God, Who is sovereign, righteous, just, eternal, love, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, and truth in His essence.

We believe in God as being one in essence or one in nature, but He exists in three Persons; they are three distinct identities that we see in Jesus. For example, in Matthew 6 when Jesus is teaching the disciples to pray, He says that they should pray ,“Our Father, Who art in heaven,” and in John 17 Jesus prays to His Father. He’s not talking to Himself. They are distinct persons.

We have these distinct persons, so we say all Three Persons of the Godhead are co-equal. One does not have more knowledge than another. One does not have less power than another. One is not less omnipresent than the others. They are coequal; they are coeternal.

There was not a time when Jesus was created in eternity past. That was one of the early heresies in the church known as Arianism, and the modern-day equivalent is the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They’re coequal, coeternal, and co-infinite. Eternal has to do with never-ending existence, and infinity means that each of their attributes are immeasurable; then we list the verses. This is what we’re explaining and the significance of it all.

When we look at the early church, and I mentioned a minute ago the creeds, these are sometimes referred to as the ecumenical creeds. Now for many of us, the word “ecumenical” is a bad word, because it has come to mean something that is anti-biblical and anti-Christian. And that is the idea that we’re all going to come together, put our arms around each other no matter what we believe, and just because we want to claim the name “Christian,” we’re going to sing Kumbaya and everything’s going to be wonderful.

That’s the kind of thinking that characterizes liberalism. It is unity at the expense of truth, at the expense of our doctrine—our faith. There is one faith, as Paul will explain to us when we get to Ephesians 4; we have one faith. Scripture teaches that we are one body of Christ, and in that sense we are universal.

Another word for universal is the word catholic. That’s why when you read these early creeds, they will say we “… believe in one holy catholic church.” A lot of Protestants go, “Ah! I don’t believe in the Catholic Church at all! I’m a Protestant!” No, Roman Catholicism doesn’t come into existence—if you measure it theologically and organizationally, you will have different times—but it’s not until at least AD 600.

In the early church, there’s one universal body, and they are attempting to have one unified faith that they can all agree with and explain these things. In the early church questions came up, as people were thinking about these claims of Jesus to be God. Well, just exactly how does that relate? If Jesus is God, and the Father is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, why is that not three Gods? That’s a belief known as tritheism.

Those questions are posed especially by those who are outside the church who say, “Well, you’re just worshiping many gods.” That would come from a Jewish audience that was rejecting Jesus, “You’ve just got another god there. That’s polytheism and idolatry. We believe in only one God.”

They began to try to understand what this meant: how the Son related to the Father. The question that they asked was:

“Who was Jesus before He came, before the incarnation?”

“Is He an eternal deity with no beginning or did He have some beginning at some point in eternity past?” That was the view of Arius, and it was to stop his heresy that the Nicene Creed was written.

That is one question, “Who was Jesus before He came?” The next question is, “Who was Jesus when He came?” To understand the answer to these, they developed these creeds during this critical period from AD 325 with the Nicene Creed and AD 451, the Creed of Chalcedon.

The Bible clearly teaches that we have a Creator God. He created everything in the universe, so He is completely distinct from anything in the universe—that’s something we refer to as “the Creator/creature distinction”—and that He exists in a plurality not as a singular entity. We will look at this as we get into the Old Testament.

Slide 6

First is the fact that the Old Testament does have an understanding of plurality in the Godhead. It’s not spelled out as clearly as it is in the New Testament; that’s part of what Jesus reveals when He became flesh and dwelt among us. That’s what John says, “He is the One who reveals the Father,” so that’s part of it.

In the Old Testament we see hints, and in some cases some pretty strong hints, that there is more than a singularity in God. In the ancient Near Eastern languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, the singular word for God, is the word El. In the Canaanite pantheon, El is the ultimate deity; but El is also just a generic term like our word “God” for the universal deity.

The plurality Elohim means gods, and in some places, it’s translated as “gods.” In fact, in some places the word doesn’t refer to God, it refers to the angels and the council of the angels because they are under the authority of God, and they have been given a mission from God. They are subordinate to Him, so they were viewed like all of the gods and goddesses in the ancient pantheons as being gods, but it would be a lower case “g,” not in the sense of ultimate case.

In the Bible we have the term Elohim consistently applied to God along with His personal name which is Yahweh. We come to the very first book of the Old Testament and we read,

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is just a point of grammar: the word Elohim is a plural noun. When you have a plural noun, it has to be joined to a plural verb; that’s basic grammar. We would expect that the verb would be a third-person plural verb, so that you would have subject-verb agreement. I know I’ve lost some of you because as soon as you talk about grammar, it’s like somebody talking to me about numbers, you get lost.

Here we have the third-person singular verb in “God created.” So if you say He created, He is a singular noun and created would be a third person singular. But if you were to say, they created, then created would be a third-person plural verb.

You can look that up in any concordance and on your computer. You can discover that when you have the word “create” or “do” or “make” or any number of other verbs, and you have a “they” doing it, then it’s a third-person plural verb. And when you have a singular there, “He,” it’s a third-person singular. But here we have a plural noun with a singular verb.

Now either Moses didn’t understand anything about his native language or there is something about this word that is expressing more than meets the eye, so you have this term used here.

In English we would have examples. For example, we might say, speaking of an individual, “The man applauds.” And if the man applauds, then we have a singular noun and we have a singular verb. But if we change that and we say —we’re going to use a collective noun—“The crowd.” Now a crowd is made up of a lot of different people, but it’s what’s called a collective noun. So we would also say, “The crowd applauds,” because the collective noun is treated as a singular.

Now there’s some theologians who try to minimize the Trinity in the Old Testament. They really don’t want to see it there at all. They will say that this noun Elohim is just a plural of majesty, and it doesn’t really indicate much at all where we could say there’s a plurality. If all that we had was the use of Elohim, then perhaps we could go along with that and say, “Well, maybe you have a point there.”

Slide 7

But in the same chapter, we have another anomaly. When we get down to Genesis 1:26, “Then Elohim said …” So again, we’ve got a plural noun with the singular verb.

What does He say? “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

Again, you’ll have those who come along and say, “Well, this is just like the ‘Royal We.’ ” It doesn’t mean there’s a plurality there. Well, we have a problem there because later revelation clearly teaches us there is a plurality there. It doesn’t have to be spelled out here, but this again is a strong indication that all three Members of the Trinity are involved in this creation.

That is, in fact, what we learn in subsequent revelation, especially the New Testament, that God the Father is the architect of creation; that God the Son is sort of the building or project manager, the contractor; and the One actually doing the work is God the Holy Spirit. So all three are involved.

Elohim, the three-in-one God, is saying, “Let Us—the three of Us. He’s not including the angels in this. He is talking about Himself because we’re not created in the image of God and the image of the angels. He saying, “Let Us create in Our image …”—that is the image of God.

Slide 8

We also see this in another passage we’ve studied, not too long ago in our Worship Series (Samuel series #130–136) on Tuesday night, in Isaiah 6, when Isaiah is given a vision of the throne of God. He is coming into the temple where there seems to be this intersection between the earthly temple and the heavenly temple, and he sees the train of God, His robe, filling all of the temple with His glory.

God pulls back the veil, as it were, so that he sees directly into the throne of God. The Seraphim are singing. They’re saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” the Trisagion; three times. That might imply the Trinity.

In Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard—the voice of Yahweh—the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for—me? No—who will go for Us.’ ”

This is in parallelism in the Hebrew. “I” is the first-person singular pronoun in parallel to the first–person plural pronoun “us.” Again we see God being referred to with a plural pronoun. There are many, many other passages where we can go to establish that point. But those are the key ones, and we see that it runs throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

Slide 9

Another important word that we need to understand comes from a key passage in Deuteronomy 6. This is a central passage in Judaism, so if you’re talking with your Jewish friends and you get an opportunity to answer questions from them about why you believe Jesus is God, this is something that you can remember and use in your conversation.

They will take the word “one,” which in Deuteronomy 6:4 is translated in most versions as a simple “one”, as a numeric singularity. When they say, “Shema Yisrael Yahweh Eloheinu Yahweh echad,” they are saying, “The Lord is One.”

Since Christianity appeared, rabbinical theology—after the Council of Jamnia, around AD 90—has interpreted this primarily as a singularity. God is a singular God. There’s no plurality here whatsoever. But that raises some interesting issues.

One of the things you can bring out is that in the 1985 Tanakh. Tanakh is an acronym for the Hebrew Scriptures:

“T” is for Torah, The Law;

“N” is for Nevi’im, The Prophets;

“K” is for Ketuvim, The Writings, the third division of the Old Testament.

Put the T-N-K together and it’s TaNaKh. In the Tanakh of the JPS—the Jewish Publications Society; now these are learned Jewish rabbis—they translate Deuteronomy 6:4 as, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.”

Isn’t that interesting? Why do they do that? Because somewhere along the line, they looked at the context, and the context is prohibiting idolatry to Israel. The context would then indicate that what God is telling them is not asserting that He’s a singular God, but that He is the only God. There are no other gods. He is the Lord alone.

They find support: there’s a footnote in the Tanakh that this is supported by two  twelfth century rabbis who are of great stature. One goes by the nickname Rashbam. They give them interesting names: Rambam is Rabbi Moses ben Maimonides. Then there’s Rashi, and there are a bunch of others.

Rashbam is Samuel ben Meyer who lived in the late eleventh and early twelfth century. Just after his time there was another Rabbi Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra. Both of these men, who are of great stature, argued that echad should be translated as “alone,” due to the context. So there is a rabbinical tradition to this. Who knew? “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.”

Slide 10

This isn’t the only place you have the word echad that’s translated “alone;” you also have it in 1 Chronicles 29:1. When David is announcing that Solomon is going to be his heir, the heir to the throne in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, then King David said to the entire assembly, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen …”  

It’s the same word echad. You could translate it “he’s the one God has chosen,” but he is alone, the only one God has chosen. So it has this idea and is accurately translated there.

Slide 11

It also can have the idea of a multiplicity of parts to the one. For example, in Genesis 2:24 Moses, in an editorial comment after God has brought Eve to Adam, he says, “Therefore—conclusions making application to his present-day hearers, “Therefore on the basis of what God did in Genesis 2:24,” “… a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall becomeechadone flesh.”

That doesn’t wipe out the individual identity of the man or the woman, but they come together in a unity that has multiplicity, that has plurality. So, the word “one” here does not necessitate having a singularity. In fact, there is a different word in Hebrew that can be used to emphasize that particular issue.

Slide 12

Another hint that we have in the Old Testament, that there is more than one Person in the Godhead, is the presence of the Angel of the Lord.

There are numerous passages you can look up and go to, to talk about the Angel of Yahweh, and some versions will translate this to get around some of this, “the messenger of Yahweh,” and that is an accurate translation of angel. But this is a title for this Second Person who shows up and the fact that He is called “the messenger,” “the angel.” For that’s the meaning of angel, is that God the Son as the Second Person of the Trinity is the Revealer of the Godhead. So He’s the One who later John is going to call “the Word.”

In the intertestamental period the rabbis called Him “the Memra,” an Aramaic word that’s not found in the Old Testament. That’s a fascinating thing to study—we will just summarize that development next week—but this is a Second Person.

The Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar in Genesis 16:7. Hagar has been run out of the home of Abraham and Sarah, in Genesis 16. Hagar leaves and she’s being turned out because she’s become impregnated—as Sarah wanted—by Abraham and is now going to have a child. So she leaves and is going to run away.

God appears to her to comfort her and tell her that He’s going to protect her and He has a plan for her. After God appears to her identified as the Angel of Yahweh in Genesis 16:7, in Genesis 16:13, “Then she called the name of Yahweh.”

Moses is writing this, so if Moses wanted to say that the angel is distinct from Yahweh, he would’ve said, “now she called the name of the angel of Yahweh.” But when he makes it clear that the “Angel of Yahweh” is Yahweh. “Then she called the name of Yahweh, Who spoke to her, You are the God Who sees.” She clearly understands that the Angel of the Lord who appeared to her is God.

We also see the same kind of thing in Judges 6. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon to commission him, and Gideon builds an altar to worship the Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord didn’t say—as Gabriel would or others would later on when somebody tried to worship them—“No, no, no, don’t do it. I’m an angel. Only God is worthy of worship.”

The Angel of the Lord allows Gideon to build his altar, and then He steps into the smoke and the flames and ascends to Heaven. He is God.

Slide 13

Then a fun passage like Zechariah 1:12–13. In this vision, the Angel of Yahweh answers Zechariah’s request and makes this statement to another personage called Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts. You have one personage, the Angel of the Lord, who Genesis identifies as God, and who Judges 6 identifies as God, but here the Angel of the Lord is speaking to Yahweh Sabaoth.

You’ve got two personages here, and it’s clear the Angel of the Lord is divine, and Yahweh Sabaoth is divine, so here you have two persons who are both divine in this particular passage.

In Zechariah 1:13, “And Yahweh—that’s the Lord of hosts—answered the angel who talked to me.” So it continues to make this clear. There’s a number of other passages I could go to, but those are the key ones to establish the point.

Slide 14

Isaiah 48:12—there are two or three other places in Isaiah that do this, but this is enough to substantiate it. The servant of Yahweh is speaking to Israel and says, “Listen to Me.” We already know that that’s the Servant of God who is speaking.

Listen to Me, O Jacob …” He is speaking to Israel. He’s usually speaking to Jacob when Israel is disobedient. When identified as Israel, that’s when they’re being obedient.

Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.” The Servant of Yahweh is claiming to be the first and the last.

Jesus identifies himself in Revelation 22:13 as the Alpha and the Omega—the First and the Last. It’s very clear that Jesus in Revelation 22:13 is taking for Himself this title that goes to the servant of Yahweh back in Isaiah 48:12.

Slide 15

That’s not the end of that passage. We go on to read what the servant says in Isaiah 48:13, “Surely, My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens.”

The servant of Yahweh is talked about here as the One who is involved in creation.

Surely, My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call them, they stand together. Assemble all of you, and listen! Who among them has declared these things? Yahweh loves Him; He shall carry out His good pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.

He’s saying, look, the Babylonians will eventually come under divine discipline as well.

Slide 16

Isaiah 48:15–16, “I, even I, have spoken—that is the Servant of Yahweh speaking still—I have brought him, and He will make his ways successful. He says to Isaiah—come near to Me—“Me” being the servant of Yahweh. Listen to this:

From the first I have not spoken in secret—interesting! He’s the one who claims to have been speaking since the beginning—I’ve not spoken in secret from the beginning, from the time it was, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

How many persons are there? Three! And we don’t have the Trinity in the Old Testament? That’s what they say, but this is clear that the Person who is speaking is divine and distinguishes Himself from Yahweh Adonai and also His Spirit. There you have this distinction between Three Persons, all who claim to be God.

We have other passages in the Old Testament that talk about the claim that the Messiah who would come would also be God.

Slide 17

In Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born …” Now birth is something attributed to human beings. So this child is going to be born, so that line itself focuses on the humanity of this future Messiah.

“… Unto us a Son is given …” That term “Son” had already been introduced in other passages going back to the Davidic Covenant, going back even earlier in Samuel, and that this title is made clear in Psalm 2 that this is the Messiah

“… unto us a Son is given …” He’s equated with deity, so there’s a distinction made here between the human that is born and this Son who is not born, He’s just given. “… and the government will be upon His shoulder.” He’s the One who will rule as the descendent of David.

And His name shall be called …” Then we have these various names that of these terms like “Wonderful” are only used of God. That word is never applied to human beings. “… Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,” The child that is born is called God, Mighty God,

“… Everlasting Father …” That’s a really awkward phrase, a unique phrase in the Old Testament and should be understood to mean “Father of eternity.” In other words, it’s attributing eternality to this child that is born, and—“Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 makes a claim that the Messiah is going to be both human and divine. The same thing is found in the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:8–14, in Psalm 2 and Psalm 110, as well as Isaiah 53.

Slide 18

Micah 5:2. It’s the beginning of the holiday season and talking about Christmas coming in a little over a month,

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you’re little among the thousands of Judah—this is the town, the small village of Bethlehem, and the prophecy is that—out of you shall come forth to Me—God is speaking—The One to be Ruler in Israel. —So this is talking about the King, this future promise prophesied Messianic King, but then it says, His goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

He is eternal. That can’t just be a human being. It is talking about one who is eternal and only God is eternal.

Again, we have this indication of God as One Person talking about this Messianic King as a Second Person who is also eternal, meaning also God.

That’s the Old Testament foundation. We will come back next time to look at what takes place when we get into the New Testament.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to think through what the Scripture teaches about Your essence, to realize that You are what we claim You are; that is a Triune God, a God who is both One and Many; a God who is One in essence and exists in Three Distinct Persons. Each Person is equal, each Person is eternal, and each Person is identical in all attributes; and yet within that Trinity there are distinctions of role, and distinctions of function.

“Because that is true, we have a Savior who is both human and divine, a Savior, who because He is God, has eternal value, and because He is man, He can die in our place as our substitute. So that the eternality of the Savior is foundational to understanding the Doctrine of Salvation, and that without such as Savior, there is no salvation.

“Father, we pray for anyone who is listening to our study today, that they would come to understand that Jesus is indeed who He said He was: He is the promised and prophesied Messiah. He is the One who was from eternity past the focus of God’s saving plan.

“He entered into human history, became a human being without sin, so He would be qualified to be our sin substitute and to die on the Cross in our place. All we need to do is trust in Him. There is nothing we can do. There’s no goodness in us that is good enough. There is nothing that we can bring to make ourselves savable.

“Jesus did it all. He paid it all. All we do is trust in Him alone. Only by faith are we saved: not by works, and only by faith in Jesus and only Jesus. Father, we pray that You’d make it clear that all that is necessary for us to have that wonderful salvation and new life in Him is simply to believe that Jesus died for our sins.

“ us who are saved, may we understand You more clearly, that we may worship You more accurately. That we may understand how You’re involved in every dimension of our life, and that we live to serve You.

“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”