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Part Three of our Discussion Triad of God

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on July 23, 2010 at 9:15 am

The Trinity is an expression of the fullness and richness of the Christian experience and understanding of God. As John Donne has said it attempts to capture the mystery of God in a form of words, to distil a host of insights into a formula. It is ‘bones to philosophy, but milk to faith’!

Picking up the last part of the closing statement from last time we visited I wanted to churn the milk after the cream has risen. Please excuse my metaphor but I think it is useful for us as we contemplate the next couple of chapters in Genesis. In Genesis 2 we learn of the creation of Adam’s partner Eve and how God intended marriage to be. Also in this we see shadows of our relationship to God. The idea of becoming one flesh reveals the obvious meaning through marital relationship creating the concept of oneness while maintaining the distinctive individuality of each person in the relationship. What is very interesting is the Hebrew language in describing the one flesh relationship of Adam and Eve.

(Gen 2:24 ESV)  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

From Matthew Henry Commentary: That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this (as in many other things) Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself. See Eph_5:25, Eph_5:26.

I wanted to include a commentary from Matthew Henry because I believe most if not all of us agree on the concept of the oneness in marriage while living in two separate bodies with separate egos, desires, and interests. We also acknowledge the oneness our marriage relationships provide us especially from a Godly perspective. If we research the words in Hebrew that are translated as one in English we find an interesting concept.

I have copied the King James with the Strong’s concordance and reference numbers (and they shall beH1961 oneH259 flesh.H1320) our focus is on the word “one” and the reference number H259.

H259

אחד

‘echâd

ekh-awd’

A numeral from H258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first: – a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any (-thing), apiece, a certain [dai-] ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.

אחד

‘echâd

BDB Definition:

1) one (number)

1a) one (number)

1b) each, every

1c) a certain

1d) an (indefinite article)

1e) only, once, once for all

1f) one…another, the one…the other, one after another, one by one

1g) first

1h) eleven (in combination), eleventh (ordinal)

Part of Speech: adjective

A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a numeral from H258

Same Word by TWOT Number: 61

As we see from the definition in both the Strong’s and BDB Hebrew dictionary the concept of one expressed in Scripture over 600 times is a unity of one. The Hebrews even had a rope called an Echad rope. This particular rope used three separate strands combined to make one strong and lightweight rope. The idea of the singleness of one is expressed by a Hebrew word Yachid. This particular word means one in the sense of a single item not the unity of one we see in the other use. This becomes very important when we look at the foundation for the Trinity. We see a unity of one expressed in the triad expressions of God. The language of the Scriptures seems to paint a picture of one God and yet several personas in actual communication, action and worship. The early church fathers were able to discover and build on the concept of Elohim and Echad. I think the quotation from a completed Jew or messianic Jew shows a Hebrew understanding of the words we are using.

Christianity teaches that there is just one G-d—the creator of the universe. In fact, when Yeshua was asked what the greatest commandment was (see Mark 12:28-30), he quoted the Shema (see Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, oh Israel, the L-rd our G-d is one L-rd”).

However, this one G-d is a compound unity, as hinted at in the Shema. The Hebrew language has two words that can be translated “one”: echad and yachid. Whereas yachid refers to the number one (i.e., absolute unity), echad refers to a composite unity. An example of this is in the book of Genesis chapter 2, verse 24, where it says that a couple joined together in marriage shall become one flesh. Since the Shema uses the word echad, not yachid, it is reasonable to say that G-d’s essence, or nature, is that of a composite unity. Additional information can be found in the book “A Way in the Wilderness”.

We will discuss the Shema later and I think we have illustrated the differences associated with the word “one”. My intention is not to stay in this area too long because just like milk if it stays out too long it spoils. Since we are using milk as a metaphor I think it illustrates how processes work. First the cow gives milk, the milk has to settle and the cream has to rise. We separate the cream from the milk churn the cream and make the butter. In a small way this illustrates a process from which we receive butter and milk. Revelation from Scripture is much the same way it is progressive and revealed by the Spirit as we move through the word. We also use a construction metaphor such as building a foundation brick by brick. In these last commentaries we are building on a foundation of the Trinity brick by brick. We also know God in his infinite wisdom reveals what he chooses to reveal to whom he chooses and when. I think in Scripture tradition we see prophecies progressively revealed. So it is not out of character for God to reveal his true nature progressively as well. The Trinity would not have made sense before Christ appeared in the flesh and would have confused the Jewish people. It also served God’s purpose and decree to have the early idolatrous cultures see him as the supreme God that he is and not a regional deity. We see in the Old Testament many cultures and nations worshiping the creation and not the creator, there were pluralities of deity’s present in those cultures.

In the third chapter of Genesis we encounter the fall of man. We see the introduction of sin and its disastrous effects on mankind and creation. Starting in verse eight of chapter 3 in the book of Genesis we note they heard the sound of “the Lord God walking in the garden”. We also are given witness to a conversation between “the Lord God” and Adam.

(Gen 3:8 ESV)  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

(Gen 3:9 ESV)  But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

(Gen 3:10 ESV)  And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

I find this unique based on the balance of Scripture where we are told that God is Spirit and no man has seen him face to face. Also any time we witness God speaking the mountains shake the earth moves and the heavens are split apart with lightning and wind. Yet we see in these verses a human figure walking in the garden recognized by Adam, we do not witness the earth shaking or lightning striking only the solemn conversation taking place between creator and creature. Before during and after the fall we see God expressing his nature revealed in Scripture. Also the writer of Genesis adds the words” Lord God” instead of just God. I don’t believe this is a grammatical mistake or miss interpretation of the original texts. Using the Strong’s again we will see how these words point us in the direction that is foundational concerning God’s one being expressed in persona during the fall. It has been noted Hebrew scholars have been puzzled and confused by the pluralism of the language and appearances in the Scriptures we are studying now.

And they heardH8085 (H853) the voiceH6963 of the LORDH3068 GodH430 walkingH1980 in the gardenH1588 in the coolH7307 of the day:

H3068

יהוה

yehôvâh

yeh-ho-vaw’

From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050, H3069.

H430

אלהים

‘ĕlôhı̂ym

el-o-heem’

Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

Many New Testament theologians if not all consider Jehovah of the Old Testament to be Jesus of the New Testament. Using our metaphors to illustrate our concepts we find precept on precept or brick on brick building our foundation. While foundation is not suitable for habitation without it you could not build a dwelling. It has been argued there are many names for God and these are supposedly an example of the many names of God. While there is no disagreement God has been given many titles, only God can name himself. The terms we see being used in the Scriptures are more than just names they are names with actions associated to them. Now when actions are recorded and ascribed to a particular name this would indicate a persona acting or being acted upon. As an example when we worship God we are acting up on his person. When God intervenes in our lives he is acting on his behalf towards us. When we recognize God’s acting upon us we give him praise and recognition, but these are titles we ascribe to his acting in our behalf. Once again only God can name himself. I don’t think I can better describe and explain these verses better than John Gill;

Gen 3:8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God,…. Which they had heard before, and knew, though perhaps now in another tone, and very terrible, which before was mild and gentle, pleasant and delightful: some by it understand a clap of thunder, sometimes called the voice of the Lord, Psa_29:3 and the rather because mention is made afterwards of a wind; but rather the voice of the Son of God, the eternal Word, is here meant, who appeared in an human form, as a pledge of his future incarnation, and that not only as a Judge, to arraign, examine, and condemn the parties concerned in this act of disobedience to God, but as a Savior of men, to whom, as such, he made himself known, as the event shows, and therefore they had no reason to entertain such terrible apprehensions of him, as to flee from him; and so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase it, “the voice of the Word of the Lord God”, the essential Word of God then with him, and since made flesh, and dwelt among men as the Savior of them; and to him agrees what follows:

walking in the garden in the cool of the day; or “at the wind of the day” (q); of “that day” in which man was created and fell, as some conclude from hence; in the evening, at sun setting; for very often when the sun sets a wind rises, at least a gentle breeze; and this might bring the sound of the voice, and of the steps of this glorious Person, the sooner to the ears of Adam and his wife, which gave them notice of his near approach, and caused them to hasten their flight: some render it emphatically, “at the wind of that day” (r); as if it was a violent wind which arose at that time, as a sign and testimony of the indignation of God, as the sound of a violent wind was a testimony of the coming of the Spirit of God, Act_2:2.

and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees of the garden; conscious of their guilt, and vainly imagining they could flee from his presence, which is everywhere, and hide themselves from his sight, before whom every creature is manifest, be it where it will; and very foolishly fancying, that the thick trees and bushes in the garden would be a screen and shelter for them: and sad shifts do wretched mortals make to secure themselves from the wrath of God, who are ignorant of the justifying righteousness and atoning sacrifice of the Son of God: it is in the singular number in the original text, “in the midst of the tree of the garden” (s); which some understand of the fig tree, whose leaves they covered themselves with, and under the shade of which they hid themselves;

(q) לרוח היום “ad ventum diei”, Munster, Vatablus, Cartwright, Schmidt. (r) “Ad ventum illius diei”, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Picherellus. (s) בתוך עץ “intra arborem”, Fagius. (t) Strabo. Geograph. l. 15. p. 477.

I think John Gill also pointed out how Adam and Eve thought they could hide from God’s presence in the trees. This would seem to indicate by their behavior they were used to spending time in the presence of Jehovah. Jehovah is physical in the form and speech, God the Father is Spirit and by default is omnipresent rendering their behavior foolish hiding themselves from a spirit. Another aspect to consider was the God the Fathers reluctance to let Moses to see his face because such a thing was dangerous to the creature. He allowed this under a very controlled event with only the back of his robes being seen. This was due to our sinful nature and God’s desire not to harm Moses. It would seem reasonable that God would have the same issue with Adam and Eve yet we see something transpiring between them.

(Gen 3:10-13 ESV)  And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

A conversation between Jehovah, Adam, and Eve being recorded in first person is given to us in Gen 3:10-13. Jehovah is not only questioning them and interrogating but He is offering them the opportunity to confess their disobedience. This presents a distinction within God. God is Spirit and no man hath seen Him so we are told in Scripture yet here is Adam and Eve in a discourse with Jehovah in a physical presence. God has already posited a plurality in chapter one with the proclamation “let us” now we see Jehovah (the pre-incarnate Christ) dealing with man’s fall. We are shown the redemption being foreshadowed in verse 15 of Genesis 3 when Eve is promised that her offspring will tread underfoot that old serpent the Devil.

(Gen 3:15 ESV)  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

The scripture is pointing at the person of Jesus the Christ our Messiah in flesh. The distinctive is in place, unique responsibilities, affirmations, numerically distinct, and different roles are seen in the Genesis narrative. To quote Gregory of Nazianzus of Cappadocia (the eastern church) : Every work of God originates from the Father, proceeds through the Son, and is perfected in the Holy Spirit.

However, these are not three different things, but one and the same work. Moreover, this united action precludes any possibility of referring to God in the plural. If we read scripture the way God has intended we see a difference on manner of existence but not in essence. More bricks for the foundation, if you will God is one essence and 3 personas (persons). We do not divide the essence, but simply point to the fact that the Son exists by generation and the Father without generation. So “the idea of cause differentiates the Persons of the Holy Trinity,” while the divine nature (essence, being) is “unchangeable and undivided” and is to be referenced in the singular. Just to maintain clarity please understand that it is impossible for anyone to fully grasp the nature (essence or being) of God. It is difficult enough to conceive God but to define Him in words is an impossible task. On the other hand God has revealed himself to mankind and my feeble attempt to explain what I believe is pitiful at best. Our knowledge of God is true knowledge, but it is not direct knowledge of God’s essence, for the properties of the persons do not affect God’s essence. Moreover, our bodily existence prevents us from grasping nonphysical realities. Our inability to know God’s essence should keep us from pride, increase our valuation of the knowledge of God, and sustain us in the trials of life by directing us to its attainment in the hereafter as a reward for faithful service now.

Next we deal with Genesis 3:22, 11:7 and chapter 18. Taking the time to exegete is laborious and detailed but my prayer is the time invested will be a blessing.

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