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The Triune God: Father
1 Peter 1:3
1 Peter Lesson #014
April 30, 2015
“Father, we come before You recognizing that You are the only hope that we have and the only hope that this nation has. You are the only one who can change the minds of those who are in authority and those who are in government. We bring these situations before You because we recognize that it just takes a very, very short time for the wrong people to shred the Constitution and to destroy the freedoms that have been fought and died for in this country for the last two hundred plus years. Father, we’re thankful we can come to You. We pray that You might raise up men who have wisdom and skill in the law who can stand in the gap. We pray that You would open the eyes of many people to realize what the real agenda is here, that is to destroy the influence of Christianity in this country. Father, we pray for us that we might be calm and cautious but that we might have the courage to stick with our convictions and to stand for the truth no matter what it might cost. Father, we recognize that as the days go by that the only solution is going to be Your Word and the only solution that changes people’s thinking and the way they look at life is the gospel and Your Word. Father, we pray that You will give us the courage to be faithful witnesses, to be faithful in our verbal presentation of the gospel, as well as living lives that reflect the great joy and hope that we have because of what we have in our Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross and all that He’s provided for us. Now, our Father, as we continue to study Your Word tonight, help us to understand what Your Word teaches so we may have a fuller and greater appreciation of all that is there. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles to 1 Peter, chapter 1. We’re not going to be here very long tonight but we are going to step off here. That is because over the last week or two we moved out of verse 2 where we talked about three things, the foreknowledge related to God the Father; second, sanctification by the Holy Spirit; and third, obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The three Members of the Trinity are mentioned there.
Then when we came to verse 3 we saw this opening statement related to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The more I reflected upon this particular statement the more I realized that there’s a lot going on here that is below the surface. This week I want to probe it a little more and think about this in terms of the Trinity. Just to remind you as we get started that this epistle and the first part of it is about living in light of eternity (Slide 3). Throughout this epistle we have an emphasis on suffering. We may very well see an immediate application of that in the next few years as Christians come under more and more direct attack by people in our culture. I thank God that we’re living in Texas because that’s going to be less of a problem here than anywhere else. This is not going to be something that goes away any time soon. The lessons that we’re going to learn in 1 Peter are necessary. We need to internalize these realities because just like these believers who were living in a hostile environment, we live in a hostile environment so we have to learn to think Biblically. It takes a lot of time and effort and study to do that, to really get this deep into our minds and into our souls.
A summary of this first section is the introduction. Living in light of eternity means we can rejoice in the midst of the present fiery trial because our love for God enables us to focus on the glories to come. Several phrases ought to stand out in this summary I’ve written. One is the idea of the present fiery trial. The way we survive it is because of our love for God. Basic principle: to love someone means we know someone. You can’t love someone you don’t know so it’s important for us to understand God and to understand how God exists and God’s plan and purposes and how He’s working out His will in history. So as we drill down a little bit on this opening phrase, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, it’s important to put this into perspective.
This isn’t just an academic study of what the Bible says. It should drive us to a greater understanding of and appreciation of who God is and should drive us to greater worship. So in 1 Peter 1:3 (Slide 4), Peter starts off “blessed” which I translated praise because that’s the sense of this word. It is the word EULEGETOS which I mentioned last week and it has to do with saying something good about someone, making praiseworthy statements about someone, and praising them so that’s the idea.
Many passages in the Old Testament have statements that begin, “Blessed be God”. This is how the amidah which is a well-known prayer in Judaism always begins with this same phrase. As we looked at this last time, I wanted to think more about why this phrase is used in the New Testament. It’s used four or five times in the New Testament. In this particular passage, we need to understand why is it that Peter pulls this passage together in this context. What is significant about emphasizing God, and that God is God, and that He’s the God of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (Slide 5)
We saw that some of the other passages where this is mentioned are 2 Corinthians 11:31, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I’m not lying. Romans 15:6, “that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This goes back to Old Testament teaching on the Fatherhood of God.
(Slide 6) Last time I did a proximity search looking for the words “Lord God” and “Father” in close proximity to one another. I expanded that search this time and found a number of other places where God isn’t mentioned in proximity to Father but God the Father is clearly addressed in those passages so I’ve included that within a study of the Trinity.
(Slide 7) I want to go back and take us through a study of the Trinity. We haven’t done this in a while and I’ve added some new material. When I started this last week I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we just had a five- or six-point doctrine of the Trinity instead of taking two or three weeks?” Then I started doing some additional reading and came up with some new insights and some new passages. Instead of it getting shorter, well, it got a little longer. This is what happens when you spend a lot of time studying the Word. The more you get into the Word, the more you dig.
(Slide 8) As I’ve done in the past, I want to start this off by looking at what we believe in our doctrinal statement at West Houston Bible Church. We have a lengthy and technical doctrinal statement that is important because as we study culture we see that the battle is always over the details, minutia. Many people will go to generalized doctrinal statements. Then someone comes in and wants to make an issue out of something so it becomes a problem. You have to nail everything down so people know exactly what it is that you believe.
So here we have our statement on the Trinity. “We believe in one God.” The unity of God is significant. We’ll see that. When we come to the doctrine of the Trinity there are a number of groups, Islam, Jews in Judaism, Jehovah Witnesses, and Unitarians, that reject the doctrine of the Trinity. What they hear is that this is talking about three Gods. What we’re going to show from Scripture, especially tonight, that this isn’t even true about the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament. The Hebrew Scriptures make it very clear there’s a framework there for the plurality of persons in the Godhead.
The passages that are emphasized usually in this discussion from the Jewish translation are the late 1987, 1988 version of the Tanakh from the Jewish Publication Society that translates one of their primary texts which says that “the Lord is One” retranslates it “the Lord alone is One”. I think that’s correct. It’s from the Shema, “The Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” It’s been quoted many times in Jewish studies to emphasize a unitarian monotheism, a singular monotheism. And yet now it’s recognized the way that word is used in other places in the Old Testament that it can also mean “alone” as opposed to other gods and goddesses. This fits the context of Deuteronomy 6:3. We believe in one God. He is a unity.
The statement goes on to say, “Who is sovereign [attributes of God] righteous, just, eternal, love, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, and truth in His essence.” These all work together in His essence. “He exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three Persons of the Godhead are co-equal and co-eternal and co-infinite.” Then we list a number of passages that support those statements.
So let’s look at what the Bible says. The Bible is our final authority. (Slide 9) The first point is that the Bible clearly teaches that there is one God. On the other hand, the Bible clearly speaks of distinct Persons that are divine. Even in the Old Testament there are other personages that show up on the scene that are viewed as being divine. Since we all agree that the Old Testament prohibits polytheism, then we must recognize that the Bible clearly affirms some sort of plurality in deity. Thus we conclude there are distinct Persons in the Godhead. This is called a plurality.
Christianity does not hold to a monadic. How’s that for a good word? Try to use that tomorrow somewhere. A monadic is an isolated, solitary thing. A monad has no divisible parts. It’s just a singularity or a unit that can’t be subdivided. So Christianity does not hold to a monadic or a solitary monotheism, but a Trinitarian monotheism. Now that’s just a lot of language which excludes unitarianism. It excludes views of God related to Jehovah Witness, related to Unitarianism, related to Islam, and related to the rabbinical view of a solitary God.
Secondly, (Slide 10) we often speak of God as being an infinite, personal God. What do we mean by these terms? First of all, the term infinite describes every attribute of God. He is without bounds. His love knows no borders, no boundaries. His sovereignty, His authority, His rule over creation is unlimited. His righteousness is unlimited. Every attribute is unlimited. He is not limited in knowledge. He is not limited in space. He is not limited in power and He’s not limited in time.
Attributes we use to describe that, like He’s not limited by space is that He’s omnipresent. He’s not limited in power so He’s omnipotent. He’s not limited in His knowledge; He’s omniscient. He’s not limited by time. He’s eternal. He has no beginning and no end. This is what we mean by an infinite God. He is not bound by any borders or limitations whatsoever.
He is also personal. Now if He’s just infinite, He can be so big He can’t relate to individuals. If He’s just personal, then He’s too finite to be able to rule over the universe. So He is both infinite and personal. We have to understand a little bit about what it means to be personal. What is a person? I think it’s interesting as we go through this we see that many say that personality has to do with self-consciousness, intellect, will, and emotion. They always throw emotion in there. I’m going to challenge that because I don’t think that’s a necessary component of personhood. I’m going to use a fun example tonight: Mr. Spock on Star Trek was a person but he had no emotion. All the Vulcans had no emotion so see you can conceive of someone who is a person who has all the attributes of personhood but they don’t have any emotion. That’s all I’m saying. It’s my only point. I’m just saying that’s a conception there. Emotion is not necessarily a component of personhood.
(Slide 11) Let’s put this chart on the board. On the left I have the attributes that apply to a person. What makes someone a person is that they have a distinct individuality whereas a non-person does not necessarily have a distinct individuality? If you think of something purely impersonal, an impersonal god, like fate which is totally impersonal, there’s no individuality there. There’s no identity there.
The second thing is that a person has a self-consciousness. They’re aware of who they are. They identify themselves. They can look in a mirror and say, “That’s me.” They can identify themselves. They have self-consciousness. That which is not a person does not have self-consciousness. Third, a person has consciousness of others. Not only is he aware of who he is but knows the difference between himself and others. He’s fully aware of others, whereas something that is not personal has no consciousness of self and no consciousness of others.
Fourth, a person has intellect. They’re capable of rational thought, of logic, of being able to think things through whereas something non-personal just acts. There’s no reason and no intellectual activity. Fifth, a person can communicate with others and there’s a two-way communication. He can communicate to others and can understand what others communicate to him. Whereas something that is not personal does not communicate with others. It’s not one-way or two-way.
Then lastly, the sixth attribute of persons is will, able to make choices and carry out those choices. Impersonal or non-persons has no volition and no will. What happens if you carefully read a lot of theology, they all start with Genesis 1:26-27 that God created man in His image and likeness. Then they go, “What are the components of humanity?” They’ll list those and extrapolate that back to God. What’s wrong with that procedure? You’re starting with the creation and working back to the Creator. The Creator can create a human with certain attributes but not all of those attributes necessarily mirror something in the Creator. You have to be very careful how you understand those terms and not use man as simply an archetype of God. As someone once said, “God created man in His own image and then man returned the favor.” Too many people do that. They are simply creating God out of their own imagination in their own image and likeness.
As we go forward, we see several key verses that indicate this. (Slide 12) Matthew 11:27, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son.” There we have the attribute of knowledge. One of the things you should know that all of the verses that describe the personhood of God, also, in one sense or another, define the personhood of one or another Member of the Trinity. Here we see personhood in the Son and personhood in the Father. The Son knows the Father. The Father knows the Son.
We also see the attribute of will, “The Son wills to reveal Him.” In 1 John 1:3 we see the attribute of communication taking place within the framework of fellowship. “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us.” That’s John talking to other believers, horizontal human fellowship. “And truly our fellowship is with the Father.” If I were John, I’d be talking to you saying that you have fellowship with us, the apostles, and our fellowship is with the Father. That shows relationship, which shows the Father is understood to be a Person capable of relationship.
(Slide 13) John 14:16–17, Jesus says, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” This indicates the personhood of God, the Holy Spirit.
(Slide 14) John 14:26 is another verse that reiterates a similar principle. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things.” Only a person can teach you. “And bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 15:26 says, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” Again, indicates personhood of the Spirit.
These passages all indicate that each Member of the Trinity is personal. God is a personal God and each Member of the Trinity is personal. (Slide 15) Point 3, the Bible clearly affirms that plurality exists in the Godhead. Both the Hebrew Old Testament as well as the New Testament affirm this idea of plurality of Persons in the Godhead. One God. Three Persons. Now it’s fun to go through the passages in the Old Testament and to see this and see how this was discovered. This was not sort of re-interpreted out of the Hebrew Scriptures until after the Second Temple was destroyed. There’s some evidence of that in some writings, especially in the early Church. So the Bible in both testaments, Old Testament as well as the New Testament, speak of the plurality of God.
Let’s look at some of the examples. (Slide 16) First of all we have the term that describes God and that is Elohim. It’s a plural in the Hebrew. Now you have a number of scholars who try to say that’s just a plural of majesty and that it doesn’t mean He exists in a plurality. The problem with that is that Elohim says, “Let us [a plural pronoun] make man in Our [plural] image.” The verb agreement with the plural noun and the use of plural pronouns reinforces the idea that Elohim (translated God here) should be understood as a plural. God isn’t just using a writer’s “we” or a “royal we”. He is speaking of the fact that He exists in three Persons.
“Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” Now if this was the only example that we had of this then maybe we would have to say that this is just one of these editorial “we’s” but since there are numerous examples of this in the Old Testament, that just doesn’t work. (Slide 17) Again in Isaiah 6:8, which is the chapter where Isaiah is before the Throne of God. He falls down on his face and says, “Woe is me, a man of unclean lips.” One of the seraphim fly out from the Throne of God with a coal to touch his lips to cleanse him.
Then in Isaiah 6:8 he says, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ ” Who is He talking about here with this plural pronoun? Some people will say that He’s talking about the seraphim surrounding him but that’s not how God talks. He’s talking about the Triune Persons. As we’ll see there are other passages in Isaiah that emphasize and mention all three Persons of the Godhead.
One of the passages that is often mentioned as I alluded to earlier is Deuteronomy 6:4, called the Shema because that first word is a command to hear, the Hebrew word, shema. “Shema O Israel! Yahweh Eloheinu, The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [echad]. That last word that is translated one can mean alone or it can also mean unity. I prefer from the context which both prohibits idolatry that it should be translated, “the Lord alone”. That’s how the Tanakh, the Jewish Publication Society translation from 1986 or 1987 translates it. So there’s a Jewish translation, not a Messianic translation that understands this, that it’s not emphasizing Unitarian monotheism at this particular place.
We also have other examples of this use of echad. (Slide 19) For example, in 1 Chronicles 29:1, we read that God chose Solomon, alone. That’s the same word. God chose Solomon echad. It’s emphasizing the fact that this is showing his uniqueness as opposed to anyone else. The verse says, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is still young and inexperienced and the work is great; for the temple is not for man, but for the Lord God.”
(Slide 20) Then we have this use for echad in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” “One” there is echad. It’s talking about unity. You don’t eradicate the persons in marriage. Each still has their own personality but they are now a unity so that’s another way echad can be used that doesn’t have to mean a singular or Unitarian monotheism.
(Slide 21) Another group of passages that it’s important to understand is what I mentioned earlier that the Old Testament clearly portrayed different Persons as having deity. That it’s not just Yahweh but also the Angel of Yahweh is viewed as having full deity. On example, I’ll go to first is in Zechariah 1:12 where we have these two personages talking to each other in Heaven. The Angel of Yahweh and Yahweh Sabaoth, which is the Lord of the armies. Host is just an antiquated English word for army.
I had a friend of mine who was in the third year of Hebrew class and had a very well-known and competent Hebrew professor who argued with him when he translated Yahweh Sabaoth from a Psalm as the Lord of the Armies. This professor said, “No, it should be translated hosts.” The student said if you look the English word host up it says it’s an archaic term and means armies. He still didn’t win the debate there.
So, you have the Angel of the Lord in Zechariah’s vision and he says, “Then the Angel of the Lord answered.” This is a conversation between the Angel of the Lord on the one hand and The Lord of hosts on the other hand. Both of them have full deity and are treated as such in the passage so there’s this conversation between these two Persons who are of equal stature. “So the Angel of the Lord answered and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?’ ” Zechariah has written that after the seventy years are up at the time of the return of the Jews to the land in 538 B.C.
Then in Zechariah 1:13, “And the Lord answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words.” This tells us that the Lord of hosts equals Yahweh. “So the angel who spoke with me said to me, ‘Proclaim, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.’ ” My point here is that this shows there are two distinct Persons.
Now we’re going to back to an earlier book, Judges. (Slide 22) This is one of those favorite books we all know about Gideon as out working in the fields one day when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him. Now the context is that the Midianites had come swooping down on the Israelites for a number of years [seven years] and every year they would come just at harvest time and take all of the harvest and leave just a small amount so the Israelites could survive. The Israelites cried out to the Lord for deliverance.
So the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. He’s going to commission Gideon to be the next judge and deliver Israel from the assault of the Midianites. What we’re paying attention to is the use of the term, “Angel of the Lord”. Here we read, “Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’ ” In Judges 6:1 the Angel of the Lord shows up. In Judges 6:14 He speaks. Who is He called in verse 14? He’s called the Lord.
The text goes back and forth and continuously refers to the Angel of the Lord as the Lord. In fact Gideon is going to offer a burnt offering to the Angel of the Lord. You don’t offer an offering to any being other than God in the Bible without being slapped down. We remember a couple of different instances like when Peter and James and John go up on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Lord and Moses and Elijah show up. Peter says, “Let’s just build a little hut for each of you.” This would put Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah as a prophet. God the Father interrupts him and says, “This is My Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Reading between the lines God is telling Peter to “Shut up and listen to Jesus.” It’s in the Greek.
(Slide 23) Then in Judges 6:22, “Now Gideon perceived that He [this person he’s talking to] was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God!’ ” He knows that the Angel of the Lord is the Lord because He calls Him Yahweh Elohim, the Lord God. “For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face. Then the Lord said to him…” It’s very clear that the Angel of the Lord is the Lord. In Zechariah we saw that the Angel of the Lord had a conversation with the Lord of hosts. So there are two Personages there and here’s one Person. So we have multiple Persons in the Godhead.
Now another place you can go to look is in Genesis 16:6–11 when the Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar, Abraham’s concubine, and says, “I am Your God.” That makes it clear that the Angel of the Lord has all these divine attributes. So we see these multiple divine Persons.
We see these references with plural pronouns and now we see some specific verses in Isaiah, which also emphasize this aspect of deity. (Slide 24) For example in Isaiah 48:12 we read, “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.” Where did you hear that before? This is what is quoted in reference to Jesus in Revelation 22:13. Isaiah 48:12 says, “I am the first, and I am also the last.” In Revelation 22:13 we read, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.” So Jesus is just quoting from Isaiah 48:12 and attributing to Himself the full attributes of Yahweh in the Old Testament.
(Slide 25) The passage doesn’t stop there. We read on in Isaiah 48:13, “Surely My hand founded the earth [Yahweh is talking as the Creator]. My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together.” Then He speaks to His creation and says, “Assemble all of you, and listen! Who among them has declared these things? The Lord loves him; he shall carry out His good pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.” Then in verse 15 He says,
(Slide 26) “I, even I, have spoken; indeed I have called Him.” Who is Him? In context it’s talking about His Servant. “I have called Him, I have brought Him, and He will make His ways successful.” Who’s speaking here? Yahweh is speaking. He says in Isaiah 48:16, “Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.” See, we thought up to this time that the Lord God was speaking but it’s another Person in the Trinity. It’s the Servant speaking, the one that’s talked about in Isaiah 40–66. It’s the Servant who is speaking. “Come near to Me,” the Servant says. “The Lord God has sent Me and His Spirit.” So you have all three Members of the Trinity speaking here. The Father is Lord God. The Servant is the second Person of the Trinity, the pre-incarnate Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and then the third Person that’s mentioned is the Spirit of God. You have all three Members of the Godhead mentioned in Isaiah 48:16.
(Slide 27) Another passage to go to is in Isaiah 63:15–16. In these passages where I’m going now I’m focusing what I talked about last time with reference to one Person of the Trinity being identified as the Father. In Isaiah 63:15, we read this prayer addressed to God, “Look down from Heaven, and see from Your habitation, holy and glorious. Where are Your zeal and Your strength, the yearning of Your heart and Your mercies toward me? Are they restrained? Doubtless, You are our Father…” The word here is avinu. Av is the Hebrew word for Father. The nu suffix means our. So avinu is our father. So he says, “You are our Father, though Abraham was ignorant of us, and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O Lord, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.” So as Isaiah is uttering this prayer, he addresses Yahweh as Our Father.
This is parallel to what Jesus will say when He is giving the disciples a pattern for prayer He starts off saying, “Our Father Who art in Heaven.” So the Father is expected to hear the prayer, to answer the prayer, and to intervene in terms of Israel’s history. We’ll see that there’s a whole thread of these passages that specifically refer to God the Father and the Fatherhood is with reference to Israel.
(Slide 28) Then we see another passage in Isaiah 64:8. All of these are treating the Father as a Person who hears, listens, and intervenes in history. Here we see God described as the sovereign authority over Israel and the sovereign maker of Israel. Turn with me to Isaiah 64. This is one of those well-known passages related to the potter. A lot of people take this in relation to salvation and that God is the potter and He’s just going to make some vessels for wrath and some vessels for honor. He’s just arbitrarily choosing some for salvation and not choosing some. In Isaiah 64 we see that the context is not about individual justification. In verse one we read, “O that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down, that the mountains might shake in Your presence.” He’s calling upon God to intervene in history.
Then we skip down to Isaiah 64:6, a passage we all know, “But we are like an unclean thing; all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” This is pointing out the unworthiness of Israel. Then verse 7, “No one calls on Your name who stirs himself up to take hold of You for You have hidden Your face from us and consumed us because of our iniquities.” This is recognizing all of the divine discipline that has come to Israel. Then we get to the main prayer in verse 8, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” This is the appeal of Israel through Isaiah to the Father. “We are the clay and You are our potter.” This has to do with Israel’s destiny, being called by God as a special nation. It doesn’t have anything to do with individual salvation. He’s talking about a plural pronoun there, “You are our Father; You are our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” We have a passage here that just emphasizes the sovereignty of God. Again, He’s personal. He has a will and again, He is carrying out His will so He is pictured as the potter. He’s not a created being.
From here I want to go to a passage back in the Torah. (Slide 29) In Deuteronomy 32:6 where we see the same idea of God’s authority over Israel that we see here in Isaiah 64. Deuteronomy 32 is at the end of Deuteronomy and has to do with Moses’ final prayer at the very end of Deuteronomy. This is Moses’ intercession just before the last chapter. He calls on the heavens and the earth to witness what he is saying. There must always be two witnesses whenever you are making a legal testimony. That is how he sets this up and he says about God, “Give ear, O heavens and I will speak and hear O earth the words of my mouth, Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech, distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass. For I proclaim the name of the Yahweh. Ascribe greatness of Eloheinu for He is our God. He is the Rock. His work is perfect for all His ways are justice. A God of truth and without injustice. Righteous and upright is He.”
Now we skip down to Deuteronomy 6:8, “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.” It indicates some sort of proportion between Israelites and Gentiles. Then in verse 9 he says, “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.” So what Moses is emphasizing here is that God has a plan for Israel. He has called them out. He has set them up and He has divided their inheritance to them in relation to the peoples. The Lord’s portion is His people. They are owned by Him. That’s indicating the special relationship with God.
(Slide 30) One more verse here to tie this together is that God is viewed here therefore as the Father of Israel, not just the Father of all who are created, but He is the Father specifically of Israel. Malachi 2:10 states, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” There’s a parallel here. One Father and One God are parallel, so that One Father equals One God. They are parallels. So He is calling the One God the Father.
Well, if He’s the Father, that implies a Son, doesn’t it? You’re not a Father is you don’t have a son. So where does this idea of Sonship come from? This is where it starts getting sort of interesting. When you look at the Scripture, when you look at the New Testament, Jesus is the Son of God. What’s so significant about that other than, as I’ve taught you many times, it’s emphasizing His deity, there’s something more going on here. The first time a Son of God is mentioned in the Old Testament is where? In Exodus.
(Slide 31) When God calls Moses to rescue Israel from slavery in Egypt. Here we have in Exodus 4:22 the Lord saying to Moses, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” ’ ” This elevates Israel to a specific position. The firstborn son received what? The inheritance, the blessing, and the promise. So Israel is elevated above all other nations to be that nation which is going to receive the greatest blessing and privilege from God. So God directs Moses to go to the Pharaoh and say, “Let My son go that he may serve Me, but if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” That’s the tenth plague. The firstborn in Egypt died.
There’s this interesting interplay that goes on in this whole idea of the firstborn. I’m going to tie some of that together. I think there’s a lot that goes on with that concept. I don’t know that anyone has fully probed it. That’s a little bit of what I’m trying to do by looking at this phrase in 1 Peter, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If God is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, then that means that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son. What I’m trying to do here is just try to fit that into the scope of this Old Testament imagery. What we see here in Exodus 4:22–23 is that God is the Father of Israel, the nation, Israel, who is His firstborn.
This is reiterated in Jeremiah 31:9. (Slide 32) Now why is that important in Jeremiah? Because Jeremiah is the prophet at the time of the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple. Jeremiah, himself, has to go out in exile. He is the weeping prophet because he is prophesying in Jerusalem when Jerusalem is destroyed. In Jeremiah 31:9 he says, “They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.”
But the firstborn of God in terms of Israel has failed. Adam was the first He created. God is the Father of Adam in that sense that He directly created Adam. Adam failed. The descendants all failed at the Tower of Babel and God went to Plan B and He called out a new nation, a new people in Abraham. They become His firstborn. What are they going to do? Gentiles have failed. What’s going to happen with the firstborn? They’re going to fail. Who’s going to fulfill the Adamic mandate that God gave in Genesis 1:26–28 to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air? Who’s going to carry out that mandate? Who’s going to carry out the mandate for Israel to be the priest nation, a nation of priests? They’re both going to be filled by the same Person, the Son of Man who will fulfill that mission. He’s also indicated to be the son of Abraham in the Matthew genealogy, which starts with Abraham, as opposed to the Luke genealogy, which started with Adam.
Jeremiah emphasizes that Israel is the firstborn but the firstborn is failing at that point and being sent into exile. (Slide 33) In Deuteronomy 14:1 we see that not only is Israel viewed corporately as the firstborn but the individuals are viewed as the sons of God, where a plural term is used. Moses says, “You are the children of the Lord your God.” Literally it is “You are the sons of the Lord your God.” Moses is describing them as the banim, the plural word for sons. He is emphasizing the idea that they are all sons of God and as such, they should live a distinct way. That’s why they’re told not to cut themselves, not to the shave the front of their head for the dead. These are the things the pagans did for they had no hope. The explanation is given in Deuteronomy 14:2, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” You’re the sons of God so you have to act differently. You’re in a different family. You’re not in their family. They’re pagans. We’re going to behave a different way. That’s basically what God is saying. So these people were viewed individually as sons.
This is stated again in Isaiah. (Slide 34) See how these threads run back and forth throughout all of the Old Testament. In Isaiah 1:2, Isaiah, like Moses, says, “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; [calling on two witnesses, the inhabitants of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth].” This is not calling on impersonal things like the stars. It’s really a figure of speech for the inhabitants of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth. “For the Lord speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up but they have revolted against Me.’ ” So the banim have revolted against God and that causes a failure of the nation, which is the firstborn son. They’re indicted in this passage. In Isaiah 1:3, “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand. Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, and they have turned away from Him.” They have abandoned the Lord.
Do you think that’s blasphemy? This is just a side note to get ready for Sunday morning. Do you think that’s blasphemy? Yes, that’s blasphemy and under the Mosaic Law what’s the penalty for blasphemy? Death. Just remember that Sunday morning, okay? [Matthew Lesson #076.] We’ll clear up a lot of confusion about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
We have to understand how blasphemy is understood in the context of the Mosaic Law. Here the prophet is indicting the individuals in the nation because they have sinned against God as the whole but they are viewed as sons of God. As a whole, the nation goes down because the firstborn fails in its responsibility.
Now the last point I want to make tonight as we look at this. God is not only seen as the Father of the firstborn but He begins to be introduced as the Father of the Messiah. The Messiah is indicated in a couple of passages that are very important. (Slide 35) In Psalm 2:7 we have a dialogue between the Lord and His anointed, the Messiah. They’re talking to one another. It indicates the deity of the Messiah. In verse 7 the Messiah is talking, “I will declare the decree.” Who makes the decree? God the Father. So the Son is saying, “I’m going to tell you about the decree and in the decree you have the words of Yahweh,” “The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.’ ” That’s the decree. The Lord decrees that the Messiah is His Son. So clearly the Old Testament predicts that the Messiah is the Son of God.
Then we have another passage in Proverbs 30:4, “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists?” All of these are rhetorical questions to get you to focus on God who has done all of these things. “Who has established all the ends of the earth?” Who’s created all of this? It’s God. It’s God. All the answers are that it’s God. What’s His name? Yahweh. What’s His Son’s name? That just slips right in there. He’s got a Son. So the Old Testament recognizes that the Lord Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has a Son and He’s the Messiah.
This is also indicated in two passages related to the Davidic Covenant. (Slide 36) In God’s promise to David He is promising that He will give Him an eternal house and you can’t have an eternal house unless someone is eternal. So the person who is going to fulfill that has to have the attribute of eternity and so the Son of David, ultimately the reference point of the Davidic covenant, is going to be the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s going to be the Messiah. In Psalm 89:26 we read, “He [this descendant of David] shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ ” So the Messiah will recognize that God is His Father.
Then in 1 Chronicles 22:10 God says, “He shall build a house for My name, and He shall be My Son, and I will be His Father; and I will establish the throne of His kingdom over Israel forever.” In this we see that the greater son of David fulfills that Sonship role we have in the Scripture. Tying the imagery together from Israel, what we see is that Israel as the firstborn son fails. Adam, the first created by God, also fails. It is the Messiah who is the Son of God who comes to fulfill in Himself the original destiny for man, for Adam to rule over the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the field, and He will fulfill in His Person the destiny of Israel to be a priest nation in His Royal High Priesthood.
What we’ve seen in these passages is all this emphasis about the Old Testament plurality of Persons in the Godhead. It’s not just a New Testament doctrine. It was all through the Old Testament. Now, next time, I want to come back and look at the New Testament teaching on plurality and then we are going to look at the Son. We’re going to look at each Member of the Trinity here about what’s taught about Them in the Old Testament and what’s taught about Them in the New Testament. You may be surprised that more is said about the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament than is said about the Father and the Son combined.
So we’re going to see a full-blown doctrine of the Trinity that’s embedded in the Old Testament. This is significant because as Peter is addressing these Jewish-background believers, I think one of the things he is doing as he mentions these different things, he’s reinforcing for them the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ and the ultimate authority of God the Father as the One who is the Creator and as we see in verse 3, He is the Recreator because it is “Blessed [Praise] to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who caused us to be born again.” A father’s role is generation and that is the role of the Father as the One who regenerates us or causes us to be born again. Okay, we’ll come back next time and go on with looking at the plurality of the Godhead in the New Testament.
“Father, thank You for this time to study these things tonight and to come to a greater understanding of how You have revealed Yourself in history and how You have embedded throughout Old Testament Scripture all of these different terms that relate to the plurality of Persons in the Godhead and that it’s not just something in the New Testament. Father, we pray that this will help us, not just to know more about You but to know You more intimately as we walk with You in our lives. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”