The Triune God: The Son
1 Peter 1:3
1 Peter Lesson #015
May 7, 2015
“Father, we’re thankful for another day and another week where we can glorify You. This is another opportunity to study Your Word so we can advance spiritually. Father we’re so thankful for the opportunities that You give us each day to apply Your Word and grow spiritually and the opportunities You give us each day to perhaps communicate the gospel to someone or to plant a seed or to water a seed that perhaps You can use us in the process of bringing people to a saving understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Father, we pray that You would expand our opportunities and that we would have the sensitivities and the courage to take advantage of those opportunities and to spend time with people who are in desperate need of learning about the grace that has been bestowed upon us through the death of Christ on the Cross. Father we pray for us this evening as we continue our study of understanding the important concepts related to who You are and how You eternally exist as a triune God. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are studying in 1 Peter 1:3 which starts off with the phrase, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Slide 3) As I’ve thought about this and I pointed this out last time as I introduced this, there are certain phrases in Scripture that as we think about them and as we mull them over in our minds, they just seem to be pregnant with a lot more significance and meaning than may first appear to us. As I thought about this, I thought about what is going on here.
Contextually, this is going to connect to the main thought in the verse that it’s God the Father who has caused us to be born again to a living hope. The concept of father is connected to birth and regeneration contextually but in the immediate phraseology of that verse, what is it we have connected? We have blessed be the God, which is number one, and number two, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So if God the Father is mentioned then the correlative to that, there has to be a son. You’re not a father if you don’t have a child. If you don’t have a son. If you don’t have a daughter. So the fact that God is referred to as the Father implies a son or a descendant.
Now last time as we looked at this we looked at the Trinity specifically in terms of these references to God the Father. I haven’t even gotten into the New Testament yet because a lot of times people don’t think of the Old Testament. That’s not your first go-to area of the Bible when you think about the Trinity. A lot of folks think that the Trinity is just a New Testament doctrine. What we discover is that it’s throughout the Old Testament. It may not permeate the Old Testament to the level and specificity that we have in the New Testament but it’s definitely there and we need to understand that.
You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity to perhaps witness to someone who is Jewish or someone who is Muslim or someone who comes out of a background where they’re just not really clear on the concept of the Trinity. While we’re just talking about the general doctrine of the Trinity, there are a lot of Christians who just have what I call a passing familiarity with some of the basic doctrines of Scripture and the Trinity is one of them. What I mean by passing familiarity is sort of like when you’re at the grocery store you walk by someone and for the next ten minutes your brain is whirring because you say, “That person is really familiar to me. I’ve seen them somewhere before”. Someone down about five aisles later you think, “Oh, yeah. I remember that person from some place in the past”. But that’s about all you can remember and maybe as a little time goes by, your brain recovers a few things off the tired old hard drive and it comes to mind.
There are a lot of Christians who are like that. They either grow up in denominations or churches where very little is taught or in homes where little is taught or little is emphasized. They believe God is a trinity because they heard that in Sunday School, but why is that important? They don’t know what the significance of that is. What I find, sadly, is that there are a lot of folks today, especially young people, twenty somethings, thirty somethings, but a lot of folks who are older as well who no longer are involved in any kind of church life. They’re not involved in any kind of Bible study. They’re believers. They trusted in the Lord at some point, maybe when they were a kid, maybe when they were older. In some cases they’ve actually converted to something else, some non-Christian religion. Maybe they converted to Islam. Maybe they converted to Judaism. Maybe they converted to Buddhism, Hinduism, or they’ve become agnostic. What I usually find in these cases is that even though they may understand what the basics of Christianity might be, they never really grasped or it was never really explained to them why these things were important.
So what if I believe God is just a single God or a Trinitarian God” What difference does it make? So what if I don’t believe that Jesus is fully God? What difference does that make? Why are these things so vital and so significant? A lot of that has to do with the way too often that the Bible is taught as sort of snapshots and disconnected events, disconnected stories, and disconnected doctrines and we don’t see how they tie together and ultimately why they’re important and why they ought to shape our thinking.
This is one of the things I think is a great benefit in listening through Charlie Clough’s Framework series and going through all two hundred twenty-four lessons, because he shows in those lessons how everything interconnects from Genesis 1 to Revelation 21. All of that ties together and all of that fits so that we can understand the Scripture.
When we looked at last week, we came to this phrase and I started talking about the Old Testament and how within the Old Testament we see a plurality of the Godhead. In other words, what we see is multiple persons talked about that are given the attributes of deity. So that as we look at the Old Testament we’re not looking at a singular monotheism or a unitarian monotheism where we just have one person and one essence.
I pointed out that this is recognized even in the 1986 and 1987 edition of the Tanakh, the Jewish Publication Society updated translation of the Old Testament where you have in the Shama in Deuteronomy 6:4, “The Lord is our God. The Lord is one [echad in the Hebrew].” The Lord is one and historically that has been emphasized as a singularity that the Lord is one but you have two ways in which that word echad is used in Scripture. Either one would fit the context. The translators of the Tanakh recognized that in their view translating it as alone was probably best within the context and I agree with them. The context of Deuteronomy is really arguing against and warning the Israelites against the polytheism of the Canaanites. The emphasis in Deuteronomy 6 is that the Lord alone is our God, meaning we don’t have multiple gods. We don’t believe in polytheism.
The other possibility is that the use of echad as we find in Genesis 2 is that “the two became one flesh”. So you have multiple persons in a marriage but they are a unity. We could even translate the verse, “The Lord is a unity”. The Lord is one in the sense of unity, not a solitary monotheism. We looked at that last time and then I went through passages that talked about God as our Father. Primarily that is in relation to a passage we will look at in a minute in Exodus 4 where God called Israel as His firstborn.
That’s another very pregnant concept and there with a lot of implications to that. I’m not going to get off on that as we look at this tonight but we looked at these various passages that indicated reference to God as our Father. There’s an Old Testament background for understanding what Peter is saying here when he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. We saw that the word “blessed” here is not MAKARIOS which is another word for blessed but it’s EULOGETOS which indicates that you’re saying something good or you’re praising a person. The best translation is to praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The focus there is on one Person as the Father and then the second Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. We began by looking at this idea of God as the Father and the doctrine of the Trinity.
(Slide 4) We’re going beyond the Fatherhood of God to talk tonight a little bit about the Sonship of the Messiah as an Old Testament doctrine. I ended up close to this last time and will mention a few passages we’ll go back to tonight. I want to go back and look at them again because again we hear these but sometimes we just move through things a little quickly and it takes a little more time just to sit and soak in our thinking and to come to understand this.
Also, along with this, I’m putting up our doctrinal statement. (Slide 5) A lot of times we know we believe these things in the church doctrinal statements but we don’t necessarily understand why. A triune conception of God is radically different from a unitarian conception of God. We start off saying, “We believe in one God who is sovereign, righteous, just, eternal, love, omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresent, immutable, and truth in His essence.” God is one in essence and we’re summarizing His attributes through those ten attributes. The second statement, “He exists in three Persons.” So He’s one in essence and three in person. The three Persons are identified in Scripture as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” These three Persons are co-equal, co-eternal, and co-infinite.” One is not ontologically [don’t you just love that word?] superior to the other. Ontological is a synonym for the word metaphysical. Now go chew on that for a while. It’s talking about their very essence, the essence of something. So the ontology of something has to do with its very core being.
Those of you who went through evolutionary indoctrination when you were in about the tenth grade under the old BSCS textbook that was used in public schools in Texas were introduced to the concept called ontology recapitulates philology. Y’all remember that, don’t you? You probably had to spit it out on an exam and then you forgot about it. That’s the first time you ran into that word and you probably haven’t heard it too much since, other than from me. It’s the idea of the essence of something. In their essence, in the core of their being, what makes God God, they are identical. One does not have more knowledge or less knowledge than another. One is not more present or less present than the others. One is not more powerful or less powerful than the other. They are all equal and equally eternal.
There wasn’t a time when one began and that was the Arian heresy in the early church. In the more modern church we call it Jehovah Witnesses. It’s the idea that there was a time, they say, when Christ was not. Sometime in eternity past God the Father generated the Son. If you go back beyond that then they say, Christ was not. That was a huge heresy in the early 300s in the Church and it has popped up again and again throughout church history. So They are all co-eternal and co-infinite in all of Their attributes. That’s our basic doctrinal statement and we’re developing this.
I also talked last time about this concept of the Angel of the Lord. (Slide 6) We looked at Zechariah 1:12 and the conversation between the Angel of the Lord who is having a conversation with Yahweh or Lord which refers to the four letters that give the name of God in Hebrew, Yhwh or Yahweh, which basically is a form of the Hebrew word yesh which means to be or to exist. When Moses asks God, “Whom should I say sent me?” God’s reply was “I am that I am. Tell them ‘I am’ has sent you,” meaning the eternally existing One. He is “being” itself and the source of all being. Here we have the Angel of the Lord talking to the Lord of Hosts so obviously there are two distinct personages talked about in Zechariah 1:12.
(Slide 7) We also looked at Judges 6:11 that the Angel of the Lord was worshipped by Gideon in this passage when you compare Judges 6:11, talking about the Angel of the Lord with Judges 6:14 that the Angel is now called Yhwh in Judges 6:14. So the Zachariah passages shows the Angel is distinct from God. Judges 6 shows that they’re viewed also as being identical. (Slide 8) You see that also in the rest of Judges 6.
Take a look at our starting point here in Exodus 4:22–23 (Slide 9). God is talking to Moses. Moses is getting his operation orders to go to the Pharaoh to demand that Pharaoh free His people. When Pharaoh asks why Moses is doing this he is to say, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” ’ ” Now this is a very important passage. There are lots of things related to being firstborn. One of the things related to being firstborn is what? You get the double blessing. You are the prime heir under the law of primogeniture in the Old Testament. So the firstborn is the designated heir of the father. The main line of the father will go through the firstborn. Inheritance rights are part of what it means to be the firstborn. He’s the pre-eminent one.
This idea is going to be applied to Jesus as the firstborn of creation in Colossians 1:17. He’s the firstborn of creation, not because He’s first because there were others that were born after Him or that He was born but it’s emphasizing His preeminence. He is the one who has the inheritance and the possession. We’re going to connect the dots to the role of the Messiah in Psalm 2:7 and 2:9 (Slide10), that He is the one who receives the inheritance from God. This is the declaration of the Sonship of the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
What we see here, I’ll say this a number of times, is that we see an analogy or a replacement here for the first Adam. The first Adam was created by God and His role is to rule over the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the field. He’s created in the image and likeness of God but Adam fails. He blew it. He disobeyed God and he’s no longer able because of his fallen nature to fulfill the original creation mandate to rule over creation as God’s vicegerent. Now there’s another good vocabulary word for you. A lot of people get a little mixed up when they read it and their eyes look at it. They don’t know what a vicegerent is so they think it means a vice-regent. It’s not a vice-regent. It’s a vicegerent and there’s a distinction in the terms. A vice-regent is sort of like a vice president. You have the president who is in charge of things and he has an assistant or someone who will take his place when he can’t do it and that’s a vice president. A vicegerent is a different concept. A vicegerent is someone who is sent as a representative of a ruler. It’s like an ambassador. It’s a little bit different but it’s like a representative so Adam is the vicegerent of God. He represented God to rule over God’s creation.
When Adam blows it, Satan takes control of planet earth and Satan is the prince and the power of the world, the god of this age. He is the one who controls the planet but he has had his death sentence at the Cross where he was defeated but he still has power. How is this initial function of man going to be fulfilled? If man was to rule over the creation and Adam fell from that, how is that going to be fulfilled? It’s going to be fulfilled by the Second Adam who is God Himself, God the Son, who enters into human history and takes on true humanity. As a man He is going to come back to rule over the creation. So the fulfillment of that initial destiny for mankind is going to be completed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the same way, Israel as a nation was called out by God to be a priest-nation. They are going to fail as a priest-nation. That was part of their responsibility as the firstborn. They were to be a priestly nation and lead and direct all the nations to a relationship with God. They failed in that so ultimately this firstborn concept related to Israel is going to be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. As the Son of Man, He fulfills that priestly role. He’s a prophet, priest, and king so these things get pulled together. I’m starting with this concept that Israel is God’s son but ultimately this is going to be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now when we look at what the Old Testament teaches, we recognize that the Old Testament gives divine names and titles and ascribes divine attributes to the Son. That means that ultimately Israel cannot be the son. (Slide 10) What I’m dealing with here is that there are passages such as Psalm 2:7 where we read, “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” Who’s the son? We look at Proverbs 30:4, “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?” These are all rhetorical questions. They don’t expect an answer but they want to get the reader to think through who this is. This is talking about the Creator God. It says, “What is His name, and what is His Son’s name…?” So the question is who’s the son?
In the history of interpretation, Jewish interpretation says the son is Israel but the problem that we have is that the Old Testament gives divine names, divine titles, and ascribes divine attributes to the son. Therefore, the son can’t be Israel. The son has to be a divine individual, a divine person. If divine works are ascribed to the son, then Israel can’t be the son. If divine worship is given to the son, then that certainly can’t be Israel because we don’t worship Israel. So the son has to be an individual, a person, a divine person.
Furthermore as we looked at God the Father last time, when we study what is said about God the Father, we recognize that our understanding that He is fully divine is based upon the same things. It’s based on the titles, the attributes, and worship for the Father. This indicates He is fully divine. What I’m saying here is that if the ascription of attributes, names, titles, and works, and worship to the Father is evidence that He’s divine, then assigning divine names, titles, works, worship, and attributes to the Son should be equally valid as evidence that the Son is fully divine. That’s what we’re going to see. We demonstrated that God the Father is fully divine by His titles, His names, His works, and His worship so we’re going to use the same categories to show that the Son is God.
One of the reasons this is important is that there are those that are strict monotheists, such as Jews, Moslems, and Unitarians who will accept this evidence of the works and worship, names, and titles related to the Father as evidence that the Father is divine but they don’t accept that line of evidence as valid for supporting the deity of the Son which shows they must have a superior agenda or a hidden agenda because what they’re saying is that the Father is divine but the Son is not. One line of evidence works for the Father, but we reject it for the Son. That’s inconsistent and it’s illogical. It’s only that way because they have a presupposition that the Son can’t be divine. For them the Trinity is irrational. The Trinity is not rational; I would say it’s super rational. It’s beyond our finite minds to totally comprehend it so we can’t control it so there are those who want to make human reason the final arbiter of truth. They say that because they can’t understand the doctrine of the Trinity, then it must not be true.
We’re going to go forward tonight and look at what the Old Testament teaches about the Son. To do that I want to go back just a little bit to what I talked about last week in terms of this other personage mentioned in the Old Testament that is the Angel of the Lord. (Slide 11) The Angel of the Lord is the Pre-Incarnate Christ. If we are accurate, which is one of the problems you get into with English translations, is that the term should be translated the Messenger of Yhwh, not the Angel of Yhwh or the Angel of the Lord because “angel” communicates something different.
(Slide 12) What we have in the Old Testament is the word mal’akh which means a messenger. It is often translated angel. Now the Greek word that was used in the New Testament is the word ANGELOS. That is simply a Greek term for messenger. A messenger is an ANGELOS. We’ll look at this in a minute. When Jerome translates the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, into Latin he just transliterated the Greek word ANGELOS over into Latin and it was the word AGGELOS. It was then taken to be technical term for a special kind of “spirit being”. That’s where confusion enters in. When we hear the word “angel” we think of someone like Gabriel or Michael or something of that nature, rather than the concept of a messenger. The word mal’akh and the word ANGELOS simply refer to a messenger and not necessary to a spirit being.
(Slide13) Let me give you one example here in Matthew 11:10 which is used in reference to John the Baptist. It is quoted from the Old Testament in Isaiah. “Behold, I send my messenger before Your face.” It’s obvious in context that the messenger isn’t an angel. It’s a human being. The context is referring to John the Baptist. Jesus is quoting from Isaiah here and applying this to John the Baptist. So messenger here is the word AGGELOS. Now if you’ll notice [for those of you who pay attention to details] notice how I’ve transliterated ANGELOS here with an “agg” because literally the word is spelled AGGELOS but in Greek whenever you have a “g” or a “double gamma” or a “gamma” and a “kappa” or “k” that go together that is pronounced like an “ng”. That’s where you get ANGELOS out of what looks like AGGELOS. It should really be transliterated as an ANGELOS because that’s how it would be pronounced. Here it’s clear that ANGELOS means messenger and if we look at these translations as the Angel of the Lord as the Messenger of Yhwh it gives us a totally different image.
Most people when they hear Angel of the Lord immediately picture whatever they think of as an angel. We’re not talking about an angel. We’re talking about a messenger. Within the Godhead you have God the Father who’s the planner and God the Son who is the redeemer. He’s also called The Logos in Greek and Rhema in Hebrew which is the Word or expression, the communication of God. It’s the role of the 2nd Person of the Trinity to communicate the essence of the Father and the message of the Father. They have a division of labor and responsibility within the Godhead. Henry Ford did not invent the idea of the assembly line and division of labor. That was originated by the Eternal Essence of God the Father. Ford just sort of discovered it and applied it in a new way.
(Slide 14) Turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 16. You can use your pen to underline some things in your Bible. I know that always surprises some people. Every now and then I run into some people who say, “You write in your Bible?” Yes, of course you do. That’s how you remember things. Genesis 16 is the episode where you have Hagar who is the concubine of Abraham. Sarai, Abraham’s wife, has not been able to bear a child so she is going to convince Abraham to take Hagar and have sexual relations with her so Hagar can conceive and have this child that neither one of them can conceive at this particular point. Abraham does what his wife suggests and then afterwards, Sarai explodes in jealousy and kicks Hagar out. She wants her out of the house and doesn’t want her around. So Hagar leaves.
In Genesis 16:7 we read, “Now the Angel [Messenger of Yhwh] found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur…” He asked Hagar where she had come from and where she was going. She said she was fleeing from the presence of her mistress, Sarai. Look at Genesis 16:9 where the Angel of the Lord says, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” All the way through here Hagar asks who is speaking to her and she is told it’s the Messenger of Yhwh in verse 10 and He answered her. Here we have four references by verse 11 from the Messenger of Yhwh.
(Slide 15) In verse 11 we read, “And the Messenger of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold you are with child and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael because Yhwh has heard your affliction.” In verse 13 the reason this is significant is because in verses 7, 9, 10, 11 the person she is communicating with is the Messenger of Yhwh. Then in verse 13 Hagar identifies the Messenger who spoke to her as Yhwh.
Here you have another example like the Judges 6 passage with Gideon where it starts off talking about the Angel of Yhwh and then the Angel of Yhwh is described just by the name Yhwh. The same thing happens in Judges 13. In Judges 13 you have the Angel of Yhwh appear to Manoah the father of Samson and give him instructions about the fact that his wife is going to give birth to a son who is going to be a Nazarite from birth. So as a result of that Manoah is going to fall down and worship Yhwh. So you have the Messenger of Yhwh identified in those contexts as Yhwh and sometimes also you see the ascription of the word Elohim to the Messenger of Yhwh. All of this shows that the Messenger of Yhwh is worshipped as Yhwh. Every other place you have an angel or a creature being worshipped as God they always say, “No. No. No. You don’t do that. You only worship God.” So the Angel or Messenger of Yhwh is viewed as Yhwh.
So Hagar called the name of the one who spoke to her…” Who spoke to her? Four times it’s mentioned that this is the Messenger of Yhwh. Hagar calls Him “You are the God Who sees” and she says, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Then in verse 14 we read, “Therefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.” It is also seen in verse 11 that the term Angel is identified with Yhwh saying “He has heard your affliction.” The NKJV doesn’t quite translate verse 13 (Slide 16) the best. See the last line, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” The NASB says, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” That is the more accurate translation. She is astounded that having seen God that she is still alive. That response of hers expresses the fact that she has seen Yhwh. She’s astonished that the Messenger of Yhwh has left her alive.
(Slide 17) Let’s go on to the next reference. Turn over a few pages to Genesis 21. Here we’re going to see Hagar, part two. After she has given birth to Ishmael, when Sarah finally becomes pregnant with Isaac, then what happens is that Sarah talks to Abraham, and now it’s time for Hagar to leave. We read in Genesis 21:17 that they leave and go off in the wilderness. God is going to promise to take care of her and it is going to be for the good for them to separate. In verse 17, “And God heard the voice of the lad [Ishmael]. Then the Angel of God [Elohim] called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, ‘What ails you, Hagar?’ ”
Now when it says “out of heaven” that is hashamayim. It’s not coming out of heaven in terms of a location like the throne room of God, it’s literally out of the sky. It appears that the Messenger of God has appeared to her again in the air above her and begins to talk to her to find out what her problem is. In verse 18 He says, “Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation. Then in verse 19, “God opened her eyes.” So we’ve gone from the Messenger of God to God. It’s talking about the same Person. “Then Elohim opened her eyes. She saw a well of water and went and filled the skin. God was with the lad and he grew up in the wilderness.” In verse 21 we read that He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
(Slide 18) Then we go over to Genesis 22:11 and we’re going to see another appearance of the Messenger of Yhwh. “But the Messenger of Yhwh called to him from heaven…” This is just as Abraham is about to slit Isaac’s throat as a sacrifice to God. Just as he picks up the sacrificial knife the Messenger of Yhwh from where? Not from heaven, which is the Throne of God but from hashamayim which is the plural. So the Angel of the Lord appears to him and says, “Abraham, Abraham!” This was to basically stop it. God said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Abraham looked and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket so Abraham took the ram as a burnt offering instead of his son.
(Slide 19) Then in Genesis 22:14, “And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide [Yhwh]; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’ ” So then we have this reference of the Messenger of Yhwh being identified as Yhwh. (Slide 20) Then in Genesis 22:15–18 we have the second part of the conversation, “The Messenger of Yhwh called to Abraham a second a second time out of heaven [the heavens], and said, “By Myself I have sworn says the Lord [Yhwh], because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son blessing I will bless you [summarizing the Abrahamic covenant], … In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So “my voice” is the Messenger of Yhwh.
(Slide 21) Now remember places you can go to see similar events such as Judges 6:11–22 which is Gideon. That’s the same interplay where the Messenger of Yhwh is called Yhwh and is worshipped as Yhwh. We looked at that last time. Then Zechariah 1:11–12 where you have a conversation between the Messenger of Yhwh and Yhwh Sabbaoth which is the Lord of hosts. We studied that Tuesday night in 1 Samuel 1. This is critical for understanding that you have a plurality of deity that exists. You have at least two Personages mentioned here that are both given the ascription of deity. They’re both called Yhwh and Elohim and they worship the Messenger of Yhwh as God.
(Slide 22) So this takes us back to the passage where I started which is in Proverbs 30:4. This is a proverb of Agur that brings out something extremely significant. All I covered on this last time was that this indicates that God the Creator has a Son. It’s very clear from the Old Testament that God, the Creator God [Yhwh], has a Son. The question is who is the Son and what we’re going to see is that the Son is a divine Son. He can’t be understood to be Israel or the nation Israel. As we look at this particular proverb, as I pointed out there are five rhetorical questions at the beginning which are designed to focus our attention on God. “Who has ascended into heaven or descended?” No one has. The only one who has been to heaven is God so we don’t know anything about heaven because God is the only one who has been there. “Who has gathered the wind in His fists?” Only the Creator has control over the winds. “Who has bound the waters in a garment?” Who controls floods? Who is the one who created the water and then separated the waters from the dry land in Genesis, chapter one. Only God has done that. “Who has established all the ends of the earth?” Who has laid the foundations? Only God. So the answer to all those questions is going to be God, Yhwh, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Then he asks two questions: What’s His name and what is His Son’s name?” In order to understand the significance of that question we have to understand what it means when it talks about the name of someone. We talk about believing in the name of Jesus. The way we use these concepts of name, we basically use them as brands and labels. That’s not how the Bible uses the term name or the concept of the term name. Name represents the essence or the character of a person. That’s why it talks about the fact in Revelation that when we get to heaven we’re going to be given a new name, a name that reflects who we are and identifies something about us.
That brought up an interesting little story I’ll tell you because I had actually forgotten about this until he reminded me. Back in about three lifetimes ago when I was a counselor at Camp Peniel, one of the things that we would always do as an experienced staff or older staff or senior staff or however you want to call it, is that when you had the young men who at the conclusion of their time at camp were given names. We always ran this Indian motif or chief motif. We would give them a name. We would give them an Indian name that had something to do with attributes or characters or characteristics that were expressed by that person. This was something that was emphasized and then we would try to find a verse in the Bible that emphasized this character, this character trait or this characteristic.
Now that I’ve thought of that off the top of my head, I’m looking around for the verse given to me. Here it is. Titus 1:9. A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with an old friend of mine, David Whitelock whose father founded Camp Peniel. David was one of the main staff there, of course, when I was a young counselor. When he came to lunch one of the first things he said to me was, “Robby, you know when I was coming over here, I remembered the verse that I gave you years ago, which you probably don’t even remember, was Titus 1:9. That’s you and I saw that forty-five years ago.” The verse says, “Holding fast the faithful Word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” I thought, “Hey, that’s really great. That’s a good verse. I’ve got to remember that.” So that was a few years ago. Anyway, that’s the idea of naming in the Bible. It’s to identify something about the essence of character of someone.
What we see here in these questions in Proverbs 30:4 is that he’s bringing out a particular point that he wants the reader to think about. So he asks these first five rhetorical questions about who has done all of these things. Of course the answer is God the Creator. Then he says, “What’s His name?” The superficial answer is that His name is Yhwh. His name is God. But that’s not what he’s asking. He said, “What’s His character? Do you understand? Do you comprehend who He is?” The answer of course is, “No. Not really.” Then he asks, “What’s His Son’s name?” In other words do you understand the character and the essence of His Son? The expected answer is “No, I really don’t understand the nature of the Son either.” The point that Agur is making in this proverb is that God is incomprehensible. What is His name? If you know, tell me. The implication here is that you don’t know. None of us know. We cannot fully comprehend the incomprehensible. So this is what he is emphasizing here in this particular verse.
The parallelism here shows that His name and His Son’s name are parallel and if One is divine, then the other is divine. His Son would be as divine as the Creator God. Both are evident in the Creation. Both are implied here so the Hebrew parallelism is designed to show that the Son of God is a divine being and it can’t be Israel. The complete understanding of the Son is incomprehensible. It is apparent that Agur, who was writing this proverb, understands that there are at least two personages in God. He understands that there is a plurality in God, that God is not a singular monotheist.
(Slide 23) So this takes us to another important passage in Psalm 2. I want you to turn in your Bible to Psalm 2. Psalm 2, I would say, is probably one of the ten most significant passages in all the Bible. It is either the most or the second most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. It is very significant. In Acts 4:25 it is attributed to David even though it is not stated to be a psalm of David at the beginning of the psalm. The New Testament fully affirms that it is so this brings us to this very important passage.
Here we read in Psalm 2:7, “I will declare the decree…” We have to identify who is speaking here. Who is the “I”? Who is the 1st person here? Well, the next line says, “The Lord has said to Me…” So you have the Lord identified as a personage here and “me” as a second personage. So the Lord is Yhwh and who is “me”? The “me” is identified as “My Son” in the quote. So the person who is speaking would be the Son, the Messiah. The Son says He’s going to declare the Father’s decree. Yhwh has said to Me, “You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.” This introduces important vocabulary within this whole psalm.
(Slide 24) So let’s just take a brief little review here. [In Psalm 2] it starts off in the first three verses talking about this conspiracy against God by the leaders of mankind. “Why do the nations [Gentiles] rage, and the people plot a vain thing?” You see that the nations, the people of the world, are pictured as being in a state of high anger and violence. They are plotting against God. Psalm 2:2 describes, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against Yhwh and against His Anointed.” So you have two personages here, Yhwh and His Anointed. The Hebrew word for anointed is Mashiach. The Greek word for anointed is CHRISTOS. So CHRISTOS is just the Greek translation of Mashiach, the Messiah.
So you have two personages, Yhwh on the one hand and the Messiah on the other hand. What the people are saying is “Let us break their bonds…” This is like Romans 1:18 where they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Let’s deny God. Let’s throw off His authority. Let’s rebel against Him. Let’s destroy Him. Let’s break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us. So this sets the context. There’s this open rebellion by the human race against the Creator God.
We’re going to skip down through the next three verses that describe God poking fun of them. God is not politically correct. God pokes fun at the false religions of mankind. That’s divine viewpoint. That’s righteousness on the part of God. Modern man would say, “You poke fun at other people’s religions? You’re terrible. We ought to kick you off the planet.” But God pokes fun at other people’s religions all the time. That’s the godly thing to do. Okay. Moving on.
(Slide 25) Psalm 2:7. The anointed one is described in verse 6 as My King. “God has announced that He has set His king on My holy hill of Zion.” Now that king makes this declaration, “I [Messiah] will declare the decree; The Lord [Yhwh, God the Father] has said to Me [the Messiah]…” Who is this king? David’s greater Son, the Messiah. “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” So it’s a declaration of the Sonship of the Messiah. The Messiah isn’t Israel. The Messiah is the Son of God who is the Messianic King, the Davidic king. It’s talking about an individual, not a corporate group or a corporate entity.
Now the next thing which we see hear I think is really interesting in Psalm 2:8, The Father says to the Son, “Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” So, God the Son, the Mashiach, is supposed to ask of the Father to give Him the nations as His possession. The core idea in the word inheritance is possession. We’ve studied this before but it’s been a long time.
In Daniel, chapter 7 we had the Son of Man come before the Ancient of Days and ask the Ancient of Days for the kingdom. The Ancient of Days gives Him the kingdom and He goes to the earth and destroys the rulers of the earth. That happens at the Battle of Armageddon and then He establishes His kingdom. That’s what is going on. He says, “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.” Notice how possession and inheritance are parallel. That’s the idea of inheritance. Not that someone died and left something for you in a will. Inheritance has to do with that which is rightfully yours and you own.
(Slide 26) Then the psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 2:9, “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” This is really important to see the connection here. Who is it that breaks and smashes here? It’s the Son. It’s the Son who breaks and smashes. It’s the Son who is the king.
(Slide 27) We then look at Job 34:24, “He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, and sets others in their place.” Who is it that has the right to break mighty men in pieces? It’s God the Father, Yhwh in context. It’s talking about Yhwh identified in the passage as El in Job 34:23. It uses a verb meaning to break or shatter. “He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry.” It is God who has the authority to break in pieces. It is El. In Psalm 2 that authority to break in pieces is given to whom? It’s given to the Son, the king, the one who is declared to be His Son.
(Slide 28) We look at a passage such as Psalm 24:1–2, “The earth is Yhwh’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” This is asserting the sovereignty of God over all His creatures on the earth. “For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.” He is the One that rules. Then as we look at this we notice that in Jeremiah 51:19–23, “The portion of Jacob [another term for the Messiah] is not like them for He is the maker of all things and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance.”
So there’s your word inheritance tying the portion of Jacob as a term for the Messiah and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. What’s the name of the portion of Jacob? Yhwh of hosts. It ties it together. The Messiah is the portion of Jacob. The Messiah is the maker of all things. The Messiah is the Lord of hosts. It goes on to say, “You are my battle axe and my weapons of war [Israel] for I will break the nations in pieces for you. For with you I will destroy kingdoms. I will break in pieces the horses and its riders, with you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider, with you I will also break in pieces a man and woman, with you I will break in pieces all the young…”
The “you” here is the Messiah. “You are my battle axe.” It’s talking about the Messiah. God the Father is going to use the Messiah as the One who breaks up the nations, who destroys them, smashes them, and breaks them in pieces. This is the same idea that we have expressed back in Psalm 2:9, “You will break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces…” What God does in Job 34:24 is ascribed in Jeremiah 51 to the Messiah.
What I started off saying is that the titles of God, the names of God, the worship of God and the works of God are all ascribed to the Son of God, then the Son of God has to be fully divine just like the Father is fully divine. What this does, then, basically is set up for us the fact that the Old Testament clearly portrays a multiplicity of Persons in the Godhead and that they are equal in essence, both fully divine and have the privileges of deity.
(Slide 29) Now we come to the last verse of Psalm 2, verse 12, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry…” What does that mean to kiss the Son? The Unitarians tried to retranslate this but the concept of “kiss the son” means to pay homage to the Son, just as if you went into a royal throne room, you would kiss the ring of the king. You would bow down and show him your allegiance and obedience to the king by kissing his ring. So kissing the Son here is an idiom for showing your homage and obedience to the Son. “Lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” So the Son is fully divine.
You only trust in God in the Scripture. The Scripture says you’re a fool if you trust in man. You trust in God. So it is clear when you look at Psalm 2 that you have God the Father and you have the Messiah, who is declared to be the Son of God and that He is the one that is going to break the nation which is ascribed as an activity only to God in His justice. Then in verse 12, you give obedience and allegiance to the Son just as you would to the Father. This indicates again that the Son is fully God and fully divine and therefore can’t be Israel. So when you look at these passages in the Old Testament, it has to be a reference to another personage in the Godhead, treated as God.
Next time I want to come back, look at a couple of verses in the Old Testament before we push on and start talking about God the Holy Spirit. So we’ve looked at the Father in the Old Testament, and we’ve looked at the Son in the Old Testament with a couple of more passages to look at and then we’re going to look at the Holy Spirit. As I pointed out last time, there are more things said about the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament than are said about the Father and Son combined. So you have a fully orbed doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament, it’s just not as specific as what you get in the New Testament.
Now why is this important? It’s important for a number of reasons. One is because it sets the stage for being able to understand the main divine Characters in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not introducing a new concept of plurality in the Godhead. This was already present in the Old Testament. It got rewritten or reinterpreted in the post-2nd Temple period by rabbinical theology in order to avoid the Messianic implications that were brought out by Jesus and the Christians. The second thing it points out is that it’s important for understanding the role of God in salvation, the role of God in the spiritual life, and the role of God in ultimately bringing to fruition His plans and purposes for the human race and for Israel. It gives us that global view of history and God’s plan for mankind that can only be completely understood by understanding who God is and what He has done. Let us pray.
“Father, we thank you for this time we’ve had this evening to think about these things and to reflect upon how you are revealed in the Old Testament, that these doctrines in the New Testament related to the Trinity and the deity of Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit are not new but were already there in the Old Testament, clearly demonstrated. As we go back and start to put pieces together and compare Scripture with Scripture, it reveals this remarkable tapestry related to Your essence, and Your attributes and Your work as our Creator, both in terms of Creation and in terms of regeneration in each individual’s life. Father, we pray you will help us to comprehend these things that we might have a greater understanding of who You are and a greater capacity for relating to You in our spiritual life. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”