THE HUMANITY OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL
I. JESUS, THE GOD-MAN
AS SET forth elsewhere in this book, the Hebrew Messiah, according to Gen. 49:10, was to appear before the collapse of the Jewish state, which event occurred in the year 70 A.D. Likewise, the Messiah was to appear within 483 years after the issuing of the imperial decree for the Jews to return from Babylonian captivity to restore their national existence. According to Rashi and the Talmud, the time has already passed for the appearing of the Messiah.
Since, according to the prediction, Messiah was to appear during the existence of the Second Temple, it becomes a matter of paramount importance for every Hebrew to study the history of those days to ascertain who really was the Messiah, since there was a number of illustrious Hebrew men who wielded great influence upon the nation and its destiny. When all of the facts are known, of all of these men living at that time none of them could have been entered in the list of possible Messianic candidates except Jesus of Nazareth. The reason for this fact is that His nativity, career, and tragic death are so very clearly outlined in the Old Testament that it is impossible for an imposter to deceive an honest truth-seeker who is familiar with the prophecies. An un-adorned pen picture of the Messiah's birth and life, as presented in the Old Testament, may be drawn in the following statements: "He Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah (Mic. 5:2), of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), of the house of David (Isa. 9:6,7), and before the destruction of Jerusalem. He was to be "the Lord our righteousness" (Jer. 23:6); hence pure, spotless, and holy. He was to be anointed "to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Isa. 61:1,2). Finally, He was to be rejected by the nation, and, having been subjected to cruel treatment, to be slain for the transgression of the world (Isa. 52:13-53:12). He was to rise from the dead (Psa. 16:8-11), and to ascend to the right hand of the throne of God (Psa. 110:1).
A comparison of the prophecies of the Old Testament with those Scriptures of the New Testament which relate the birth, life and death of Jesus of Nazareth produces the profound conviction that He was "the fulfillment" of said Scriptures. This fact proves beyond a doubt that He was the Hebrew Messiah.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:1-18).
The above quotation is from the writings of John, the Apostle, who followed Jesus during His entire personal ministry and who suffered exile on the Isle of Patmos because of his being true to Jesus Christ and bearing a faithful testimony to the things which he saw, heard, and knew were facts and truths. Therefore his statements are worthy of all acceptation.
According to this statement He Who was the Word in association with God was God. It was this same One Who created the entire material universe (vs. 1-3). According to v. 14 this same Divine Personality "became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." This Individual, Who is God in human form, and of Whom John is speaking, is Jesus of Nazareth. A study of this passage in connection, with Isa. 9:6(5) produces the profound conviction that the birth of Jesus was "the fulfillment" of Isaiah's prophecy. The prediction of Isa. 7:14 which declares that "Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel" was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, as set forth by Matthew. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us. And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name Jesus" (Matt. 1:18-25). The statement of Dr. Luke, the expert scientist and reputable historian, concerning the birth of Jesus is as follows: "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk. 1:30-33).
As was seen in Chapter XXII, Paul in Phil. 2:5-8 affirmed that Christ Jesus Who existed in the form of God (therefore was God) laid aside His glory and took the form of a servant, i. e., He took upon Himself the fleshly nature and became obedient unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. In this statement the same great fact which was stated by Isaiah (9:6(5) and by John (1:1-18) is affirmed by Paul. Again, in Heb. 1:1-4 the coming of one of the Divine Beings into the world in the form of a man is declared: "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they." In verse 2 He is called God's Son (human nature) whereas in verse 3 He is spoken of as "the effulgence of His glory and the very image of His substance, and upholding all things by the word of His power" Who, "when He had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." In other words the writer avers that the man Jesus was God incarnate, being the very image (form) of His (God's) substance, and that He is carrying all things by the word of His power toward a definite goal in the future.
II. EVIDENCE THAT JESUS IS THE GOD-MAN
In an encounter with the Jerusalem authorities, as is recorded in John 5, Jesus stated, "My Father worketh even until now, and I work." By this statement the Jews understood that He claimed to sustain a special relationship to God which was sustained by none other, which relationship made Him equal with God. In the debate which followed (verses 19-29) Jesus maintained that He was "the Son" (verse 19), and that He, "the Son of God," shall give life to the dead who hear His voice (verse 25). As evidence that He was "the Son of God," the God-Man, He offered four proofs (verses 30-47): "I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. It is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye have sent unto John, and he hath borne witness unto the truth. But the witness which I receive is not from man: howbeit I say these things, that ye may be saved. He was the lamp that burneth and shineth; and ye were willing to rejoice for a season in his light. But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father that sent me, he hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not. Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. I receive not glory from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in yourselves. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not? Think not that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, on whom ye have set your hope. For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me (cf. Deut. 18:15-18). But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" The first witness whom Jesus presented was John the Baptist (verses 33-35). The second proof was His works (verse 36). The third proof was the testimony of the Father (verse 37; Matt. 3:17). The last witness was the Scriptures (verses 39-47). The above four witnesses were unimpeachable and established His claims to being the God-Man. The consciousness of Jesus likewise is an unimpeachable witness to His Divine nature. At the age of twelve He was conscious of His life's work as is seen in Lk. 2:41-51, especially in His reply to His mother: "How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be in my Father's house?" Throughout His entire ministry He was aware of Who He was and of the special relationship which he sustained to God the Father. This Divine consciousness beautifully shines forth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). In this sermon He constantly referred to the law which was given at Mount Sinai and placed His utterances alongside of them as of equal value. This fact proves conclusively that He was conscious of His being on an equality with God.
Additional proof that Jesus was the God-Man lay in the fact that His life was pure and holy, and that He claimed to be God. On one occasion He challenged His opponents to name even one sin of which He was guilty (John 8:46). They, however, were unable to mention any. All men who have really studied the life and character of Jesus recognize in Him the highest ideal of humanity and have been unable to find a blemish in His character. All men are sinful; He alone was sinless; therefore He was Divine.* Even unbelievers accord to Him the highest place among men. His ethics are admitted to be the highest conceivable. His utterances are unimpeached and since He plainly and unmistakably claimed to be God manifest in the flesh, being a good man He was what He claimed to be, namely, the God-Man. It has well been said that one must accept one of the alternatives: Jesus Christ was either God or a base deceiver. Since He cannot be and is not classed as a deceiver, He must be recognized as the God-Man. Therefore He is the fulfillment of the prophetic predictions found throughout the Tenach.
III. JESUS, THE LAMB OF GOD
According to the Old Testament foreview of the work of the Messiah, He was to come during the time of the Second Temple and, by dying, to make atonement for the sins of the nation. John the Baptist recognized in Jesus the fulfillment of those prophecies which spoke of the atoning death of the Messiah, when, in pointing his disciples to Jesus he said: "Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Jesus also stated that He came to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). That night before He was betrayed and arrested He observed the Passover Supper (Lk. 22:19,20). In doing this Jesus explained that the symbolic significance of the bread is that it represents His body and that the fruit of the vine symbolizes His Blood which is poured out for the world. In Matthew's account of the Last Supper he shows in what way the Blood of Jesus is poured out for men: "For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins." Thus did Jesus explain beforehand the significance of His death, namely, that He was the One Who was typified by the sacrifices commanded by Moses, and that His death was to atone for the sins of the world just as was seen in the study of Isa. 53 (Chapter XVIII).
IV. THE TYPICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MOSAIC SACRIFICES
Moses declared "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life" (Lev. 17:11). Each year a sacrifice had to be made on Yom-Kippur in order to roll the sins of the people forward a year. But these sacrifices could never take away sins for the inspired writer in Heb. 10:1-4 declared: "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. Else would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshipers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins." According to this inspired utterance the tabernacle with its Aaronic priesthood and divine service, which in the days of Solomon was displaced by the temple and its service, was only a shadow of the realities in Christ.
V. THE ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST
Again, the same inspired writer sets forth the all-sufficiency of the atonement of Christ by contrasting it with the insufficiency of the sacrifices under the Law. "But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth. Wherefore even the first covenant hath not been dedicated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses unto all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded to youward. Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with the blood. And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:11-26). Jesus, knowing that it was His Blood alone that can cleanse from sin and bring one into fellowship with God, said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). No observance of ritualism and ceremonies can give life. No law can be given which can impart life: "For if there had been a law given which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the law" (Gal. 3:21). In harmony with these truths and facts Peter declared, "And in none other (than Jesus) is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Again, Peter in talking to the "sojourners of the dispersion" in certain districts declared that "Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ" (I Pet. 1:18,19).
Thus Jesus fulfilled to the very letter the Messianic promises up to the point of the session of the Messiah at the right hand of the throne of God, i.e., those predictions which foretold the miraculous conception and birth of Messiah, His personal ministry, His rejection by the Jews, His death, burial and resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the throne of God, and session there were fulfilled literally in Jesus of Nazareth. At present He is there and will remain until the time arrives for Him to return to earth, to set up His government in Jerusalem, and to reign over the earth.
* The picture of Jesus as presented in the Gospel records is natural, consistent, and lifelike. There is nothing artificial to be found. All utterances and deeds harmonize. Each additional fact and utterance adds cumulative confirmation to the conviction that the picture of Jesus in the New Testament is true to fact; that Jesus did live; and that He lived the life which is therein set forth.
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