THE TRINITY OF THE DIVINE PERSONALITIES
I. THE SPIRIT OF GOD
HAVING seen in the preceding chapter that, though there is a plurality of divine personalities, they are one in nature and essence, let us now continue this investigation to ascertain, if possible, how many persons are mentioned in the Tenach.
In Gen. 1:1,2 appear the words אֱלֹהִים and וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים. The first word refers to a plurality of divine persons, and the second expression singles out one of these and states the special work which He did. In Job 26:13 appears the following statement: בְּרוּחוֹ שָׁמַיִם שִׁפְרָה "By His Spirit the heavens are garnished." In this passage the personality of the Spirit is clearly seen. The Spirit of God is not an influence emanating from God as heat goes forth from fire, or coldness from ice; but is one of the divine personalities active in creation. In Psa. 51:11(13) David in his pleading for mercy and restoration to God's favor prayed, וְרוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ אַל־תִּקַּח מִמֶּנִּי "And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." The Holy Spirit was dwelling in his heart "To revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isa. 57:15). Once more, the personality of the Spirit may be seen in Isa. 11:1,2, which is a passage concerning the מָשִׁיחַ, Messiah.
וְיָצָא חֹטֶר מִגֵּזַע יִשָׁי וְנֵצֶר מִשָּׁרָשָׁיו יִפְרֶה׃ וְנָחָה עָלָיו רוּחַ יְהוָה רוּחַ חָכְמָה וּבִינָה רוּחַ עֵצָה וּגְבוּרָה רוּחַ דַּעַת וְיִרְאַת יְהוָה׃
"And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit, and the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah." Here the prophet speaks of the Spirit of the Lord in terms of that which He does for and through the Messiah. Since to the Spirit are ascribed the very elements of personality--wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear--the only conclusion to which one can reasonably come is that the Spirit mentioned here is the Spirit of God, a divine personality. That the Spirit is God, hence omniscient and omnipresent is clearly set forth in Psa. 139:7, אָנָה אֵלֵךְ מֵרוּחֶךָ וְאָנָה מִפָּנֶיךָ אֶבְרָח׃ "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence."II. THE SON OF GOD
Another one of these divine beings is addressed as "my son" by the Lord God of Israel. In Psa. 2 the writer, David, in order to support the prediction that God will enthrone King Messiah upon His holy hill of Zion, quoted a decree which the God of Israel spoke to one whom He addressed as His son, which decree is as follows:
אֲסַפְּרָה אֶל־חֹק יְהוָה אָמַר אֵלַי בְּנִי אַתָּה אֲנִי הַיּוֹם יְלִדְתִּיךָ׃
שְׁאַל מִמֶּנִּי וְאֶתְּנָה גוֹיִם נַחֲלָתֶךָ וַאֲחֻזָּתְךָ אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ׃
תְּרֹעֵם בְּשֵׁבֶט בַּרְזֶל כִּכְלִי יוֹצֵר תְּנַפְּצֵם׃
"I will tell of the decree, Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son: this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Hence this language was addressed not to an angel, but to the Son of God. III. THE ANGEL OF JEHOVAH
According to parallel passages the reign of Messiah is to be one of universal righteousness, justice, and peace (see Isa. 11 and parallel passages). Since He whom God calls "my Son" will administer such a universal righteous reign, it is evident that He is not an ordinary man who is a faithful servant of God, for no man (even though he be a son of God in the sense of his being faithful servant of God), regardless of his qualifications intellectually, morally and spiritually, can administer a kingdom in which absolute righteousness and justice is dealt out to everyone. The truthfulness of this statement is borne out by the stubborn facts of history. Therefore this one whom God terms "my Son" is the Son of God in a unique and peculiar sense, the Son of God par excellence. This conclusion is corroborated by other statements of this Psalm and parallel passages. As seen in certain scriptures, in the "end time" there will be a confederacy or a United States of the nations. The peoples of the world will oppose the worship of the God of the Hebrews and the Messiah of the Christians. The governments of the world will use all of their resources in order to enforce a resolution, which shall be adopted by a world congress, to blot out both Judaism and Christianity from the globe. Since man is "incurably religious" he will have a ready substitute to take their place which, doubtless, will be the worship of man, the beginnings of which spiritually-minded Bible students for a number of years have seen slowly but surely developing. The world consolidated politically and economically, headed up into one mighty, colossal organization and entrenched in its position by modern science and "a knowledge, falsely so-called" together with a philosophy and religion made to order, constitutes a most formidable antagonist to Him whom God calls "my Son."
In addition to the outward, visible organization of world power, from other portions of the Tenach one learns that there is a supernatural world of evil, malignant spirits under the leadership of Satan, who inspires and instigates all opposition against God and the people of God. The truthfulness of this position is seen in the contest which Moses, the great law-giver, had with the magicians of Egypt (Ex., chaps. 7-13). These magicians actually at first duplicated the miracles of Moses, not by sleight-of-hand tricks, nor wisdom, but by Satanic power. For instance, their rods became serpents just as really as Moses' rod became a serpent. Again, in answer to Daniel's prayer an angel was dispatched by the Lord to him, who was delayed twenty-one days by "the prince of the kingdom of Persia," and was not permitted to continue his journey until Michael, one of the chief princes, came to his rescue (Dan. 10). From Psa. 106:34-38 one sees that all idolatry, which is in opposition to the worship of the true God, is inspired by demons. Again, from Isa. 24:21 it is evident that there is a host of evil spirits who are opposed to God: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will punish the hosts of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth." The leader of this host is undoubtedly "the anointed cherub" who was cast out of the presence of God, who is a most bitter enemy of God, and who raises up opposition to Him on every occasion.
The combined forces of Satan and his innumerable hosts of servile spirits, uniting with the forces and resources of the world confederacy, constitute the most amazing array of power against God with which no human being can possibly, under any conditions, cope successfully. Only the Omnipotent God can handle such a situation. Hence since he whom God calls "my son," at whose right hand the Eternal God goes forth (Psa. 110:5-7), does successfully overthrow and demolish such titanic opposition, he is none other than one of the divine persons referred to by אֱלֹהִים "Gods."*
In this connection the question arises "If the one referred to by the expression 'my son' is God, why is He called God's Son?" This is indeed an intelligible question. The mention of "Son" suggests the correlative term "Father." Humanly speaking, a father is older than his son, but, as seen from the preceding argument, the Son of God is one of the divine personalities; hence the Son co-existed with the Father from all eternity (Mic. 5:2). This fact being true, in what sense is He a Son? The only interpretation, which to the writer appears to harmonize with all of the data and which does not conflict with any Scriptural teaching, is that the terms "Father" and "Son" are used, not to express the relationship existing between these two divine persons in the beginning, but are terms, adapted to man's understanding, to express the relationship existing between them from the time of the fulfillment and onward of the promise, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Therefore Isaiah, in this passage, looking forward toward the future said that the Eternal God would come to earth and be born in the form of a child. His birth is not according to natural generation, but, according to Isa. 7:14, "... behold, the virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel," it is supernatural. All men have natural fathers and mothers, but the Everlasting God in being born of the virgin does not have an earthly father but is begotten by the miraculous power of one of these divine eternal persons; hence strictly speaking, He, the God-man, is the Son of God. The inspired writer in Prov. 30:4 had this same God-man in view when he asked the following question: מַה־שְּׁמוֹ וּמַה־שֶּׁם־בְּנוֹ כִּי תֵדָע׃ "What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou knowest?"
In Gen. 16, there appears an account of the appearance of מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the angel of the Lord" to Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, when she had been driven away by her mistress. In verse 7 this divine person is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "angel of the Lord"; but in verse 13 Moses makes the following statement: "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me?" Moses here says that Hagar called the name of the Lord who spoke with her "Thou art a God that seeth." It is clear from what Moses says that this angel of the Lord was none other than one of the divine beings. Again, in the eighteenth chapter one reads of another marvelous appearance of God. In verse 1 the statement is made, וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו יְהוָה בְּאֵלנֵי מַמְרֵא "and the Lord appeared unto him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre"; in verse 2 one reads, "three men stood over against him." Abraham immediately ran from the tent door to meet them and addressed them as אֲדֹנָי "Lord." This term, as is known to all Hebrew scholars, is one of the divine names. After the usual oriental hospitality had been extended to the visitors, Jehovah, יְהוָה said, "I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son." Sarah in unbelief laughed at the idea, because of which conduct the Lord said unto Abraham, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is anything too hard for Jehovah יְהוָה? At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son." From this quotation it is quite clear that the speaker was Jehovah, יְהוָה who promised to return a year hence and to grant to Abraham and Sarah a son. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־אַבְרָהָם לָמָּה זֶּה צָחֲקָה שָׂרָה "And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh?" Furthermore, He asked the question concerning Himself, "Is anything too hard for יְהוָה Jehovah?"IV. THE LORD JEHOVAH
In the last verse of the chapter appears me statement, "And Jehovah, יְהוָה went his way, as soon as he had left off communing with Abraham." From these facts is drawn the irresistible conclusion that one of these supernatural individuals who appeared in human form on this occasion was one of the self-existing divine personalities, one of the אֱלֹהִים, "Gods."
The fact of the appearance of one of the divine personalities for the purpose of communicating with Abraham His friend, shows the possibility of His assuming human form whenever the occasion arises. Again, in Ex. 3 the Angel of יְהוָה, Jehovah, appears to Moses in the wilderness in the burning bush. In verse 2 He is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the Angel of Jehovah," but in verse 4 this statement occurs: "And when Jehovah, יְהוָה, saw that he turned aside to see, אֱלֹהִים God called unto him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses." In verse 2 the one appearing to Moses is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה, "angel of Jehovah," but in the latter statement He is called both יְהוָה, Jehovah, and אֱלֹהִים, God. This identification of the angel of the Lord with יְהוָה, Jehovah, and אֱלֹהִים, God, is confirmed by the fact that this angel of the Lord in speaking of His appearance to Moses said, "that they may believe that יְהוָה, Jehovah, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee" (Ex. 4:5).
In Mal. 3:1,2: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and הָאָדוֹן, the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of Hosts." The prophet, in the first place, predicts that the messenger of the Lord shall precede Him and prepare the way for Him; and, secondly, that He, הָאָדוֹן, the Lord, will suddenly come to His temple. The messenger who goes before the face of the Lord and prepares His way is undoubtedly Elijah the prophet who is mentioned in the last two verses of Malachi's prophecy. When Elijah prepares the way, the Lord comes suddenly to His temple. As to who is referred to by הָאָדוֹן, Lord, there is no doubt that he is speaking of one of the divine persons; but who is meant by the expression מַלְאַךְ הַבְּרִית, "angel of the covenant?" If the law of Hebrew parallelism obtains here, the answer is plain, namely, that the names "Lord" and "angel of the covenant" refer to the same personality. The flow of thought points definitely and positively to the conclusion that such is the case; hence only one individual is here spoken of. From the facts which have been learned from the passages in which the מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה, "angel of Jehovah" occurs, there is but one conclusion to be drawn, namely, that this "angel of the Lord" is one of the divine persons.
Frequently we read of the Lord, אֲדֹנָי. An examination of each context often shows clearly that this one is He who, throughout the Hebrew Bible, is known as the Father. From an examination of all the Scriptures, one concludes that He never did through historic times appear on earth by assuming human form and conversing with man. Frequently the designation "the Lord Jehovah" is the term that is applied to Him. Nevertheless there are many instances in which He is simply spoken of as the Lord or Jehovah.V. THE WISDOM OF GOD
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Proverbs we read of wisdom. Verses 1-31 should be studied very carefully. To the casual reader it becomes abundantly evident that, in the first part of this chapter, wisdom is personified and is represented as a woman who goes out into the city to the public places where the crowds congregate and pass. She lifts up her voice and pleads with them to listen to her message and to accept it for their good.
This bold figure extends through the first thirteen verses. But when we reach verse 14, we see that this representation ceases and wisdom--which from this verse on is used in a different sense, in the masculine gender--begins to deliver his message. This transition of thought becomes apparent to the one who notes the fact that wisdom declares that he has might. In verse 15 he declares it is by him that kings reign, and princes decree justice. Moreover, princes by the same authority rule, and nobles of the earth exercise their authority. When we read verses 14-16 in the light of relevant passages, we see that the one who really has might and power and by whom kings and governors rule is none other than one of the personalities of the Godhead. Verses 17-21 are in the same strain.
But when we read verses 22-31, we see that this one is an Eternal Being who was in association with Jehovah prior to the creation of the universe. According to verse 22, this one declares that "Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old." The word rendered possessed also means formed. Our translators have chosen the former as the more probable meaning in this instance. With their opinion I concur. But the question may be asked: In what way did Jehovah possess this one, who calls himself wisdom, back in eternity prior to the creation? How does one person possess another? In answer let me say that we have the current idiom, "I have a friend," or, "I possess a good friend." The word possess or have indicates a personal relationship. Undoubtedly it has this significance in our passage. In verse 23 wisdom, continuing his speech, says that he was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was. He was set in his station or position of authority and power throughout eternity in the past, which had no beginning. In making this statement, he is affirming that he had an eternal existence along with God. In verses 24-26 wisdom continues in the same strain of speaking of his eternal existence with Jehovah prior to the creation of the universe. Then in verse 27 he speaks of his having been present when Jehovah prepared or established the heavens; he was there when the Lord set a circle upon the face of the deep. According to verse 28 wisdom was in association with God when the latter made firm the skies above, and when the fountains of the deep became strong. Verse 28 is talking about the events that occurred on the second day of reconstruction as set forth in Genesis, chapter 1. The events of this same chapter, occurring on the third day, are described in verse 29. In all the activity of those six days of reconstruction, wisdom was with God, as a master workman, and was the daily delight of the Almighty. When He created man, having made the earth habitable, wisdom was delighted with the sons of men. From all these statements it is clear that Proverbs 8:14-31 is talking about the existence of wisdom as a divine personality in association with God and co-operating with Him, not only in eternity prior to the creation of the world, but also in His reconstruction of the earth after the disastrous catastrophe recorded in Genesis 1:2.
As has been noted above, wisdom is personified and represented as a woman appealing to men and women to do right and to follow her ways. This is seen in verses 1-13. This description is blended with that of wisdom who is seen in the passage from verses 14 through 31. The blending of these two descriptions might be compared to a stereopticon lantern, which throws a picture upon the screen and which fades the first scene into a second one. As the observer looks at the first picture, it begins to fade and at the same time the dim outlines of another one starts to appear upon the screen. By the time the first one is gone, the second is in full view. Thus it is with this chapter. The picture of wisdom, represented as a woman, fades by the time we come to verse 14 and then wisdom, one of the divine personalities, is thrown upon the screen. Finally we behold Him as He was in association with God in eternity prior to the creation of the world. He also co-operated with Him during the reconstruction period of Genesis, chapter 1.
VI. THE WORD OF GOD
In Genesis 15:1 we are told that "the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision." When he had this vision, he was in full possession of his mental faculties and could understand what was transpiring. Abram's experience on this occasion was different from that which the prophets usually had and which we call divine inspiration. His spiritual state was doubtless similar to that which Zechariah had and described in the following statement: "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep" (Zech. 4:1).
An examination of the records of the different visions which the prophet had shows that he received them in succession on a certain night (see Zechariah, chapters 1-6). Concerning his receiving the fifth one (chap. 4), he declared that the angel who talked with him waked him. He was not literally asleep, for he had been receiving the earlier revelations. He therefore must have been awake and in full possession of all his mental faculties. Nevertheless, the spiritual experience which he had lifted him above that of his normal, wakeful, sane moments. The vision which was granted him lifted him as far above his normal, daily, intellectual life as the wakeful hours and mental activity of a person are above those of a period of sleep. Thus the vision in waking the prophet heightened his intellectual and spiritual faculties and lifted him to spiritual heights--far above temporal things--so that he could see and comprehend spiritual and eternal realities.
While Abram was in this condition of exaltation, the Word of Jehovah came to him and spoke a message of encouragement and hope. The circumstances related in connection with this experience are of such a personal nature that one is led to see in this particular case the appearance of one of the divine personalities, who is called "the Word of Jehovah."
Why is this one called the Word of Jehovah? Doubtless because of the fact that, as human words convey ideas of the speaker to others, so this one in His coming to different individuals conveyed the idea of God. It is therefore most appropriate that He should be called "the Word of Jehovah."
In Psalm 33:4-6 we have this language:
- For the word of Jehovah is right;
And all his work is done in faithfulness.
- He loveth righteousness and justice:
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of Jehovah.
- By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made,
And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
The psalmist calls upon the righteous to render praise and thanksgiving to God because "the word of Jehovah is right; And all his work is done in faithfulness." In verse 4 the line, "For the word of Jehovah is right," is parallel with the second line, "And all his work is done in faithfulness." The antecedent of "his" in the second line is "the word of Jehovah" in the first. Instantly we see that "the word of Jehovah" has a personal connotation. He accomplishes work, which He does in faithfulness.
In verse 6 we see by the first line that the heavens were made by "the word of Jehovah," and that all their hosts were brought into existence by the breath of His mouth. This verse being true Hebrew parallelism, "the word of Jehovah" is the one who created the heavens by the breath of His mouth and made all the hosts of them. From this statement we see that the term, word of Jehovah, is used in a personal manner. The one thus designated is the one who has created all things. Nevertheless, He is called "the word of Jehovah."
In verse 5 we read, "He loveth righteousness and justice: The earth is full of the lovingkindness of Jehovah." The antecedent of the "He" is "the word of Jehovah" in the preceding verse. He, the word of Jehovah, loves righteousness and justice. Evidences of His loving-kindness are to be seen throughout the world.
When we note the significance of all these facts, we come to the conclusion that the expression, "the word of Jehovah," is a term used to refer to one of the divine personalities -- the one who brought the material universe into existence.
In Psalm 147:15 we have this language:
"He sendeth out his commandment upon earth;
His word runneth very swiftly."
In this passage we have God's dispatching His "commandment" to some mission in the earth. Parallel with this thought is the one that His "word" runneth very swiftly. The "commandment" of the first line is parallel to the "word" of the second. Bible scholars have seen in this verse a reference to the same divine person mentioned in Psalm 33:4-6, who, as we have just seen, is one of the divine personalities that created the universe. From the passage under consideration we see that God the Father sent forth this one who is the Word of God and who travels very swiftly and accomplishes His mission.VII. TWO DIVINE PERSONALITIES IN THE ONE PASSAGE DESIGNATED AS "JEHOVAH"
Once again we have language similar to this in Isaiah 9:8: "The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel." Here we have the same term in the Hebrew translated "word." The Lord Jehovah sends Him forth on a mission to Israel which He performs. The characteristics of personality seem to stand out prominently in this passage.
Once again, we have another passage which seems to connote personality in the Word of God: "For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isa. 55:10,11).
In this passage we learn that God has a purpose in sending the showers and that they accomplish what is intended. In the same manner, declares the Lord, His Word that goeth out of His mouth shall accomplish that to which He sends it. The prophet speaks of the Word's going forth from God, accomplishing His work and then returning. In this passage likewise scholars have seen the features of personality of the Word.
Once more, we see a usage similar to this but much more graphic. In Ezekiel 1:3 we read that "the word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel." Then in the next verse we read a description of the appearance of the glory of Jehovah who appeared, seated upon a portable throne. This one had the appearance of a man, and He gave Ezekiel his call and commission. Since the prophet tells us that the word of Jehovah came to him expressly and then begins to describe the coming of this one enthroned above the cherubim, who delivered the word of God to him and gave him his call and commission, we come to the conclusion that Ezekiel spoke of this one as the "Word of God." From this conclusion there can be no escape--if we are willing to let the language speak its own message and note the trend of thought.
Why is this one called the "word" of God and at the same time the "glory of the God of Israel" (Ezek. 9:3)? Words are the symbols of ideas. By them thoughts are conveyed. Evidently this divine personality conveys to man the thought of God and the message of God. He therefore because of this fact is doubtless called "the Word of Jehovah."
Genesis, chapters 18 and 19, constitute a most marvelous revelation. I therefore ask the reader to turn to these chapters and study them carefully. Assuming that he has done this, I shall now call attention to the salient points in the narrative.
In Genesis 18:1 occurs the statement that Jehovah appeared to Abraham when he was by the oaks of Mamre. Following this sentence is one to the effect that he looked up and saw three men who stood over against him. Abraham greeted them and prepared a special meal for their entertainment (vss. 3-8). After the feast Jehovah, who was one of the three visitors coming to Abraham, conversed with the patriarch and promised that at the same time the next year Sarah, Abraham's wife, would become the proud mother of a child of promise. Sarah doubted and was reprimanded for her unbelief (vss. 9-15).
* In this connection it is well to consider a counter interpretation which is frequently placed upon this passage, namely, that the one addressed "Thou art my son" is any faithful servant of God. In reply to this position it is sufficient to note the fact that if the expression "my son" means any and all of the righteous servants of God, then there will be many sons who will have universal sway over the world. This conclusion, however, is contrary to the teaching, not only of Psa. 2, but of all of the Tenach. In verse 6, the expression "my king" refers to one, and it is to him that universal, absolute authority is given. There can be but one absolute monarch at any one time; therefore the interpretation under investigation conflicts with the teaching of the passage. Hence it is incorrect.