There is much debate on how Jesus fits in with God; is He God, a god, deity or merely divine? The New Testament looks at this question from different angles, in this study we will compare the Jesus of the New Testament with Yahweh of the Old. The result is more than interesting…
Most of us know that Yahweh is the name God chose to be known by in the Old Testament; the word we pronounce Yahweh is called a tetragrammaton, which comes from the Greek, meaning four letters. Most scholars agree that the Bible’s original manuscripts only use the consonants YHWH to which we add the vowels a & e so that we can pronounce it. Newer Bible translations use Yahweh or even YHWH, whereas most traditional translations use the word LORD in block capitals – probably as a sign of respect that comes front the Jewish tradition of not using God’s name, as they feel it is too holy for people to even speak.
The question is, how does the Jesus of the Gospels relate to Yahweh of the Old Testament? I know some people would say that they love Jesus, but have serious issues with the God of the Old Testament, is this a realistic position for a believer to hold to?
There is only one God.
One of the reasons Jesus upset so many of His hearers was His repeated claim to be equal with God (John 5:18), which can sometimes miss those of us without a knowledge of what the Old Testament says about God, and how He revealed Himself to Israel. The Jewish people were and are passionate monotheists, they (like the Muslims) believe in just one God, and every other being or object making such a claim is a pretender and must be rejected. But what about Christians, how many God’s do we believe in? Just the one of course, but by taking the New Testament seriously we get a much fuller picture of God and as such find our lives taking on a very different shape than those who follow any of the world’s religions.
Jesus & Yahweh
Let’s look at how the Holy Spirit inspired writers of the New Testament translated some Old Testament passages in the light of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory – In Isaiah 6:1-10 the terrified prophet describes his vision of Yahweh (see verse 3) enthroned in glory, and then goes on to reveal what Yahweh had told him to preach (verses 9-10). If we then go to John 12:37-38, John tells us how the peoples refusal to believe is the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah that we just mentioned, but then in John 12:41 John explains that the reason Isaiah said what he did; it was because he had seen Jesus’ glory ; the only thing is, Isaiah 6:5 says that is was Yahweh that he had seen. John is telling is us that Isaiah’s vision of Yahweh in His glory was actually Jesus in His glory.
John came to prepare the way for… – In Mark 1:1-3 we are told that the prophecies of Isaiah 40:3 & Malachi 3:1 are referring directly to the work of John the Baptist, who had come to prepare the way specifically for the ministry of Jesus, however there is another layer. Isaiah 40:3 states that the way was being cleared for Yahweh Himself. Mark is stating quite emphatically that the Yahweh of Isaiah 40:3, is Jesus of Nazareth.
There is only one saviour – In Isaiah 43:11 Yahweh tells us that there is no other Saviour besides Him, but then Matthew 1:21 tells us that Jesus has will save His people from their sins; saving from sins is of course the work of the Saviour. Once again Jesus and Yahweh are synonymous; the same principal applies to Hosea 13:4 & Luke 2:11.
He is the first and the last – If we move on to Isaiah 44:6 we see Yahweh making another statement about His uniqueness; He alone is the first and the last, and there is no God beside Him. None of us would have a problem with that. But then we read in Revelation 1:8 that Jesus revealed Himself to be the Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), and just in case that wasn’t clear enough, He states plainly in Revelation 1:17 that He is the “First and the Last” .
Whoever calls on the name of… – In Joel 2:32 we have the wonderful promise that whoever calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved; we turn to Acts 2:21 & Romans 10:13 and see the same verse referring to Jesus.
Who did they pierce? – To finish our study let’s look at Zechariah 12:10 where we read a cryptic statement that says the inhabitants of Jerusalem will see that they have ‘pierced’ Yahweh. If we go to Revelation 1:7 John encourages the churches with a picture of Jesus’ highly visible appearing, he goes on to tell us that everyone will see Jesus’ return, including those “who pierced Him”. This is not coincidental, John wants us to know something, the Yahweh of Zechariah is the resurrected Jesus.
In the light of what we have read our conclusion has to be that, either Jesus is a deceiver on an utterly dreadful scale, or we are to accept that He is Yahweh of the Old Testament, no matter how little we may understand the facts. In future posts we will look at how there are other Scriptures that reveal Jesus’ deity, which does of course set us unmistakably on a course toward the doctrine of the Trinity…; watch this space.
Does any of this matter? After all, when it comes to us be being saved, we simply need to give allegiance to Jesus as saviour, and most of us, when we did that, had no clue about what we have been looking at here. But when it comes to growing into the renewed humanity God desires, how we understand Jesus becomes very important, because how we perceive His image will have a very real impact on the shape that our lives will take and how the world will see Jesus in us; but that discussion is for another day.
I have added the table below to help those of you who want to take this a bit further.
|Isaiah 6:5||John 12:41|
|Isaiah 40:3 Malachi 3:1||Mark 1:2-3|
|Isaiah 43:11||Matthew 1:21
|Isaiah 44:6||Revelation 1:8, 17|
|Joel 2:32||Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13|
|Hosea 13:4||Luke 2:11|
|Zechariah 12:10||Revelation 1:7|
Go well my friends 😀
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