Clearing up misconceptions about the Christian faith and defending it.

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Monotheism and the Concept of a Triune God – Part 2

This is a continuation of a topic that was started  in this post. Read it to get a background and to understand the reference in this post.

Christians have been accused of splitting God into three. In the last post, I tried to explain the concept of a triune God. How He is essentially One God, visible in three forms to serve three separate purposes. Yahowah is purity and reading the Old Testament reveals His attributes as a pure and just God. Yahshua is love and salvation. The New testament reveals that God has always loved us richly, passionately and deeply, but through Yahshua’s sacrifice, He takes that love to the next level, making it stronger than even pain and death, achieving salvation for all who will believe. It’s the deepest love we will ever encounter on earth and in this life, lovers and husbands/wives and parents notwithstanding. And the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, purifies us much as a refiner refines silver. He works with us slowly, steadily, improving us, convicting us of wrongdoing but never condemning us, encouraging us to get up and try again. When Yahshua said, I will leave you a Comforter, He meant it.

But God in three forms, is it some New Testament invention? That God appears in a physical form and a spirit form as well as His glorious one, is it something we Christians have imported into the original faith from paganism? Take this small Old testament tour with me to know, not through my knowledge or my reasoning, but through the simple and clearly stated information given in the Word of God.

Yahowah–Almighty God, the Great I am, the Ancient of Days.

When Moses saw the burning bush on Mount Horeb, he wondered at how the bush was on fire but did not burn up. His curiosity brought him into his first encounter with God. The first thing God asked Moses to do was remove his sandals, for Moses stood on holy ground. At that point, Yahowah introduced Himself by name as I am Who I am (Exodus 3:14.) Moses went on to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but throughout that journey he kept in close communion with God, who directed him. When Moses wanted to see His glory, Yahowah told Moses: No man can see my glory and live (Exodus 33:20.) There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen (Exodus 33:20-23.)  When God descended on mountains before the Israelites, the mountain was always covered with clouds, so the Israelites could see lightening and could hear his voice but could not see him. Deuteronomy 4: 11-14: You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.   Deuteronomy  5: 15You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. No one has seen the face of Yahowah, so when John says: No one has seen the face of God and lived, he is right. However, a supposed contradiction arises when we consider Exodus 33:11 that states that: 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. But is it really a contradiction? Let’s look at the next point.

The Angel of the Lord

The first few books of the old testament has several references to the  angel of the Lord.

  1. Genesis 16: The account of Hagar and Ishmael.
  2. Genesis 22: The angel of the Lord speaks to Abraham as he is about to sacrifice Issac: But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,“Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Genesis 18: The Lord appears to Abraham at Mamre in the form of a man:

18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

Genesis 32: 22-30: In This passage, Jacob wrestles with a man all night and prevails. At the end of their conversation, Jacob names the place where it happened Peniel, which means: It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 

Exodus 3: 1-6: In this passage, the angel of the Lord, as well as God, appears to Moses from within a burning bush.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

Judges 13: This passage is about the angel of the Lord appearing to Manoah and his wife to instruct them about the son they were about to have.  At the end of their communication, Manoah’s wife realizes they have seen God.

Judges 6: 11-24: In this passage, Gideon sees the angel of the Lord and on realizing who he had seen, he is afraid he will die. There was no need for this fear if it was a mere angel. After all, Daniel met Gabriel but he never felt that fear.

In each of these references we see that the angel of the Lord was not initially recognized by the people who saw Him, but when they did, they realized they had seen God face-to-face. All of these would be in contradiction to the Exodus 33: 20. If. that is. we do not make space for the fact that God, even in those days, appeared to man in a different form, one that allowed Him to communicate with them but one that did not, at the same time, harm them.

And was this angel of the Lord himself God? Judges 2: The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

Even a casual study of the Pentateuch will tell you that:

  1. It was Yahowah who brought Israel out of Egypt.
  2.  It was Yahowah who led the Israelites through the wilderness into the land that He had promised them.
  3. It was Yahowah who had promised the land of Canaan to Israel’s ancestors.
  4. It was Yahowah who had made a covenant with Israel, which He said He would never break.
  5. It was Yahowah who had instructed Israel about what they should do with the pagan deities and places of worship as they encountered then during their slow and steady occupation.
  6.  And it was Yahowah who went ahead of the Israelites in battle and who gave them victory.

Here, in this verse, it is the angel of the Lord who makes the same claims as Yahowah, clearly showing us that He and Yahowah are one and the same, just appearing in two different forms.

The Spirit of God

The Holy Spirit of God had been poured out or put into various people in the old testament–from artisans who were commissioned to build the temple, to musicians, to the leaders who had been chosen to govern and guide Israelites during their desert years.

Numbers 11: The Spirit of God was poured out on 70 elders chosen by Moses. They immediately prophesied when the Spirit descended on them.

Exodus 31: God chose Bezalel and Ohaliab to work on the design of the Tent of Meeting etc.

These verse are not written by Christians; they existed from of old. They show us that God could and did exist in three forms from the beginning–as the pure and glorious Yahowah who man cannot see and live. As the angel of God who visited people and spoke to them face-to-face, giving them instructions. And as the Holy Spirit who descended on people selected to carry out tasks so that they would be guided to do them in a way that was aligned with the will of Adonai.

From the Old Testament, the Jewish Tanach, to the New Testament, we see that the one and only God has has existed in three forms to serve differing purposes. The New testament has not imported anything from any pagan belief systems.

In the last post in this topic, I would like to discuss the concept of Trinity, how it is confused with what is the truth existing in the Bible ( and the Tanach) and also how it distorts this truth.