Who Do You Say That I Am?

"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’" Matthew 16:13-16


Throughout the New Testament we see that Jesus had a peculiar habit of forcing people to decide the question of His identity. In first century A.D. nearly everyone in Israel had an opinion about this carpenter from Nazareth. To the Pharisees He was a devil who did His miracles by the powers of Satan. To some He was John the Baptist risen from the dead. To others Elijah or one of the prophets. To His disciples He was the Son of God and the very Creator of the universe.

Today in America most people have an opinion about Jesus. To some He is a legend – a non-historical figure. To others a lunatic or a deceiver. Some, including many Jewish people, believe that Jesus was just a good rabbi who was "messianized" by His disciples. According to this theory, the disciples of Jesus erroneously applied a number of Old Testament Scriptures to the life and ministry of Jesus.

In December, 1994, Life magazine did a cover story on Jesus called "Who Was He?" In this article a number of theologians, atheists and philosophers were asked their opinion about the carpenter from Nazareth.

John Murray, president of the American Atheists Society said regarding Jesus:

"There was no such person in the history of the world as Jesus Christ. There was no historical, living, breathing sentient human being by that name. Ever. The Bible is a fictional, non-historical narrative. The myth is good for business."

Barbara Thiering, author of a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls, stated:

"It is in the scrolls if you really study the codes. It was not a resurrection. He was put on the cross. Those with his own party, trying to help him to commit suicide, gave him poison (The sponge dipped in vinegar). He was unconscious but not dead. His side was pierced, blood came out. A dead body does not bleed. So his followers knew that he was not dead. They put him in the cave. He lived until his seventies, and it was he, Jesus, acting behind Paul, who led their party out of Judaism and to Rome. He married Mary Magdalene and had four children."

Predictably, Life magazine never bothered to examine the claims of Jesus or His disciples. In this chapter we will do just that.

Jesus the Legend?

For centuries there have been those who have attempted to deny the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. The proponents of this theory will argue that the only ancient historical references to Jesus are in the New Testament manuscripts and the writings of the early church fathers. However, even a cursory review of ancient rabbinical and Roman historical documents destroys this claim.

Josephus

In the first century A.D. a Jewish priest by the name of Joseph ben Matthias (later given the Roman name Flavius Josephus) was commissioned by the Roman government to write a history of events in Judea. In his book, Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus makes one of three references to Jesus and His disciples:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man. If it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works. He was the Christ. And the tribe of Christians so named from Him are not extinct to this day."

This is an important historical reference to Jesus of Nazareth because it’s from a source that can hardly be considered as biased.

Ancient Jewish Sources

From A.D. 200 to 500 ancient rabbis compiled their commentaries on the Bible, Jewish social customs and historical events in the Talmud. Because it was compiled by rabbis who were the leaders in rabbinical academies, the Talmud is considered to be very authoritative by Jews, even to this day.

In the Babylonian Talmud there are numerous references to the historical existence of Jesus. In the tractate Sanhedrin, 43A, there is a fascinating historical reference to Jesus:

"It has been taught on the eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshua. And an announcer went out in front of him for forty days saying, ‘He is going to be stoned because He practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in His favor, let him come and plead in His behalf.’ But, not having found anything in His favor, they hanged him on the eve of the Passover."

In this remarkable reference to Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) a number of aspects of Jesus’ ministry are confirmed. First, the fact that He performed supernatural feats, which they attribute to sorcery, is confirmed as a cause for His rejection. Secondly, the fact that He was crucified (hanged is an idiom for crucifixion) on the eve of the Passover is a remarkable confirmation of the historical events recorded in the New Testament Gospels.

Again, the value of this reference stems from its unbiased source. Certainly no one would argue that ancient rabbis, who despised Christians, would bolster the claims of the church by making such a reference to a man who never existed.

Among the writings of the ancient Romans and Jews there are dozens of additional historical references to Jesus of Nazareth.

The Disciple’s Claims

The impact Jesus had on the lives of His disciples is one of the most powerful evidences for His messiahship and deity. The crew that Jesus chose to turn the world "right-side up" was comprised of fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers and the like. With the exception of Paul the Apostle, a well educated rabbi, it is unlikely that they would have been voted "most likely to succeed" by their classmates. And yet, they changed the known world with unparalleled devotion and sacrifice to their "Lord and Savior," Jesus Christ. However, it didn’t begin that way.

The disciples were ordinary men with the same desires, fears and weaknesses as any one of us. They were not "supermen." Although they were "eye witnesses" to Jesus’ majesty and His command over the forces of nature, when He was arrested on the night before His crucifixion, the disciples scattered like sheep, fearing for their own lives. Peter, the one who stated Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God," denied even knowing Jesus after His arrest. At the moment of truth, at the foot of the cross, as Jesus hung dying, only a small contingent of women and the Apostle John were there at His side.

However, the cowardice of the disciples was short lived. After the bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ the disciples boldly proclaimed Jesus as Messiah and Savior in the most dangerous place on earth – the Temple in Jerusalem

A Prince and Savior

Throughout the New Testament the disciples claim that Jesus is the Savior of the world and the only way to salvation. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, we read in the book of the Acts of the Apostles this very claim by the Apostle Peter:

"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Acts 5:30-31 (KJV)

This same claim was made by angels at the birth of Jesus:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:8-11 (KJV)

The remarkable thing about the title of Savior is its application in the Old Testament. In the book of Isaiah this very title is applied exclusively and only to God! In Isaiah 43, God, speaking through Isaiah states of Himself, "I, even I am the LORD and beside me there is no Saviour.",

In this verse the word LORD (all capitals) is the English translation for the holiest name of God, Jehovah or Yahweh, otherwise known as the "tetragrammaton." This name is so holy that the Jews will not even pronounce it.

Throughout the Old Testament we find the name Yahweh coupled to the title Savior as an indication of God’s covenant relationship to Israel. The exclusivity of Yahweh’s role as Savior is amplified in Isaiah, chapter 45 where God states:

"Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from that time? Have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." Isaiah 45:21 (KJV)

In this verse Yahweh, the Creator of the universe, the God of the Bible, wants us to know that He alone is God and He alone is Savior. According to these two Old Testament verses there cannot be two saviors! Consequently, either Jesus and Yahweh are One and the same or there is a major contradiction in the Bible.

In the New Testament this paradox is anticipated in Paul’s letter to Titus:

"Paul, a servant of God, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour." Titus 1:1-4 (KJV)

Paul the Apostle was a rabbi and a Pharisee who was rigorously trained in the Old Testament Scriptures all of his life. Paul knew the book of Isaiah and he knew that God (Yahweh) alone is the Savior of the world. Consequently, for Paul to apply the title of Savior to Jesus Christ and God in the same sentence is a powerful indication that Paul believed that Jesus was indeed God!

God Manifest in the Flesh!

Throughout the New Testament we find the remarkable claim by the disciples that Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh.

Before the ministry of Jesus even commenced there were those that recognized the deity of Jesus.

When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told by an angel that she would conceive the Messiah in her womb, she was also told that Elisabeth, her relative, was with child. Mary arose immediately and went to visit Elisabeth to share the wonderful news. In Luke, chapter one, we read the remarkable declaration of Elisabeth regarding the child in Mary’s womb:

"And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’" Luke 1:41-43 (KJV)

"The mother of my Lord!" Elisabeth recognized the greatness of the child in Mary’s womb and the fact that this child is the very Lord of the universe!

Apparently, Elisabeth taught her son well. Thirty years later John the Baptist, Elisabeth’s son, was drawing great multitudes to his message of repentance and forgiveness of sins. News of his ministry reached the Pharisees, and so a delegation was sent to John to ask him who he was. The response of John is recorded in all four Gospels.

In the Gospel of John we read the details of this inquiry:

"Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ. And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself? He said: ‘I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.’" John 1:19-23 (NKJ)

In his statement John tells us plainly that he is quoting the prophet Isaiah and that his ministry was to go before the LORD, to make His way straight. The casual reader might continue on and miss an incredible insight placed in the book of Isaiah by the Holy Spirit.

In John 1:19-23 John the Baptist claimed that he was ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.’" It turns out that John is quoting Isaiah 40:3. In this verse the prophet Isaiah speaks of a time when another prophet, yet future, would be,

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’" (NKJ)

In the text of Isaiah 40:3 the word LORD is again the English translation for the Hebrew word Yahweh.

John the Baptist was claiming that he was going before and making straight the path for Yahweh, the very Creator of the universe! However, in the next few verses we see unequivocally that John was speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, the one whose path he was making straight;

"And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, ‘Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?’ John answered them, saying, ‘I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.’ These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.’" John 1:24-30 (KJV)

In these verses John identifies Jesus as the One whom he preceded, the One "whose shoe’s latchet [he is] not worthy to unloose," the One who Isaiah said was Yahweh!

The disciple’s belief that Jesus was indeed God, "manifest in the flesh," is unequivocally proclaimed by the Apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:16:

"And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness. God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up in glory." I Timothy 3:16 (KJV)

When was God "received up in glory?" In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter one, Jesus of Nazareth ascended into heaven from the mount of Olives forty days after his resurrection. Skeptical? Read on.

The Feet of God!

In the book of the prophet Zechariah, written at least four hundred years before the birth of Jesus, we are given a glimpse of the last days:

"Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south." Zechariah 14:3-4 (KJV)

In this portion of Scripture we are told that Yahweh ("LORD") will manifest himself in time and space in a body with feet and stand on the mount of Olives.

In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the identity of this person is further clarified in chapter one. The scene depicted is forty days after the resurrection of Jesus. He has just told His disciples that He is going to send the Holy Spirit. In the very next verse we read:

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.’ Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey." Acts 1:9-11 (KJV)

This is another one of those places where a casual reading of the text fails to uncover an astonishing nugget which reveals the supernatural engineering of the biblical text.

In Acts, chapter one, the scene is the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Can you imagine the look on the disciples faces as they watched this event. As they are staring in awe, two angels (men in white apparel) tell the disciples that Jesus’ return will be, in effect, a re-run of His ascension into heaven. Then the Holy Spirit inspired Luke, the author of Acts, to insert a seemingly insignificant commentary that they returned "unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet."

In other words, when Jesus comes a second time, He will descend from heaven and set His feet on the place from where He ascended – the mount of Olives!

The Book of Zechariah states that this event will be accomplished through a physical manifestation of Yahweh. The New Testament says it’s Jesus. Either we have an irreconcilable contradiction, or Jesus and Yahweh must be One and the same!

"Thou Shalt Worship No Other God"

The claims of Jesus’ disciples leave little doubt that they believed He was indeed, "God manifested in the flesh." This shared belief is further supported by the fact that they willingly worshipped Him as God.

In Matthew’s Gospel we read the story of the Magi – the wise men – who came to honor the baby Jesus whom they believed was the "King of the Jews."

"And after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who has been King of the Jews, for we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’" Matthew 2:1-2 (NKJ)

The Greek word for worship is "proskuneo," The literal meaning of this word is to fall on your face, prostrate on the ground, and to kiss at the feet of an individual. These magi wanted to worship the Messiah.

Later in the Gospel of Matthew, we read the story about the day that Jesus walked on water. Jesus instructed His disciples to go ahead of Him and cross over the sea in a boat. Late that evening a storm arose and Jesus decided to take a short-cut. So, He simply walked on the sea to meet the His disciples at the boat in the midst of the sea! The disciples, believing they had seen a spirit, "were troubled," to say the least.

Once Jesus identified Himself, Peter decided to try his hand at walking on water. However, when he took his eyes off Jesus, Peter began to sink. Then Matthew’s Gospel states, "then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Jesus, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’"

In the Book of Job we are given a little nugget that helps clarify the identity of Jesus and why the disciples worshipped Him. Speaking of God, Job states, "He alone, spreads out the Heavens and treads on the waves of the sea." The word "treads" literally means to walk upon.

No wonder they worshipped Jesus! They must have thought to themselves, "Only God can walk on water."

The worship of Jesus was not a trivial matter. In fact, the Pharisees rebuked Him for receiving such worship. The reason is found in the book of Deuteronomy;

"And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish." Deuteronomy 8:19 (KJV)

To worship anything (literally to prostrate one’s self) other than Yahweh was a sin punishable by death. Consequently, if Jesus was not God then these men were guilty of blasphemy.

The Claim’s of Christ

Without a doubt, the claims of Jesus are the most radical, the most exclusive, the most offensive, and the most divisive claims ever made by any man. Through the ages there have been many religious leaders that have made remarkable claims about their teachings, their identity or their relationship to God. Many have claimed to be a way to God. Some have claimed that their words contained eternal truths which, if applied to one’s life, could bring happiness or great fulfillment. Some have claimed to be the Messiah and some have even dared to claim that they were gods. The claims of Jesus are even more radical.

During his ministry, in clear and certain terms, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, and on numerous occasions He even declared equality with God. He declared that He speaks the very words of God and He claimed to be the only way to eternal life. Such claims were not only too much for the scribes and Pharisees to handle, they were the major reason that they wanted Jesus dead.

"Do You Believe in the Son of God?"

There are those who say that Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be the Son of God. On the other hand, one of the reasons that modern rabbis reject the messianic claim of Jesus is because He did claim this title. Their contention is that the Messiah is just a man, and not the Son of God. Therefore, Jesus could not be the Messiah. However, when the beliefs of the ancient Jewish rabbis are examined in detail, we find that they did, indeed, believe that the Messiah is the Son of God.

Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God is found throughout the four Gospel accounts, but none more clearly than in the Gospel of John. In chapter nine we read the story of a man, blind since birth, who was healed by Jesus at the Temple of God. After the Pharisees accused him of faking the recovery of his sight, he was thrown out of the Temple and was found again by Jesus.

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’" John 9:35-37 (NKJ)

"Messiah… Who is Called Christ"

The Messiah (Anointed One), the coming redeemer of Israel, has been the hope of every Jew for thousands of years. Arguably, the dominant theme of the Tanakh (Old Testament) was to foretell the birth, lineage, mission and destiny of this Redeemer, the "King Messiah." In fact, the Babylonian Talmud states:

"All the prophets prophesied only of the days of Messiah." Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a

In the Old Testament, there are literally hundreds of messianic prophecies which foretell nearly every aspect of the Messiah’s life, mission and destiny. During His life, Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled over three-hundred prophecies that were definitely recognized by ancient Jews as messianic. From His humble birth in the city of Bethlehem to His suffering and cruel death,, from His rejection by Israel to His acceptance by the gentile world, it was all foretold hundreds of years before His birth.

Despite impeccable "credentials," the messianic claim of Jesus was ultimately rejected by the leadership in Israel. To many, the rejection of Jesus by the leadership of Israel is evidence enough that He was not the Messiah. "After all," the skeptic argues, "shouldn’t the learned men of Israel, the scribes and the Pharisees, recognize the Messiah when He comes?" To the biblically naïve this argument seems reasonable. However, when the Messiah’s mission is examined in the light of the Old Testament prophecies, we discover that His suffering, rejection and death are, in fact, the fulfillment of a supernatural plan devised before the creation of our space-time domain!

There is no doubt that Jesus took upon Himself the title of Messiah in numerous places in the four Gospel narratives. However, His messianic claim was usually affirmed in response to an inquiry about His personal identity or a discussion about the Messiah in the third person.

For example, in John, chapter four, we read the story of a Samaritan woman that Jesus met at Jacob’s well. This meeting was remarkable because, as the woman noted, " Jews have no dealings with Samaritans." Centuries of animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews resulted in a tradition where the Jews would literally go around Samaria rather than risk contact with a Samaritan. After inquiring why Jesus would even talk to her, the woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming who is called Christ…When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ And Jesus said to her, "I Who speak to you am He."

"I And My Father Are One"

Throughout the four Gospels Jesus made many astonishing claims about Himself and His relationship to God His Father. However, none of them offended the Pharisees more than His claims of deity. In the Gospel of John, chapter 10, we find a dramatic encounter and the most incredible claim ever made by Jesus:

"Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.’ Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’" John 10:22-33 (NKJ)

Among the Sanhedrin, the ruling body in Israel, there were those who wanted to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Eventually, some of them did. However, when Jesus declared that He and His Father were One, they couldn’t handle it. There was no doubt in their minds what Jesus had just declared. He was applying to Himself the very nature and essence of God the Father, the Creator of the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

Those that heard this incredible claim had a choice. They had seen many miraculously healed; they had heard His unparalleled words. Either this man was the Messiah of Israel and God in the flesh, or a deceiver and a blasphemer. They chose the latter. Why? Because He, "being a Man, makes himself God."

Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus made dozens of similar declarations regarding His equality with God. In John chapter 14, we find an incredible discourse between Jesus and His disciples. Speaking of His Father, Jesus said:

"‘If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.’ Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" John 14:7-9 (NKJ)

In John, chapter 12, speaking of the Father, Jesus made a similar declaration when He stated, "…he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me."

Jesus’ claim that He is the very image of God is echoed in a number of places in the New Testament.

Speaking of His majesty, Paul the Apostle declared that Jesus is:

"…the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." Colossians 1:15-16 (NKJ)

In Hebrews 1:3 the author, speaking of Jesus, states:

"who being the effulgence of His [God’s] 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."

In I John 5:20, the Apostle John makes an incredible statement regarding the identity of Jesus:

"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."

Such radical claims about Him and by Him are unparalleled in human history. No wonder the Temple officers who were charged with capturing Jesus said "…No man ever spoke like this Man!"

The Titles of God

Within the Old Testament there are a number of majestic titles that are exclusively applied to God. In many cases we find that God jealously guards these titles, declaring that they apply to Him "alone." It is fascinating to discover that many of those titles exclusively applied to God in the Old Testament are applied to Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament as well. In fact, a careful examination of both testaments reveals that most of the names of God are applied to all three persons of the Trinity (Table 1).

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John was caught up in the spirit and given a panoramic vision of earthly and heavenly events at the end of the age. During his vision, John was given a preview of the throne of God where he saw Jesus Christ as "a Lamb as it had been slain." John was also given a preview of the cataclysmic events on planet earth that will take place during the last 3 1/2 years of earth history known as the "Great Tribulation."

In Revelation, chapter 19, John is given a vision of an event called the "marriage supper of the Lamb," where the saints (the church) are treated to a meal by the Lord Jesus himself. Then the Apostle John states he saw "heaven open" and a man riding on a white horse, whose robe was dipped in blood. This rider, called the "Word of God," is unequivocally identified by scholars as Jesus Christ. What is remarkable about this rider is that verse 16 states "…He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’"

This presents a small problem because this very same title is exclusively applied to Yahweh in the Old Testament.

"For the LORD, [Yahweh] your God, is the God of Gods and the Lord of Lords. The great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe." Deuteronomy 10:17

The title "LORD of lords," by its very nature, can only apply to one individual. There cannot be two "LORD of lords." So, either Jesus of Nazareth and Yahweh are One and the same, or there is another major contradiction in the Bible. But wait, there’s more.

In the book of Revelation, chapter one, there is a similar paradox. The Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos when he heard behind him a "great voice" who identified himself as the "Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last." Stunned by this encounter, John "fell at his feet as dead." Then the One who spoke to John laid His right hand on him and said:

"…Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." Revelation 1:17b-18

The identity of this individual is, of course, Jesus Christ. Only Jesus could make the claim, "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." The problem is that the title "First and the Last," here applied to Jesus, is also applied exclusively to Yahweh in the Old Testament.

In the book of Isaiah we read:

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.’" Isaiah 44:6 (NKJ)

In this verse we see another hint of the supernatural engineering of the Biblical text. Notice first that there are two distinct personages spoken of here; Yahweh, King of Israel and Yahweh of Hosts. These two individuals refer to themselves as "I." Notice, they do not state, "We are the First and the Last." Here we see a hint of at least two personages making up the God of the Bible.

Secondly, notice that Yahweh states, "besides Me there is no God." There are not two Yahwehs. Consequently, since the title, "the First and the Last," is applied to Jesus Christ, then He must be a physical manifestation of Yahweh, the transcendent Creator of the universe.

The Great ‘I Am’

In the book of Exodus, Moses took his flock to the back of mount Horeb, the "mountain of God," and had an encounter with a burning bush that was not consumed. Frightened, Moses turned away and the voice of God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. God told Moses that he has seen the affliction of his people in Egypt and that he was about to deliver them from their servitude.

Although Moses was quite impressed with his encounter, he wasn’t convinced that he was the man that God was looking for. After some reassurance from God, Moses asked;

"…when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them?" Exodus 3:13 (KJV)

Imagine Moses’ predicament. He was about to go to three million Jewish exiles and tell them that a burning bush had just spoken to him and told him that he was their deliverer. Moses was hoping to bring some impressive evidence that would convince the people his story was true. What was God’s response?

"And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM:’ and he said, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.’"

The name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is "I AM."

The literal meaning of this Hebrew word, haw-yaw (I AM), is the existent One, the becoming One, the One who is. The term "I AM" eventually became so sacred that it was considered blasphemous to apply it to one’s self. Despite this tradition, on numerous occasions Jesus of Nazareth applied that very title to Himself.

In John, chapter eight, we find Jesus teaching in the treasury of the temple with the scribes and Pharisees listening in. After declaring that He was "the light of the world," the scribes and Pharisees were indignant because Jesus was testifying of Himself. A few moments later Jesus accused them of being from "beneath" and He made a staggering declaration about Himself:

"I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I Am, ye shall die in your sins." John 8:24 (KJV)

All they could say in response is, "Who are you?" A few verses later Jesus replied,

"When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I Am, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." John 8:28 (KJV)

Not only did Jesus claim that he was the "I Am," the voice of the burning bush, He also declared to the scribes and Pharisees that when they kill Him ("lift up the Son of man"), He will prove it to them, presumably by resurrecting Himself from the dead!

The Names of God

God’s Name

The Father

The Son

Holy Spirit

Yahweh

Throughout

Isaiah 6:1-3;

Isaiah 45:21; Jeremiah 23:5-6; John 1:23

Isaiah 11:2

El

Throughout

Isaiah 9:6

Exodus 31:3

Almighty

Genesis 17:1

Rev 1:8

Job 33:4

True God

Jeremiah 10:10

1 John 5:20

 

Blessed God

Throughout

Romans 9:5

 

Great God

Deut 10:17

Titus 2:13;

Rev 19:17

 

God

Throughout

Isaiah 7:14;
1 Tim 3:16

Acts 5:3-9

"I Am"

Exodus 3

John 8

 

First and Last

Isaiah 41:4;44:6; 48:12

Rev 1:17-18,

 

LORD of lords

Deut 10:17; Psalm 136:1-3

1 Tim 6:15;

Rev 19:16;

Rev 17:14

 

Table 1

In John 8:58 Jesus said again to the scribes and Pharisees, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am." There are some groups that claim that Jesus wasn’t really declaring His deity in this verse. However, the response of the scribes and Pharisees indicates that they believed He was. In the very next verse it says, "Then they took up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by."

Clearly, the leadership of Israel believed that Jesus did, on many occasions, declare His equality with God.

The Works and Attributes of God

One of the most fascinating discoveries the diligent Bible student can make is to find the major works and attributes of God applied to all three persons of the Trinity. From the creation of the universe to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, from the Omnipresence of God to His eternal existence, they are all applied to God the Father, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit.

In the New Testament we find many of the works of God applied to Jesus by His disciples (See Table 2). Others, He claimed of Himself. For example, in John 2:19 and John 10:17 Jesus declared that He has the power to resurrect His own body. In John 5:21 Jesus declared that He has the power to resurrect anyone.

Regarding the attributes of God, in John, chapter 17 verse 5, while praying before His crucifixion, Jesus claimed He shared the glory of God:

"And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was."

The Works of God

Work of God

The Father

The Son

Holy Spirit

Creation of Universe

Psalm 102:25-26

Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3

Genesis 1:2;
Job 26:13.

Creation of Man

Genesis 2:7;
Genesis 1:26; Ecclesiastes 12:1;
Isaiah 54:5

Colossians 1:16

Job 33:4

Incarnation of Messiah

Hebrews 10:5; John 3:16

Philippians 2:7

Luke 1:35

The Death of Christ

Psalm 22:15, Romans 8:32, John 3:16

John 10:18; Galatians 2:20

Hebrews 9:14

The Atonement

Isaiah 53:6, 10

Ephesians 5:2

Hebrews 9: 14

The Resurrection of Jesus

Acts 2:24; Romans 6:4

John 10:17, 18; John 2:19

1 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:11

The Resurrection of Mankind

John 5:21

John 5:21,

John 6:40,54

Romans 8:11

Scriptures Inspired by

2 Timothy 3:16

1 Peter 1:10,11

2 Peter 1:21

Minister's Authority

2 Corinth 3:5-6

1 Timothy 1:12

Acts 20:28

Indwelling Presence

Ephesians 4:6

Colossians 1:27

1 Corinth 6:19

The Work of Sanctification

Jude 1:1

Hebrews 2:11

1 Corinth 6:11

Table 2

Jesus’ claim that He shared the very glory of God the Father presents another difficulty. In Isaiah 42:8 Yahweh declared that He will not share His glory with anyone:

"I am the LORD [Yahweh]: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images."

Either Jesus of Nazareth and Yahweh are One, or Jesus was committing blasphemy. God will not share His glory with anyone.

Additional attributes applied to Jesus are omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, eternal existence and the holiness of God (See Table 3).

Attributes of God

Attribute

The Father

The Son

Holy Spirit

Eternal

Existence

Psalm 90:2;

Isaiah 57:15

Isaiah 9:6;

Micah 5:2;

Rev 1:8, 17;

John 1:2

Hebrews 9: 14

Infinite Power

1 Peter 1:5

2 Cor 12:9

Romans 15:19

Omniscience

Jeremiah 17:10

Rev 2:23

1 Cor 2:11

Omnipresence

Jeremiah 23:24

Matthew 18:20

Psalm 139:7

Glory of God

throughout

John 17:5

 

Holiness

Rev 15:4

Acts 3:14

everywhere

Truth

John 7:28

Rev 3:7;

John 14:6

1 John 5:6

Benevolence

Romans 2:4

Ephesians 5:25

Nehemiah 9:20

Our Fellowship With:

1 John 1:3

1 John 1:3

2 Cor 13:14

Table 3

The Skeptic Returns

Some will argue that the New Testament’s claims of the divine nature of Jesus are a cleverly engineered fabrication. They assert, "over-zealous disciples of Jesus erroneously applied dozens of Old Testament Scriptures to the life and ministry of this simple carpenter from Nazareth."

However, even without the claims of Jesus and His disciples, the Old Testament presents the Messiah as an eternally existent, extra-dimensional, divine Being – One who stepped out of eternity into time in the form of a man – One who is called God and worshipped as God in many places. Finally, in the Bible there is an abundance of evidence that the God of the Bible is a plural Being – One God who manifests Himself in more than one personage.

"In Beginning Elohim"

Within the pages of Scripture we find it clearly stated that there is indeed, only one God. This is a fundamental belief of Judaism and Christianity. However, there are indications in the very first verse of Genesis that God is a plural Being.

"In the beginning God, created the heavens and the earth"

The word used for God in Genesis 1:1 is "Elohim," which is a form of the word "Eloa." In the context of Genesis 1:1, there can certainly be no doubt as to who is doing the creating. In the Hebrew language the "im" ending imputes plurality. Therefore, "Elohim" is the plural form of the word "Eloa," one of the names of God.

It is interesting to note that each usage of this word throughout the Bible is grammatically incorrect. It is a plural noun used with singular verbs. According to Genesis 1:1, the Creator of the Universe, Elohim, exists as a plural being.

If this were not so then the word "Eloa" or perhaps Yahweh would have been used. However, the Holy Spirit chose to use the word "Elohim," the plural form of the name of God in the very first place where the name of God is proclaimed.

"Let Us Make Man in Our Image"

"And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’" Genesis 1:26, (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)

The plurality of God is also discovered in the creation of man. According to this fascinating verse, man was created by God in his own image. However, there is something provocative and unexpected in this verse. Prior to the creation of man we find a conversation between God (Elohim) and an unidentified being ("let Us make man in Our image"). Who is this person with whom God is speaking?

This person, or intelligent being, has some attributes that we can glean from the text. First, the personage is able to speak with God "on His turf", that is, in the realm of timeless eternity.

Secondly, this being apparently has the same kind of creative ability as God ("Let US make"). This describes a cooperative effort between Elohim and the person with whom He is speaking.

Finally, the likeness or image of this being is comparable to God’s ("In Our image, after Our likeness").

When confronted with this passage, modern rabbis often claim that God is speaking to the angels. However, this explanation fails to recognize a number of problems.

First, there is no indication in the Bible that angels can create life. Secondly, nowhere is it indicated that angels are made in the image of God. Finally, there is no indication that mankind was made in the image of angels either!

We may conclude that the person with whom Elohim is conversing lives in the eternal realm, has His creative power and exists in the image or likeness of God. No angel, no man, no created being in heaven or on earth could possibly fit these criteria.

The plurality of God is also seen in Genesis 3:22. After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden we find a fascinating conversation:

"Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’" Genesis 3:22 (NKJ)

"Man has become like one of Us." To whom is the LORD talking?

Again in Genesis 11:7, God is discussing His solution to the whole earth having one language at the time of the Tower of Babel:

"Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech." Genesis 11:7 (NKJ)

The fact that the LORD (Yahweh) refers to Himself in these passages as "Us," is indeed a fascinating hint of the plurality of God.

The "Creators" of the Universe?

The plurality of the Creator seen in Genesis 1:1 has been dismissed by some as simply a description of God’s plural majesty. However, the plurality of the Creator is also seen in a number of very provocative verses.

In Ecclesiastes 12:1 we read:

"Remember also thy Creators in the days of thy youth, While that the evil days come not, Nor the years have arrived, that thou sayest, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’" (Young’s Literal Translation, 1898)

The word Creators is a plural form of the word "bara," which means to create out of nothing. ,

The notion of plural Creator is also seen in Isaiah 54:5, where the prophet states:

"For thy Maker is thy husband, Jehovah of Hosts is His name, And thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, ‘God of all the earth,’ He is called.’" (Young’s Literal Translation, 1898)

In this verse the word "Maker" is the plural form of the word "asa," which means to form or make.

In the last section we saw that the creation was attributed to God the Father, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit (table 2). So it should come as no surprise that we find verses which speak of a plural Being, "Elohim," and the concept of "Creators" or "Makers" for the universe.

These verses present a remarkable paradox. The Bible clearly teaches that there is but one God and one Creator. Yet this one God is a plurality of more than one personage, each of which has the attributes of God and performs the works of God.

Surprisingly, the solution to this paradox may be found in one of the strongest monotheistic passages in the entire Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one LORD!" Deuteronomy 6:4 (KJV)

In this verse we are told that God is One. However, when we examine the word "echad," translated "one," we discover an interesting meaning. This word, "echad," comes from a Hebrew root which means "to unify" or "to collect together," a "united one."

We can get a better feel for it’s usage by examining a couple of additional verses. After the creation of man we find the establishment of the marriage relationship:

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one (echad) flesh" Genesis 2:24 (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)

Regarding the people of the earth after the flood we read:

"And the LORD said: They are one (echad) people, and they have all one language." (Genesis 11:6 Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)

In each of these verses we see the idea of separate persons viewed as a unified "one." The man and woman become "one flesh." The people of the earth become unified together as "one people." This unification in these verses obviously does not mean that they physically unite into a single being. The individuals still retain their personal identity and distinct personage. The word "one" here implies a "compound unity."

It is in this sense that we can understand the "One God" in Deuteronomy 6:4 – He is clearly One God, yet He manifests Himself in more than one distinct personage – something totally compatible with the Christian concept of the Trinity.

The word "yachiyd" (pronounced "yaw-kheed") is used to indicate "one and only one." This word is frequently translated into the English word "only." However, it literally means "only one" or "solitary one." It is a word which suggests an indivisible one as opposed to the compound unity implied by the word "echad."

If God was an indivisible unity, as opposed to the compound unity implied by "echad," then surely the Holy Spirit would have inspired Moses to use the word "Yachiyd."

This problem was recognized by the great Maimonides, a twelfth-century Hebrew Sage. Maimonides, a Jewish rabbi who denies the messiahship and deity of Jesus, recognized that the word "echad" in Deuteronomy 6:4 implies a compound unity – a plurality of personages in Yahweh. Consequently, Maimonides stated that Moses used the wrong word when he wrote the book of Deuteronomy!

Finally, we see a hint of the Trinity, the three in One, in a number of provocative verses which declare the holiness of God. In Isaiah 6:1-3 we read;

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" Isaiah 6:1-3 (NKJ)

In Revelation, chapter four, John is given a view of the four living creatures around the throne of God;

"And the four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’" Revelation 4:8 (NKJ)

Why "Holy, holy, holy?" This is just another hint of the plurality of God and the three in one seen throughout the Scripture.,

Deity of Messiah in the
Old Testament

In the Old Testament there are a number of additional proofs of the deity of the Messiah. We have already seen a number of the titles of God applied to Jesus Christ in the New Testament. However, there are those that will dismiss such titles as mere plagiarism. The New Testament authors, they claim, simply applied Old Testament titles to Jesus, thus making Him something He was not. However, in the Old Testament, the Messiah is called God no less than three times and He is worshipped as God at least twice.

"Mighty God"

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given ; And the government will be upon his shoulder; And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" Isaiah 9:6 (NKJ)

Isaiah the prophet lived during a time of great despair for the nation of Israel. Yet, in his prophecies there are rays of great hope for the future inhabitants of Israel. In this fascinating verse we see the great messianic hope declared. Deliverance would come through a "son" who is born physically into the world, a redeemer who would be called "Mighty God." The words "Mighty God" come from the Hebrew "El Gibbor," literally, "God the Mighty." This very word is used a number of times as a definite reference to Jehovah God.

Among ancient rabbis the identity of this person was almost universally believed to be the Messiah. Presently, however, most rabbis deny the messianic application of this verse with its obvious Christian connotation. If this is not the Messiah, then who else? Surely no prophet or priest is worthy of the title, "The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace."

"God With Us"

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)

The book of Isaiah is considered by many Jewish scholars to be the greatest book of messianic prophecy in the entire Bible. In Isaiah we are told more about the origin, nature, ministry and destiny of the Messiah, than in any other prophetic book.

In Isaiah 7:14 we are told that a child was born into the world as a sign to mankind. The name of the child was to be called Immanuel. This word, Immanuel, means "with us is God." It is derived from the root words "El" which means God, and the word "Im," which is translated "with."

Today the identity of the child "Immanuel" is a point of great contention. However, ancient rabbinical sources clearly believed it was a reference to the Messiah. In fact, ancient rabbis believed that the child Immanuel is the same person identified as "the Root of Jesse’s stock", in Isaiah 11:1 and the "Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," in Isaiah 9:6, verses which were clearly believed to be messianic.

"The Lord Our Righteousness"

"Behold the days are coming, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, The LORD Our Righteousness." Jeremiah 23:5-6 (Jewish Publication Society Version 1917)

Jeremiah the prophet was a witness to the destruction of Jerusalem and the abduction of the people of Israel by the Babylonians. In the midst of his prophetic book, after many chapters of doom and gloom, Jeremiah includes this beautiful prophecy regarding the future redeemer of Israel and the security of the nation under His reign.

This remarkable verse declares that a future King of Israel, from the line of David (the "righteous shoot", sometimes translated the "Branch") will bring justice, righteousness and salvation to Israel, and will be called The LORD (Yahweh) Our Righteousness! The word LORD is again the "tetragrammaton," the name Yahweh, the holiest name of God.

Who is this person, this "righteous shoot," the one who will be called "Yahweh our righteousness?" If He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then how could He also be a descendant of David? Why is this person described as a physical being, born of the line of David, one who will reign as king, the one who, "in His days," will save Judah.

Some might argue that this is simply a prophetic declaration that God will rule over the people of Israel at some point in the future. However, an omnipresent Being cannot fit the bill here. Such a Being isn’t born into time and space with a beginning or end of days. Furthermore, God, in His spiritual, omnipresent state, cannot be a descendant of David. What kind of a being could possibly fulfill such criteria?

The solution is simple, yet profound. To fulfill these requirements God would need to enter our space-time domain by manifesting Himself in a physical body, be born supernaturally as a descendant of David, then "reign as king and prosper, and…execute justice and righteousness in the land!"

All these criteria could be solved by God in just such a way. He could be a descendant of David, yet still be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, by entering our space-time continuum at a finite point, He would technically have a beginning to His physical earthly days.

An examination of ancient rabbinical writings reveals that they clearly believed that this verse was a reference to the Messiah. In an ancient Aramaic paraphrase (written by rabbis) of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the Targumim, Jeremiah 23:5-6 is applied to the Messiah:

"And I will raise up for David the Messiah the Just."

Rabbi Kimchi (1160-1235 A.D.), a highly respected Rabbi in his time, wrote of this prophecy:

"By the righteous branch is meant Messiah"

If the ancient rabbis are correct, then the obvious and startling conclusion is that the Messiah (the righteous shoot) will be born into the world as a literal and physical manifestation of Yahweh, the Creator of the universe, the great I Am, the LORD of Lords, the One who was dead and now lives!

For those who might argue that this is not the Messiah, then the obvious question is again, "to whom else could it refer?" What other man could deserve the title "The LORD Our Righteousness?"

Places Where Messiah is Worshipped

"One Like Unto A Son of Man"

"And I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and he was brought near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" Daniel 7:13-14 (Jewish Publication Society version,1917)

Throughout the Bible the people of God are admonished to serve and worship the God of Israel only, and not to serve and worship other gods. This is absolutely foundational to the beliefs of the observant Jews and Christians.

However, in the above passages, Daniel 7:13-14 we read of an individual to whom "all the peoples, nations, and languages" will serve. Who is this individual? In the Babylonian Talmud this person is identified as the Messiah:

"If Israel behaved worthily, the Messiah would come in the clouds of heaven, if otherwise, humble riding on a donkey." (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a)

According to the ancient rabbis who compiled the Talmud, the person coming in the clouds – a reference to Daniel 7:13-14 – is the same individual (the Messiah) who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.

A curious aspect to this prophecy, however, is that we are told that "all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him." The word, pelach, translated serve, literally means to serve or to worship, especially in the sense of offering service or worship to God. The very same word is used eight additional times in the book of Daniel and each time with the idea of serving or worshipping God.

In the seventh chapter of Daniel we are given a description of a dream and vision that Daniel had in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar. Daniel is shown a succession of four beasts which represent the four gentile kingdoms of the earth. These were to be the kingdoms that would arise prior to the coming kingdom of the Most High God, a kingdom that will be everlasting. After a description of the four kingdoms we are told:

"Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve (pelach) and obey him." Daniel 7:27 (Jewish Publication Society version, 1917)

Here we find the very same Hebrew word, pelach, used in reference to "all dominions" (that is all peoples) serving the Most High God. This is the very same word and the very same activity that Daniel said, in chapter seven, verse 14, would be reserved for the Messiah.

However, God absolutely forbids that we serve or worship anything other than himself, the true and living God of Israel.

Deuteronomy 8:19 tells us what will happen if we worship other gods: "you shall surely perish."

According to Daniel 7:14, the group that will serve the Messiah is composed of "all the peoples, nations, and languages." That is, every person on earth will serve him. However, Daniel 7:27 states that the same all inclusive group will be serving "the Most High" God.

If everyone on earth is serving the Messiah, who is left to serve the "Most High" God? Has Daniel contradicted himself? How do we reconcile this dilemma? The obvious solution is that the Messiah must be a physical manifestation of the eternal God!

In serving the Messiah, all humanity will truly be serving the LORD, the God of Israel!

"Let All The Angels of God Worship Him"

In the New Testament we find a fascinating verse in the book of Hebrews which also speaks of the worship of Messiah;

"God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’" Hebrews 1:1-6

In this portion of the book of Hebrews the writer (widely held to be Paul the Apostle) quotes a number of Old Testament passages and then attributes them to Jesus Christ. After describing Jesus as God’s Son and "the brightness of His (God’s) glory and the express image of His person," the writer then goes on to state, "…when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’" In this verse the writer is quoting from the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 32:41-43.

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures that was commenced in 285 B.C. During the period from the first century B.C. to the second century A.D. it was the most commonly used translation by the synagogues. In fact, many of the New Testament references to the Old Testament are from the Septuagint version.

In the book of Deuteronomy we find the following rendering:

"For I will sharpen my sword like lightning, and my hand shall take hold of judgment; I will render judgment to my enemies, and will recompense them that hate me. I will make my weapons drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh, it shall glut itself with the blood of wounded, and from the captivity of the heads of their enemies that rule over them. Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the LORD shall purge the land of his people." Deuteronomy 32:41-43 (Septuagint Version)

In this portion of Scripture, Deuteronomy 32:41-42, God tells the children of Israel of His power, His glory and how He will render judgment upon His enemies.

In the very next verse we read of someone who will, "avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies."

What is astonishing about this individual is that God states that His [God’s] angels will worship Him! "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let the angels of God worship him." This phrase is also found in the Dead Sea Scroll fragment of Deuteronomy 32.

Who is this individual? Why would God have His angels worship him?

It is obvious that this person could not be a mere mortal. No king, priest or prophet could qualify for worship. Not even an angel may receive worship. The Bible tells us;

"for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" Exodus 34:14

And as we saw earlier;

"Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish" Deuteronomy 8:19 (NKJ)

We can see by these verses that God takes worship seriously. The penalty for worshipping anything other than Him is death! Consequently, the person sanctioned for worship by God must be a physical manifestation of God Himself. The solution to this puzzle is found in the writings of Paul in the New Testament.

"Every Knee Shall Bow…"

One of the most productive and fascinating studies the student of Scripture can do is to examine the hundreds of Old Testament Scriptures that are applied to Jesus in the New Testament. Many prove the messiahship of Jesus and many prove His deity. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians there is a subtle example of the latter.

In chapter two Paul makes sweeping statements about the nature and majesty of Jesus Christ:

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. " Philippians 2:5-10 (NKJ)

A casual reading of this text might easily miss a fascinating proof for the deity of Jesus. Paul states that, "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…" Such a statement by Paul is not surprising since he clearly believed that Jesus was God. However, what is not widely known is that Paul was quoting a verse that was actually another reference to Yahweh.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 45, we read of the majesty and glory of Yahweh, the Creator, Redeemer and Savior of Israel. After enumerating a number of the LORD’s works and attributes, we find these words of the LORD, spoken through the prophet Isaiah;

"I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath." Isaiah 45:23 (NKJ)

According to Yahweh, "every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath," to Him, the Creator and Savior of the universe. According to Paul the Apostle, every knee would bow to Jesus! This is just another proof that every verse, every place name, and every letter of God’s word is there by design.

Messiah-God the Son!

Shortly after the ministry of Jesus began, it was determined by the Sanhedrin that He must die. Though His disregard for their authority and their traditions were enough for them to want Him dead, it was the claims He made about Himself that was the final straw. Jesus even asked them why they wanted to stone Him to death. "Because you, being a man, make yourself God," was their response.

While most first century Jews believed that the Messiah was the Son of God, the notion of Him being God in the flesh was apparently foreign. However, according to Alfred Edersheim, a nineteenth-century Jewish believer in Jesus, the line between the nature of the Messiah and the nature of God was very fine;

"The Messiah expected was far above the conditions of the most exalted of God’s servants, even his angels; in short, so closely bordering on the Divine, that it was almost impossible to distinguish him therefrom"

Shortly after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Sanhedrin met to discuss the fate of Jesus. Some believed in Him, but most wanted Him dead. Though He did many wonders and spoke like no man, His claims were too radical and His image too meek. The crowds that gathered everywhere He went were a threat to the tenuous but peaceful status quo maintained by the Roman Empire.

So, as the Gospel of John says:

"Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’ And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’" John 11:47-50 (NKJ)

"It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people." These are the words of the high priest, Caiaphas. Though he didn’t know it, Caiaphas had summarized the very reason that the Creator of the universe came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Redeemer and Savior of all mankind.

Jesus said it Himself, "It is for this purpose that I have come."

Despite His impeccable credentials as Messiah and God in the flesh, "…He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all…He was led as a lamb to the slaughter…He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken…Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him…by His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities…Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great…because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

The Transcendent One

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" Micah 5:2

Over and over Jesus made the incredible claim that He was not of this world. To the Pharisees Jesus stated, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world." On the night before He was crucified, He said to His disciples, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." And as He prayed for Himself, He said to His Father, "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." Within these few verses is the unparalleled claim by Jesus that He is a transcendent Being from beyond time and space.

Jesus’ claim that He "is not of this world" is provocative indeed. The Greek word translated to the English "world," is the word kosmos. While this word has a number of meanings, it is most often translated as "world," or "universe" in more contemporary literature. In the New Testament it is also frequently used to mean the "world system."

When Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world," He clearly implied that He was not of this "universe." By itself, this is an astonishing declaration. However, when He prayed to the Father, "…glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world (kosmos) was," He not only claimed that He shared the glory of God, He claimed that He existed before time began!

From Everlasting

In the twentieth century, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has confirmed that time itself is a physical property of the universe, and not just a construct of the human mind. As evidence is the fact that time can be compressed or stretched when influenced by extreme velocity, acceleration or gravity. Because of this, anyone that claims to be the Creator of this universe must be able to demonstrate an existence which is independent of the time domain. Throughout the Bible, in both testaments, this claim is made of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Within the Old Testament there are a number of clear references to the eternal existence of the Messiah. The book of Isaiah is widely held to be the greatest book of messianic prophecy in the entire Bible. Within its pages we find virtually every aspect of the Messiah’s life and ministry foretold. In the ninth chapter of Isaiah we find two verses which speak of the Messiah’s eternal existence:

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJ)

Within this scripture we find a description of a Being whose existence is indeed independent of the time domain. According to this verse, this person is the "Everlasting Father." Some translations call Him the "Father of Eternity." By default, such a Being must have existed before the creation of the time domain. With the arrival of our time domain, this "Son" manifested Himself in time and space through His birth as a child on planet earth.

Ultimately, this Being regains His eternal, time-independent nature, to rule on the throne of David "from that time forward, even forever." With rare exception, the ancient Rabbis believed that this person is the Messiah of Israel, the "Son" of God, the One who "will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace."

The remarkable thing about this verse is that it describes a Being who lives in eternity, enters time and space, then re-enters an eternal realm again. This phenomenal ability to enter and exit the time domain could only be accomplished by a transcendent, extra-dimensional Being.

There is one last point that needs to be made about this scripture. When this "Prince of Peace" came into time and space, He took on the form of a man. However, within this text is a hint that this "Wonderful Counselor" remains in the form of a man forever! This is supported by New Testament scriptures as well.

The eternal existence and transcendent nature of the Messiah is further confirmed in the book of the prophet Micah. In this undeniable messianic verse, the prophet foretells the place where the eternal One is born into space-time:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" Micah 5:2 (NKJ)

Here again we see the likes of a transcendent Being. Though He inhabits eternity, He took upon Himself the limitations of a human body, born in the city of Bethlehem, to be ruler in Israel.

In an ancient rabbinical commentary, called the Targum of Jonathan, we find the unequivocal application of this prophecy to the Messiah:

"And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you who were too small to be numbered among the thousands of the house of Judah, from you shall come forth before Me the Messiah, to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned before, from the days of creation" (emphasis added).

In his book, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, a Jewish believer in Jesus, points out that at one time, the belief in the eternal existence of the Messiah was firmly rooted in the writings of the ancient rabbis:

"Even in strictly Rabbinic documents, the premundane if not the eternal existence of the Messiah, appears as a matter of common belief. Such is the view expressed in the Targum on Isaiah 9:6 and on Micah 5:2" (emphasis added).

The composite picture of the Messiah presented in these few verses is quite remarkable. An eternally existent Being enters time and space as a child. This child, now confined by the dimensions and laws of the physical universe, experiences birth, growth, hunger, thirst, pain, the aging process and death. He regains His transcendent nature in an eternal, glorified body, only to rule on the throne of David forever.

The nature of this "Everlasting Father"– clearly the Messiah– fulfills the requisite credentials of a transcendent, time-independent, Creator for this universe.

The King Eternal

The eternal existence and transcendent nature of Jesus Christ is also confirmed throughout the New Testament. In some verses His preincarnate and post-resurrection eternal existence are emphasized. In others, it is His ability to transcend the time domain which confirms His deity and transcendent nature.

In John 1:1 we find what some have called the oldest genealogy in the Bible:

"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 by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:3, 14 (KJV)

In this verse we are told that at the beginning of time the Word (logos) was already in existence. This "Logos" was with God and He was God. All things (time, space, matter) were made by Him. Finally, this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This person is of course, Jesus Christ. These verses have some striking parallels to Isaiah 9:6-7.

Described in these verses is a Being whose existence is again, independent of the time domain. He existed in timelessness before "the beginning" of the time domain which He created. He entered space-time, "taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men." Ultimately, because "the world knew Him not," He was killed, only to regain His transcendent nature after His bodily resurrection.

In I Timothy 1:17 Jesus is called the "King Eternal." In the book of Revelation, Jesus calls Himself the "Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending…the First and the Last," To the first-century Greek mind, such titles would readily be understood to mean existing from eternity past to eternity future.

Finally, throughout the New Testament Jesus tells His disciples that He has the power to give them eternal life. While this ability certainly impressed His disciples, it also revealed something about His nature. For Jesus could not bestow eternal life unless it was something that` He possessed Himself. If He himself didn’t possess it, He couldn’t give it away.

"I Came Forth From the Father"

The eternal existence of Jesus is not something that He merely possessed after His resurrection, it is one of the attributes He possessed before His bodily incarnation in the womb of the virgin. This fact is seen in a number of statements He made during His ministry.

On the night before His crucifixion Jesus spent a time of deep sharing and reflection with His disciples. On that short evening together, He revealed to them some of the greatest insights about His nature, ministry and destiny. In John 16, Jesus warned His disciples that after He was gone they would be despised, persecuted and killed, in the name of God, by those that ruled in Israel:

"They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me." John 16:2-3 (NKJ)

Then He shared with His disciples that He was returning to the place from where He had come, the eternal dwelling place of His Father:

"A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father…I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father." John 16:16, 28 (NKJ)

In these few verses Jesus confirms that His eternal dwelling place was with the Father before His incarnation.

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t

In the 1930’s British physicist Sir James Jeans admitted that the Creator of our universe must be a transcendent Being who works "…outside time and space, which are part of his creation, just as the artist is outside his canvas." Having a transcendent nature also means the Creator would be able to enter His "canvas" to order and establish the materials therein.

One of the fascinating outcomes of Einstein’s relativity theories is the discovery that space and time are intimately and inseparably linked. This fact has led to the term "space-time" as a way of demonstrating this linkage. This linkage provides another fascinating way in which God might demonstrate His existence.

It’s interesting that the Bible spends very little time arguing for God’s existence. It simply takes His existence for granted. Nevertheless, in the book of Isaiah, God said that one of the proofs of His existence is that He is able to foretell history in advance. In fact, the Bible demonstrates that its origin is from outside the time domain through predictive prophecy.

The question is, how could God demonstrate that His existence is not only independent of time, but beyond the three spatial dimensions of our universe as well? The answer is simple: He could do this by materializing out of nowhere, ex nihilo, and by disappearing without a trace, anywhere within the three dimensions of our universe. This ability demonstrates a nature which supersedes and is beyond the mere dimensions of our universe. Furthermore, if God could do this anytime He wished, it would prove that His existence is independent of both time and space.

It’s interesting to discover that Jesus demonstrated this very ability before His incarnation and after His bodily resurrection from the dead.

The Captain of the LORD’s Host

In the Old Testament there are a number of pre-incarnate appearances, called "Christophanies," of Jesus Christ. After the death of Moses, Joshua was appointed to lead the children of God into the promised land of Israel. Shortly after they crossed over the Jordan river, we read:

"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, ‘Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, ‘What saith my lord unto his servant?’ And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, ‘Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.’ And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:13-15 (KJV)

There are differing opinions regarding the identity of this person identified as the "captain of the host of the LORD." Some claim he is an archangel. However, this interpretation is hampered by the fact that he receives worship from Joshua and tells him that the ground upon which Joshua stands is holy (This is exactly what God said to Moses when He revealed His glory at the burning bush on Mt. Horeb). God forbids the worship of anything but Himself, including angels.

In support of this principle is an event in the book of Revelation where the Apostle John is overcome with awe at the appearance of an angel. In Revelation 19:10, John records:

"And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’" Revelation 19:10 (NKJ)

Because the Being who appeared to Joshua received worship, most scholars believe that this person was none other than Jesus Christ. In fact, some would argue that every time that God has materialized in the form of a man, it is in the person of Jesus Christ – the GOD-MAN.

The Road to Emmaus

In the New Testament, in all four Gospel accounts, Jesus of Nazareth reveals His extra-dimensional nature by materializing out of nowhere. One of the most fascinating post-resurrection appearances was when He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Three days earlier Jesus had been crucified and it was now the day of His resurrection. In Luke 24 we read:

"And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’ Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’ And He said to them, ‘What things?’ So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.’ Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’" Luke 24:14-32 (NKJ)

What a blessed case of heartburn! There are many provocative aspects to this portion of Scripture.

First, while the disciples of Jesus traveled on the road to Emmaus they did not recognize Him. It’s interesting to note that on numerous occasions His disciples did not recognize Him after His resurrection. Whether it was due to the physical abuse and disfigurement He suffered, or a supernatural change in His glorified body, we do not know. It wasn’t until He broke bread with them that they recognized that it was Jesus. Could it be that when He broke the bread that they saw the prints of the nails, or was it a supernatural unveiling of their eyes?

Secondly, Jesus stated, in effect, that through the entire Old Testament, from the first five books of Moses to the last prophet Malachi, the rejection, suffering and death of Messiah was foretold.

Finally, after they recognized Him, He simply vanished out of their sight.

Immediately after this encounter these two disciples traveled back to Jerusalem to tell the others. When they arrived, they told the other disciples that Jesus had risen indeed. Luke records what happened next:

"Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.’ But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." Luke 24:36-39 (NKJ)

There are those who claim that Jesus did not resurrect bodily, but spiritually. However, this error is anticipated by these very verses. The disciples were afraid because, when Jesus appeared, they thought they were seeing a spirit. However, Jesus corrected them by pointing out that, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

The point is that within these few verses we see the appearance, ex nihilo, and disappearance of the Messiah of Israel, in His glorified body, thus revealing His transcendent nature.

Extra Dimensions?

While we can only speculate as to the method Jesus used to accomplish these post-resurrection appearances, the field of dimension theory may provide at least a conceptual basis for such appearances.

We currently enjoy a universe which consists of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. In reality, we humans only experience half of the time dimension because we can only move foreword along its course. In this century theoretical physicists believe they have discovered a basis for many more dimensions within our universe.

While the speculation in this area is plentiful indeed, some physicists believe that at the moment of creation, the universe consisted of ten dimensions (nine spatial and one time dimension). Then at 10-43 seconds, six of them collapsed sub-microscopically, never to be seen again. Others believe that there may be an infinite number of dimensions. Whatever the case may be, the implications of dimension theory are fascinating.

According to the principles of dimension theory, if Jesus, in His pre-incarnate and post-resurrection state, possessed at least nine spatial dimensions and one additional dimension of time, He could "pop in and out" of our universe, unencumbered, anytime or anywhere He wished. Even though dimension theory may have nothing to do with how God manifests Himself in time and space, it’s fascinating to discover that twentieth-century theoretical physics may provide, at the very least, a conceptual basis for what has been considered to be an unexplainable supernatural phenomenon.

The Great Mystery

For thousands of years the Bible has taught that God is an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, eternally existent and transcendent Being. In fact, as we have seen, the Bible applies all of these attributes to all three persons of the Trinity. The difficulty for us as finite beings is to understand how an infinite God could be one and three at the same time? Secondly, How can God be everywhere at once and yet be confined to a body in the person of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, why did He even bother to walk among us?

Regarding the mystery of the triune God, Paul the Apostle said in I Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." The word translated "darkly," is the Greek word "ainigma," which means an obscure thing, or a riddle. The blessed hope, expressed by Paul, is that one day this enigma will be cleared up. Then, as the Apostle John said, "we know that when He is revealed [made manifest], we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

While the enigma of a triune God cannot be solved by finite beings trapped within the dimensions of space and time, with the twentieth-century discovery that the universe is finite, our view of God’s nature has been made a little clearer.

Prior to this century there were a number of biblical difficulties that could not be solved because those attempting to solve them did so from the bias that the universe was infinite. However, when viewed from the foundation of a finite universe, many of these seemingly irreconcilable paradoxes are within our grasp.

With a finite universe God could exist before its creation, He could exist outside space and time ("inhabit eternity," as Isaiah said), and He could design the universe and its life forms, outside of time. Then with the arrival of the universe, He could "fax" those concepts or "blue-prints" into time and space. Furthermore, because He exists outside of time, He knows history in advance. And from our perspective, He is all-knowing (omniscient). Because He exists outside of space, He can instantaneously manifest (i.e. materialize) Himself anywhere He wishes within the dimensions of space, and therefore, He is to us, omnipresent. Finally, since all causes must be greater than their effects, God, who is greater than the sum of all the mass and energy in the universe, becomes to us, the omnipotent One.

There are many religions that proclaim the notion of an infinite universe. The problem with such a notion is that it puts some interesting, but logical constraints on their notion of God.

By definition, if the universe is infinite, then there can be nothing else. Consequently, with such a view of the universe, God becomes an occupant of the universe rather than a Being who transcends it. Therefore, God could not dwell in eternity. He could not exist before time and space began. And because God is confined to the universe, He is subject to its laws. Therefore, God becomes either a product of the universe or the universe itself.

It’s interesting that most Eastern religions and New Age philosophies believe in an infinite universe and a god who is its occupant.

However, in one fell swoop, twentieth-century discoveries have provided evidence which destroys the notion of an infinite universe, while the biblical view of a transcendent Creator and a finite creation is now more logical than anytime in history.

"That We May Know Him"

According to Scripture, one of the purposes of Jesus coming to earth was to represent to us, in a tangible and comprehensible way, the very nature and essence of God. Indeed, according to the writer of Hebrews, Jesus is "the radiance of His [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature." However, according to God, man cannot look upon Him "as He is," without dying. Therefore, God needed to adapt His nature and take on a form that we could relate to with our five senses and yet survive. This process – becoming a man – was therefore not only the most rational way to accomplish this goal, but it was, to say the least, an enormous step of humility.

Paul the Apostle wrote that Jesus Christ "emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bondservant." In the Greek the word translated "emptied," means to make void, to render vain or to make of no reputation. However it is rendered, it implies an incredible descent to a lower, humbler state of existence. Perhaps this is why Jesus could state that His Father was greater than He. And yet, He was still God! He was not a representation of God. He was not simply an extension or an appendage of God. He was not an ideal. He was and is God! But as a man, He set aside His transcendent nature to give a tangible glimpse of the true and living God.

But there is another, even greater reason why He came.

The Death of God!

In the 1960’s philosophers confidently declared that "God is dead." While the report of God’s death was greatly exaggerated, they were partly correct. Nearly two thousand years earlier, the Creator of the universe, the "Mighty God," "Immanuel," died on a Roman cross to pay the price for the sins of all mankind.

The death of Jesus Christ was not an unfortunate occurrence in a failed ministry. Nor was it an afterthought of God. "Oops," is not in God’s vocabulary. Rather, the sacrificial death of "God in the flesh," was part of a plan devised "from the foundation of the world."

The Bible teaches that all men "have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." The word sin means "to miss the mark." God’s mark or requirement is nothing less than perfection. The prophet Micah summed up God’s requirement:

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 (NKJ)

The problem is that none of us have done these things all our lives. There are times when we are not just nor merciful nor humble. We may strive for this, but we all miss the mark.

In the Old Testament God set forth His laws to His people in the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill, lie, steal, covet, commit adultery, nor worship other gods, etc… Obviously none of us have kept these "marks," or standards, all our lives. If you think you have, according to the Apostle John:

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us… If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." I John 1:8, 10 (KJV)

The problem with sin is that it separates us from God. As the prophet Isaiah stated:

"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:2 (NKJ)

So what is the remedy for our sin? In the Old Testament, God established a system of animal sacrifice for the atonement of sins. This principle is presented in the book of Leviticus:

"‘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 makes atonement for the soul.’" Leviticus 17:11 (NKJ)

In order to cover or atone for one’s sins or transgressions, individuals were required to go to the Temple and offer an unspotted, unblemished animal on a regular basis. The blood of the animal was sprinkled on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant and provided a covering for a person’s sins. This sacrificial system, however, offered only a temporary atonement, or covering for sins. Consequently, each time a person sinned, it was necessary to atone or cover the sin with such a sacrifice.

The writer of the book of Hebrews points out that the sacrificial system, though effective for a time, provided only a temporary covering for sins:

"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purged, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." Hebrews 10:1-4 (NKJ)

The Levitical sacrificial system only covered over a person’s sins. The writer of the book of Hebrews points out that such sacrifices did not take away a man’s sins, but were in fact a continual reminder of one’s sinfulness. If such sacrifices could permanently justify a man in the sight of God then those sacrifices would have to be done but once.

Because of the temporary nature of the sacrificial system, there needed to be something more permanent and effective that could take away a man’s sins, something that the writer of Hebrews says cannot be accomplished by the blood of bulls and goats.

According to the Bible, we can pay the price for our own sins. However, the price is very high indeed. The Apostle Paul said in the book of Romans:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (KJV)

However, there is another way. By placing our faith in the perfect sacrifice –The Lamb of God – the Bible states we can have a complete remission of our sins and not just a covering.

The prophet Isaiah, speaking of the sacrificial, atoning death of the Messiah, proclaimed:

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked–But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:5,8-10 (NKJ)

In the New Testament we are told by Jesus Himself:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (KJV)

Paul the Apostle, in the book of Romans, his definitive statement of Christian doctrine, said:

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13 (KJV)
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Romans 10:9 (KJV)

The Apostle John, known as the Apostle of love, put it this way:

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." I John 4:10;

Nothing less than the sacrificial death of the Creator of the universe will do. Angels cannot save us from our sins because they have the potential to sin. Neither can our family members and friends because their predicament is no better than ours.

Only an unspotted, unblemished sacrifice is capable of atoning for the sins of mankind. So the Creator of the universe became flesh and dwelt among us. And as John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus at His baptism, "Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world."

The love of God for us, expressed in the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, is quite simply unfathomable.

How To "Work" Your Way To Heaven!

There are many among us who cannot accept that our personal salvation is a gift of God. We have a tendency to think that our salvation is something we need to earn through "good works." In fact, most non-Christian religious systems and cults involve themselves in such practices. "If you hand out enough magazines, sell enough trinkets and do enough righteous works, you can obtain a right standing with God," they assert.

According to Jesus Christ Himself, there is only one work we can do to obtain a right standing with God:

"Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’" John 6:29 (NKJ)

Believe in Him – Jesus Christ – the One whom God has sent.

Good motives cannot save you. Good works cannot save you. In fact, 700 years before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah said of our good works:

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6 (KJV)

The Hebrew word translated as "filthy rags," means literally "used menstrual cloths." Apparently the translators felt that the public couldn’t handle such a comparison. God, however, wanted us to have a vivid picture of how He views our self-attained righteousness. Surely, such a righteousness cannot justify us in the sight of God.

If our righteousnesses (good works) look like "used menstrual cloths," imagine what our sins look like to a Holy and Righteous God!

The only way to obtain a righteous standing before God is through His Son, Jesus Christ:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6 (KJV)

Choose You This Day Whom You Will Serve

In this twentieth-century age of skepticism it is indeed ironic to discover that more evidence has accumulated for the existence of a transcendent Creator in this century than any time in the last 1900 years. And yet, the evidence examined points to just such a Being. One who exists outside time and has spoken history in advance. One who exists outside space and has manifested Himself within our spatial dimensions. And The One who came to die for our sins as the ultimate expression of love in the history of the universe.

God has prepared a destiny for you so marvelous no words can describe it. It’s available for the asking. However, you must choose whom you will serve: the god called chance, or The Creator Beyond Time and Space.

Written by Dr. Mark Eastman http://www.marshill.org

SOURCE http://www.marshill.org/Jesus%20the%20Messiah/immanuel.htm