Monday, November 10, 2008

God is One

I was blessed to be able to listen to a family of Messianic Jews this evening, and in the discussion it was pointed out that the husband had been raised in an Orthodox manner, going to Synagogue regularly and learning the prayers in Hebrew, etc. However, when he was 30, some Christian friends thanked him as a representative of the Jewish people for preserving the Bible for the world.

This got the Jewish man to thinking, and he realized that although he knew all the Synagogue prayers and such, he had never read the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible, the "Old Testament"). So he started reading from the book of Bereshit (Genesis), and there in the first chapter, verse 26, the scriptures said:
Let Us make man in Our image....
That phrase very much disturbed him, as the Jewish people are very adamant that "God is One", and not three. After all, one of the "prayers" cited often (twice a day by many orthodox Jews) is the Shema ("Hear"), from Deuteronomy 6:4, which says:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
(Hear Oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.)
"What's this 'Us' business?" he asked himself. So he started doing a word-study, and to his surprise, realized that the word for "One", echad, as used in the Shema, is used for the first time in the Bible in Genesis 1:5, where it says (Young's Literal Version):
...and God calleth to the light `Day,' and to the darkness He hath called `Night;' and there is an evening, and there is a morning -- day one.
He began to realize that in that word "one" was a duality of an evening and a morning. In some mysterious way, the One was a Unity, not a Singularity.

He then saw the same Unity in Genesis 2:24 (HCSB):
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.
Again, he saw that the One was a unity, not a singularity.

And even in the first verse of the Bible, the word "God" is literally "Gods" (Elohim, plural of El, "God"). But interestingly, although the noun is plural ("Gods"), the verbs are all singular (such that in English, which doesn't always have plural-vs-singular verbs, it might be something more like "In the beginning, Gods, the One, He created the heavens and the earth").

And he saw a distinction between God the Creator in Genesis 1:1, and the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, in verse 2. (It's also interesting to note that the phrase "Ruach HaKodesh" is feminine. Isn't God interesting on so many levels?!)

And it was this simple reading of the scriptures for himself as opposed to listening to the doctrines of mere men (even though they were respected rabbis), that began this man's journey toward accepting Jesus as Messiah.


Anonymous said...

Just because One is used to describe unity in a couple places doesn't mean that it's used in that sense every where in the Torah. Jesus may have been a Messiah but he can't be God's son or God himself.

Chyntt said...

Anonymous said Just because One is used to describe unity in a couple places doesn't mean that it's used in that sense every where in the Torah.

Absolutely. But the same God inspired the same prophet to use the same word three times without any indication that the third use is different than the first two usages. So the burden of proof is on those claiming it means something different.

If God meant to convey the idea of absolute "oneness" rather than a unity, the word "yachid" would have been a clearer choice.

If you deny that YHWH can walk this planet in the form of a man, perhaps you need to read Genesis 18 again.

In addition to that, it's good to remember that God covenanted with Abram in a cultural ritual that if God or Abram failed to keep the stipulations of the covenant, the other had the right to stomp his blood into the ground (Gen 15:8ff). The interesting thing about this is that when Abram's turn came to "walk the vow", surely destining Abram for death because Abram's responsibilities were to live perfectly before God, God took Abram's turn for Himself. In so doing, God condemned Himself to death for the failure of Abram and his progeny to perfectly keep his end of the bargain.

In Yahshua ("Yah Saves"), God-As-Man fulfilled that condemnation. God sacrificed Himself in his Echad-ness with Yahshua, thereby fulfilling Abrams's half of YHWH's covenant with him.

I would not limit God in what He can or can not do to fulfill His promises. If He wants to appear on Earth as a human destined for a cursed death, that's His prerogative.

Kent West said...

Also, "echad" is used of the single cluster of grapes in Numbers 13:23.