The Deity of Messiah
by Brad Scott
As I begin this series on the ancient debate concerning the nature of the Messiah, I must first mention that there are many articles and teachings, from a multitude of well educated Hebrew biblical scholars that present their case, pro and con, very well. This issue has been the object of heated debate for centuries, and has yet to dissipate. This alone, to the thinking person, should be sufficient evidence that the issue is not seated in cement. I have chosen to approach this subject the same way I teach virtually every other subject ... from the beginning. I have elected not to follow the typical pattern of beginning this critical dispute by launching an attack, or a support, of statements made by many of the prophets, or comments made by Yeshua', or the disciples. However, we will indeed arrive at these equally harmonious and scriptural writings through the course of this progression. I have chosen to begin this teaching by researching what I believe about the Messiah and why I believe it. We will then spend the last half addressing many of the so-called prooftexts of those who do not believe that Yeshua‘ is God in the flesh. As we research this sheep dividing issue, I would ask that you keep in mind something the prophet Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) and Sha’ul revealed to us that I feel lies at the root of this controversy.
Yesha’yahu 6:9-10And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and be healed.
Romans 11:25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
I find these to be fascinating and very thought provoking statements. God tells His people ahead of time that He already knows that there will be much lack of understanding among His people. He uses the words see and hear to describe this misunderstanding by both houses. Although YHVH prophesied that these people would not obey Him, using the concepts of seeing and hearing, He also reveals prophetically that one day they would hear Him and see Him, and be converted. This revelation is also placed in context with the fullness of the Gentiles coming in, as recorded by Sha’ul. It comes as no surprise to me that the traditional doctrines held by these two rebellious houses are, I believe, referred to as blindness in part. Traditionally, the house of Judah (dominated by Rabbinical thought) has tenaciously clung to Torah and a Messiah who is not God in the flesh. The house of Israel (dominated by traditional Christian thought) has equally held to no Torah and the Messiah is God in the flesh. However, the Tanakh reveals over and over, that both houses are blind and deaf. My premise in this teaching will be that the house of Israel is blind to Torah and the house of Judah is blind to who the Messiah is, for Messiah is the Word of God (Torah) and the Word of God cannot be, by definition, anything less than God Himself. It is also my contention that, in the last days, every attribute of these two houses will once again be one.
Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 1:1In the beginning ’Elohiym created the heavens and the earth.
I am sure that many of you have read or heard a hundred different teachings on these words with which YHVH chose to begin his revelation to mankind. It is imperative that we begin at the beginning, however. YHVH reveals (remember that word), in the beginning some important information about Himself. He begins with no revelation as to His beginning and no insight as to His pre-existence before He created the heavens and the earth. This is because all this is not known, which is the verbal root of the Hebrew word 'olam, which English translates as everlasting or eternal. So we begin with His existence. In His creation of all things it is interesting to note that YHVH does not choose to enter the scene, so to speak, as YHVH, but rather 'Elohiym. I believe this is done deliberately to expose from the beginning a critical aspect of His nature that, when grasped, will harmonize with the rest of scripture and His other names and titles. There has always been a fine line of interpretation over the meaning and application of the word 'Elohiym. It is well known that the word is in the plural, but the interpretation of this plurality is where the friction takes place. Based upon the parsing of the word all by itself, a myriad of religous organizations can and have sprung forth. The word is taught by most Hebrew students of philology, to be understood only in context with the word 'echad or one. This combined interpretation is based upon a very strict hermenuetic on the shema'.
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 6:4Hear, O Israel, YHVH our ’Elohiym, YHVH is one ['echad].
It is the revelation that the plural 'Elohiym is 'echad that has most Hebrew lexicons agreeing that the concept of God is a unity. It is the application of that unity that creates the controversies. In Hebrew grammar, the verb that follows the noun 'Elohiym must be in concord, or agreement, with the noun it describes. This means that the Hebrew language has a way for the reader to distinguish between the one God of Creation and the false gods. If the plural 'Elohiym is followed by a plural verb, then the reference is not to the one God of Creation. If the plural 'Elohiym is followed by the singular verb, then it is referring to the one God of Creation. In Bere’shiyt 1:1, YHVH begins His book of life with the revelation that He is absolute unity ('Elohiym is plural) with a single purpose or action (the verb is in the singular). The combination of 'Elohiym with 'echad in the Shema testifies to the FACT that there is only one true God. I believe that within the unity of the one true God there is one single purpose, from the beginning, that is contained within our salvation, and that this is revealed within the Hebrew of the very first words of scripture. There are unknown aspects of His awesomeness and essence that we do not know (that's why they are unknown!), but the purpose remains as the object of the secret things of God.
Devariym 29:29The secret things belong unto YHVH our ’Elohiym; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do the words of this Torah.
As I mentioned in the introduction to this teaching, it is my humble opinion that it is not the nature of the Messiah that should demand our immediate attention, but rather the nature of God. Whenever the subject of the deity of Yeshua‘ comes up, we are basically confronted with an equation. Does the Messiah equal YHVH or does the Messiah not equal YHVH? So we begin with a proposition that always has an unfathomable, unsearchable, infinite GOD in one half of the equation that is attempted to be fathomed, searched and completely understood by the finite man. This most infinite God can be searched and understood in light of what He has revealed of Himself, however. It has come to my attention that some of the teachings of the anti-deity crowd suggest that because the incomprehensible essence of God is taught in Kabbalism, that, therefore, any teaching that God's essence is unsearchable comes from Kabbalistic teaching. First of all, truth is truth even when your enemy speaks it. Kabbalism teaches prayer. Is prayer then only Kabbalistic? I could go on. This is an old journalistic and political technique that I recognize from many business courses I took in college. The idea is to connect the opposition with something that the masses generally accept as being evil, therefore drawing the conclusion that the opposition's point, by definition, must be evil. The thinking is that if I prove your position to be wrong, then by definition my position must be right. It goes like this: Kabbalism teaches that God is incomprehensible. Kabbalism is mystical and unscriptural. Many Messianics teach that God is incomprehensible. Therefore, those Messianics are mystical and unscriptural.
The facts are that the Scriptures teach that there are aspects of God that are not known and unsearchable. I would also suggest that even the exact meaning of those things that are declared unsearchable and unknowable, are unsearchable and unknowable. As we look at some of these examples, keep in mind the singular purpose and goal of ’Elohiym that we discussed earlier. I would also like to preface this material by stating that my purpose of highlighting God's infinite, unsearchable essence is not to suggest that the Messiah/God issue is not meant to be understood or fathomed. I am starting with this particular truth to show that the Creator and God of Israel is infinitely capable of doing, attaining, and being whatever His will chooses, and is far beyond even the imaginations of His creation
Mizemor (Psalm) 145:3-5Great is YHVH, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wonderous works.
Yesha’yahu 40:28Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, YHVH, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is not searching of his understanding.
Romans 11:33Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and His ways past finding out.
Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:37Thus saith YHVH, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith YHVH.
My goodness, if the heavens and foundations of the earth are unsearchable, how much more the essence of God Himself. The Hebrew word used here to promote His distinction in the universe is chaqar. This word in it's verbal root means something that is unable to be investigated. The Greek word used in Romans 11:33 is anexichniastos. (Say that five times real fast.) It is a combination of three Greek words. The first is simply the letter a, or alpha. This letter when used as a prefix affixes the negative to a word. For instance theist, a believer in God, becomes an atheist or not a believer in God. Our negative prefix is added to the Greek word for to track, trace or follow and the Greek word for origin. The entire word means unable to track or trace the origin of something. This is very close to the Hebrew word chaqar. The point is that there are attributes of God that we are unable to investigate, track or trace the origin. The facts are that there are some things about God that are not known and there are those things that God has revealed.
There are many prophecies in the Scriptures that attest to the fact that many of the house of Israel and Judah will not know who the Messiah is. One of the most thought provoking prophecies is the revealing of Joseph (a clear type of Messiah) to his brothers. In Bere’shiyt we are given a very interesting prophecy along with a rather cryptic insertion.
Bere’shiyt 45:1-3Then Yoseph could not control himself before all them who stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Yoseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Yoseph said unto his brethren, I am Yoseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were terrified [troubled] at his presence.
The Spirit of God makes it a point to mention that Yoseph stood by himself with no man with him to reveal himself. What was behind this insertion into the text? Prophetically we are told that this type of Messiah will one day make himself known to his brethren as to who he really is, i.e. they did not recognize who he actually was. No man will be with him, and their response will be very troubling and terrifying. The Hebrew word used here for troubling is bahal. Here is how this word is used in other places.
Yesha’yahu 64:1-2,7Oh, that thou would rend the heavens, that thou would come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence. As when the melting fire burns, and the fire causes the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hidden thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
Acts 9:3,6And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven; and he, trembling and astonished, said, Adonai, what wilt thou have me to do? And Adonai said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Mark 5:33But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth.
It is my opinion that Yeshua', certainly knowing who He really was, comforted His people with the following words:
Yochanan 14:1,7,27Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me ... If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him ... Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
It seems that the blindness of both houses of Israel are directly associated with not knowing Him.
Yesha’yahu 45:2,4-6I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight ... For Ya‘aqov my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou has not known me. I am YHVH, and there is none else, there is no God beside me; I girded thee, though thou has not known me. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am YHVH, and there is none else.
The phrase from the rising of the sun and the west are another way of speaking of the house of Judah (east) and the house of Israel (west).
Yesha’yahu 44:18They have not known nor understood; for He hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see, and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
I conclude the first part of this series by asking you to entertain the possibility that God prophetically knew that within His divided house (still scattered in unbelief) are two groups of people. One group would not know Him (Messiah) as the manifestation of the God of Israel, the living Word, giver of Torah and preserver of the laws and commandments of God. The other group would not receive Him, would not make obeisance to His ruling sheaf, and would not recogize His true identity as the Creator of the sun, moon and stars, and the only Savior there is. However, as it has been from the beginning, there is always a remnant that receive Him as the only authority who can give us the power to become the children of God.
Yochanan 1:10-12He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not. He came unto His own, and His own knew Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name;
Stay with me through this series. I suppose it will be longer than I first proposed, as this subject is fundamental and there is much to be covered.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊