"Who Is The God Of The Old Testament?"
"Who indeed! And why should it matter? After all, we're a New Testament church, aren't we? We follow Jesus Christ!" Are these your thoughts as well? Do you believe that the God of the Old Testament is the One that Jesus referred to as the Father; that the Father is a harsh taskmaster, giving man an unattainable set of laws, whereas Jesus only gave us the Law of Love; that the Father was full of wrath and vengeance, while Jesus brought us grace and liberty? Well, if that's what you've come to believe, hold on to your hat, sit down, and prepare to be challenged. Let us carefully examine the Scriptures together.
Who Is "The Word?"
In the first chapter of the book of John, Jesus is referred to as "the Word". This is translated from the Greek word "Logos" which can mean variously, word, speech, thought or saying. Being that this term is used to personify Christ (v. 14), it must be taken as the one who speaks the sayings of God or in short, the Spokesman. It was He, Christ the Logos or Spokesman, who created all things. Therefore it is Jesus who is the Creator God. Notice in John 1:3, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." And also, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Colossians 1:16-17). This means the God who created man in Genesis 2:7 was the same being that later became Jesus Christ! Interestingly, Gen. 2:7 is the first scripture to use YHVH or Yahweh as the name of God.
Who Is "The Lord?"
In the Old Testament, this name "Yahweh" is used when speaking of the member of the Godhead who spoke to men. It is commonly translated "the Lord" as in "The Lord said..." This is not really a translation but rather a substitution for the original word for the name of God - Yahweh, which means the "Self-Existent One," the "I Am" or simply "the Eternal." Even this name, Yahweh, is an approximation of the original, which transliterated from Hebrew is YHWH, YHVH or JHVH. This is known as the tetragrammaton or "the four letters."
After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews became very superstitious about breaking the Law in even the slightest way and so they "put a hedge around" God's Law, go way beyond the intent of the original and making it a great burden. It was this attitude of making His Law a burden that Christ attacked. Anyway, one of the measures they took to keep from breaking the 3rd commandment on taking God's name in vain was to substitute the word "Adonai", meaning Lord, for YHWH when they copied the Scriptures. Later, translators would combine the vowels from Adonai with the consonants from JHVH to produce the now familiar "JaHoVaH" or "Jehovah."
This word YHVH is explained by Rabbinical sources as encompassing three Hebrew words: HYH meaning was, HVH meaning is (literally "the present tense" - the word "is" is not used in Hebrew) and YHYH meaning will continue to be. Putting them all together then, YHVH actually means the "Was-Is-Will Continue to Be" Being. Even Hebrew linguistic scholars agree that YHVH must be some form of the verb "to be" (was, is will be).
By His very name, then, God quite literally encompasses all aspects of time - past, present and future. This is in complete accord with Malachi 3:6, "For I am the LORD, I change not"; Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday [was], and today [is], and for ever [will continue to be]"; and Revelation 1:8, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
Here you can see that even etymologically speaking, Jesus Christ and the YHVH or Lord of the Old Testament can be equated. Consider these scriptures which deal with the "eternal" nature of God:
The "First and the Last"
Another common reference to the Lord in the Old Testament was "the Rock." With this metaphor in mind, examine the following Old and New Testament scriptures that show that the Word or the Spokesman, before He became the man Jesus, was that same member of the God Family who spoke with mankind in Old Testament times. We'll leave out the 20 or so references in the Psalms, but you might want to look those up for yourself.
This last one nails it on the head! The member of the God Family who interacted with the Israelites, brought them out of Egypt, gave them His Law at Sinai, and brought them to the Promised Land was none other than Jesus Christ. If you are still skeptical, let's look at more evidence. Examine the following scriptures:
The Lord, the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh, is our shepherd. So is Jesus Christ. Again, scripture shows that they are the same.
The "Holy One of Israel"
One last metaphor that we'll look at is that of the "Holy One of Israel." This term is most often used along with the term "Savior" or "Redeemer", certainly referring to Christ. But these Old Testament references are also speaking of the Lord God, the God of the Old Testament. See for yourself how these scriptures again point to the fact that the pre-incarnate Christ was indeed the God of the Old Testament.
Just in case it isn't obvious yet that the Lord, the God of the Old Testament, referred to in the above scriptures as the Savior, Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, is none other than Jesus Christ, read the next scripture taken out of the New Testament.
Who is Melchizedek?
You may have heard of Melchizedek. He is the mysterious priest/king who shows up in Abraham's time. But exactly who was this Melchizedek? Let's see. Notice Hebrews 5:5-6: "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he says also in another place, Thou are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
So Christ holds the office of Melchizedek. Again, who was Melchizedek? He must be one of the persons of the God Family. In Genesis 14:18 he is called the king of Salem and the priest of the Most High God. Notice why he could not have been merely a human being.
The Apostle Paul describes Him further in Hebrews 7:2-3: "To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abides a priest continually."
Paul could not have been describing a human being, or even an angel in these verses, for he is describing a Being that eternally existed, and only God has eternally existed (I Tim. 6:16).
Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. Who is the Most High God? Why, it must be the Father, for Jesus Himself said, "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). And also Melchizedek still lives (and if you will read Hebrews 7:8 carefully, you will see that Paul repeats this supremely important fact) and still is that High Priest. But Christ also is High Priest (see Hebrews 7:26, 8:1). There cannot be two High Priests both holding the same office, so Melchizedek and Jesus Christ must be one and the same. This once again demonstrates the fact that the only interaction between God and man has been through the person we now know as Jesus the Christ, the Word, the Logos, the Good Shepherd, our Rock, the Holy One of Israel, our Redeemer, the Alpha and Omega, our Savior, Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts.
Still not convinced?
Remember that before He existed as Jesus, the Logos or Spokesman was that member of the God Family that spoke with mankind. As the very Word of God, that was His job or function within the God Family. Remember also the many times that the Lord in the Old Testament spoke to men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses to name a few. In fact in Exodus 33:11, we read, "And the LORD spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."
Now if all that we have said up to now is wrong and the Lord, the God of the Old Testament is really the one we know as the Father, than how can the following scriptures, spoken by Jesus Himself, be true?
God Is A Family!
You see, Christ came to reveal the Father, who, up until that time, no one had known. Notice in Matthew 11:27, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Jesus showed us that the relationship of the Godhead is that of a Family. He told us about the loving relationship between the Father and the Son. And what's more, He invited us to join in that relationship, by becoming actual members of the God Family! Notice these plain scriptures:
This is the marvelous destiny that awaits you and me. God has a Master Plan to bring "many sons unto glory." Far from being a harsh and cruel taskmaster, God is a loving Father who wants us to be a part of His Family. Are you willing to accept His offer of everlasting life?
January 15, 2001