Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Foreordained By YEHOVAH God
Does Micah 5:2 refer to the Messiah's pre-ordination or pre-existence? What about John 3:13 -- does this also refer to a pre-existent Messiah who was part of the Godhead before his birth? How do we explain these apparently clear scriptures? Understanding the New Testament idiom will provide us with answers that are a far cry from what most people believe!
by John D. Keyser
A man on our mailing list recently sent us a letter with some questions regarding the so-called pre-existence of Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). He stated:
"I've studied your various articles and have come to a satisfactory conclusion that you are right as far as Jesus not pre-existing before his human birth, but I still have a couple of verses which I would like to be clarified.
"In Micah 5:2 we read: 'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.' Is this referring to the pre-ordination of Jesus and not his pre-existence?
"'No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven -- the Son of Man' (John 3:13). Is this a mistranslation? What does it mean?"
These are good questions and we will answer them in detail in this article.
In I Peter 1:19-20 we read that Yeshua the Messiah was FOREORDAINED BEFORE the foundation of the world -- notice!
"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (New King James Version).
The word translated "foreordained" in verse 20 is word #4267 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Greek Dictionary -- and also in Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. It means "to know beforehand," "foreknow," "know before," "to have knowledge of beforehand; to foreknow," and "foreknown by God, although not yet 'made manifest' to man."
Yeshua the Messiah was indeed "foreordained" -- which means that YEHOVAH God "knew" Yeshua even BEFORE he came into "existence." YEHOVAH had knowledge of Yeshua beforehand. And all of those whom YEHOVAH is calling out in these last days are ALSO foreordained -- which means that YEHOVAH God "KNEW" us even before we came into "existence." YEHOVAH had knowledge of us BEFOREHAND as well. We see this in Romans 8:28-30 --
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He FOREKNEW, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified these He also glorified."
The word which has been translated "FOREKNEW" in Romans 8:29 is word #4267 in Strong's Greek Dictionary -- the SAME WORD translated "foreordained" in I Peter 1:20! Therefore, WE were known beforehand -- just as Yeshua the Messiah was!
So, following this line of logic, if this means that Yeshua "pre-existed," then this ALSO means that WE "pre-existed" as well because this says that WE were "known beforehand"!
Also, the word translated "predestined" in the above verses is word number 4309 in Strong's and means: DETERMINE BEFORE. However, Thayer's tells us this means "APPOINT BEFOREHAND"! Notice --
"4309. [...] proorizo, pro-or-id'-zo; from 4253 and 3724; to limit in advance, i.e. (fig.) PREDETERMINE:-- DETERMINE BEFORE, ORDAIN, predestinate."
Now Thayer's --
"4309. [...] to predetermine, DECIDE BEFOREHAND, Vulg. [exc. in Acts] praedestino, [R.V. to FOREORDAIN]: in the N.T. of God decreeing from eternity, foll. by an acc. with the inf. Acts iv. 28; [...] with the addition of [...], I Cor, ii.7; [...] with a pred. acc., to FOREORDAIN, APPOINT BEFOREHAND, Ro. viii. 29 sq.; [...], one to obtain a thing. Eph. i. 5; [..], Eph. i. II."
Indeed, we are ALSO APPOINTED BEFOREHAND to our calling; we are KNOWN BEFOREHAND -- just as the Bible says. But, and note this well, this does not mean that we "pre-existed" any more than Yeshua the Messiah did! What this clearly means is that YEHOVAH God has a plan, and that everything in YEHOVAH's plan and purpose will be carried out strictly according to it. This is confirmed in Romans 8:28, which reads:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are THE CALLED according to His PURPOSE."
The prophet Jeremiah was also in the PLAN of YEHOVAH God before he was even born -- as we see in Jeremiah 1:4-5:
"Then the word of the LORD [YEHOVAH] came to me, saying: 'BEFORE I formed you in the womb I KNEW YOU; BEFORE YOU WERE BORN I SANCTIFIED YOU; and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.'"
Now, does this mean that Jeremiah pre-existed? Of course not! And neither did Yeshua, nor did we. Jeremiah was APPOINTED BEFOREHAND to be a prophet to the nations. Yeshua the Messiah was APPOINTED BEFOREHAND -- long before he was ever born -- to be the first-born Son of YEHOVAH God at his resurrection, who would die for the sins of the whole world and would be king and priest to his Father in the world tomorrow. We have been APPOINTED BEFOREHAND to become conformed to the image of Yeshua in righteousness and perfection. All of this was in the PLAN of YEHOVAH God from the very beginning.
We did NOT always exist, Jeremiah did NOT always exist, and NEITHER did Yeshua -- but we were ALL in YEHOVAH's PLAN from the beginning.
Now we come to Micah 5:2. With the understanding that Yeshua the Messiah was "appointed beforehand" -- although he did NOT pre-exist -- it is also easy to understand this verse, which tells us --
"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."
Now, this verse is speaking of the Messiah in exactly the SAME way that Jeremiah was spoken of in Jeremiah 1:5. YEHOVAH God KNEW the Messiah BEFORE he was born -- he was in YEHOVAH's PLAN, just like Jeremiah was in YEHOVAH's PLAN from the very beginning.
In Micah 5:2 the prophet was inspired to write about Yeshua, saying: "Whose goings forth have been from of old." Unless you understand the meaning of the ONE Hebrew word translated "going forth," you could easily be deceived into thinking that Yeshua did indeed pre-exist from of old. However, the word translated "goings forth" is the Hebrew word MOTZAH -- which means, according to The Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, "(of future ruler out of Bethlehem), his origin."
This is speaking of THE RULER TO COME OUT OF BETHLEHEM! The word MOTZAH is from the original Hebrew root word, "Y'TZAH" -- which brings special emphasis on words commanded or spoken by YEHOVAH, as Brown, Driver and Briggs show on page 423 of their lexicon:
"g. with emphasis on idea of origin, source...of words going forth from mouth of speaker (of solemn or formal speech)...words going forth from his mouth, or from him...words, instruction, command, etc., going forth..."
Yeshua's "origin" was from old in that YEHOVAH God had SPOKEN OF HIM FROM THE BEGINNING as the FUTURE RULER TO COME OUT OF BETHLEHEM -- just as Micah was inspired to write. But this in NO way means that Yeshua was existent in the beginning as many have been taught by false ministers to believe.
Yeshua's ORIGIN was from of old; YEHOVAH APPOINTED HIM BEFOREHAND before the foundation of the world -- but Yeshua did NOT physically (or spiritually) pre-exist before the foundation of the world. YEHOVAH God KNEW when He would appoint and commission the one who would become Yeshua the Messiah. And YEHOVAH knew this long before Yeshua was even formed in the womb of his mother, Mary. But Micah was NOT saying that Yeshua the Messiah pre-existed any more than the Bible infers that Jeremiah the prophet pre-existed!
To further emphasis this point look now at Hebrews 7:9-10, where we find that Levi, the son of Jacob, was IN THE LOINS OF HIS FATHER ABRAHAM; not yet born, and yet paid tithes through Abraham BEFORE being born --
"Even Levi, who receives tithes, PAID TITHES through Abraham, so to speak, for he [Levi] was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him."
In effect, Levi was known by YEHOVAH God BEFORE he was born -- just as Jeremiah was -- although NEITHER Levi NOR Jeremiah pre-existed before their physical births. And understanding this helps us to come to grips with the other scripture our reader mentioned in his letter -- John 3:13 -- which also has been grossly mistranslated and misunderstood.
In John 3:13 (NKJV) we read --
"No one has ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven."
Before delving into the details of this verse we need to understand the word "heaven." The Hebrews began calling YEHOVAH God by the periphrase "Heaven" in order to avoid using THE NAME, "YEHOVAH" -- which they considered too holy to pronounce. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible explains this phenomenon:
"The Jewish reverential periphrases for God are sometimes used (though among them is not "the Name," absolutely) -- e.g. "the Blessed," "Power" (Mark 14:61-62), "HEAVEN" (Luke 15:18; cf. the frequent Matthean phrase "the kingdom of HEAVEN"), "the Wisdom of God" (Luke 11:49), "the Majestic Glory" (II Pet. 1:17);..."
Then, in The Anchor Bible, I Maccabees, we find this information --
"Indeed, the Jews themselves said their religion had come from outside the Promised Land and called their God the "God of heaven" and even "HEAVEN" (Ouranos) (page 136)."
Another point to remember is that the LAST FOUR WORDS of John 3:13 have been ADDED by the translators! These four words are NOT in the Codex Sinaiticus (the oldest complete Greek Manuscript upon which the Concordant Version is based) and neither are they in the Vatican Manuscript -- another of the OLDEST manuscripts.
The words "who is in heaven" were ADDED -- which gives a completely DIFFERENT MEANING to this scripture. The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, by Marshall -- which is based on the Nestle Greek Text -- also OMITS these last four words, as does The Revised Standard Version. Correctly translated, John 3:13 should read as follows:
"For no one has yet gone up to heaven; but there is One who has COME DOWN FROM YEHOVAH -- the Son of Man."
Because the Hebrews began calling YEHOVAH "Heaven" -- and because UNTRUE words were added to this scripture -- the way was opened for the Catholic Church to teach that the Messiah was pre-existent in heaven along with YEHOVAH God -- and the Catholic Church and her apostate daughters all teach this erroneous doctrine today! This, of course, led the way for the teaching of the "Incarnation" -- that their savior is "true god" and "true man." However, the question of the Incarnation did not even arise until AFTER the year 325, and then only among the so-called Church Fathers headquartered in Alexandria, Egypt -- the capital of the ancient PAGAN world!
The Book of John
The book of John has sixteen references to the Messiah coming DOWN FROM HEAVEN -- along with many references to the Messiah being SENT by YEHOVAH God. Was the Messiah physically sent from heaven? Did YEHOVAH God impregnate Mary? It is a demonstrable fact that NONE of the other three gospels, or the books written by Paul, Peter, James or Jude make any reference to this concept.
The whole idea that John 3:13 (along with the 15 other similar references in John) prove that Yeshua the Messiah was a pre-existent God (along with YEHOVAH God) who left Heaven and came to earth is an ASSUMPTION that needs to be verified by a contextual examination of John 3 and the rest of the New Testament.
The Example of Manna from Heaven
The Messiah himself said that he came "down from Heaven" in seven different places in the sixth chapter of John (verses 33, 38, 41, 42, 50, 51 and 58). So did the Messiah literally come down from Heaven as these scriptures seem to say? Was Yeshua the God of the Old Testament who left his throne in Heaven and was transformed into a seed placed in the womb of Mary so that the Creator could be born as a human?
OR -- does "down from Heaven" have a TOTALLY DIFFERENT non-literal meaning? Does it mean that the Messiah came from YEHOVAH God -- was commissioned and appointed by YEHOVAH god -- as the physical manifestation on earth of the character and essence of the Father -- but NOT pre-existent in Heaven?
A parallel to this can be found in the incident of the "manna from heaven." Manna was recorded in Exodus 16 as having come from heaven.
"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day'....And the house of Israel called it manna, and it was white like coriander seed..." (Exodus 16:4, 31).
Notice Nehemiah 9:15:
"And [YEHOVAH] gave them bread FROM HEAVEN..."
In the 6th chapter of John (where we read seven times of the Messiah coming from Heaven) we also read:
"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert: as it is written: He [YEHOVAH] gave them BREAD FROM HEAVEN to eat" (John 6:31).
This physical bread is said here to have "come down from Heaven," which means it ORIGINATED with YEHOVAH God. It does NOT mean that the manna was previously literally in Heaven until YEHOVAH sent it flying through untold miles of space to rain down on earth right where the Israelites were in the desert!!
Now does "manna" have anything to do with the Messiah coming down from Heaven? The bread called manna was an Old Covenant TYPE of the New Covenant reality -- the true Bread of Life, Yeshua the Messiah. Both are said to come from heaven, notice --
"Jesus therefore said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses has not given you the bread out of heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:32-33, Recovery Version).
So where did the manna come from? Where did the Messiah come from? They BOTH came from Heaven! But what, exactly, does this mean? Manna did NOT literally come from a pre-existence in Heaven -- YEHOVAH God sent it at a special time for a special purpose. It was a substance that physically occurred ON EARTH by the power of YEHOVAH God.
Where the Messiah Originated
Did the Messiah literally come from Heaven -- or was his origin in the womb of Mary by the agency of his father, Joseph?
The more you study the Bible the more you will realize that YEHOVAH God is reproducing Himself and plans to have many sons and daughters -- all of whom BEGIN as human babies. Was Yeshua the Messiah -- our first-born elder brother -- any different? Many scriptures call the Messiah the Son of Man to emphasize his humanity. The Messiah was fully a human being just like us -- who had to fight all the temptations of the flesh just like us. Notice Hebrews 4:15:
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was IN ALL POINTS tempted as we are, yet without sin."
The Messiah began as a newborn baby conceived by the union of his father Joseph and his mother Mary, who then experienced his human life cycle to become the FIRST-BORN SON of YEHOVAH God some thirty years later. This occurred at his resurrection. Later (at the appearance of the Messiah) there will be many others since the Messiah is the "first-born of many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
But did Yeshua the Messiah descend from Heaven? The Messiah is from above in that he has always OBEYED YEHOVAH God, spoken for YEHOVAH God, revealed the Father and acted as His messenger in preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. We can do likewise.
Sent By YEHOVAH God
The Messiah was "sent" by YEHOVAH God when he "came down from Heaven." Does "sent by God" mean that one is literally sent from Heaven? Certainly NOT in the case of John the Baptist! Notice!
"I will SEND my messenger..." (Malachi 3:1).
"There was a man SENT FROM GOD, whose name was John [the Baptist]" (John 1:6).
In Elijah's case he did NOT originate in Heaven -- even though he too was "sent" by YEHOVAH God --
"Unto none of these was Elijah SENT" (Luke 4:26).
It should be quite clear that if someone or something (e.g. manna) is sent by YEHOVAH God, it does NOT mean that he or it had previously been in existence in Heaven. To further underscore this point the apostle Paul wrote of Timothy being sent by the Messiah to the Philippians:
"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to SEND Timothy shortly unto you..." (Philippians 2:19).
Now does this mean that the Messiah -- who was in Heaven following his resurrection -- would send Timothy (who was also in Heaven!?) to the people of Philippi? Of course not! So HOW did YEHOVAH God and the Messiah work? Did they directly intervene themselves -- or, did they work through human beings? They worked through human beings, as revealed many times throughout the Bible. In the following verse we learn HOW Timothy was "sent by Paul" --
"Him [Timothy] I [Paul] hope to SEND presently" (Philippians 2:23).
"To be sent" usually involves some interaction with other human beings, and does NOT have to mean that the one being sent literally comes from Heaven -- or had a pre-existence there apart from being part of YEHOVAH's PLAN.
How was Yeshua sent? He grew up learning about YEHOVAH God in the Torah (Old Testament). He may have been trained by rabbis, or by direct revelation (dreams or visions) from YEHOVAH God. There is even some evidence that he was trained overseas in the centers of learning in the British Isles.
The Father -- the Creator God -- then COMMISSIONED him to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, and to later sacrifice his life as the Lamb of YEHOVAH God. All of this is involved in the "sending" of Yeshua the Messiah from Heaven to those who would receive him. As Nicodemus the Pharisee exclaimed in John 3:1-2:
"We know that you are a teacher COME FROM GOD: for no man can do these miracles...except God be with him."
That the Messiah "came down from Heaven" and that "he was sent by the Father" in NO WAY proves that he was formerly a God in Heaven who gave up his Divinity and was sent to earth by the Father to be born as a human baby. Rather, it was this most special human being -- born of Joseph and Mary -- who was sent "from Heaven" -- that is, commissioned by YEHOVAH God to accomplish the all-important Work of becoming our savior and elder brother.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
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