Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Who Is God? Cutting Through the Confusion
Since the Council of Nicea "deemed it so" in the fourth century, many have said that the Messiah is also God. Some even believe that the Messiah is the God of the Old Testament, and he came to earth to reveal the Father. Some believe that there is one God, who is always Yeshua, but he reveals himself at different times by different names. But who did the Messiah say God was?
by Oren Johnson
When I first started seriously searching for the truth about how I should be worshiping God, I was lucky enough to come across an excellent teacher, who stated that I should not take his word, or anyone else's, for anything, but that I should check every fact for myself. When I started doing that, my entire life changed.
While this may sound like it will slow down your research, it is absolutely necessary, if in fact one is interested in getting at the truth. (Most are not; most are more interested in just backing up what they already believe. You may want to ask yourself which you are more interested in.) Part of good research, using the Bible for your information, is actually looking up the definitions of the words you're reading. Many people absolutely will not do this.
They may think that the translators of the particular translation they're reading did a good job. Or they may think they already know the meaning of what they're reading at that moment (probably because they've been told the meaning by someone else), or they may think that they know the meaning of the words they're reading in their own language (with no thought of the original text it was translated from). The fact is, most would find that they can't even give a good definition of the words in their own language without looking them up.
Just in case you think that is a ridiculous statement, I ask that you humor me by checking just two words as examples. Can you, personally, humble yourself to check yourself on two words, here and now? Let's see.
(1). What is the meaning of the word "soul" as defined in an English dictionary?
(2). What is the meaning of the Hebrew word "nephesh," which is translated into English as "soul" 475 times (in KJV)? Please write down your definitions for these two words before you look them up, if you will, and then use the dictionary and a concordance to find out what they actually mean.
In all likelihood, you will be one of the 99% who call themselves Christians but cannot define these two words correctly. You may also be surprised to find that the English dictionary definition for "soul" has nothing whatsoever in common with the Bible concordance definition for "nephesh," which is translated "soul" in almost every Old Testament verse you're familiar with containing that word "soul." But, in fact, most Christians visualize the English dictionary meaning of "soul" when they read it in the Bible, and very definitely not the definition of the Hebrew word it was translated from.
Although this word is not the focus of what I am writing here, it is a telling example of how we can so easily be confused by what we are reading, simply because we don't take the time to be sure of what we're reading. I do want to "re-translate" a few words in this article, to say what I feel they actually say, and I will do this by using my concordance to check the original text, as well as an English dictionary.
And I ask that you please, please look these up yourself as you read this article, to be sure that what I write here is correct, whether you agree as you read this or not. If you will do that, you are of course still free to draw your own conclusions as to whether or not you agree with me! However, you have no right to disagree (or even to agree, for that matter), if you're not willing to actually look up these definitions yourself, and prove whether this is correct or not. You see, I believe that God inspired the writers of the Bible, but I don't believe He inspired all the translators, or they would all agree. Christians are supposed to study the Bible, not just superficially read a few verses.
The reason I have taken the time to say all this is that I believe that many people essentially waste their time when "reading the Bible," because they just read it (in whatever translation they choose) and then try to fit their perceived and preconceived meaning of what they read into the context of their current beliefs. However, I truly feel that if we do that, we are probably no better off than the illiterate millions throughout the ages who have trusted in their clergy to tell them what the Bible says, since they couldn't read it themselves.
I want to present a very few verses for your consideration, and I ask that you please take the time to examine them carefully, and the reasons will become obvious. I can find dozens of similar examples, but it is my hope that, after checking these few verses, you'll look for others yourself. They're not hard to find.
The God of the Old Testament has a name. Most of the time God's name is translated in the Old Testament as "the LORD." However, that there are times when calling Him "the LORD" has contributed to the apparent mass confusion for centuries, and even now, about who exactly God is. Together, let's see if we can work through some of this confusion. I fully understand that the translators did not see fit to use the Hebrew name in the Greek New Testament Scripture.
I heard a sermon recently about God's name. The speaker said, "Does God have a name? Yes. What is His name? He said it was 'the LORD."' But is that, in fact, what God said? Well, no, it is not. In the following verses, God says His name is "YHVH." If you'll please look them up in your concordance you'll find this to be true. Unfortunately, the Israelites were so afraid of using it incorrectly that all but the learned forgot how to correctly pronounce it. Anyway, in these verses and dozens of others all through the Old Testament, God says His name is YHVH (I'll pronounce that "YEHOVAH" in the rest of this article for simplicity's sake).
You see, if we continue to say that God's name was "the LORD," and then we start referring to others as "Lord," it may be much easier to get confused about whom we're speaking, than if we use the names of the persons about whom we're speaking. That exact situation has happened. To this day, when people read "Lord" in their Bibles, many times they are confused about whom they're reading, and sometimes they conclude that different individuals are actually the same, because they're both called "Lord," when there would be no confusion at all if they would check a simple concordance to see what words were translated as "Lord" in the first place, and what the Hebrew or Greek meanings of those words were.
In Exodus 3:15 God says, "You are to say to the children of Israel, 'YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."'
Exodus 20:2-3: "I am YHVH, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me."
Isaiah 42:8 says, "I am YHVH; that is my name: and my glory I will not give to another."
And Isaiah 44:24 reads, "Thus says YHVH, your redeemer, and he who formed you from the womb: 'I am YHVH who makes all things; who stretches forth the heavens alone: who spreads abroad the earth by myself."'
Isaiah 45:5: "I am YHVH, and there is no other; there is no other God besides Me."
So in the Old Testament God says His name is YEHOVAH, and in these verses and many others (please do some checking for yourself), He says that He created everything, and that He did it alone. He also said that He will not share His glory with anyone, and that we are not to place anyone before Him as God.
Since the Council of Nicea "deemed it so" in the fourth century, many have said that the Messiah is also God. Some even believe that the Messiah is the God of the Old Testament, and he came to earth to reveal the Father. Some believe that there is one God, who is always Yeshua, but he reveals himself at different times by different names. But who did the Messiah say God was? Let's see. And remember, we're only going to look at a few verses so we can take the time to examine them well.
The Messiah said in John 8:54, "If I honor myself, my honor is nothing. It is my Father who honors me, of whom you say that He is your God." So the Messiah says that the one God of the Judahites is his Father. His Father is the God of the Old Testament. The God who said there is no other God is the one the Messiah says is his Father. Can you read that any other way? The Messiah has also acknowledged here that his Father is the God who said "You shall have no other Gods before me." If you make someone else the creator, other than YEHOVAH (who the Messiah says is his Father), have you violated that commandment? I'm not asking you here to quote other verses you may have been taught to use which you've been told say something else, I'm simply asking you to examine these verses and see if that is actually what they say. Did the Messiah say here that his Father is the one the Judahites said is their God? Did the Judahites recognize as "God" the one who said His name is YEHOVAH and then said there is no other God? The answer here is inescapably "yes."
In John 17:3, the Messiah said to his Father, "This is life eternal: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." If we look at the original, we may make the point even clearer by reading that the Father is "the only one who is truly God." Is that clear? Or are we going to argue the verse away by saying that there are two others who are equally the one God?
There's a lot to examine here, but this will be our last verse for now, so it will be worth it. First, "life eternal" is not a great translation, but it is fairly accurate. What does it say will bring about this "life in the age to come"? This is most likely very important, or the Messiah would not have worded it this way, but that particular point is not what I wish to examine here. The Messiah said that "the Father" is "the only true God," or "the only one who is truly God." Please check some other translations and your other sources to be sure, but it is inescapable that this is what he said. Also ask yourself another question: If the Messiah was also God, as most have been taught, what sort of "god" did he think himself to be, if he thought that the Father was the only true God?
We can see here that the Messiah knew exactly who he was and what he was, and he also stated that this knowledge leads to eternal life. Please read the verse carefully. It's all one sentence. Life eternal is knowing who "the Father" is (the one true God), and also knowing who the Messiah is. And who did the Messiah say he was? Well, this will require us to look at a word used here which I think confuses people. That word is "Christ."
There is nothing wrong with the word "Christ" in this verse. It isn't really translated though. It is merely "transliterated" from the original Greek word Christos. The word christos had appeared in the Greek Old Testament (the LXX) as a title for specially anointed agents of YEHOVAH God. However, I think that the way it is used today has caused many to think of it as the Messiah's last name, his surname. Some actually believe that it is, simply because they have never thought about it. And even those who don't mean to think of it that way often do, simply because they never read or think about the true meaning of the Greek word christos. It is not part of the Messiah's name; it is his title. It means "the anointed one," "the anointed of God," or "messiah."
Even if you know that, if you would look it up right now, you would probably learn something else that you hadn't thought of before. Please look it up in a concordance, and read the entire definition, because this is so important. You may even want to look up the meaning of the Hebrew word for "messiah," and the word "messiah" in your English dictionary, so you'll have a really clear picture of what this title actually means. (If you will try reading verses which say "Jesus Christ" as instead "Yeshua, the anointed one" or "Yeshua, the promised Messiah," I think you will be surprised at how differently you feel about what you read.)
The Messiah said here: "This is everlasting life in the coming age of the Kingdom, that they may know You, Father, the only true God, and Jesus, the promised King and deliverer, whom you commissioned." Can you find any way that this is an incorrect meaning of what the Messiah said? Have you looked up the words in your concordance and your dictionary to be sure?
YHVH said that He alone is God. YHVH was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Messiah said that his Father was YHVH, the God of the Judahites. The Messiah said that his Father is the only one who is the true God, and that he, Yeshua, is the Messiah, sent by YEHOVAH God the Father. In the same sentence, the Messiah said that this knowledge is essential for life in the age to come. Am I reading this wrong? I don't think so. But this is an important matter that everyone must figure out for themselves. I think, from the way the Messiah worded this, that it would be safer to examine this matter carefully than to dismiss it out of hand, if one has already been taught something else and merely wishes to defend a previously held view.
There will probably be some who read this and think of other verses they have been taught which seem to contradict these. My question here is, do these verses actually say what I have claimed that they say? I sincerely hope that they will be closely examined so that there is no doubt. Once you are sure what these verses say, it would be a good idea to use this same "definition technique" on the other verses. The Bible does not contradict itself.
I lived over 50 years before ever hearing these views. Studying this was very uncomfortable for me, for it seemed blasphemous to even read such things. (That's because I was taught that any views which disagreed with the views of my denomination were blasphemous.) I am so grateful that YEHOVAH God gave me the strength to study this out, because now the Bible and YEHOVAH's plan are clear to me, where before I was unsure about so much. The best advice I ever received, and which I now want to pass on, is this: Stop just reading the Bible, and start looking up the definitions of the words you're reading. Don't trust any translation for any word, until you're sure the meaning of what you're reading is what was originally written. It does make a difference. And after all, when studying for eternity, the quality of your study is much more important than the quantity. Unless you study for yourself and investigate the various options, you might just be following blindly and fall into the ditch.
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.
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